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
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.