The future with VR creative tools

As digitalization and virtual reality are becoming a more significant part of our lives, massive growth in demand for digital 3D assets can be expected.

Photogrammetry, 3D scanning, and 3D printing technologies have evolved tremendously in the past years, paving the way for integrating digital into traditional workflows in various fields such as product design, art, film and entertainment industry, forensics, and medical research. As a result, specialists in these fields need to acquire in-depth 3D design and interaction skills, which can be challenging and might even take years. For these people with little or no background in 3D modeling, VR has the potential to shorten the learning curve and open doors to solve complex design problems needed to digitize and improve their traditional workflows and processes.

For proficient 3D designers, the fact remains that currently, VR design tools are not advanced and powerful enough to entirely replace well-known and robust flat screen solutions for professional work. However, VR can be a helpful addition to the workflow – for quickly creating concepts or blocking out characters that can then be imported to other programs for additional work.

Examples of 3D characters sculpted in VR with Shapelab. On the left: Artwork by Glen Southern. On the Right: Artwork by Balint Keresztes.

Examples of 3D characters sculpted in VR with Shapelab.

On the left: Artwork by Glen Southern. On the Right: Artwork by Balint Keresztes.

Moreover, the VR market is quickly evolving, and creative applications such as Shapelab are working on implementing more features to expand the work that can be done in virtual reality. As a result, more and more users are experimenting with Shapelab and reporting how VR allows them to experience a new way of 3D modeling.

Shapelab’s goal is to help users design high-quality, professional-level assets for their digital products. So whether they dabble in 3D modeling as hobbyists (as we see more and more users on the market and even in the developer team), or they work as professional designers, Shapelab aims to get them excited about creating their digital content in virtual reality.

Advantages of VR in creating and editing 3D models

The Shapelab team has been in touch with a number of their users, professional 3D designers, and hobby artists alike. When asked about their experience with 3D modeling in VR, here is what they loved compared to traditional 3D programs:

VR interactions and the "presence" in the digital workspace make 3D navigation intuitive. Virtual reality provides spatial vision and an understanding of perspective, which is a huge benefit compared to traditional software. The ability to engage with the work at life size or larger gives a more accurate sense of the subject, and the freedom of movement makes navigation easier. “Being able to work in broad gestures is so much freer than scratch and turn on a tablet! I come from a traditional sculpture background, and VR lets me feel more like an artist as opposed to a technician, “ says one Shapelab user.

VR interactions allow you to use certain design tools and brushes more effectively, contributing to a faster workflow. Artists use VR tools to quickly block out basic shapes much faster due to freedom of movement and size.

For instance, artists found using some well-known industry standard brushes such as “Move” and “Snake Hook” to be much more effective when moving the cursor in 6 degrees of freedom thanks to the VR controllers.

Others said they prefer VR when it comes to inspecting and cleaning up large and complex 3D scans. They can find and delete rogue polygons and change the topology locally much faster.

VR tools are handy for people with a craftsman-style background. Those who already possess hand skills can transition more smoothly to a digital era as VR provides them a more life-like sculpting experience.

The Shapelab team has worked with several artists from different backgrounds to test the application. One of them is multidisciplinary sculptor and artist Tom Aust, who created intricate VR sculptures using Shapelab. Being a sculptor first, Tom came to appreciate modeling in VR, which provided him with a new medium and the ability to work without physical constraints.

“Shapelab first lured me in with dynamic tessellation, which actually greatly enhances the advantage that polygon-based sculpting already has for me over voxel-based sculpting!” he said, “but the program also impresses with a clear structure. It provides intuitive accessibility and an enormous stability and performance, even with a large polygon count.” Tom continued, “Since working with multiple objects is also possible, Shapelab feels like a manageable but solid sculpting tool, despite its early access stage.”

COHESION by Tom Aust sculpted in Shapelab, rendered in Blender

COHESION by Tom Aust sculpted in Shapelab, rendered in Blender.

Virtual reality can offer a more enjoyable experience for beginners as well as professionals. For example, users such as XR artists and indie game developers might try VR instead of traditional 3D software, as they feel it is a more entertaining and intuitive way of creating. In addition, they can quickly become proficient, which gives them a sense of accomplishment.

Shapelab’s key features

Shapelab is built upon the company’s robust, powerful, and optimized polygon mesh-based design engine. The capable design tools are combined with a clean user interface and intuitive interactions.

When it comes to modeling organic shapes, polygon mesh-based sculpting is usually more optimal than voxel sculpting. This gives Shapelab an edge over other VR creative tools, as using polygon meshes instead of voxels is unique in the VR design tool market.

Shapelab allows for creating models with millions of polygons

Shapelab allows for creating models with millions of polygons.

Shapelab is considered ideal for creating primarily organic shapes and digital assets as well as bases for concepts for arts. Shapelab also makes working with 3D scans a breeze and can handle high-resolution geometries and large 3D files.

The early access release includes a wide range of features such as:

  •  Industry-standard sculpt brushes
  •  Vertex painting
  •  Optional dynamic topology mode
  •  Remeshing capabilities
  •  Boolean operations
  •  ... and many more!

Shapelab has an intuitive interface and easy-to-use tools

Shapelab has an intuitive interface and easy-to-use tools.

Leopoly has stated that though the roadmap is extensive and some essential features are still missing, they are up for the challenge and will continue the development of Shapelab, which will be out of early access soon.

Meanwhile, a new video tutorial series has been published to the Shapelab Youtube channel for those interested in learning more about the tools and features in the current version of the application:

About Shapelab by Leopoly

Leopoly offers fully customizable, industry-leading 3D and VR solutions that are easy to use for a variety of projects. One of these solutions is Shapelab, a dynamic polygon mesh-based VR design application that can benefit anyone creating and editing 3D models. Thanks to its wide range of powerful features and modeling tools, Shapelab provides an intuitive sculpting experience for aspiring creatives, professional artists, and specialists working with 3D data. For more information on Shapelab, visit

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