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Virtual 3D Oil Painting Perfectly Simulates How the Brush, Paint, and Canvas Interact

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Nvidia and Adobe teamed up to develop a 3D-painting app that is sure to become an essential tool for modern day art forgers. The software accurately simulates the 3D texture of oil paints, and how the bristles of a brush work to smear it across a canvas.

If you’ve ever examined an oil painting up close, it doesn’t look like a flat 2D image that comes out of a color printer. The paint has depth and texture, and artists will often use thick exaggerated layers, in a technique called impasto, to add another dimension to their pieces. Vincent Van Gogh’s Twelve Sunflowers is a well-known example of this.

Nvidia and Adobe’s Wetbrush system allows artists to interact with simulated oil paints in real-time using a stylus on a touchscreen—without ever getting their hands dirty. By treating the virtual oil paint as two different types of particle simulations, the software also doesn’t require a super computer in order to calculate an artist’s brush strokes in real time.


The virtual paint can be smeared, dabbed, caked, and color blended just like the real thing. Not only does it let an amateurs try their hand oil painting, it also lets a more experienced artist mock up a larger piece without having to waste a canvas. All that’s missing is a virtual Oculus Rift experience involving cutting off your own ear, so everyone can pretend to be the next van Gogh.

[Nvidia via The Verge]