If you've ever wanted to be a graffiti artist, but you also frown upon vandalism, then augmented reality is for you.
A trio of iOS apps leveraging the ARKit platform turn the world into your canvas, where you are free to paint to your heart's delight. (Until a company like Arcona or Aireal sells that virtual real estate to others, that is.)
Fair warning: I'm the artist using the following AR drawing apps, just in case it looks as though a five-year-old drew the masterpieces you're about to view.
App 1: Harness Energy as Paint with LightSpace
If you're painting in a digital medium, why limit yourself to physical materials? This is a revelation that LightSpace embraces.
The app gives artists three options with which to draw. Glow sketches lines resembling neon lighting. Flame emulates its namesake, with trails of fire in colorful gradients. (The default orange spectrum resembles the "sling ring" effects from Doctor Strange.) Spark simulates the untamed electricity of a fallen powerline.
Drawing in LightSpace is more like sculpting with energy, resulting in more unique creations. With ARKit in tow, the app adds depth to your drawings, which I found fascinating when viewed from various angles. You can even use it add some discount store special effects to videos.
App 2: SuperPaint Does Graffiti Without the Mess
While LightSpace takes a supernatural approach to painting in space, SuperPaint gives you a virtual spray can for tagging walls.
ARKit doesn't track vertical surfaces, so SuperPaint identifies walls by asking the user to mark the base. And it does a remarkable job of estimating the virtual wall using this dynamic. As a result, creations have more of a two-dimensional appearance in space.
SuperPaint also brings a location-based social component with it, as other users who happen upon your virtual walls can see your creations.
App 3: Paint Space AR Prefers the Indoors
Bringing up the rear is Paint Space AR. Initially, I dismissed this app based on outdoor testing because its tracking was just awful. I couldn't even get past the first "E" in "Next Reality" because it was just all over the place.
As luck would have it, I gave it another shot indoors, where the app performed much better, as evidenced by the GIF below.
The app lets users place photos in space, as well as videos and other effects via an in-app purchase of $0.99, but I'm not sure that's enough to justify a purchase compared to its free competitors.
Both app, Super Paint and PhotoSpace AR, are not available in the US Apple Store. So frustrating.
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