Google Blocks is a free VR program that offers a simplified set of tools for users to create models with little or no modeling experience and without the learning curve of traditional modeling software. While limited in scope, Blocks is a great option for Enduvo users looking to quickly and easily create simple 3d models without the need for complex modeling software.
Google Blocks requires one of the following headsets to use:
- Oculus Rift (or Rift S), HTC Vive, or Valve Index
- CPU: Intel i5-4590, AMD FX 8350 equivalent or better
- Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 970, AMD Radeon R9 290 equivalent or better
- Memory: 4GB or more
- OS: Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8.1 or later, Windows 10 (no Mac OS support at this time)
Google Blocks is free to use and can be downloaded from both the Steam store and the Oculus store.
An Overview of Tools
Once installed and launched, you will find on your left controller a palette with a selection of tools for creation. These tools include:
- Shape Tool: a selection of simple shapes that can scaled non-uniformly and added to your scene
- Stroke Tool: Creates 3 dimensional freeform linework
- Paint Brush: limited selection of colors to paint entire objects or specific faces of objects
- Grab Tool: ability to move, duplicate, select, flip, and group objects
- Modify Tool: here you can subdivide your objects, modify individual or groups of vertices, faces or edges, and extrude faces
- Eraser: deletes objects or grouped objects
These tools form the basis for creating and modifying models in Google Blocks. It is strongly recommended that new users take the time to follow the in-app tutorial that can be found in the lower left corner of the palette. This will introduce the basics of Blocks for users to begin creating.
Exporting your model
Once you have created your first model, the next step is to download the 3d file. All projects created in Google Blocks can be published to the Google Poly website. Currently, there is no option to locally download the requisite files to import your creations into Enduvo. All projects must first be published to Poly, and all published projects are downloadable to anyone, regardless of whether it is made publicly searchable or unlisted (only accessible to those with a link). Additionally, you have the option to either allow or disallow remixing of content when publishing projects. The former publishes the work under a CC-BY license, which allows free use of content as long as the original author is attributed, and the latter publishes the work under the Google standard terms of service. While the original creator retains all rights to any work published under the standard terms of service, doing so does give Google (and those Google works with) a license to use said work for their own purposes. These legal details should be taken into consideration when creating and publishing projects to the Poly platform.
Once your project has been published to the Poly platform, you have the choice of several file formats to download your project as. These formats include:
- triangulated OBJ ( quads are replaced by two triangles)
Please note that of these file types, Enduvo currently supports only FBX, OBJ, and GLTF files. USDZ is an IOS specific format and is not currently supported by Enduvo.
Importing your model to Enduvo
When it comes time to bring your asset into Enduvo, you’ll follow the same import process as any asset using the model importer in the Enduvo application. However, there are a few considerations. When you import an FBX or a GLTF file directly from Blocks into Enduvo, it will generate as a group of its component meshes regardless of any grouping in the Blocks project, while an OBJ will generate a single, joined object for every group of objects in your Blocks project. The former may be preferable if you wish to isolate or hide particular parts of your model, while the latter may be preferable if you don’t need a finer level of control.
Google Blocks offers simplicity at the cost of advanced features. One important aspect of 3d modeling that is missing from Blocks is texturing. You do not have the option to texture models in Blocks; you can only assign faces or objects a color from a limited color palette. This may be limiting for those looking to achieve a level of realism in their work.This may however be useful for defining materials if you plan on bringing your Blocks creations into outside modeling software before importing into Enduvo.
Blocks is not a great option for organic modeling, as you have no ability to sculpt, and your models will be mostly created from the selection of geometric shapes using the shapes tool. Additionally, the lack of precise tools makes creating measurement-accurate models quite difficult and in some cases impossible. Where this application shines is in the simplicity with which a user with absolutely no modeling experience can create, export, and bring directly into Enduvo, a completely custom 3d asset. If that appeals to you, give it a shot and start creating.