What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “virtual reality”? Fighting through dungeons with a sword and shield? Shooting aliens in space? Cutting rhythm notes like a musical Jedi? Virtual reality helps us achieve impossible things, live out wild fantasies and put us in ridiculous situations. But VR is much more than immersive games; there are also practical applications.
Novice pilots can be trained with VR. Headsets are FDA-approved as a therapy treatment aid to help people with chronic pain. VR can also be used as a form of exposure therapy for those with intense phobias, such as a fear of flying. The technology is great for gaming, but there’s limitless potential to what can be done in a virtual space.
Which brings us to Painting VR, a game that – surprises! – is about letting you paint virtually. There’s no story mode, no crazy gameplay mechanics, and no memorable “only-possible-in-VR” moments. It is exactly what it says on the tin. And his fantastic†
Having your own giant art studio with nothing but an easel and art supplies may seem like a pointless and new VR concept; after all, you could just paint in real life. But thanks to virtual reality, you don’t have to worry about cleaning up clutter, accidentally wasting expensive paint, or buying supplies.
It makes painting a more accessible medium for those who have already invested money in a VR headset. Too often I’ve found myself wishing I could learn to paint, but it’s just not a hobby that’s right on my budget; not to mention that the small duplex I live in has no free space.
That’s why I was so excited to try Painting VR. Have access to a huge space and an unlimited supply of materials in my Quest 2 Headphones are exactly what I needed. And whoo boy, it spoils with its selection of art supplies. There’s a giant block brush, flat brushes, round brushes, cone brushes, a splatter brush, three sizes of markers, aerosol cans and even a paint roller.
Each of these brushes has individual settings that let you adjust their opacity, how well they blend with other colors, and how much they smudge. Adjusting these settings makes each brush feel unique. My cone brush settings can vary between paintings, essentially giving me more than a single cone brush. It is almost overwhelming to have such a large array of artistic tools at your disposal.
It’s in the way you use it
Using these tools feels fantastic because everything behaves as you would expect. There is haptic feedback on your tools that almost gives them a sense of weight. You can even put your virtual fingers right on the canvas to smear paint around, making a coarse but satisfying sound effect so soft that I have nostalgic flashbacks of playing Nickelodeon Gak as a kid.
With an eye drop-like feature, you can switch colors directly on your tools, or you can take a handy palette and manually mix colors with your brushes. If you want to take it one step further, you can pour cans of paint together to balance the levels and quickly create your ideal color. Every aspect of how painting works feels extremely well thought out, elevating Painting VR above the novel idea of bringing a virtual brush to a virtual canvas.
A (brush) stroke genius
Additional features, such as an in-game web browser that allows you to view Google prompts or videos, make Painting VR even more player-friendly. I did the obvious and put a Bob Ross video on YouTube to follow along. It… didn’t turn out great, but that’s only because of my own lack of technical skills. It is certainly possible to paint alongside an episode of The Joy of Painting or another art tutorial video, which is great for anyone learning to paint.
You can also upload your own reference photos, pop them into your studio and resize them as you see fit. Can’t make that waterfall look good? Just enlarge it to the size of a real waterfall. And if you’re like me and can’t live with the crushing weight of your own mistakes, virtual reality gives you the benefit of a handy undo button.
State of the arts
Is VR painting on the same level of wow-worthy experiences like The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners, SUPERHOT VR or others great quest 2 games† Of course not, and I won’t argue otherwise. But what is it? is doing doing it is taking advantage of an aspect of VR that I love by breaking down barriers to activities that some may not have so easy access to in real life.
More often than not, I want my Quest 2 to give me escapism through fantastic words and thrilling adventures; other times I just want to turn on some relaxing music and immerse myself in my own zen-like space where I can explore my creative side.