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This VR Modeling App Can Cut You Down to Size

SAN JOSE, Calif. — With virtual reality, you can put yourself next to the 3D model you're building. Modeling program SculptVR takes that one step further by letting you virtually shrink or enlarge yourself to add even more details to your objects.

The $20 SculptVR bills itself as a world-building game, allowing you to use the controllers on an HTC Vive to build all sorts of 3D objects using different shapes, colors and effects. But the coolest feature in the program is the ability to change your perspective using one of the Vive's controllers. You can either enlarge yourself to the size of a mountain, which helps when building landscapes. Or you scale down to a minuscule size, to add more detail to your creations.

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I got the chance to test ScultpVR during a demo at last week's Silicon Valley Virtual Reality expo, using the controller in my right hand to create a virtual rock. I then blasted a hole in that rock, and shrunk myself down so that I could teleport into that crater, where I could set about adding smaller scale details in various shapes and colors. It's a pretty engaging experience, and in today's Minecraft-minded world, I could see people spending a lot of time creating sophisticated landscapes in SculptVR.

It helps that the app's controls are fairly straightforward. Your right-hand controller selects the shape of your design: you typically use spheres or cubes, though SculptVR has offers a few other effects. The left-hand controller, in addition to letting you teleport and scale your size, also gives you a palette of colors for creating objects. In my 10 minutes with the app, I was fairly comfortable using it after just a few minutes of instruction.

Your creations don't have to remain confined to virtual reality. SculptVR lets you save anything you build as an .obj file, enabling you to produce a physical version, either with a 3D printer of your own or through a 3D printing service.

Because SculptVR relies heavily on controllers to work its magic, the app is only available for the HTC Vive at the moment. Founder Nathan Rowe tells me that SculptVR will eventually work with the Oculus Rift and Playstation VR platforms as well.