Paint Space AR is an Augmented Reality app available on the App store for the iPhone 6s onward users. The app has been developed by Austin McCasland who is a San Francisco based UX designer for web, mobile, Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR).

Recognised as the ‘ Number 9 most downloaded AR app’ of October 2017, this app turns the world into your canvas where you can draw in your 3D space with a preset colour pallet with your finger as the sculpting brush. The best part about the creating art on this app is that the picture responds to the pressure of your touch allowing your finger to create a thicker line with more pressure and thinner line with less.



Its well-coded algorithm smoothens and aligns the drawing as you go for the perfect finish. You can also place photos and videos anywhere you like in the real world.The app comes with a haptic feedback and special effects like fireworks and snow to enhance your masterpiece. Once done, you can record a video of your creation and share it with your friends and loved ones.

Why was this concept of this particular Apple app brought to life?

Markerless AR apps are those apps that do not require any environment to be scanned in order to add virtual content to 3D spaces. It is the contrary to marker based apps like Microsoft’s Hololens that works on SLAM – Simultaneous Localisation And Mapping. 6DOF stands for 6 Degree of Freedom which is the freedom of movement in a 3-dimensional space by a rigid body. There are 6 different movements

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  1. Heaving.
  2. Surging.
  3. Swaying.
  4. Pitching.
  5. Yawing.
  6. Rolling.

Austin was excited by the possibilities of Markerless 6DOF mobile AR. He found the Apple’s ARkit consistent enough to create great experiences, so as in the journey of learning and exploring more about the design part of the ARkit platform, Austin created Paint Space AR – a high quality, compelling AR experience.

The inspiration to paint the world

Austin tried a few particle painting demos on the ARkit and found them to trace the movement of the phone rather than the finger and that’s when he thought of creating a better AR system that is fun and allows the users to go beyond the laws of physics and draw anything mid-air.

The directional inspiration comes from Tilt Brush, the OG ‘paint the air’ app.

The biggest challenges of Paint Space AR

The biggest challenges faced was that the Apple’s ARKit is new and development is largely done on beta software constantly receiving updates.  There were days when there was almost no progress in development and most of the time was spent in debugging the version conflicts between different pieces of software.

Besides that, the trickier part was developing and iterating the user experience and design of the app. “Mobile AR is pretty uncharted territory as far as interaction paradigms are concerned,” said Austin.

Fortunately, it is less of an issue now that the non-developer version of iOS11 has released. It was indeed challenging getting beta testers when the only possible beta pool were fellow developers.

People, tools and tutorials

This project was developed, designed and executed completely by Austin and he calls it his ‘solo project’.

The app has been created using Unity and ARkit plugins along with designing tools like Adobe Photoshop CC,  Adobe Illustrator, and Sketch- the online platform to create designs.

He said, “ (I) Went to the ARKit Creators Slack channel for support when I was stuck or having strange issues”.

Austin did not follow any tutorial in particular but found Apple’s guidance for the ARkit combined with dissection of sample projects in the Unity ARKit plugin extremely useful.

What’s in the future store for us?

After understanding the usage data involved, Paint Space AR has some exciting new updates coming soon. NextReality’s little sneak peek into the update says that new brushes, special effects, and more insertable content are in the making along with some other really exciting features that are worth the wait.

Artists, brace yourself! Big updates are coming!

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