Review: Painting VR

Despite painting, in reality, being reliant on tactility, VR developers keep trying their hands at creating the perfect art app. With every art-based app, it’s increasingly difficult to produce a masterpiece, but Painting VR gets pretty close.

Not that this new entry to the market does much differently – there’s a canvas, plenty of paint colours and mediums to try out. If you fancy being a graffiti artist, there are sprays and fat drippy markers, if building up layers of paint is more your bag, then there are a variety of brushes to slap on big, splotchy brushstrokes.

The paint, whether dolloped with a brush or slathered with a roller, has a great feeling of fluidity. Everything drips and runs with the application of water, or more paint. Mixing colours is a simple affair, but also plays into experimentation. Usually, I’d be mixing paint on a palette, which can be done, but after messing around with open cans of paint, I found you can simply pour one into the other, gradually changing the hue. It’s a simple pleasure.

As is becoming the norm, the canvas can be accompanied by a web browser, positioned to the side. Here you can follow your favourite artists on YouTube or a website. This feature may be common but it never stops being a great addition, allowing for proper learning or step-by-step guides. 

While Painting VR strives on authenticity, it does fall down in studio customisation – there’s no quick and handy way to change canvas size, nor the size of your tools. Also, the canvas is situated within an indoor skate park, yet you cannot break away from the canvas to paint random walls, so this seems a little pointless.

Of course, your success with Painting VR is only as good as your skills, but this app supplies enough materials and easy shortcuts to achieve that. Being able to pick up brushes from a distance means it’s easy to paint while sitting, and the ability to move through the studio space with the left stick allows for proper manoeuvrability.

The difficulty Painting VR or any other painting app has is the moment the brush, or any other tool, touches the canvas. The motion controls will nearly always cause a bad brushstroke or a daub of unwanted paint and it’s here where Painting VR needs an ‘undo’ action – far too many of my projects were ruined by overly sensitive motion controls.

‘Fun’ is a very simple word to describe a game or app. It’s a bit too simple, but here, it fits. Painting VR is just simple fun. It doesn’t feature all the bells and whistles of other apps, but the devs are focusing on enjoyment. Want to throw your paint at the canvas, then do it. Attach your paintbrushes to a drill and swirl your art, then go for it. This is painting as you remember it from your childhood.

It feels as if any painting app is going to suffer a markdown in a review because it will never compare to creating in reality, however, Painting VR gets the closest, despite a lack of customisation options. Why? Because the paint acts like paint, rather than a disjointed liquid which creates a disconnect between you, the tool and the canvas. If you’re looking for perfection, it’s still in the distance, but for something that feels genuine, and honestly, great fun to experiment with, give Painting VR a try.