XR Guide
December 28, 2022
11 Minutes Read

Top 20 AR/VR Design Tools and Resources For Building Immersive Applications

Reviewed by

Dejan Gajsek

Virtual reality and immersive technology are no longer the stuff of science fiction. XR is now front and center in our everyday lives thanks to ever-improving technological innovations.

Designers, developers, and artists use AR/VR tools to create immersive products and experiences.

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Access the table of all Top 20 XR Design Tools for UX and UI. Originally gathered by Simon Frübis and Daniel Marqusee.

The Importance of XR Design

XR creates a fully immersive experience with fantastic benefits in different business sectors. For example, it enhances customer engagement by showing users all the possibilities of a product and improves collaboration and communication between teams.

And thanks to specialized metrics like biofeedback, eye-tracking, heart rate monitoring, and more, businesses can enhance their data analysis game.

As a result, XR design ensures brands create intuitive products that foster positive user experiences. In addition, it allows companies to deliver immersive content that will establish better emotional connections with their consumers.

You can explore these tips on XR design if you’re still finding your way.

Why XR Design Needs Specialized Tools

1. Differing Rules

AR/VR design rules differ from the traditional 2D design process. Hence, they require a unique approach. You need tools specifically designed for AR/VR content creation to explore that immersive experience and create distortion-free designs.

2. Faster Prototyping and Development

XR systems promote better team collaborations which leads to faster product development cycles. In addition, XR tools enhance work processes, from testing new design simulations to low fidelity prototyping at a scale. Getting feedback from human-centric design fast is an absolute necessity when it comes to designing for XR (AR, VR, and MR).

3. Immersive Developer Experience

XR tools increase developers’ efficiency and agency in their work environments and foster a positive user experience. As a result, it helps creatives to build better products by experiencing the outcomes first-hand.

A Complete List of 20 Most Popular Tools Among XR Designers

Let’s explore some must-have best UX design tools and resources for XR designers.

1. Miro

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Image credit: Miro

Miro is an online whiteboard software that allows teams to collaborate in real time. It supports brainstorming sessions, wireframing, prototyping, and project management. Developers and designers use Miro for storyboarding, collaborating, painting, and more.

Miro’s editable boards and smart meeting features make collaboration between remote teams more straightforward.

The mind map and flowcharts help designers visualize work processes, identify problem points, and streamline the customer’s user experience.

The platform has a free plan with three editable boards and paid plans from $8/month with unlimited boards.

Miro’s target users include:

  • UI/UX designers
  • Engineers
  • Creative teams
  • Consultants
  • Marketing and sales teams

2. Figma Jam

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Image credit: FigJam

FigJam is a digital whiteboard tool from Figma that supports team collaboration and brainstorming ideas. This 2D platform offers designers and developers a simple but powerful interface to ideate together.

Users can jot down quick thoughts, annotate screens, react to questions with stickers, stamps, or emotes, or upvote ideas. FigJam also supports seamless copying and pasting from Figma, allowing every project to stay in one place.

Figma Jam’s target users include:

  • UI/UX Designers
  • Product teams

3. ShapesXR

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ShapesXR is a VR creation and collaborative tool from Tvori. This spatial content creation app helps product teams to create 3D storyboards, user flows, and prototype-immersive apps in a VR environment.

Users can utilize the tool’s powerful MR creation capabilities to design AR devices, VR applications, and interactive games. This feature especially shines on Meta Quest Pro.

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Users can create content with ShapesXR templates or upload their 3D models in .obj format to the application.

ShapesXR target users include:

  • AR/VR Designers
  • Product owners
  • Business leaders
  • Creative teams
  • Engineers

4. Sketch

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Image credit: Sketch

Sketch is an all-in-one design toolkit that covers everything from ideation stages to building prototypes and developer handoff. Graphic designers can also edit and manipulate images with this tool.

It supports cloud syncing, sharing, and co-editing to improve team collaboration. Users can also design high-fidelity prototypes, create reusable elements, import images or text, and more.

Unlike other UI design tools, Sketch is only compatible with macOS and costs $9/month/editor.

