What if you could create art outside the boundaries of physics, but still within the real world? For artists like Sergio Odeith, this means playing tricks with perspective. Sergio makes stunning anamorphic (3D-perspective-based) art using spray paint, a surface with a right angle, and his imagination.

Creative 3D thinkers like Odeith should have the ability to use their freehand art skills to craft beautiful volumetric pieces. Not just illusions on the corners of walls, but three-dimensional works that that people can share the same space with. This was what inspired me to create Graffiti 3D – a VR demo that I entered into the Leap Motion 3D Jam. It’s available free for Windows, Mac, and Linux on my itch.io site.

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Why virtual reality?

While anamorphic graffiti is designed to feel three-dimensional, it’s created without the use of 3D modeling tools – just a set of spray cans. I imagine this has something to do with the fact that common 3D mesh creation tools require abstract mouse and keyboard interactions to manipulate anything, and involve heavy interfaces like this:

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To me, the magic of VR technologies stems from how they enable us to naturally interact with 3D content.  Applications that capitalize on the strengths of seeing and moving in 3D to unlock useful and otherwise impossible functions (such as inspecting models you wouldn’t otherwise be able to see, manipulating weightless objects, interacting with 3D puzzles that couldn’t exist in real life, etc.) are more interesting to me than applications that aim to induce the most “presence” possible.

In short, Graffiti 3D was meant to give people a completely new ability rather than make the user feel as if they’re in someone else’s shoes. Using the Leap Motion Controller’s image passthrough, you can create something from nothing, right there in your living room:


An early creation from Patrik Jensen, before I started using the Hovercast menu system.

The VR art community

The more I look around, the more tinkerers and artists I find with the same (or similar) vision. Here’s a small list of recent projects that are aimed at making creation in 3D more easy and accessible using VR technologies:


Tiltbrush by Skillman and Hackett takes an interesting approach to input by utilizing the mouse to paint on 2D planes arranged in 3D space. Some recent rumors imply that they’ve added support for the 6DOF controllers included with the HTC Vive headset.


World of Comenius by Tomáš “Frooxius” Mariančík includes a 3D painting component as well as a sandbox with discrete building blocks for creating spaces as you inhabit them.

MakeVR by Sixense uses STEM controllers to enable a range of mesh manipulation. Similarly, VRClay and Virtual Clay use Razer Hydras to sculpt meshes in 3D. Gravity Sketch uses a custom hardware “AR tablet” as the input device – essentially a flat plane and stylus are combined with control sticks for rotation and translation.

A bunch of other indie projects are also exploring the space, including Paint 42, VRtist, Magic VR, Tagged in Motion, and Graffiti Markup Language. And of course, though it’s not a VR app, Leap Motion’s Sculpting deserves a mention. All of these experiments bode well for the future of 3D design as an intuitive and deeply creative space. Our tools are finally starting to catch up with our imaginations.

That’s all for today – I hope you’ll check out Graffiti 3D and share what you’ve created. In the next post, we take a closer look at the development behind the demo, and what’s in store for the future.

Next up: Building Graffiti 3D: A Journey through Space and Design

Epilogue: Graffiti 3D on Twitch!

Recently, Scott joined us on our Twitch channel to talk about the development and vision behind Graffiti 3D, and where the VR art community is going in the years ahead:

For cutting-edge projects and demos, tune in every Tuesday at 5pm PT to twitch.tv/leapmotiondeveloper. To make sure you never miss an episode, enter your email address to subscribe to up-to-the-minute Twitch updates:



John is a user experience designer in Seattle.

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