Tuesday, January 26th, 2021 Posted by Jim Thacker

Tilt Brush goes open source

The original trailer for Tilt Brush from its launch in 2016. Google has just released the virtual reality 3D painting tool, used in concept art workflows, under an open source Apache 2.0 licence.

Google has open sourced Tilt Brush, releasing the code for the virtual reality 3D painting tool under an Apache 2.0 licence.

The project is now no longer being actively developed, and no pull requests will be accepted to the GitHub repo, but compiled commercial builds will “always remain available” in digital stores.

Tilt Brush: a literal 3D painting tool for VR concept art
First released in 2016, Tilt Brush is a 3D painting application in a very literal sense of the phrase, enabling users with compatible VR headsets to paint in virtual 3D space.

Although essentially a consumer product, Google promoted it via its Artist in Residence program, and it was adopted in several production studios’ pipelines, particularly for concept design.

The software went on to win a string of industry awards, including Unity, CES and SXSW awards, and a Cannes Gold Lion.

Discontinued as part of Google’s wider pull-back from developing VR technologies
However, despite the acclaim, the combination of a specialist user base and a consumer price point would have made Tilt Brush a difficult tool to continue developing commercially.

Google has now announced that the project is no longer being actively developed, and that no pull requests will be accepted to the software’s GitHub repo.

The announcement is part of a wider pull-back from virtual reality tools on Google’s part.

The firm discontinued its Daydream VR headsets and VR platform in 2019, and announced last December that it plans to shut down Google Poly, its online 3D object library, on 30 June 2021.

Source code now open source; commercially published versions still available
However, Google has invested some time and effort in opening the Tilt Brush source code, replacing proprietary technologies for bloom, anti-aliasing and chromatic aberration with open-source equivalents.

Tilt Brush itself is still a Google trademark, but the release of the code makes it possible for other firms or open source communities to continue to develop the software under new names.

Google has also announced that the existing commercial version of the software “will always remain available in digital stores”, including Steam and the Oculus store.

Pricing and system requirements
The source code for Tilt Brush is available on GitHub under an open source Apache 2.0 licence. It is describes as “not an officially supported Google product”.

Compiling from source requires Unity 2018.4, SteamVR and Python 2.7 to run Python scripts. Google has posted instructions for compiling the source code from the Windows command line or Unity editor.

Compiled builds of Tilt Brush remain commercially available for Windows 7+, and currently cost $19.99. It is compatible with HTC Vive, Oculus, Valve Index and Windows Mixed Reality headsets.

Read Google’s blog post announcing that it is open sourcing Tilt Brush

Download the Tilt Brush source code from Google’s GitHub repo