While there are plenty of apps that can realistically emulate the look of brushstrokes on a 2D digital canvas (and even some in 3D space), none have accurately simulated the way a paintbrush actually behaves in a realistic, 3D environment. Now a new collaboration between Adobe and NVIDIA called Project Wetbrush claims to do just that by simulating the movements and interactions of each virtual bristle and rendering the results in three-dimensional virtual paint.
The simulated paint in Project Wetbrush actually mimics everything from the viscosity, color mixing properties and drying time of real world oil paint. So, even when using a stylus to paint on a touchscreen, the end result is a 3D virtual object with layers of thickness, depth and texture. Since a richly textured oil painting needs good lighting to be fully appreciated, NVIDIA contributed additional processing power to render the scenes.
The Project Wetbrush team claims their simulation is the first of its kind, and the plan is to observe digital painters and apply NVIDIA's deep learning expertise to add realism to synthesized effects and filters like Prisma in the future. Imagine, if you will, taking a photo of a Parisian cafe at night, running it through an app and coming back with a realistic, 3D-printable approximation of a Van Gogh.