Ways to View Virtual Reality Art With Google Cardboard

Several apps and websites have emerged that allow users to both upload VR art made with high end equipment as well as contemplate the art in VR with a Google Cardboard viewer. If you don't yet have access to a headset and hand presence controllers, this is a great entry way into the virtual world of VR art.  


SketchFab is a giant repository of 3D art that is available both as a website as well as an app. To view artwork is as simple as clicking on a piece and waiting for the file to load. One thing to keep in mind is that sometimes there is a large amount of data to load the file and it could take some time depending on the internet connection speed. Some of the elements that have to be rendered are polygons, textures / colors, lighting, and sometimes animation. In a future blog post I will discuss all of these components that make up a VR art file as well as ways of optimizing VR art content to make the file size manageable for uploading.

Once the art is loaded onto your computer or phone you can start to manipulate the work via move, scale, and rotation. On the computer you use the small hand icon by holding and moving different buttons on your mouse. When using a phone or tablet you can do the same using touch gestures with your fingers. If you don't have a Google Cardboard available, this is a nice way of still being able to see the artwork in 3D without the VR option.

Once you have a Google Cardboard and smartphone available, you can click the VR viewer icon in the lower right hand corner. When you hover over the icon it will say "View In VR", this will enter you into VR mode. Your phone will change into a split screen and have an arrow in the top left corner, instructing you how to insert the phone into the Google Cardboard. 

Tilt Brush Sketches

Tilt Brush Sketches is a website that was created by Google to host VR art that was made in their app Tilt Brush. Once you click on a piece, the navigation to view the artwork on your screen is exactly the same as Sketchfab. To enter VR mode you click on VR viewer icon.

Some artists allow their creation to use a feature called remix. When a piece is made public / remixable any other user can save the file, open it in their version of Tilt Brush, and then proceed to add their own creative touches to it. Once this is done, the user can upload the new version which is a fun way to play with interpretation and perspective, acting as a type of response art. Sometimes an individual will start a piece with a single element and encourage multiple users to remix it, creating a chain of creative collaboration. 

Once you click the heart icon of a piece and like it, the file is then saved to your version of Tilt Brush. When you enter VR on your headset and load Tilt Brush, the file is available to be opened and viewed. Opening artwork in Tilt Brush is an amazing experience, as it plays back each stroke in 360 degrees around you. The emerging piece feels like a performance where you get to enter the artwork of the creator.


Blocks is a complementary website to Tilt Brush Sketches. It functions exactly the same with the only difference being it hosts VR art created in Google's Blocks app. While Tilt Brush is more painterly, Blocks allows the creator to make objects using tools found in traditional 3D modeling programs.

Recently Google implemented a feature in Tilt Brush where you can bring objects from Blocks directly into the app for integration. The combination of objects and painterly effects and strokes opens up compelling possibilities. On the Tilt Brush Sketches website you can start to see many artworks utilizing this fusion of tools.


Instamuseum is an interesting website created by Sketchfab that allows the user to upload their Instagram images and create a 3D virtual art gallery to house them. Once you connect your Sketchfab account you can enter your Instagram information and choose from a few options for how your layout should look. The algorithm will take a few minutes to build your gallery and then give you a web address link to view the finished product. Once you visit your new page, navigating your artwork on screen or in VR is the same as any other file in Sketchfab.