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Art & Alternative Realities: 10 Ideas to Get Started


First, my apologies: Despite my best intentions, the blog gets a little neglected. If you are reading it, welcome & I'm glad you are here!

This post is primarily an effort to share resources with those of you who may have stopped by our mural at Southwest Maker Fest 2022! We hope you enjoyed the festival & saw some new DIY activities to try for yourself.

If one of those new things happens to be virtual or augmented reality, hopefully, this post will provide you with some ideas concerning how to launch your next big adventure in the virtual world as a creator. Fair warning, the post is primarily focused on learning about coding and places to host/play around with code (as AR requires a secure server to work). I have heard good things about Hoverlay from the lovely couple currently painting a gorgeous interactive mural in the i.d.e.a Museum atrium area if you are looking for no-code options.

Since time is a luxury commodity and lists are a handy way to get to the point, the following is a list of my top 10 jumping-off points as an AR/VR beginner:

  1. Glitch - Ultimately, I was introduced to Glitch through the Udemy course by WebXR Academy. I'm not sure if this is putting things out of order, but I want to first list the free options for learning. Glitch is a handy free spot to host your assets, develop and test your code. It is a very newbie-friendly space that the creators compare to a sort of Google Docs for coding (because you can easily collaborate with others on projects through sharing and remix features).

  2. GitHub - If you have ever reached out through Uncle Google for information about coding or technical help, odds are, you have run into something on GitHub at some point in time. The reason for this is simply that GitHub provides a space for developers to host and share their work. GitHub Pages is a great place to test website coding or host a unique web-delivered project.

  3. - This is a JavaScript library that, in tandem with WebGL rendering, specializes in making the internet 3D without the need for special plug-ins or other downloads.

  4. WebXR - Is an API (application programming interface) that helps augmented and virtual reality run through a web browser, like Google or Firefox. When viewing or testing your new-found coding bits and pieces, you will need to download the WebXR API Emulator to be able to check to see if your code will work on a phone (hint: when using this, you will need to go to Ctrl+Shift+i in Google Chrome then look for the emulator options).

  5. Sean Bradley - This author/YouTuber digs deep into Three.js using TypeScript and takes you through the steps to code 3D elements using Visual Studio.

  6. Udemy - This is a paid option, but it is a useful one. As noted above, I highly recommend WebXR Academy's offerings on the topic as well as Nicholas Lever's course. WebXR Academy is excellent for a complete beginner or a rusty coder, but Nicholas' course covers a lot of ground in-depth with examples to manipulate. (He's also open to answering questions if you need them answered.) I picked up both on one of Udemy's flash sales, and I feel they were worthwhile purchases that furthered my knowledge.

  7. YouTubers to Follow - Sometimes it is hard to remember that YouTube is more than cat videos, unboxings, and conspiracy videos. In truth, there are so many free resources for learning to become an amazing artist, scientist, coding genius, animator, or video producer that the term "embarrassment of riches" comes to mind. There's so much to do & see that it's certainly easy to run back to the safe harbor of cat videos! That being said, I have been enjoying content from AllInReality . I appreciate the bite-sized tutorials on the topics at hand.

  8. DIY Assets - Creating assets to use is something worth learning, as well. Thankfully, there are many ways to create and edit 2D and 3D items for this purpose. Personally, we like to use InkScape and/or Gravit for 2D vector art content and, of course, Blender for everything 3D else. (For this mural, the "space station" portion was designed and animated by Alexander.)

  9. Assets to Use, Creators to Support - 3D assets can be hard to create either as a result of time constraints (rendering isn't instantaneous, watch those file sizes and poly counts!) Thankfully, in a pinch, there are many generous creators out there on the web diligently making assets and offering them up in places like Turbosquid , Sketchfab , and Blender Market. Some especially benevolent individuals are also offering work with a CC0 public domain dedication. As is the case of the work by Quarternius and Creative Trio Art .

  10. Unity is my ultimate bucket-list item to become adept at using. I have heard many good things about learning Unity from people who work in the AR/VR industry and have forgotten more than I'll ever know about the topic. So, I feel safe in saying this largely free tool is worth investigating, as well!

Again, I hope you had a great time at this year's SWMF, and I hope to see everyone again in 2023 with even more fun art or AR/VR to share!

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