An interactive digital experience that allows users to explore the topography of oil paints. 



Paint Walker is a project that our team cooperated with the Met Media Lab to make an interesting experience for the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


PaintWalker creates an immersive VR experience for vistors to walk on the contour of a painting, and the idea is to create a unique perspective of painting and bring in a new understanding of an artwork.

This project was shown on the Met Digital Open House and featured on the LiveScience.


My Role

Interaction Design

Visual Design







March - May 2016

Quick View of the project


Where everything started


The goal of this collaboration with the MET is to explore a new experience of visiting a museum, we started a survey with questions like:


What's your most memorable experience of a museum visit?

What're the things you wish to do or have in the museum?

What's your vision of a new way to enjoy the art?

What are the interesting things you look into an art?

Is there a thing you really want to do but the museum doesn't allow?

From the result, we've found a lot of visitor pain points (and interesting museum stories),  but there is one pain point grab our attention the most -- the distance of oil paintings stops visitors from inspecting the texture which they really interested in.

So we decided to focus on bringing the visitor closer to the paintings. After research, we believe the immersive VR technology would be a perfect format to present that experience, which brings a fresh perspective of paintings.



The project was aiming to bring the visitor closer to the paintings



Painting texture 3D model exploration I made in Maya to verify the feasibility.



I've also researched other painting viewing formats, such as the interaction experience of The Garden of Earthly Delights which inspired us the most.


Who are the audiences


Paint Walker allows visitors to walk on mountains and valleys created by colors and pigments -- the closest possible way to interact with a painting. We believe it not only gives those who were into arts a new way to explore the masterpiece they love but also bring new audiences to the art world via this new, playful experience.



profile pic.png

For visitors who are into arts, Paint Walker offers a fresh perspective of arts, which expands their awareness of artworks by the impressive, game-like interaction. 


profile pic.png

For visitors who are new to arts, Paint Walker provides a fun, exciting art experience. They can learn back stories while walking around the textures of landscapes, portraits and history, fully feel the beauty of arts and potentially become an art fun.



For children and gamers, we want to attract them by the gamification design which is full of playful, rewarding and yet educational interactions.


What is it


The demo loaded in a 3-dimensional laser scan of a painting made in reference to Van Gogh’s famous Sunflowers. Visitors are dropped off to the painting surface as an Ant-sized viewer, they can freely walk and jump to explore. There are waypoints spread around the painting, when users reach one, they get a wider view of where they are and learn a story about the painting.



Welcome Screen



Select a painting



Explore the 3D painting surface


The visitor can freely walk, jump and glide. The waypoint shows up once the visitor get in a certain range.



Unlock stories


A back story of the painting will be unlocked once the visitor reaches the waypoint. 



Experience Path


Once the visitor unlocked all the stories, the screen zooms out to a full view and display the visitor's exploring path. 



Return to painting selection screen



  Demo Exhibition     


  Our booth at Met digital Media Open House​    

press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom



"For visitors who preferred to experience their art up close, "Paint Walker" provided the unique virtual experience of strolling across the highly magnified surface of a painting."



Future Directions




First, we would like to add more way to explore the painting. More movement abilities, third person view with a multi-option avatar which is a part of the world that the painting is presenting.

Second, we consider design games on top of this format. Using paintings as a stage for games and interactions. Taking advantage of this unique viewpoint and create games based on the subject of the painting. By doing this, visitors will not just walk around on the painting but play with it as an environment. These kinds of experiences would be much more fun and varied, helping to reach a much younger audience and getting them engaged with art at a young age.




Developed with Samuel Ehren, Ping Qiu, Lea Liu

3D scanning painting data provided by Willemijn Elkhuizen

Special thanks to Matt Parker, Marco Castro Cosio and Met MediaLab