Mixing paint and working on a large canvas with all kinds of brushes and spray cans, it can now be lifelike in virtual reality. The studio Oisoi will launch its VR app Painting VR next week. Painting VR is set to be released for early access on the 5th of May 2021.

A white canvas measuring five by five units hangs on one wall. There are brushes of all sizes on rusty metal racks, and open paint pots and aerosol cans on the weathered floor. It is all virtual but pushes the boundaries in true-to-life.

Unhindered by any knowledge of painting, you can mix paint and use a roller brush on the canvas. The application of the paint makes the unmistakable sound of the wet substance being rolled out onto the texture of the canvas. The light reflects softly on my simple work of art.

Director and gaming nerd

Clerckx is the developer who uses the possibilities of the technology to the utmost for the project. He uses the industry-leading game engine Unity, software used for game creation as well as film and television applications. He graduated from Digital Arts and Entertainment in 2011 and has a lot of experience with animation film. In fact, he started modding games very early on. That is changing all kinds of aspects of existing games. “Actually, I rather make games than play them,” says Clerckx. Painting VR started with him as a hobby project. Now even Unity engineers are amazed at his mastery.

While Clerckx is more of the ‘gaming nerd’ who likes to look for a perfect representation of mixing paint colours, Reygaert is rather fascinated by people and experiences.

Creating the app is a collaborative process. About two hundred testers are already working with the app. They are in constant contact with Reygaert and Clerckx via the communication platform Discord. There is great enthusiasm and there are different movements in the community. Some swear by an experience that is as realistic as possible, others want a little more comfort. “The version that we are now releasing is the starting point. We will then develop for another year before we actually get to version 1.0,” Reygaert explains. “We do this together with the community.”

About a month ago, the makers came out with a test version. The specialized site UploadVR hailed the app for its realistic effects and compared it to the top game Boneworks.

In the course of the summer, there will be different canvas sizes and it will be possible to lay the canvas on the floor and throw it with paint, ideal for action painting in the footsteps of Jackson Pollock. Some distance is therefore taken from physical reality with a ‘zero-gravity experience.

In the autumn there will be a version that makes collaboration possible. Users will be provided with web pages and a 3D gallery will be accessible to regular web browsers as well. In this way, the work also becomes available to an audience outside the VR world. A marketplace is planned for spring next year, potentially helping users to use non-fungible tokens (NFT) to make their digital art unique and marketable.

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