It’s hard to believe that the PlayStation VR is fast approaching its second birthday already, and if there’s one thing that fans have been begging for since day one it’s a proper virtual painting/modelling app. PC-based VR platforms have enjoyed the success of software such as Tilt Brush and PAINT VR for a while now, but with the release of Wildbit Studio’s CoolPaintrVR it’s finally time for PSVR owners to get in on the action.
Much like the Vive and Oculus-based Tilt Brush, CoolPaintrVR drops users in a virtual space and gives them a palette of tools with which to draw and model freely. Using either a single Move controller or the DualShock 4, would-be artists are given a decent selection of tools with which to create, from the humble brush stroke to basic 3D shapes and even particle effects. While there are some useful 3D-sculpting features such as the ability to trace out custom shapes and then edit and reshape their splines, their implementation is basic at best (there’s no way to texture or paint onto 3D surfaces, for example) so most people will gravitate towards using the basic brushes to bring their imaginations to life. Something I didn’t expect, even after seeing countless videos of others creating art in VR, was just how novel and intuitive it would be to use brush strokes to create 3D art in a virtual environment. There’s something inherently tactile and natural about painting an object into the world, as opposed to meticulously building or sculpting it. It’s a skill that may not instantly click for everyone as is evident by my early ‘works’, especially when it comes to figuring out the nuances of working to scale, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun to get there.
Paint me like one of your future dystopia Neo-French virtual girls
When I started the download for CoolPaintrVR I was surprised to see that it weighed in at less than 100 MB. After installing and firing it up for the first time though I could see why. CoolPaintrVR’s presentation is stark and minimal, but it works. With nothing onscreen but the virtual representation of the controller and camera, and an optional grid mapping out the boundaries of the environment, it’s easy just to focus on creating. Mapped to the controller are shortcuts to open and navigate various menus with which to select tools, pick colours, switch editing modes and more. While there are a handful of text box tutorials that pop up when trying something for the first time, getting the most out of the tools available requires figuring things out alone, which can be confusing in the beginning. After a while though flicking between painting and editing modes and changing things up on-the-fly becomes second nature. If there’s one limitation when it comes to virtual painting using the PSVR it’s the platform’s single camera/sensor setup, which makes it harder to really move around your work compared to competing PC-based software, but that’s an issue with the hardware rather than CoolPaintrVR itself.
I did not create any of these. I could not create any of these
One of the most exciting things about CoolPaintrVR is that once you’ve got the hang of its various tools and created some virtual masterpieces, you can save them onto a USB drive and open them in almost any 3D modelling software, instantly promoting it from creative curiosity to legitimately viable modelling tool. It’s also possible to load a USB drive with images to display onscreen as references, or music to listen to while creating (a handy one since the game doesn’t include any music whatsoever). There’s something special about being able to load up a drive with the complete works of Chopin to listen to while I recreate Van Gogh’s Starry Night.
Okay so that’s a lie, I actually just drew crude 3D penises while listening to a metal version of the Prince of Egypt soundtrack, but same thing really.
CoolPaintrVR’s simple tools and unexciting presentation belie an experience that is unlike anything else on the PlayStation VR platform. Anyone can jump in and spend a couple of hours or days on end creating truly unique pieces of art, regardless of their skill with painting or 3D modelling. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of longevity it enjoys on the platform, and whether or not Wildbit Studios see fit to support and update it into the future, but for now it stands as the PSVR’s killer app for budding creatives.
Reviewed on PlayStation 4 Pro | Review code supplied by publisher