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Sketch target users include:

  • UI/UX designers
  • Graphic designers
  • Web designers

5. Figma

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Image credit: xfive

Figma is a design tool that connects product teams and allows them to deliver better products. The collaboration feature or ‘multiplayer design’ is one of the best features the platform offers users. It helps designers, developers, product managers, and other stakeholders to brainstorm and collaborate in real time.

Besides accessibility and collaboration, this web-based tool excels in prototyping, testing, iteration, and smooth handoffs to developers.

Figma target users include:

  • UI/UX designers
  • Developers
  • Stakeholders

6. Adobe XD

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Image credit: Adobe

Adobe Experience Design is a UI tool that supports prototyping tools and wireframing tools and apps for creatives. Its responsive design, repeat grid, collaborations, and integrations with other software make Adobe XD a hit among designers of different skill levels.

Adobe XD has a clean user interface and seamlessly integrates with other Adobe Creative Cloud tools like Photoshop, Illustrator, Stock, Fonts, and more. Users can create interactions between pages and artboards, coedit designs, make usage showcase videos, and share work with team members and shareholders.

Adobe XD target users:

  • UI/UX designers
  • Developers

7. Tvori

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Image credit: Steam

Tvori makes everything possible, from developing story prototypes and mockups to shaping XR apps or creating full-scale animations. In addition, this AR design software focuses on collaboration and makes sharing creations with team members working on VR projects straightforward.

Users can explore its extensive library of props, simple shapes, and effects to add to their projects. They can also import 3D models, videos, sounds, and images to their prototypes.

The software allows users to export their work as videos, photos, VR experiences, and 3D animated models.

Tvori target users include:

  • AR/VR designers
  • Animators
  • Game developers
  • Software developers
  • UX designers

8. Tiltbrush

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Image credit: The Keyword

Google’s Tiltbrush lets artists paint in a 3D space with VR using different dynamic brushes and shaders, from snow and fire to ink and smoke. This tool helps users create and paint in virtual reality and design new worlds.

Users can create interactive designs and experience an all-inclusive virtual palette with VR headsets. Tiltbrush also offers a range of open-source libraries for designers and developers to unlock new functionalities.

Target users include:

  • Graphic Artists
  • Painters
  • Cartoonists
  • Game creators

9. Gravity Sketch

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Image credit: Gravity Sketch

Gravity Sketch is a 3D platform that helps cross-disciplinary teams to collaborate and create products effectively. Users can access various digital tools to express their ideas in reality, from designing concept sketches to detailed 3D models.

Initially a sculpting tool for the auto and shoe industry, Gravity Sketch became one of the best platforms for VR design. Now, designers from different sectors can visualize ideas in 3D and turn them into 3D models.

Gravity Sketch target users include:

  • VR designers
  • Industrial designers
  • Automotive engineers
  • Creatives

10. Arkio

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Image credit: Arkio

Arkio is an immersive real-time collaboration tool where creatives can sketch, design, and review projects with VR.

Users can assemble VR environments from various sources, including Autodesk BIM 360, Rhino, and SketchUp, and create datasets for different design requirements.

It supports fast and solid modeling, cross-platform collaboration, and seamless workflow integrations. Users can brainstorm design concepts and import 3D models or scenes from Unity, Rhino, Revit, and other 3D tools.

While Arkio supports desktop versions, you need an Oculus Quest 2 to enjoy the immersive experience.

Arkio target users include:

  • VR designers
  • UX designers
  • Other VR users

11. Masterpiece Studio Pro

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Image credit: Realovirtual

This VR design software is one of the best options for VR 3D modeling. Users can draw models, optimize, animate, and export projects to animation software and game engines for further development.

The software boasts advanced auto-rigger and auto-skin functions, mesh processing tools, kitbashing, retopology, and other features that help users to create models in one click.

Masterpiece Studio Pro works on Meta VR headsets, HTC, Windows Mixed Reality, and Valve Index.

Masterpiece Studio Pro target users include:

  • VR Creatives
  • Game developers
  • 3D animators
  • Software developers

12. SparkAR

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Image credit: Poplar Studio

This AR platform from Facebook allows users to create augmented reality effects for mobile devices and share them on Facebook, Instagram, ad Messenger.

Many brands use this AR tool for marketing and advertising purposes.

