Art Spotlight: "Mondriaan Revisited"

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In Art Spotlight, we invite Sketchfab artists to talk about one of their designs.

Hi, I’m Rein Bijlsma. I’ve been drawing and painting all my life, using traditional techniques like watercolour, oil paint, colour pencils, ink, etc. I had several exhibitions in the Netherlands, where I live, but I don’t make a living of it (I’m a careers counsellor and a social media specialist in a vocational college). My style is mostly photorealistic, surrealistic or a combination of both.

The Meeting

Using New Tools

Since I read about the development of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, I knew that this could bring a whole lot of opportunities in painting/drawing in new, never used techniques, so as soon as the Vive came out I bought one and since June 2016, I started using Google Tilt Brush.

Painting with Tilt Brush in virtual reality doesn’t even come close to anything I experienced before in comparison to using different techniques in the past.

It’s not really painting, it’s sculpting as well, and I’ve noticed that you have to change the way you observe things completely when starting with a new piece of art. From what I’ve seen so far of Tilt Brush art on the internet, I noticed that most users approach it in some kind of old fashion way, like it is a flat surface you are working on. No offense, I started the same way. But it didn’t satisfy me. I want to use all the possibilities the program offers to the max, and through trial and error, I got to the point where I’m now. I aspire to go beyond that, with every new update from Tilt Brush.

Why Mondriaan?

So how did I get to my fellow countryman Piet Mondriaan? I wasn’t satisfied with what I did thus far: too much comic like figures, too much Bob Ross landscapes. Mondriaan, who lived from 1872 until 1911, was famous for using primary colours, combined with vertical and horizontal black lines.

Mondriaan original

What would he have done when he would have lived now and would have used Tilt Brush or a similar program? I got intrigued by this so I decided to produce my Mondriaan Revisited painting which can be seen here in Sketchfab. I guess he would have produced something like this. Would Rembrandt have painted his “Night Watch”  when he could use Tilt Brush, and would he have become famous then? Questions that still strike my mind.


I made several scenes, and while in virtual reality, you can walk and paint not only from different corners, but also from inside your work of art. I had to keep in mind that it was to be observed from every possible direction.

You may have noticed that the Tilt Brush version is more close in colours to the “real” Mondriaan. Working in Tilt Brush, you have to keep in mind that the result may become quite different in Sketchfab. Tilt Brush uses several textures and effects which can’t be imported into Sketchfab yet, so I did several tests what I could use and what I could not use in Tilt Brush.

Sketchfab offers a very good add on when you want to use Tilt Brush import, in using techniques like the glossy effect, using all kinds of bump materials and reflections, if you have a pro account like me. I decided that it’s worth the money, so I used these effects to change the original Mondriaan Tilt Brush export to what it became now. Is it better than the Tilt Brush variant? I don’t know. The Tilt Brush variant is more Mondriaan like, more classic. The Sketchfab variant is the way that Mondriaan should have “painted” it nowadays, I guess. I’m quite happy with it.

To obtain the reflections you see in my work I used the Sketchfab Background Filter from the General 3D-settings tab. There I choose the Winter Forest as an environment (which is also accessible from within the Lighting tab). This caused the reflections you see on the surfaces. Then I choose the white color from the same background filter.

I also used some post-processing filters like Depth of Field, Sharpness (it gives it a crispier look), Vignette (to focus on the object) and, last but not least, Bloom, which gives the finishing touch and makes objects look like the real thing!

I combined these settings with the ones from the Materials tab, where I adjusted the Glossiness and the Metallic levels until I was satisfied with the shiny, metal-like look.

I left the settings in the Web VR tab to standard, where I used the virtual figure to check if my work was about the same size as the paintings Mondriaan made.

Tilt Brush doesn’t offer these filters, so luckily Sketchfab can do this for me.

Ending Thoughts

So what now? I’m working on a modern Picasso and a modern Karel Appel variant in Tilt Brush now, and I’ll convert it to Sketchfab when I’m satisfied. Picasso for instance made several paintings which  contain different kind of views, combined in one flat painting. So I’m converting his famous “Weeping Woman” right now into something virtual reality.

The future of Art? Will it be virtual reality, and thus vanish when you cut off electricity? Will we only have virtual museums, filled with art that doesn’t really exist? Fascinating question. Worth trying to find an answer.   

Thanks, Rein!

About the author

Seori Sachs

Community Person!

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  • Gotta check this model in VR when I get home! I especially like the clean materials you did there.
    Stays true to the style of the original but with a modern touch, nice work! 🙂

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