Nov 2, 2023

Creating worlds from paintings

Avatar Garden shows how we can adapt painting from classical artist to a 3D environment in this article we want to show you part of the process we followed while creating this small paradise inside Virtual Reality


As a team we always try to reach new heights when presentings our visuals. One of our environment which we created on VRChat is a testament of that.

Avatar Garden shows how we can adapt painting from classical artist to a 3D environment in this article we want to show you part of the process we followed while creating this small paradise inside Virtual Reality.

The mission

As said before Avatar Garden shows a whole environment based on a traditional medium of art, although we have taken inspiration before hand for another projects, like Momus Park among others.

This small Island in VRChat shows a complete environment that follows a complete aesthethic of that of the author, in order so that you feel that you are walking inside the original author works. Along this process we learned a lot of different things, such as how to analyze the paintings and translate those details onto the 3D.

On this article we wanted to talk more about how we developed this idea to create the world and from where it comes.


  • An Artist you like
  • The software of your preference

Development: bringing 2D into 3D

Momus Park was the first time we tried this with surprising results. For those who don't know the majority of the textures used are based on the The Starry Night from Van Gogh. Trying to imitate the spirals and the brush strokes from the sky and the city on the models.

Momus Park in Decentraland

In this project, we took this ideas and methods a step further, by not only trying to recreate the texture but also the looks inside the painting. Creating in that way a world in which wherever you went or looked, you experienced the sensation of being inside a painting, uniting the 2D and the 3D.

Actually, this is not a new concept, however most of the 3D works that try this are static images or videos, an impressive tecnique and design without a doubt but it's a shame that you can't go around the world they created.

3D simuling 2D in animation video

Paperman Oscar winner by Disney

Step 1: where to start

Once we have limited what we want to do and the feeling we want to get, it's time to gather references and styles.

In this case, we were looking for artists that had painted open aired spaces and gardens, since the main theme of this world it's called Avatar Garden. Meaning that the player have to have places to walk throught, select the different avatars and relax zones where the players can meet with other people.

The other condition that we put ourselves was that it had to be a classical painting, since we were connecting the 3D and the 2D, we thought it will be interesting to join a classic art medium with a new one. Putting this two things together inmediatly gave us the thought of the impresionist movement, with artists such as Claude Monet or Édouard Manet.

Un bar aux Folies Bergère - Édouard Manet
Water Lilies Monet series

This style has a lot characteristics, that make it ideal for this, the textures have a lot of personality with a strong presence of brush strokes and spots of colours. Making really easy to create tileable textures. Finally after reviewing a few artists, we decanted ourselves for Gauguin and his tahitian landscapes.

Gauguin painting
Gauguin painting

Step 2: take notes

Once we have an artist selected, it's important to take notes. Each artist has a particular style that took years to develop, and if we want to recreate their paintings or art works, it's a must to try imitate this details. In this case we can pinpoint a few things from the get go that will helps us in order to recreate it:

  • The colors are saturated and very strong (red, greens and yellows predominate the scene)
  • The brush stroke is visible, characteristic of the impresionist movement.
  • The shapes are represantive, not a literal representation of the object (as the impresionists said recreate the impression the object left)
  • The cool colors are used very scarcely and in zones that is inevitable their use, for example the sky or the darker parts of the jungle.

When we have these main points clear it's time to prepare the props and the assets. For starters we created some of the most basics props to fill a simple scene. That way we can define more details and polish the models even more.

Original Avatar Garden models based on the painting on the right
Gauguin reference painting

This also helped us to develop a pipeline that allowed us to work more efficiently, that consisted more or less in this:

  • Create a list of models and textures you will need
  • Try to use tileable textures, it will be preferible to use that as base for the models, for example in this world, we created a single texture with color variants from green, red and yellow.
  • Create the models and try to reuse the textures, if a texture is required, ask yourself if it will be possible to repeat it, if it's possible make the texture tileable so that it can be reused, if not paint the model in substance, to recreate the strokes more faithfully
  • We can use the transparencies to add more details on the models and recreate the texture of the bushes and trees (more of that in the next point)

Finally in the spirit of Gauguin we decided to change the world to an island instead of a garden.

Step 3: improvise, adapt and overcome

Creating this pipeline gave us an idea about what we will need to make, however it's not as easy as that. As it always happens in these kind of proyects, we found a series of problems. Specially when adapting some of the assets into the paintings style.

There were times when we have to reject some models because even though the final result may look impressive, the time spend on it, the resources it took or the number of tris, make the process not worth it.

For example this tree below, (reference on the left) to recreate it we put a base on the leaves with a green texture, and them we recreated the yellow strokes with transparent planes.  On the right you can see the tree in the process. Sadly we have to drop it because the reasons stated above.

Painting Tahiti #3 extract Gauguin
Avatar Garden 3D tree based on painting

Other example comes from the vegetation, in particular from the bushes, since the forms are not very detailed, if took a lot of tries until we achieved a satisfying shape, it was a difficult time to make because a lot of times they resembled deformated spheres. Since this was a necessary model, we repeated the model until we achieved the desired result.

Final shape of the bushes

Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.

If you keep going you can finally obtain the desired results, as you can see:

Avatar Garden final result 01
Avatar Garden final result 02

Avatar Garden final result 03
Avatar Garden final result 04


While working on this project we discovered that it was a good way to test our limits, and what we can do inside an enviroment project. We tried to recreate a paradise that Gauguin viewed when he first traveled to Tahiti. All in all, I hope to see you there.

Let's go to Tahiti!
Laura Usón
Creative Art Director

Passionate about videogames, movies and creatures. Artist by day and superhero at night.

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