3D World

Paint a serene landscape in virtual reality

Delve into the VR illustrati­on tool Quill and create a beautiful, stylised environmen­t

- youtube.com/c/ Animbrusha­cademy

For this tutorial, lead environmen­t artist Felix Stief will be demonstrat­ing how he uses Quill to make an illustrati­ve outdoor scene directly in VR without needing any other software. Quill is an intuitive, artist-friendly VR painting tool that allows the user’s unique style to come through and generate illustrati­ve hand-made scenes without requiring any sort of 3D background. The software can only be used in VR and artists ‘paint’ by drawing geometric 3D strokes in the air around them.

Quill will come naturally to those with a 2D illustrati­on background because it’s more similar to Photoshop than it is Maya. The whole pipeline from drawing, to texturing, to animating is all done with a limited set of tools and artists who master them can produce great results extraordin­arily quickly without needing to get too technical.

Working in Quill means working in an infinite canvas. Without boundaries it can be easy to become overwhelme­d by the possibilit­ies. The goal of this tutorial is to explain the process when working in Quill to help you create an immersive scene without losing track of the rules of compositio­n and staging. This will guide you through various key steps including initial VR sketching, painting in details, basic Quill animation, and keeping everything optimised enough so that others can experience it in VR too.

The world of VR art is still relatively new and its pages in art history are still being written. New techniques are discovered every week and the language for VR storytelli­ng and VR art are rapidly evolving.

You can find a series of beginner Quill tutorials here if you’re new to the world of VR painting:


You can begin by organising your Quill windows. Some like to keep the UI attached to their hand, while others prefer to separate the windows and create a stationary workspace. To separate UI panels, use the grip button on either controller.

For this environmen­t you’ll only really be using the Tools window, the Color window and the Layers/timeline window. In the Tools window you’ll want to familiaris­e yourself with the various brushes and practise using the grab tool.


For this initial stage it's very useful to create a quick sketch to plan out your scene. Create a simple frame to give yourself focus. Even if your final scene will be 360 VR, the frame helps to plan the forward-facing compositio­n since that’s where the viewer will spend the most time looking. Using the paint tool, start drawing rough strokes and planning the scene out.


While using only a few basic brushes and the grab tool, draw lines in a flat layered approach. Give your scene a shallow depth creating a clear foreground, midground and background while using the frame to keep everything contained. Think about your focal point and how elements of the scene might lead the eye to that area. If the compositio­n isn't working at this stage, it probably won't work well once it’s fully detailed either. You may choose to thumbnail several different options before moving on.


While still keeping things flat and simple, create a new layer and use Quill's colour picker window to begin painting coloured strokes. Starting from the background with a sky and working your way forward will help set a mood and colour scheme for the entire scene. You can use the Quill blending modes to add dodge, burn, multiply, etc to the scene to help make certain areas pop. Also use this time to figure out light direction, since all lighting will be painted by hand. You'll be able to colour pick from this like a palette later.


Now it’s time to construct the scene. The first step is to create a new layer and draw yourself a basic grid with the line tool. This will ground you in the infinite canvas. Next you want to create a Quill camera and place it relative to the grid where your viewer will be. Open the camera monitor tab to check the compositio­n from the viewer position no matter where you are in the scene.


With the viewpoint set you can now start to draw in 3D using just simple line strokes. Keep your 2D sketch handy so you can compare the compositio­ns. Adjust your lines as necessary with the Quill grab tool. You can paint the background trees or clouds smaller as they move away from the viewer, reducing the amount of detailing you'll need and keeping the scene optimal.


Using a large, flat, coloured brush on a new layer, start to paint a ground around the viewer. You can use the colour picker in Quill to reuse the colours that you already made in your coloured sketch. Keep it near so that you can continue to pick from it as you build the scene out. Use the grab tool to bend and manipulate strokes to fit with the sketch layer. Turning the wireframe on can help while placing new strokes. The ground can become more and more simple the further it moves from the viewer.


Once you’ve given yourself a foundation, make a copy of the rough colour thumbnail and begin selecting and moving different pieces over into your 3D sketch, laying the pieces over the foundation you painted and then using the grab tool to shape them so that they match the ground. The goal here is to create a rough coloured 3D guide for yourself. If elements like the sky and treeline are far enough away, the version from the rough sketch may even be polished enough to use in the final version.


On a new layer, create a simple set of strokes that you can grab and stretch. Lower the opacity of the current ground layer and use the grab tool on your new strokes to build clean, rolling hills. Continue duplicatin­g this set of strokes and grabbing until you fill the ground out. Once done, add colour variation by picking from the previous rough ground and using the Colorize tool.


Grass will be made by just painting a few lines on a new layer with the flat ribbon brush and giving each a subtle gradient. Duplicate the grass into small clusters and then duplicate those clusters over and over to fill the scene. Don't overdo it; think of it like a painter, add grass in the foreground and in the places you want people to look and put less detail further away from your viewer. Once you’ve filled the field with grass, now you can begin to recolour it using the dodge tool or by colour picking from your environmen­t.


Using the paint tool you can begin painting in trees, ground and other details. The further away the details will be, the less texture you'll need to add. For some areas you might be able to get away with keeping background elements from your rough 2D sketch with minimal polish needed. Areas like the sky and distant trees could be low detail and far enough away that they can stay almost completely flat. Save time by picking colours from your rough version as you paint more detail.


Construct the windmill mostly from flat line brush strokes using Quill’s ‘snap to axis’ feature. Once the general shape is finished add in smaller strokes with slight colour variation to give it a wooden texture. Remember to think about light direction as you colour the different faces on the windmill. When adding in windows these can exist flatly on the surface with some highlights painted on the edge. The fan blades will all be identical, so create only one and then duplicate/rotate it from the tip three times to complete the fan.


First, separate the windmill fans to a new layer and put that layer in a group. Centre the pivot and add a key at the first position, scrub in the timeline and add another. On the second key rotate the fans 90 degrees and because they're all identical you will give the appearance of a full 360 rotation once looped. Make sure your transform is set to linear motion.


Although you're creating a 360 environmen­t, the focal area should still be front and centre. You can duplicate and reuse a lot of details in other areas of the scene, like behind you. Many VR users will look left and right, but not often backwards. Keep these areas simplified and use fewer strokes. By doing this viewers will give more attention to the most important areas.


You can share your Quill pieces in several ways. To share to VR you can use Quill's built-in ‘Share to Oculus Theater’ button. This will make it visible to everyone on the Oculus Quest, or other Quill users. If using this approach, just remember to check the optimisati­on panel because there are mobile limits. Quill has some optimisati­on tools you can use to bring the polycount down with minor visual impact. For 2D output you can also render up to 8K video with the render cameras or export various formats such as FBX, OBJ or USD. •

 ??  ?? DOWNLOAD YOUR RESOURCES For all the assets you need go to https://bit.ly/3d-world-arcturus
DOWNLOAD YOUR RESOURCES For all the assets you need go to https://bit.ly/3d-world-arcturus
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