Between Google’s Tilt Brush and Blocks and Oculus’ Medium and Quill you might not think there’s much room for more creative experiences within VR. Gravity Sketch is very different from those artistic apps, though. Created by a London-based startup, this new release isn’t so much about artistic expression (though that’s completely possible) as it is a genuine tool for creating professional 3D models. As such, many of its features focus on precision and accuracy, and the app gives creators the ability to use their work in different ways.
When you jump into Gravity Sketch you’ll be greeted with a simple stroke tool not too dissimilar from the ones in Tilt Brush and Quill. It allows for the same intuitive and 3D painting we’ve come to expect from these types of apps. In Gravity Sketch, though, you’ll likely be using the stroke for finishing touches, logos and fine details; it’s the apps other features that really set it apart.
With my left motion controller (in this case Oculus Touch) I can change the tools in my hand to suit a variety of different needs. For example, I can use two hands to pull through the air, creating surfaces with curves in them, making it easy to create a bend in the front of a shoe, for example. Simple clicks to a menu let me change the angle of the curve and the distance between my hands dictates how large the stroke will be.
When it comes to product design, though, accuracy is key, and Gravity Sketch delivers this in spades. With the revolve tool I’m able to drag shapes in a fixed straight line, editing their width with the controllers as I go. In seconds I create something as simple as a candle that looks like it’s ready to be put on a store shelf. With a flat surface tool I can ensure straight lines don’t ever wobble and make flat objects. I can also summon Blocks-style primitive shapes that will add perfect spheres and more to my design at my will and are easily built on top of. From there I can grab points of an object’s mesh to stretch and change them.
Other expected features like pulling in reference images are all here. If you’ve read my past summaries of creative apps then you’ll know that I’m not an artistically gifted person, but Gravity Sketch surprised me with just how accessible it was. Its list of tools allowed even me to create basic, believable 3D models in just a few moments, and there’s a lot here that allows more accomplished users to add the kinds of details you’ve come to expect from VR creation apps. Once you’ve finished up, you can export your creation as an .OBJ file to insert into other games or experiences or more complex CAD programs. Take a look at what some other folks have already made with the app, some of which is simply astonishing.
Right now Gravity Sketch is releasing in Early Access with all the features I just described and more. Leap Motion support is included for example, allowing you to bring hand-tracking into the experience. I haven’t got a Leap to test this out with, but the idea of using it certainly intrigues me. More features are planned for the core edition too, including video recording and a 3D print mode.
The Early Access release costs $29.99 (though there’s a 15% launch discount for $24.99), and the team intends to put profits back into the app. They also plan to launch professional and enterprise editions later this year aimed at studios of varying sizes. Freelancers and smaller studios, for example, can expect new features like a 3D grid, snapping and the ability to export your models as .fx and .iges files too in the Pro edition, which will cost $29.99 a month. Enterprise, meanwhile, costs $99.99 a month and allows for importing environments and more.