In general we tend to think of VR as a place to experience and consume content. However, we have seen a number of applications aimed at making things while in VR. The most famous of these is probably Tilt Brush by Google.
With Tilt Brush it’s possible to paint in VR using handheld motion controllers. It’s a completely different approach to painting since the paintings are in three dimensions instead of two. In many ways Tilt Brush is a revolutionary approach to VR that flips the table on what we think VR should be for.
Now Google has forged ahead with a new product that complements what Tilt Brush does. This new product is Google Blocks and it’s a way to take your 3D modelling into the VR world.
Same Tools, New Perspective
3D modelling is big business, whenever 3D content is created for films or videogames it takes an artist to shape that digital clay into character, building and every other 3D asset in the virtual world.
Usually this is done on a computer with a modelling tool. Zbrush is one of the most popular examples. Objects are modelled, painted and then if needed rigged for animation.
What Google Blocks offers is to translate that process from one that happens on a screen to one that happens in the space where the content will be consumed.
It’s a pretty smart idea since it makes the actual sculpting process more like real-life sculpting, with some enhancements of course. By removing a layer of abstraction between the artist and the “material”.
Tools of the Trade
There are, for now, six different tools that you can take in hand. The shape tools shapes and the paint tool paints. Which is pretty self-explanatory. You can grab, erase and modify directly by using motion controllers and really take control of your 3D model.
The real value of Blocks is the fact that you are working with a volumetric space that you perceive accurately. Best of all, the files can be exported in the almost universally-supported OBJ format. So you can stick it into a unity app or 3D print your creation.
Where Art and Science Meet
For many traditional artists the shift from physical media to digital media has been a tough one. We’ve seen some compromises. Scanning of clay models being one and the use of special 3D touch interfaces.
By using this technology to bring artists into the same physical (well, virtual) that the art is we may see better art than ever and that’s good for everyone.