Start in 3D stay in 3D, that’s the BricsCAD moto and building CAD in virtual reality (VR) is surely the ultimate goal of any CAD software. The almighty Google is pioneering technologies to get there and we at Bricsys can’t help but get excited about this!

Virtual Reality Design

What’s the hardest thing about CAD? For me, it’s trying to design, manipulate and construct a 3D object in a 2D workspace. Sure the 3D mouse is a great start when it comes to improving things, but it’s far from perfect. What if I tell you that there is an artist called Jonathan Yoe, who is the first to create a sculpture in VR and then have it 3D printed and forged in Bronze?

If you had told me this time last year that I would be here at the royal academy, in a show celebrating their 250th anniversary exhibiting sculpture for the first time made using processes involving virtual reality, I think I wouldn’t have just said that was unlikely, I think I’d have said that was impossible. – Jonathan Yoe

Deep inside the murky world of Google there is an area known as Google Arts and Culture here you’ll find a huge number of exciting ideas and experiments to explore.

Warning: Downloading this app is a guaranteed way of losing hours of your time!

Try out a whole host of Google experiments. A selfie camera that can scan through a huge number of paintings to find your closest match. A virtual reality tour of famous landmarks. Here you’ll even find Google Tilt Brush which is something I’d love to get my hands on!

Google Tilt Brush is really the first step towards a true VR design technology. It allows people to sketch in 3D and then walk around their creations. Let’s face it, Pictionary will never be the same again!

From Virtual Reality to Reality

In the project titled From Virtual Reality to Reality, Jonathan Yoe began by experimenting with Google Tilt Brush, but quickly became frustrated by the fact that he’s “cut off from reality” whilst using it. There is no way to see reference images, still-lives or look in a mirror. He can’t even see his own hands! The eureka moment came when he discovered he could scan his face using a 3D scanner from OTOY and then import it into Google Tilt Brush. From this highly detailed scan he was able to work to draw a self-portrait in VR.

virtual reality design
Jonathan Yoe Scanning his head at OTOY

The process is an obviously had a huge impact on the overall finish. He describes it as “painted sculpture”. The advantage of designing in VR over traditional methods, means that the final sculpture has a painterly feel. The gestures he makes when creating are closer to that of impressionist brushstrokes than to sculptural carvings or clay constructions. It also gives the artist a unique opportunity to stand within the work, as opposed to sitting outside of it as we do with current CAD technologies. Any of you that have tried Oculus Rift or even demoed our VR technology at Bricsys 2018, will know that VR takes an understanding of a CAD space to the next level and gives people a much more complete understanding of their designs.

virtual reality design
The final peace

In the final stages of the project worked with the boffins at Google and the forging company Pangolin to transform his VR drawing into a 3D printable object that was then cast in 4 pieces. The final work was displayed at the Royal Academy’s 250th-anniversary exhibition 2018. Using bronze as a material is a rather beautiful way of combining modern and traditional methodology into one piece.

I would be curious to see some of the results a GAN AI might produce using this technology. And who knows, one day we may all have the possibility to move away from the slavery of a screen!