#489: From 2D Illustration to 3D VR Art: The Role of Artists with the Uncanny Valley

Ashley-PinnickIn July, I was invited to give a talk about virtual reality at the bi-annual Illustration Conference with indie VR developer Ashley Pinnick, who studied as an artist and illustrator. On today’s Voices of VR podcast, we talk about the process of moving from 2D illustration to 3D VR art, some potential strategies for artists to get more involved in the process of virtual reality development, and the role of artists in creating digital avatars on the safe side of the uncanny valley.


One of the big contributions that artists can make is to create stylized VR avatars that feel comfortably outside of the uncanny valley. Studies have shown that people prefer some level of stylization in their avatars, and so illustrators are particularly well-suited to help people construct their digital identities in VR and AR.

There’s also a lot of possibilities for artists to create surreal and stylized worlds for people to discover, and it’s becoming easier and easier for artists to create virtual reality experiences by using VR art programs. The most well-known programs are TiltBrush, Oculus Story Studio’s Quill, as well as Oculus Medium. VR artist Danny Bittman wrote a great getting started guide for VR artists and other VR artists like Liz Edwards are getting noticed for their art created within VR.

I expect to see a lot more breakout art VR experiences created by trained artists in 2017, and that Sketchfab will likely play a large role in helping to discover 3D artist talent just as YouTube has helped independent video creators be discovered.

Creating art in VR is turning out to be one of the big cultural contributions of virtual reality, and I told the artists at the Illustration Conference that I’m really interested to see what type of worlds and characters they build and stories they tell.

Here’s a video of some of the major points that I made at the 2016 Illustration Conference:

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Music: Fatality & Summer Trip