SculptrVR can be amazing in the hands of an artist

SculptrVR can be amazing in the hands of an artist

Written by Eric Hauter on 7/5/2018 for PC   PSVR  
More On: SculptrVR

I am not an artist. It is important to be very up front about that. I have next to no artistic skill. I have no training, beyond learning to make a sad chalk pumpkin in eighth grade art class. My attempts at art are childish at best . Most objects that I try to draw end up looking like the scrawling of a walrus. A wretched, deformed walrus, with a pencil super-glued to its walrus-arm-flap.

That is why I knew that I needed to bring in some professional help when it came time for me to mess around with SculptrVR. I was delighted that SculptrVR was released for PlayStation VR, but I knew that I was going to be abysmal with it. This newly released art/creation/3D modeling tool allows user to build objects and sculptures in VR, but with an unheard-of level of detail. Users are given a full palate of colors to work with, and are able to push and pull, shave and tug at the material that they place into the empty work area. Given a fun set of tools and a blank canvas, users have the ability to sculpt and mold anything that comes to mind.

Unfortunately, my mind is like that of an 8-year-old, so left to my own devices, I created this beautiful scene my first time out:

I was actually feeling pretty good about the tree (it has roots!), but let's face it. That slide is a hot mess, and the scale of the little guy vs. the swing-set is slightly off. I don't think that swinging with the top of your head resting against the crossbar of the swing-set is 100% safe. Something about pulled hair and friction. On a technical level, I was attempting to create objects and place them on the patch of ground I had created, in my quest to piece together a scene. This took a bit more coordination than I was able to muster. 

However, I was determined to at least try to create something decent. After a hour or two of careful consideration, I realized that my masterpiece was not quite complete, so I fixed it:

Please note the height of the basketball hoop against the height of the tree. I am a master.

At this point, my 5-year-old wandered into the room and began jeering at me, so I knew that I needed help.

My wife comes from a family of artists. She and her two sisters are compelled to constantly create beautiful things, regardless of the medium. If you put them in a room together with some magazines, they just absently pick up scissors and start cutting out images to make a collage. If you add a bolt of cloth to the mix, they start making clothing. If you give them paint, they paint. If you give them pencils, they draw. Its just a thing they do. It's in their DNA.

I, on the other hand, come from a family that eats things and creates debt. We have different skills.

So, I wondered what would happen if I asked my wife, who has less than zero interest in computers or video gaming, to strap on the old PS VR and take a crack at SculptrVR. What could she create in an entirely new medium that she was unfamiliar with? Would her artistic talents translate when using a digital tool that she had no interest it? Could I eat some stuff while she was trying it out?

On a Saturday afternoon, she agreed to give it a shot. I booted up SculptrVR, and gave her a brief tutorial (two minutes, tops) on how to hold the controllers and what I thought the buttons did. Then I just got out of the way, and stood back to see what would happen.

My wife spent a few minutes playing with the tools, placing objects on the screen and painting them pretty colors. Almost instantly, she grasped that she was able to take separate objects and mold them together. This was a leap that I had failed to make. Where I was could not move past the concept of "drawing" items into a scene, she quickly moved onto the concept of manipulating materials. In a matter of five minutes or so, she had created this abstract thingie:

Seemingly satisfied, she tossed the colorful thingie to the side, and began plunking down strips of raw material in what I assumed was another abstract shape:

She then began smoothing the pieces together, tugging at one end while chipping away at another. Watching from the sofa, I munched on handful after handful of "Extra Toasty Cheez-its". After about ten minutes or so, she had created this:

While she claimed to not really be familiar with what skulls look like, this was still far better than anything I could have done. Ever. My wife had gotten right to the core of SculptrVR in a way that I had not. Where I had been attempting to drop things into place and use the controller like a pencil to draw shapes into being, she had quickly realized that she should give herself some "clay" to mess with as a base, then make adjustments until she had achieved the effect that she wanted.

Satisfied that she understood the basics, she pronounced SculptrVR "interesting", and went about her day. On Sunday, I pulled her back to the living room for round two. This time, I brought a bowl of leftover chili.

We only had about a half hour until we had to put the kids to bed, so I was curious to see what she could come up with in that limited amount of time, starting from scratch.

Once again, she started plopping raw material into place.

Very quickly, she started smoothing out the rough edges, and before long, the basic shape of a human head and torso began to take shape.

