Spotlight: Anand Duncan on Designing Fashion in VR

Anand Duncan is a designer for animation in television, film, and VR. She has brought her bright playful designs to the hit series Teen Titans Go!, and her fun fashion illustrations to the pages of LA Magazine.

Her love of retro sci-fi and renaissance gowns influence both her personal and commercial work. She likes to bring appeal to her characters and clothing by highlighting the structure of the body and telling a story. In this week’s spotlight, Duncan talks about her experience using VR tools for fashion design.

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Fast Facts

Pronouns:

She/her

Based in:

San Francisco Bay Area

Fun Fact:

I have appeared as a cartoon version of myself in the show Teen Titans Go

Tell us a bit about yourself. What’s your background?

My background is in animation design for tv and movies. Currently I work with Warner Bros on the hit series Teen Titans Go! I've been deeply drawn to animation my entire life, growing up with classic Disney. My other love is fashion, the more avant-garde the better. I love creating appealing shapes, colors and silhouettes, and have enjoyed illustrating fashion for LA Magazine. In my personal work, my characters are always very well dressed.

How did you get into drawing and designing in VR ?

I am a big fan of the Spotlight stories by Google. My husband Brendan Duncan worked on a handful of them including Pearl, the technology was new and exciting, bringing a whole new way to experience animation. Seeing Glen Keane draw the Little Mermaid in Tilt Brush, with his genuine enthusiasm got me excited to start drawing in VR. Then Liz Edwards posted a drawing online just after Tilt Brush added the zoom ability, and I was blown away. That night I must have spend hours in Tilt Brush drawing and experimenting. There was something really fulfilling about drawing in 3D space, being able to look around the drawing from all sides, and making something that feels real. When I saw the dress form model in Tilt Brush my love for fashion got to materialize, I was hooked! Unlike when drawing fashion on paper, Tilt Brush let me stand in the dress and feel like I was actually wearing it.

What tools do you use?

For VR, I enjoy using Tilt Brush the most. The brushes feel good when drawing, it has a simple interface that doesn't get in the way, and it's just fun to use. I've played with other creative apps like Quill and Medium, but Tilt Brush is the one I always go back to.

 
Anand Duncan’s ‘Hyper-Thread Dress’, designed in Tilt Brush, and on display in the Museum of Other Realities,

Anand Duncan’s ‘Hyper-Thread Dress’, designed in Tilt Brush, and on display in the Museum of Other Realities,

 

You currently work in design for animation. Have these VR tools become a part of your professional workflow in any way?

VR has accelerated my perspective knowledge, It’s much easier to visualize 3D forms in my mind when getting ready to draw them in a 2D space for Teen Titans Go.

Could you describe your workflow?

I love creating dresses and costumes that can be worn in VR. Sometimes I'll start with an existing dress as inspiration or I'll work from more of a general idea or silhouette. Because it's in VR and not limited to reality, you can make anything you want, even if it defies gravity!

In what ways would you like to see the medium grow?

As the technology improves, I would love to see more options for the type of brushes available and ability to bring the art alive. I would love to see more “subtractive” type of brushes, where the brush strokes get darker as they overlap. You could create more textured layers, and be able to create more transparent fabric types like chiffon. I would also love to have my fashions come to life, with effects like movement and gravity.

 
Players in the MOR wearing dresses created by Anand Duncan

Players in the MOR wearing dresses created by Anand Duncan

 

How do you exhibit your your fashion work? Do you ever intend for your work to move from the virtual to the physical?

In addition to MOR, I show my dresses in various VR supporting platforms like Poly and SketchFab, and I also presented a VR fashion room experience at Oculus. I have not created a real world garment yet, but it would be a fun experience to work with a design house in the future.

In addition to designing with the tools, do you have any thoughts on the potential for VR/AR Fashion as a whole?

There are lots of possibilities of AR fashions that are exciting, like animated graphics on a piece of clothing etc. But what is special about VR fashion is you get to experience the garment in a curated environment

Where can we find out more about you and your work?

I post most of my work on Twitter, @flashbunny, and Instagram.

My website is HulaBunny.com

Do you have any tips or advice for people looking to get into creating VR art?

Don't be afraid of the technology. It's pretty simple to get started. Just start playing with it, and have fun!

This interview is part of the MOR Artist Spotlight series, which features creators using VR as an artistic tool or medium of expression. Some of the artists’ work can be viewed and experienced in the Museum of Other Realities.