June 2nd, 2017

Since its release with the launch of HTC Vive in 2016, Tilt Brush, Google’s 3D painting VR app, has continued to grow in popularity and functionality, attracting a wide range of artists, creatives and technologists to explore and contribute to the emerging medium. Naturally, Mill artists have also been drawn to the immersive canvas, using it for both artistic expression and as a valuable tool in the creative process.

Wyatt Savarese, Tilt Brush Master, Emerging Tech Producer, and former 3D Lead on award-winning projects like Under Armour ‘Rule Yourself’ and PlayStation ‘Greatness Awaits’, recently shared his experience and knowledge of the app’s growing toolset with fellow artists at The Mill in NY in a Tilt Brush Demo for Learning at Work Week.

Wyatt demonstrates Tilt Brush audioreactive feature at Learning At Work Week:

We asked Wyatt to tell us more about his experience creating with Tilt Brush, how his experience as a VFX artist helped, and how the tool can evolve:

What’s your background as an artist – traditionally and in VFX?

I am a classically trained fine artist with a strong background in sculpting and painting. I attended The Fashion Institute of Technology before getting involved in VFX. Before that I was an apprentice tattoo artist on Long Island. In VFX, I have been primarily a generalist over my career with an eight-year detour in crowd simulation

What attracted you to Tilt Brush as a creative tool?

I have always been very interested in digital painting, and Tilt Brush is the perfect blend of 2D and 3D painting. When you start with the blank canvas in Tilt Brush, you aren’t limited by the size of your page because you can make your canvas is as big or as small as you like. Also, there is something about painting a subject relative to your scale, it’s something I have never experienced in traditional painting. 

What’s your approach and process when creating a new piece? 

My subject matter is really all over the place. I have been playing with scale lately, so large creatures are the flavor of the month. When I am painting in Tilt Brush, I start off with a very loose wire frame sketch. After that, I start to build volume, which is like adding clay to a sculpture except you’re are drawing on the volume. You have to think out each stroke that you add and what direction you want the flow lines to travel.

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How does creating in Tilt Brush differ from your experience in other mediums?

When I am painting in Tilt Brush, I feel I can be looser and more "painterly”. This was a term one of my professors used to describe Expressionist artists like Alice Neel or Lucian Freud who used a lot of texture and heavy brush strokes.

I also feel that you can make images at a much faster speed or pace. With 3D, you have to work much harder and longer to get a specific look or feel to an image.

How has your background as a 3D artist contributed to how you approach creating in Tilt Brush?

I think in 3D. When I look at something in the “real world”, I often think of how I would make that shape in 3D, and how I would translate that into a 3D model. This way of thinking helps with making my images feel less flat and 2D. I know how the z-axis works.

What have you learned along the way? How have you changed your approach as you became more comfortable with the tool?

I find that the more time I spend painting in VR, it is actually helping my traditional sketching and drawing skills. I am able to more quickly block out dynamic shapes on paper after roughing them out in Tilt Brush. Also, there is something about just jumping into Tilt Brush and just going for it. It’s sort of liberating.


How do you think Tilt Brush could be improved? Are there any features or tools that you’d like to see be added that would help you as an artist?

Tilt Brush has made some awesome improvements over the last few months like the guides for precise painting, the newly added environmental lighting, and key and fill lights. I think layers and paint opacity features to blend colors would be a very useful improvement. 

Although, one benefit to not being able to blend colors is that you have to use some creative thinking to come up with something that looks like blending. It keeps it interesting.

What are you working on now? And what would you like to do in the future?

Currently, I am using Tilt Brush along with low polygon geometry to do rough layout/ pre-visualization for VR. If you are working towards real-world scale in VR, there is no faster way to get the sense of scale or presence. I would also love to do more character design and rapid iteration in a VR/Tilt Brush Pipeline.


Are there any artists that you look to for inspiration?

Traditional Artists: Jed LeiknesChet Zar, Frank Frazetta, Vitaly Bulgarov

Tilt Brush Artists in Residence: Tyler Hurd, Andrew Bell, Chris Prynoski, Phil Fish

See more of Wyatt’s Tilt Brush on his website.

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