I was standing inside an illustration made with the art tool Quill from Facebook’s Oculus. My right hand was for painting and my left hand showed a tool panel with a nested list of objects representing everything in the scene. Using this list, I could select all or part of the illustration, with control over the scale of whatever is selected.
What this means is that if my illustration had a a road with a car driving on it and a person in the driver seat, I could use the same intuitive stretching gesture to resize all of these elements together, or the car and the person driving in it or just the person. If I want a life size road, I can do that. If I want a tiny little car, I can do that too. If I wanted to remove the driver — it’s as easy as grabbing him. This layering system also lets artists modify — like for coloring — only a single part of the overall illustration.
We spoke this week to Oculus Story Studio creative director Saschka Unseld about the differences between Quill and Google’s Tilt Brush, as well as from the Medium creation software, which is also from Oculus but has been in development for a longer period of time.
While Medium is used to sculpt and mold virtual objects into shape, according to Unseld, “the most successful things in Quill are loose, like there is the illusion of volume but it is is still an illustration.” The goal with Quill is to offer a tool that lets artists express themselves without feeling constrained.
Google’s Tilt Brush is perhaps the most well-known HTC Vive app, and Unseld noted “what makes Tilt Brush so incredibly fun is you have a line with sparkles, or it glows or it’s neon. But what if I don’t want my line to glow?” According to Unseld, Quill differs from Tilt Brush in that its brushes lacks these extra “effects.”
“I never ever ideally want people to be like, oh, this was made in Quill,” he said. “This doesn’t have a look, you can do whatever you want in there.”
Quill has been in development since late last year and Oculus built it in tandem with the newest Dear Angelica project from Oculus Story Studio. Both Quill and Dear Angelica should be releasing in early 2017, around the Sundance Film Festival.