Is it time you ex­plored paint­ing in vir­tual re­al­ity?

The Ocu­lus Story Stu­dio artists talk to Ian Dean on mov­ing from 2D art into VR il­lus­tra­tion

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Artists re­veal what it takes to make the leap from 2D to VR il­lus­tra­tion.

Don’t be afraid of vir­tual re­al­ity. That’s the mes­sage we hear from artists – 2D and 3D – who have made the leap from il­lus­tra­tion into VR. As the tech­nol­ogy de­vel­ops, so has the ac­ces­si­bil­ity of VR. The big leap came ear­lier this year, when artists were able to cre­ate di­rectly inside VR. So is it time you went vir­tual?

Tools such as Tilt Brush for HTC Vive and 3D sculpt­ing app Medium for Ocu­lus Touch are begin­ning to change how artists cre­ate con­tent for video games and film. But one of the stand­outs is Ocu­lus’ Quill, a 2D an­i­ma­tion and draw­ing app that gives you a pal­ette of tools to paint and draw with in a vir­tual space.

Ocu­lus Story Stu­dio’s Goro Fu­jita co-de­vel­oped Quill, which was then used on the award-win­ning VR an­i­mated film Dear An­gel­ica, about a girl re­con­nect­ing with her dead ac­tress mother by watch­ing her old films on a VCR. Watch­ing it in VR, we’re right there with the girl on her jour­ney.

“The idea was to tell a story en­tirely through il­lus­tra­tions in VR,” says Goro, who ex­plains sev­eral tech­niques, in­clud­ing 360-de­gree il­lus­tra­tions and line art mapped on a 3D en­vi­ron­ments, were tried and sub­se­quently benched.

“None of those tests were con­vinc­ing,” Goro re­veals, “be­cause the art needed to look like it came straight from the artist with­out show­ing any tech­ni­cal gimmicks. So ide­ally we want the artists to di­rectly il­lus­trate in VR.

“That’s when Iñigo Quilez hap­pened. In a two-day hackathon the vis­ual ef­fects su­per­vi­sor came up with a pro­to­type for a VR il­lus­tra­tion tool that later be­came Quill. Iñigo and I went back and forth on ideas, and I’m lucky enough to say that I’m the first artist ever to have painted in Quill.”

think­ing in vol­umes

The leap from 2D to VR paint­ing didn’t phase Goro. “Work­ing in Quill is a dream come true. When I paint in 2D I nat­u­rally think in vol­umes, even if you only paint with one per­spec­tive. Now with Quill, you can paint vol­ume and ro­tate your paint­ing, which is an in­credi­ble ex­pe­ri­ence.

“It’s like be­ing inside your brain where you can lit­er­ally ex­pe­ri­ence the

It’s like be­ing inside your brain. You can ex­pe­ri­ence the world that you’re cre­at­ing

world that you’re cre­at­ing. It took me a few days to fully un­der­stand and utilise the third di­men­sion, but now it’s dif­fi­cult for me to go back to a stan­dard 2D can­vas.”

When you first start paint­ing in VR there’s a learn­ing curve. Goro says that the big­gest chal­lenge is to learn the third di­men­sion, and un­der­stand where your hands are, be­cause the Ocu­lus Touch con­trollers en­able you to ma­nip­u­late ob­jects in the VR space. “A lot of peo­ple, in­clud­ing me, had trou­ble with that in the begin­ning but it doesn’t take long for peo­ple to get used to it,” he says.

“The tool it­self is in­tu­itive and easy to un­der­stand, but hav­ing ba­sic un­der­stand­ing of shape and vol­ume is def­i­nitely a plus,” he con­tin­ues.

Screen­shot from Cli­max Stu­dios’ Lola and the Gi­ant VR game, which Anna Hollinrake worked on.

Dear An­gel­ica was art di­rected by Wes­ley Alls­brook at Ocu­lus Story Stu­dio, to show­case Quill’s an­i­ma­tion tools.

Ric tells us how he got started: “Ocu­lus Story Stu­dio com­mis­sioned me to do an il­lus­tra­tion for them and I wouldn’t let them stop let­ting me use Quill since.” “I like paint­ing tra­di­tion­ally so I’m used to ma­nip­u­lat­ing colour as a sub­stance. It’s great to find that feel­ing in VR,” says Car­los.

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