Bring Black-and-White Worlds to Life in ‘Color Space’
Why settle for a coloring book when you can color from inside the scene? Last week, Lighthaus Inc. released Color Space for Oculus Quest and the Rift Platform, offering the VR community an ideal way to de-stress while embracing their creativity. According to Engadget, “it's a good example of how VR's immersion can be genuinely helpful, not just a nice bonus.”
With an intuitive control scheme, Color Space is a great introduction to VR—and a relaxing experience for VR veterans too. Originally designed for medical patients, including those undergoing chemotherapy, as a way to distract them from discomfort and time-consuming treatments, Color Space quickly evolved into a VR experience with a broad-based appeal. It’s casual, recreational, and the perfect app to help you let your creativity loose and unwind.
What did you draw upon for inspiration while working on Color Space?
Danny Bittman: The whole idea was to have a coloring book feel, but not something too cartoony or silly—more like those super detailed adult coloring books you see. As I was making my boards, I was drawn to those illustrated National Parks posters with surreal colors, the ones with silhouettes of people pointing at a moose or the northern lights or whatever. We wanted people to feel like they’re standing in one of those posters, making it come to life.
Which of the 13 scenes is your favorite and why?
It’s a dramatic little nature scene in the forest with the two animals kind of sizing each other up, and it just captures the spirit of Color Space; as you’re coloring, it all comes to life and you’re in this magical forest watching these animals. I also like it because it was one of the first scenes we did in 2018, so it’s been with us a long time and has gone through several iterations. That original scene had way too much detail though, so I remodeled the whole thing in Google Blocks to simplify it, then did that again a few months later in Gravity Sketch. It took over a year to complete, but because of all that R&D we have a process now where it takes one to two weeks to make a scene from start to finish.
Tell us more about your workflow using Tilt Brush, Gravity Sketch, and AnimVR.
DB: One of the fun things about Color Space is that I basically created all of the art from inside VR. People might not think about it much, but most games and VR experiences are created on a desktop screen by an artist sitting in a comfortable office chair. Just because something looks good on a desktop, that doesn’t mean it will feel good in VR.
One thing you can do in VR that’s really cool is design a little miniature scene, say the size of a door mat, with some blobs for trees and rocks, etc.
How did you decide where to incorporate animations?
So our lead engineer, Anna Krasner, built this system in Unity where you could make objects appear and activate any animation like a Rube Goldberg machine just by coloring it in. So when you color in something like a birdhouse, a bird comes swooping in and thanks you. Basically, if we made an object that could be brought to life when you colored it, we did that.
What kind of response have you seen while demoing the experience?
Instead, it’s like a coloring book in that people of any age can really enjoy it with basically no learning curve. It’s a kick to watch when people fill in the sky, or a river, they go, “Whoaaa.” That was true for our families and early testers, but now we can see people doing it on their YouTube and Twitch channels.
So many people are also saying stuff like, “This is the perfect app for me to relax and get away from the stress of this moment.” We didn’t intend that, obviously, but it’s really gratifying to feel like we can help people feel a little better right now.
What’s next for you? Any exciting updates in the works?
DB: In December I started teaching my VR art workflow for Tilt Brush and Gravity Sketch through a multi-hour tutorial series on YouTube. Now I can teach the full workflow, so that includes concept design in Tilt Brush, 3D modeling in Gravity Sketch, and the polishing process on a desktop.
As for Color Space, we just pushed our first update! A lot of people have asked us to expand the color palette—both to include blacks and grays, and to let people choose the hue of colors. So look out for the update where you’ll suddenly have many, many more colors to choose from.
Mar 26, 2020 at 22:06