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Tilt Brush Artist in Residence: Meet Estella Tse

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Editor’s note: Tilt Brush lets you paint in 3D space with virtual reality. Earlier this year, we launched the Artist in Residence (AiR) program to showcase what’s possible when creative artists experiment with this new medium. The resulting works of art have been amazing, and you can check some of them out on our website, or right in the Tilt Brush app itself.

In this series, we go deeper into these artists’ process, explore their creative influences, hear about their experience using Tilt Brush and share any tips they have for aspiring VR artists. Want more? Check out our previous posts on Steve Teeps and Isaac Cohen.

As an artist in residence, Estella Tse created Metamorphosis, which celebrates the beauty of our individual journeys of growth, transformation and self-discovery. We caught up with Estella to hear more. 


Walk us through your creative process in Tilt Brush. How do you use it?

I got comfortable with Tilt Brush immediately! I felt like I could summon light out of my fingertips. And it's so intuitive. Ideas flow out of me.

My VR painting technique isn’t very different from designing an illustration on paper. I start with fast, loose and long lines. Then I tighten up and work on details, going from big to small and general to specific.

I usually have an idea of the mood or aesthetic I want to create in VR. I like to design with intent. Everything from shape to scale to color, all elements serve the mood and feeling of my pieces. Every mark counts. I want my viewer to feel inspired when they step into my pieces. I want them to feel the magic.

How is Tilt Brush different from working in other mediums?

It's almost as if I'm working with a whole new dimension! The vastness of seemingly infinite space is exhilarating, and also too much at times. I've been making skyboxes to close off my space.

Tilt Brush is not like any other art form. It's kind of a hybrid between drawing and sculpting. I liken it to sculpting with line. It's so easy to wireframe and plan out a scene, making it a great tool for quick prototyping. For the first time, we can sketch in 3D without having to use a complex modeling software. Thinking and working in 3D has never been more intuitive and natural.

One of the most fascinating things about Tilt Brush is that this is the first time we as humans have ever been able to fully immerse ourselves in hand-drawn paintings—you can look around and through my paintings. From an art history point of view, this is incredible.

What inspires you?

On a high level, I'm really interested in exploring the potential of creating a new art form in VR, similar to how Walt Disney and his team iterated over and over to learn the balance of storytelling in animation. This is just the beginning for VR and AR. I'm excited to experiment with different techniques, and to explore the evolution of art with innovative technology.

In my residence program with Tilt Brush, I used the “playback” feature when loading a sketch as an animation tool. Instead of having my final piece be the piece, the process is the piece. I painted a caterpillar going through the phases of metamorphosis, then blossoming into a butterfly in front of your eyes. I believe growth, process, and the journey are really important aspects of creativity, as well as life.

Try everything. There’s no right or wrong way to do anything right now. There are no rules.

Do you have any advice for other Tilt Brush creators?

Try everything. There’s no right or wrong way to do anything right now. There are no rules. The best part about Tilt Brush is that anyone can draw. It's fun. It's not intimidating. It brings out the childlike sense of wonder that we had as kids. I've seen that childlike spirit of even veteran animation artists come out while using Tilt Brush.

Create things beyond reality. We've been given a very special opportunity to create things that are out of this world, defying the rules of physics. Forget trying to make something look "real." What's next? You've been given the power of magic. What will you do?

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