Tilt Brush establishes itself as revolutionary virtual reality software for artists

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Carsten Savage

BY CARSTEN SAVAGE (’17)

While there is a myriad of games for the HTC Vive, there isn’t much else. Google’s Tilt Brush, however, proves that virtual reality is the perfect platform for creating artwork as well as playing games. Tilt Brush has its faults, but both its concept and its execution are truly revolutionary.

In Tilt Brush, my room became my portrait. The game presented me with a palette, and with this palette I had access to many different tools such as brushes that create solid strokes and tools that spawn star, fire, and snow effects. I was able to draw with the Vive’s two remotes. Most of the brushes and tools create 2D effects, but strokes can be layered or structured in a way that makes the art look 3D. To make a box, for example, you must draw four squares to create the sides and two squares on the top and bottom just as you would draw 3D objects in art class.

Art requires precision, and for the most part, Tilt Brush is accurate enough to create real artwork. You can change the size of your brush with a swipe of your finger, allowing for both extremely wide and relatively narrow strokes. The fidelity of the controller tracking is also important, and I was less impressed with this. Often, the tracking would go wonky and Tilt Brush would think my controller was on the opposite side of the room or that it was moving much faster than it truly was, and the brush strokes that I accidentally created when the tracking glitched annoyed me as I had to keep undoing strokes.

Although Tilt Brush seems simple, it has a steep learning curve and can overwhelm the user with its complexity. Since Tilt Brush utilizes layering and 3D modeling, it’s different than painting on a 2D canvas, and it’s nothing like non-virtual reality software such as SketchUp. It took me about six hours to get the hang of the basic paint brush, and I still have tons to learn.

What’s most impressive about Tilt Brush, though, is its potential. I’m impressed by the tools that Tilt Brush offers, but I’m even more impressed by other people’s creations. The program may seem limited if the user is not experienced with it, yet veteran users have drawn magnificent creations that demonstrate Tilt Brush’s jaw-dropping capabilities. People have created pirate ships, the Hulk, and tons more that could only have been created in Tilt Brush. I made Jango Fett from Star Wars with the software, and it took about four hours.

The HTC Vive has many incredible games, but Tilt Brush demonstrates that artistic software can prosper on this platform as well. Tilt Brush is nothing like painting on a canvas, and it’s nothing like sculpting. It’s excellent software and is entirely revolutionary, and I’m excited at its prospects for popularization in the future.