Once she had the basic shape of the head in place, she began shaving out concave areas to imply eye sockets, and drawing out the middle to form a nose. A basic face began to emerge. I was about half done with my chili at this point.

Next she began to work on lips. With just a few short strokes, she was able to establish the impression of a mouth.

For my part, I noticed something weird in my chili. After some consideration, I decided that it was a clump of cat hair. I took the chili to the kitchen, dumped it in the trash, and returned with a few pieces of apple that I had stolen from our one-year-old.

She added cheek bones, and spent some time shaping the cranium, giving her creation a less "alien" feel.

She then began smoothing out the neck and shoulders, giving shape to torso to indicate a bone structure beneath the surface.

Out of apple, I surveyed the room for snacks. Seeing a Goldfish cracker on the floor, I decided that it might have been dropped there by the one-year-old earlier in the day, so it was probably safe to eat.

My wife then added on a few bits of clay, and smoothed out the creases to give her woman arms. It was quickly decided that hands were beyond what she was willing to take on with her time constraints.

Also, I was wrong about the Goldfish. It was pretty old. But, having committed, I realized that I was going to have to either get up from the sofa to spit it out, or just swallow it. I'll give you two guesses as to what I decided to do. The answer is "I swallowed it".

With some twisting, tugging and and smoothing, my wife added more detail and worked on refining the existing features. 

We were running out of time, which was a good thing, because I was out of ideas for snacks. I spent the remaining time using my tongue to dig old Goldfish clumps from my teeth.

When her time was up, this is what she had come up with:

At the end of round two, my mind was blown at what could be created with this tool. While my scraggly screenshots are unable to convey it, the sculpture she made was even more impressive when I put on the headset to examine it in 3D. Watching someone with some artistic talent work with this set of tools was amazingly entertaining. I wondered what my wife could create if she continued to work in this medium. I further wondered what she could create if she started using the zoom feature to add some fine detail (SculptrVR is capable of up to 10,000x zooming). 

After an hour or so with SculptrVR, my wife once again declared this amazing tool/game "interesting" (this is high praise). She also mentioned that she might be interested in adding legs to her creation "next time", which I took as an indication that she found this medium to be worth at least some further exploration. She commented she enjoyed the cool feature that allowed her to just add more clay in the middle of creation, which made her more willing to experiment and make mistakes than she would be using real life materials.

To summarize:

SculptrVR is super cool. 

My wife is super cool.

I don't have the slightest understanding of the act of "doing art".

Floor Goldfish are edible, but are not as fun to eat as Goldfish directly from the bag. 

SculptrVR is available on the PlayStation Store for PS VR, and is also available on Oculus Rift, Google Daydream, Oculus GO, and Gear VR.

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

SculptrVR can be amazing in the hands of an artist SculptrVR can be amazing in the hands of an artist SculptrVR can be amazing in the hands of an artist SculptrVR can be amazing in the hands of an artist SculptrVR can be amazing in the hands of an artist SculptrVR can be amazing in the hands of an artist SculptrVR can be amazing in the hands of an artist SculptrVR can be amazing in the hands of an artist SculptrVR can be amazing in the hands of an artist SculptrVR can be amazing in the hands of an artist SculptrVR can be amazing in the hands of an artist SculptrVR can be amazing in the hands of an artist SculptrVR can be amazing in the hands of an artist SculptrVR can be amazing in the hands of an artist SculptrVR can be amazing in the hands of an artist SculptrVR can be amazing in the hands of an artist

About Author

Howdy.  My name is Eric Hauter, and I am a 45-year-old dad with four kids, ranging in age from 1 through 17.  During my non-existent spare time, I like to play a wide variety of games, including JRPGs, strategy and action games (with the occasional trip into the black hole of MMOs).  I was an early adopter of PSVR (I had one delivered on release day), and I’ve enjoyed trying out the variety of games that have released since day one.  I’m intrigued by the possibilities presented by VR multi-player, and I try almost every multi-player game that gets released.

My first system was a Commodore 64, and I’ve owned countless systems since then.  I was a manager at a toy store for the release of PS1, PS2, N64 and Dreamcast, so my nostalgia that era of gaming runs pretty deep.  Currently, I play on PS4, PSVR, PS Vita, 3DS, Wii U and a janky PC.  While I lean towards Sony products, I don’t have any brand loyalty, and am perfectly willing to play game on other systems.

When I’m not playing games or wrangling my gaggle of children, I enjoy watching horror movies and doing all the other geeky activities one might expect.

View Profile

comments powered by Disqus