Google Tilt Brush is Awesome

Imagine having no physical constraints as you create a piece of art that is in your mind that you must physically get out into existence. No width, height or dimensional barriers to put a cap on your creative process. You are free to use a room as your canvas, to express what you want to in three-dimensional glory – with your piece taking up an entire room size space if that is what you see it as. Google’s Tilt Brush allows you to do that, in an instant.

What is Google’s Tilt Brush?

Google’s Tilt Brush is a virtual reality application that is available on both the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift devices. Both devices come with a headset, 2 controllers, and movement tracking bases. Within the app, the controllers become tools of the artistic trade, one a color palette and the other a pen, a brush – whatever you need to release the artist within. The name was part of the initial design that involved a 2-dimensional surface to create on while tilting it any way you wanted. Once put onto the Vive system, the 2D surface was eliminated as the Vive operating system allows a form of freedom never initially dreamed of.

How it was Developed

The app creators did not start out with Google or trying to create a 3D painting program. Patrick Hackett and Drew Skillman were trying to build a 3D chess application when they stumbled onto the idea. As the pieces moved in their game, they realized that there were lights trailing after them… which caught their interest more than what they had originally been working on in development. By the end of 2014 they had an early version of the application which they dubbed Tilt Brush – and what started out as a bug in their initial chess game would launch them into the world of Google.

Enter Google

2015 brought Hackett and Skillman to seven months of having a rough version done – and this brought Google to them. Google purchased the application for an undisclosed sum – and then hired the duo. The pair had been working in the small neighborhood of South Park, long associated with the tech industry’s digerati, in Skillman’s 400-square-foot studio apartment.

They went from that micro-space to Google offices, exceeding any expectation they had at the beginning.

Tilt Brush was greeted with enthusiasm when Google released it free with any pre-order of a Vive. It is available as a stand-alone application for $30 on both the Vive and Oculus systems.  Hackett, Skillman, and Google have been serious about continuing development, holding an artist in residence workshop. Skillman pointed out that making an artistic program without artist input would be a foolish, almost impossible endeavor.

Google Tilt Brush & Artist Collaboration

There are many impressive names involved with the artist in residence program, one of the first and most impressive is animation legend and Disney veteran, Glen Keane. Any child of the 1990’s is sure to recognize his work as the animator who brought many favorites to life – Ariel, Pocahontas, Tarzan, and Aladdin. Keane worked at Disney for 37 years, leaving in 2012 – wanting to be free to look and find the next big thing for animation on his own. He was still searching for it when he met Regina Dugan a few years later. Dugan was then acting as the head of Google’s Advanced Technology and Products group – a branch of Google always looking for new products and developing existing works to stay at the peak of technological developments.

Dugan saw that Keane was someone who would be able to lend credibility to the project that few others could. He may have gone into it not sure of what to expect, but he quickly fell in love with the application. He released a video on his YouTube channel praising Tilt Brush for bringing art to life. He stated that he has a hope for the technological development of the application – where right now it is stationary, he hopes Hackett and Skillman are able to bring animation to it so that animation can be done in a larger-than-life, completely immersive environment.

Another big name to be involved with this artist in residence program is graphic artist and author Scott McCloud who penned “Understanding Comics” – universally seen as the authoritative guide to comic art. He is also a fan and proponent of Tilt Brush from his time spent playing with it in Google’s Silicon Valley office. He is excited not only about what the application already offers, but also the fact that it is in early stages and the technology holds so much more potential for future and continuing developments.  

Another participant is Bob Mankoff, currently the Cartoon and Humor editor of Esquire magazine. When he participated in the program, however, he was the Cartoon Editor at The New Yorker and got to use the product over a two day period with his team at the New York Google offices. Mankoff was a fan, however, suggested that Google put in stock shapes for those who aren’t as experienced to have a starting place. The New Yorker team was not sure that Tilt Brush could ever infiltrate the comic artistry known as “Flatland.” Many comic artists will never stray from that distinctive look. Mankoff suggested there will be a division in generational use of the product within the industry.

Without a doubt, Tilt Brush is an excellent application. It gives artists a space to have a fully immersive “canvas” on which there are no borders or boundaries to stifle their creativity. Artists can draw 3D portraits, shapes, and just about anything they can imagine. There is a world of art literally at their fingertips, and all it takes is slipping on a headset and picking up the controllers. Once you do that, you are free to immerse yourself in the world of your imagination in a way never before possible. It has the seal of approval of many top artists and creators, and the future is open for more development. If this sounds like what you have been waiting for your entire life, then look no further! Google Tilt Brush is what you (and millions of other artists) have been seeking, and it is AWESOME.

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