Sep 30, 2016 | By Nick

A new Virtual Reality sketching tool means you can design in three-dimensions in open space with a simple app. Gravity Sketch intends to democratize art and wants the general public to create three-dimensional works in mid-air that can then be exported to your favorite design program or you can send it straight to a 3D printer.

The London startup first showed its considerable hand in 2014, when it launched a prototype sketch tool that combined a tablet and a VR headset. It was brilliant, but it never made it through to production. Now, though, after two years of hard work, the company is back with a Kickstarter campaign for a simple app that will cost just $60 and allow anybody with an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive to draw their creations in mid-air. You don’t need a tablet anymore and that makes this a far more intriguing proposition, as the combination of 2D input and 3D design just didn’t sit well with a product like this.

Now the air in front of your face is your sketchpad and that opens up all kinds of opportunities for designers or hobbyists to simply sketch out a concept, twist it in the air in front of them and look at it from a number of different angles. You can also pull your sketch apart and reposition the key components.

“You’re literally creating in mid-air,” said Oluwaseyi Sosanya, one of Gravity Sketch’s co-founders. “Imagine pulling two fingers apart on an iPad. Now imagine doing that with your whole body.”

The company aims to release the app in January 2017 and it is targeting artists and hobbyists. But there’s definitely room for professional designers to visualize their concepts in mid-air before they waste time and money on CAD programs and 3D printing. This could, theoretically, streamline the design process and help visual thinkers see their design in front of them within minutes.

The game has moved on since Gravity Sketch released what was a novel concept. Now Microsoft is working on augmented reality design using holograms, while Tilt Brush offers an exceptional toolkit for artists. Gravity Sketch still has a place, though, as now it offers an exceptionally cost-effective entry point to the world of 3D design.

The company gave the app to a product designer to create a stunning video that shows just what this software is truly capable of. He created a series of complex geometric wireframes in moments and then uses them as building blocks to create a sculpture that could easily be the basis of a lamp, a headboard or even something more extravagant. Since then, a car designer took Gravity Sketch and had a basic concept of a car ready to go within minutes. It’s a stunning demonstration of the app and while the world of industrial design is unlikely to rely on it anytime soon, for the rest of us it could be the inspiration we need to actually design our own products.

The HTC Vive controller can double up as a pen and you can alter the characteristics, the color and the texture of the line just as easily as you can in Photoshop. Once you’ve drawn a shape you can move it by plucking it from thin air and placing it where you want.

This won’t just democratize art. It will open up the world of design as anybody with access to a 3D printer can suddenly take over the whole manufacturing process. Animators have also taken to this new app and the 'What You See is What You Get' aspect of the design process works well for any visual art.

It will also encourage children to think about physical objects in a whole new way and this could be an invaluable addition to any classroom. It goes beyond design, giving children access to an engaging program like this could inspire them to look at complex math problems like geometry in a whole new way.

Some of the models look a little rough and ready, but that’s the point. It’s a quick and dirty design method and if you want to file down the edges then you can import your sketch directly into the CAD program you feel comfortable with and refine your rough concept.

We like this program and if Gravity Sketch can make good on its promise and deliver this for $60, or $30 if you back the Kickstarter, then we’re sure it’s going to be a smash hit.

It took them a while, but it looks like Gravity Sketch has finally cracked it.



Posted in 3D Software



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