While using this software, users can insert 3D objects into a project, change properties, add interactivity, and add animated models. SparkAR also provides ready-made 3D templates in the AR library for users without 3D models.

SparkAR target users include:

  • Developers
  • Creators
  • Businesses and individuals

13. Medium by Adobe

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Image credit: Adobe

Medium is a 3D sculpting software that helps users to create virtual models, organic shapes, abstract art, and complex characters. This tool works exclusively in VR with Oculus Quest + Link and Oculus Rift headsets.

Users can explore new ideas, sketch ideas out of thin air, and reshape models without remeshing their work. Thanks to Medium’s ease of use, beginners and pros can utilize this software.

Medium’s target users include:

  • VR designers
  • Artists
  • Creative professionals

14. Lens Web Builder

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This free Snapchat tool helps creatives to create AR lenses for marketing campaigns in minutes.

Businesses can use Lens Web Builder to develop AR lenses without employing highly skilled creators.

The platform offers hundreds of templates and a library of 3D objects and animations to help users create custom AR lenses. They can also upload 2D assets, such as images and logos, to customize the augmented reality experience.

Lens Web Builder's target audience includes:

  • Marketing and sales teams
  • Small to medium-sized businesses
  • Other creatives

15. Open Brush

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Open Brush is an open-source derivative of Google’s Tiltbrush. This 3D application allows users to paint in virtual reality spaces and create art pieces.

The tool runs on Oculus Quest, HTC Vive, Windows Mixed Reality, Oculus Rift, Steam VR, and Valve Index.

Open Brush target users include:

  • Painters
  • Artists
  • Graphic designers
  • VR creatives

16. Spline

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Spline allows creators to design and collaborate in 3D. Users can create 3D scenes, model 3D objects, edit materials, and manage designs.

Spline has a designer-friendly layout and supports speed and simplicity. For example, designers can showcase their work using WebGL.

Other exclusive functionalities include scene export options, materials and shading, animated properties, modeling tools, and more.

Spline target users include:

  • Developers
  • Designers
  • Animators

17. Pounx

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Pounx or Bezel is a 3D web-based tool that enables creative teams to work in VR spaces together and create interactive designs and prototypes. This web-based platform works with desktop, mobile, and VR devices.

Users need to join a waitlist since the software is still in its beta stage.

Pounx target users include:

  • Designers
  • Other creatives

18. Unreal Engine

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Image credit: Unreal Engine

Unreal Engine is a game engine software that produces 3D graphics and realistic environments for game developers and other VR creatives. It also works for architectural and automotive visualization, training and simulation, linear films and TV content creation, and other applications.

The platform incorporates advanced technology to deliver an interactive gaming experience and impressive world-building.

This game engine helps developers to control light and render high-resolution objects in real time. It provides diverse assets and a scalable environment for developers to produce realistic visuals.

Unreal Engine target users include:

  • Game developers
  • Software developers

19. Unity 3D

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Image credit: Unity

Unity 3D is the leading platform for creating 3D projects. It offers users a complete VR development tool with a vast asset store of 2D and 3D design templates for easy import.

With its high-optimization rendering pipeline, spatial audio, stereo instancing, and rapid iteration abilities, it’s no wonder Unity is one of the best 3D development platforms. Developers and designers love Unity because it allows it to be expanded to their needs with numerous different plugins and extensions (APKs and SDKs).

Creatives use the software to design games and create 3D solutions for gaming, animation, automotive, transportation, and manufacturing industries.

Unity 3D target users include:

  • AR/VR designers
  • Animators
  • Game developers
  • Visual artists

20. Lens Studio

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Image credit: Snap

Lens Studio is a powerful software for developers and artists to build AR experiences for Snapchat users. It has built-in features and advanced tracking technology that opens up a world of endless possibilities for users.

Professionals can build interactive experiences without writing code. And thanks to machine learning models, users can make the lenses more intelligent.

Lens Studio target users include:

  • Game developers
  • AR designers
  • Software developers

Build Immersive Applications with These Tools

AR and VR have revolutionized how users interact with brands and applications by creating immersive and unique experiences. As a result, these design tools listed here are crucial for developing effective customer experiences for any business.

Explore our XR course to learn everything you can about AR and VR. Download our 10-week Interaction Design and Prototyping syllabus today.

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