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Meet Norman

As a child, artist James Paterson used to pretend his illustrations could talk to each other, adding his own sound effects and voices as he drew. Now as a grown up, he can finally animate them the way he always wanted to.

Recently, Paterson unveiled Norman – a 3D animation tool he invented himself so at last he can take his drawings off the page and into space. His animations resemble a flipbook made up of stick characters darting between planes, created in three-dimensions using VR controllers and a headset.

Paterson invented Norman using WebVR, Google’s JavaScript API, which enables artists to experiment with their own VR tools.

“Norman is the animation tool that I’ve always wanted. I built it in JavaScript, it runs in a web browser and lets me animate naturally in 3D using VR controllers,” he says, explaining its simplicity.

At the moment, using Norman requires an Oculus Rift headset, and you’ll have to clone or run the code locally. (You can find the source code here.)

A more comprehensive, user-friendly experience is in the works, and in the meantime you catch watch Paterson’s adorable animated short, as well as a making off, created entirely with Norman, via

Norman is open source, which means everyone is welcome to experiment, and it shows how radically VR tools are impacting not only artistic processes, but how viewers interact with art.