The one thing that PSVR has been lacking, since release, is the ability to draw and make your own creations within the virtual world. I used to watch various YouTubers on their Vive and Rift headsets, playing around in VR and drawing away and it looked awesome. Yet, PSVR has become a place where we get games, experiences, a few video apps, and even VR music videos – but no practical applications – until now!
CoolPaintr VR is the second PS4 title from developers Wildbit Studios, with their first being a game called Draw Fighters which allowed you to physically draw your character and scan it in via the companion app on a mobile device in order to battle with them. WildBit Studios have joined up with the PS Talents team from Spain, just like we’ve seen with Timothy vs. the Aliens, Deiland, and Flynn & Freckles, in order to bring their rather amazing VR painting application to PSVR. The app itself may be small, clocking in at under 90MB in size, yet the possibilities and the level of enjoyment you can have with this title are endless.
I was sceptical at first, when I downloaded CoolPaintr VR, as I didn’t believe that something with such a small file size could actually have a lot of content – I was kind of right in that aspect. The developers have been clever with the way they have created CoolPaintr VR, which I’ll get into later, but they have removed various things, in order to both save money and space I imagine. Also, don’t be put off if you don’t have any artistic skill within you as I’m hopeless at drawing yet I’m kind of proud of my Spyro the Dragon creation – which I have a video of later on in my review. It’s all about having fun and just drawing whatever you feel like – and because the whole experience is in VR, you can zoom in and out as much as you want in order to perfect the fine details.
In regards to the controls, they are rather simple – you can either use your DS4 or one Move controller. Personally, I used the move controller as it felt more natural as I was drawing. Other than that, the controls work as you would expect – you have various drawing tools and a full custom colour palette along with a few effects like fire and snow, as well as the ability to simply create shapes like spheres and cubes at a custom size.
Not only that, as I mentioned above, the developers have ‘removed’ things in order to keep the size and costs down – by this I mean the music as there is none. But that’s the beauty – pop in a USB drive and go into the menu and you’ll see an option to ‘load music’. If you do this without putting anything on the drive in a certain folder (/COOLPAINTR/MUSIC) then it will automatically create all the folders on the drive for you, so you can just pop it in your PC and drop in your .mp3 files. Once you have them on the drive, you can load them up in-game and easily change tracks through the options menu. Sure, the PS4 has this built into the dashboard, but it’s nice that the game itself lets you control this as well.
Another rather major feature, which I found crucial in my Spyro creation, is the ability to have a picture present for reference as you draw within VR. As above, if you pop in a USB drive then it will create a few folders, one of which is ‘IMAGE’. In here you can put in any .jpg file which can be loaded up in-game and moved around to whichever location you want it in. Just something as small as this dramatically changed my whole perspective on the whole VR drawing application as it means you can see what you are trying to draw (if based on something) without leaving VR.
In terms of your tools, which you have to paint with, you have a decent selection of different types. From your standard paintbrush (which paints in a ribbon-style due to it being in VR) to more advanced techniques such as symmetry and ‘organic’. Symmetry is self-explanatory, you draw one thing and as you are drawing you will see it being mirrored at the same time. The ‘organic’ part is where it gets interesting as they have clearly used their tech from ‘Draw Fighters’. With this drawing tool, you draw out the object you wish to create and this will make a three dimension object – so a line will become a flat snake-like blob. The interesting thing here is the ‘blob’ has a skeleton which you can grab with the hand tool. This lets you freely move things around in order to pose or readjust the shape.
There are also various options in regards to the shadows – do you want colours to appear bright and with no shadow, or would you prefer it to cast a light relative to where you are looking? The choice is yours and you can choose different options for each brush stroke within the same image. You can also change your brush for a shape-like pencil – for example, if you pick a cylinder then as you draw you will basically be drawing a long cylinder – and you can also draw loads of mini-shapes with each brush-stroke, which is how I did the grass in my image.
Once you’ve finished with your masterpiece, you can save it to your console or the USB drive or you can export the file to USB. Exporting the file generates a Collada file (.dae) which is a standardised file format for various 3d object applications on PC. For example, I’ve just opened up my exported Spyro file into the free “Open 3D Model Viewer” which you can download here: http://www.open3mod.com/ – and the file loaded up perfectly, allowing me to zoom in and out, rotate the image, change the lighting, turn off the shading, and even see what it looks like with no shadows at all. It’s all rather fascinating and very interesting – maybe your creations could be used for animations or other projects outside of the PSVR application?
There is no point in me talking about the graphics and the sound as the sound is whatever you load up and the graphics are whatever you decide to draw. But there is one thing I really didn’t like about the application or at least one thing that’s missing, which may not be easy to implement but would be a welcomed addition, the addition of a real erasing tool. The game has an eraser, which is comically a pencil eraser that pops out of your move controller, but it deletes the whole piece. For example, if you draw a long strip in one go, using the eraser would remove the whole strip. I would like it if it had a way to erase like you paint, in small batches. It would make correcting the rough edges a lot easier. But that might just be me? I overcame this by zooming right in to ensure I got it right first time.
Personally, for me this is one of those must-have applications which everyone who has a PSVR should pick up at some point purely to have a mess around with it and let their imaginations go wild. It’s a nice change from the usual VR shooters or experiences as it gives you a blank canvas to play with, literally. After using the application for a few hours, my interest and hype in ‘Dreams’ has re-ignited itself as, if a small indie developer can do this then imagine what Media Molecule can do.
My attempt at Spyro:
CoolPaintr VR isn’t a game, neither is it an experience – it’s a very cool application presented in VR. Artists and people who like to doodle will love this application as they can immerse themselves in VR as they effectively create a virtual sculpture whilst looking at their own pictured references and listening to their own music. Also, people who work with 3d models on PC in the Collada format (.dae) will also be able to export and utilise their creations outside of the PSVR. There are plenty of different tools at your disposal which will enable you to create whatever your imagination comes up with. If you own a PSVR, why not treat yourself and unleash the hidden artist within you via this essential PSVR application!
- Full colour palette which you can fully customise
- Many different tools to help you create things
- Ability to export your creations as Collada files
- Tiny file size (89mb)
- Ability to import your own music and images to listen to and look at whilst drawing
- No advanced eraser option