Sculpting in VR with Oculus Medium

by Louis July 22, 2019

With the new Oculus Rift S headset acquired it was time to take advantage of free Oculus Medium app (that came with the purchase of the headset). I’m no stranger to VR but the feeling of laying down the first stroke of what feels like zero-g foam in 3D space was amazing. It definitely feels quite a bit different from sculpting in zBrush and Blender, but not in a bad way.

Initially, I found it tricky refining form so I limited by myself laying down strokes and leaving them as is. This resulted in a very blobby result

My thinking was, to get the best results, I should create very simple shapes. Stamping spheres, using the move tool like a soft select to keep the surfaces smooth and using the negative clay tool like a boolean stamp.

“Miffed Demon”

However finding and using the inflate tool refreshed my approach. I found I could gently add and remove mass with much more finesse, enabling smooth surfaces with higher and higher resolution sculpts.

For the next sculpt I thought I’d bring together everything I’ve learnt to create a sculpt based on a reference image, in this case a sketch I made. All the previous sculpts where doodles within no initial concept going in so it would be interesting to see if I was letting the tools dictate the look or not.

Sketched in Leonardo

I loaded the image into Oculus Medium and starting massing out the shapes. I was able to avoid the blobby look I started with and found using sculpt layers to be very important for me to keep sharp transitions from one part to the other and still be able to use the smooth tool. I was happy with the level of detail I was able to put into the sculpt and the performance of what ended up being a 5.3 million poly export (This was on laptop with GTX 1070mq).

As with all the other sculpts, I exported an FBX with vertex colour maps to Blender 2.8, where I setup materials for rendering in Cycles or Eevee. I also wanted to upload them to Sketchfab, but in this case thought 5.3 million poly’s might be a tall order, so using Blender’s decimate modifier to dramatically reduce the number of poly’s without changing the overall look that much at all.

With a more reasonable mesh density I could UV unwrap and bake in the relevant texture maps for upload to Sketchfab. Sketchfab does support vertex colours, but I wanted to bake in some dramatic lighting that I had previewed in Oculus Medium and then setup in Blender 2.8.

On reflection, I wish I had played around a bit more with the export setting within Oculus Medium as there are texture and mesh density options that could have saved a lot of time.

I came to Oculus Medium thinking it would be a gimmicky but fun experience but left with a new found respect for just how powerful and complex this program is, while I don’t think I’ll be using it for production models, partly because I’m concerned that I’d take up way too much space in the studio, I can see myself using it to concept ideas as the appreciation of scale and form mixed with quick, intuitive tool is a winning combination!

SketchFab / ArtStation / Twitter