GDC 2017: Epic Games’ Ghost Paint Lets You Airbrush and Tag Worry-free

by Tal Blevins • March 1st, 2017

What started as a passion project for principal artist Shane Caudle has turned into a full-blown VR creation experience. Having worked on titles ranging from Unreal in 1998 to the Gears of War series more recently, Shane is an Epic Games vet, but this is his first VR project. He says he was drawn to VR (pun absolutely intended) because of how real and immersive everything felt on the platform, so he wanted to combine his passion for both digital entertainment and art into a VR experience.

Similar to Kingspray, Ghost Paint allows you to spray paint and tag various surfaces all while donning your Vive headset. As you would expect, the paint acts very realistically, complete with drips and overspray, and the various surfaces you can paint on – ranging from brick walls to canvases to unpainted 3D monkey-like figures like you might see around major cities – give an underlying texture to the final creation. There are also a variety of locales such as alleyways, concrete drainage channels and city buildings where you can plop and tag to your heart’s desire.


Ghost Paint includes a very realistic airbrush simulation as well, which is no surprise given Shane’s background. “I used to be an airbrush artist at the mall,” Shane explains, “and I held the Vive controller horizontally in my hand and thought, ‘hey, that’s kinda like an airbrush.’” The Vive controller does indeed work like an airbrush, allowing you to change the air pressure depending on how you move your thumb over the trackpad, and control paint spread and concentration depending on how far away from the surface you are.


While Shane was able to create some beautiful pieces freehand, as an amateur, mine weren’t nearly as polished. But with the included stencils I was quickly able to feel like an expert tagger without the worry of getting thrown in jail. The fully-scalable stencils look like they’re made of cardboard, which I thought was a nice touch, and the app includes a variety of multi-layer stencils as well, so you can easily shade and add highlights, giving your creations depth and detail.


I also enjoyed playing around with the mirror function which allows you to duplicate a reverse image of anything you’re painting, so you can get some nice symmetrical designs. After finishing your creations you can take screenshots in 4K and in different formats and shapes such as square for uploading to Instagram.

While Ghost Paint felt great and full-featured in its current state, Shane says he still wants to tweak it a bit, add some more stencils and give it a little more polish before release, but it shouldn’t be too much longer until you’re airbrushing with your Vive.

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