The Oculus Quest 2 is out now, and I’m sure lots of you will be taking your first steps into VR right now and wondering which of the many apps on the Oculus Store to try out.
One of the most transformative uses of VR devices is for art, creativity, and design. Being immersed in VR allows you to create directly in 3D, using gestural inputs so that your creations precisely match the movements of your hands and body. Representing perspective is no longer something you need to think about – you can now get your 3D ideas straight from your head and into 3D space. Another big advantage is the ability to create at full scale, so you can really experience being inside or alongside your creations.
So whether you are the proud owner of a new Oculus Quest 2, or have had a Quest for a while and are just starting to explore the world of VR art and design, I thought it would be helpful to round up some of the best apps available.
Of course, I’ll start with Gravity Sketch (that’s us!). Gravity Sketch is a 3D design tool that allows you to create and review in 3D. Originally developed from an academic project, early versions of Gravity Sketch focused on allowing you to draw lines and strokes in 3D space. However, it has now transformed into a fully fledged 3D sketching and modeling app, with a set of creation tools including strokes, surfaces, and volumes. You can also create objects with reflectional, rotational and circular symmetry. With subdivision modelling you can rapidly create more complex organic shapes, making the app accessible if you are an artist or designer used to polygon modelling in non-VR tools.
One of the key features of Gravity Sketch is the ability to edit any of the geometry you have created. By entering edit mode, you can then grab any of the control points on your objects and move them around in space with your controller. In this way, infinitely refine your creations from loose strokes to clean lines. You also get access to LandingPad to help you incorporate Gravity Sketch into your workflow. LandingPad is a cloud platform created by Gravity Sketch that allows you, through a web browser, to import reference images and models, download exported models and screenshots, and view your designs in a web viewer.
Gravity Sketch is used by both art/design hobbyists and professionals, in fields from automotive and transportation design, industrial and product design, footwear design, and concept art (e.g. for video games and movies). If you’re looking for a sketching, product design, or 3D modeling tool for your Quest, we think (naturally!) Gravity Sketch is the best option for you.
Gravity Sketch is currently available for $29.99 / £22.99 (but see the update below about it going free!), and is a cross-buy title (so you get the PC version as well for the one payment). The PC version of Gravity Sketch is identical in terms of functionality, however it uses the extra graphics and processing power available for better rendering (the most obvious difference being shadows) and orthographic viewpoints, which is not currently possible on the Quest.
UPDATE: Gravity Sketch is going Free on January 25th, 2021! Read more about why we have made this decision, what this means for new and existing users, and where Gravity Sketch is headed.
Whereas Gravity Sketch is a 3D sketching and modeling app, Tilt Brush is more of a 3D painting app.
Tilt Brush has a large library of brushes available for you to use, ranging from some standard brushes such as oil paint, markers, and highlighters, to effects brushes such as fire, smoke, and electricity, some of which are animated. You can also create 3D volumes in space. There are a range of preset environments to paint in, and advanced tools including a mirror, 3D guides to paint over, and the ability to capture both screenshots and short gifs. Tilt Brush has a beginner and advanced interface that you can switch between, meaning that it is very easy for new users to pick up quickly. Being made by Google, it is integrated with Google Poly, so you can export your sketches on your Oculus Quest to then view or download from Google Poly in a browser later.
If you love to draw or paint, you’ll find this app expands your creative boundaries by opening up the third dimension and enabling you to create immersive artwork that is just not possible through any other medium.
Tilt Brush is available for $19.99 / £15.99, and is also a cross-buy title.
Kingspray Graffiti is something a bit different, and is all about bringing a real life experience into the virtual world. In Kingspray you have the freedom to create street art using spray paints in a range of virtual locations.
Where Kingspray really stands out is its accurate spray simulation and the range of locations. As well as choosing paint type and colour, you can change nozzle type and pressure to control the effects you create on your virtual wall. As you would expect, if you hold your can further away from the wall you spray over a wider area, and if you put too much paint down on one area it will start to drip. There are a range of locations to paint, which really adds to the immersion and variety, from rooftops to subway stations.
If you are a street artist and want a digital canvas to perfect your art on, or have wanted to give street art a go, then this is the app for you. Using the touch controllers as a spray can feels really intuitive, and short of getting outside and making street art for real, this is the closest experience you will get to it.
Kingspray Graffiti is available for $14.99 / £10.99, however it is not a cross-buy title.
On the surface, SculptVR appears a more playful app than those above, but you can pretty quickly create some impressive scenes in this sandbox sculpting app.
SculptVR is a sandbox voxel based sculpting app. Fundamentally, there are a range of tools you can use to lay down shapes, which you can then carve out details from. You can also paint all of your creations. There are also some fun features like the ability to blow up your creation, and the ability to hang glide around your scene. Sculpting in VR is a really tactile experience, and this is the best and most fun option available on Quest for you to do that.
SculptVR is available for $9.99 / £7.99, and is a cross-buy title.
The art and design apps available on Oculus Quest 2 now are each providing a different set of tools and experiences, so if you can I’d definitely recommend getting more than one of them to have a range of creative options. The thing they all have in common, however, is that they all take advantage of VR to provide a creative experience that isn’t possible using a flat screen. If you just want to get one of these to dip your toe into the water, it’s hard to say one is better than the other – I think you should make that choice based on what you want to do with it:
- If you are looking for a feature rich app that allows you to do 3D sketching, design and modeling, then Gravity Sketch is for you (on sale on the Rift store right now, you also get the Quest version when you purchase this!)
- If you are looking to experience painting in VR, using a range of brushes and effects, then Tilt Brush is your best bet
- If you want to develop your street art skills at home in the most realistic way, then get Kingspray Graffiti
- If you are looking to have some fun and do some sculpting in a sandbox environment, then go for SculptVR
So head on to the Oculus Quest store, and have fun creating!