Adding Images to 3D Objects in Cinema 4D

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When creating 3D objects, there will come a point where you will need to add a logo or design to one of your objects. For example, you may need to add a label to a bottle. Today, I am going to show you how it can be done in three simple steps:

  • Setting up the Material
  • Changing Projection Method
  • Adjust Orientation

Before we begin, we need to set up the scene. For me, I quickly created a wine bottle using the methods I taught in a previous lesson on using the lathe NURBS. Cinema 4D already comes pre-loaded with a series of textures, including glass for the bottle, liquid for the wine, plastic for the bottle cap, and ground materials for the floor. For the lighting, I used a simple three-point lighting set up (also taught in a previous lesson) to give shadow and highlights to my bottle object. The only thing missing is a label on my bottle.

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SETTING UP THE MATERIAL

There are a few methods you can use in adding the material needed to your 3D object. For instance, a client might provide you with the necessary materials. Another method would be simply be obtaining from the internet, say from a quick Google image search. For this lesson, I created my own label personalized for AudioMicro.com using Photoshop CC. If you do create your own label in Photoshop, be sure to save the image as a PNG without interlacing. This is to make sure only the label is saved with no background color.

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In Cinema 4D, you will first want to create a new material by going to the MATERIALS WINDOW >> FILE >> NEW MATERIAL. From there, you will want to go to that new material’s ATTRIBUTE WINDOW >> BASIC TAB. In the Basic tab, we want to make sure ALPHA is checked in order for our image to displace correctly without interlacing on our bottle object.

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From there, navigate over to the COLOR TAB and choose the 3 DOTS next to the TEXTURE option which will allow you to navigate and select your image file.

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Now, navigate over to the ALPHA TAB and again choose the THREE DOTS next to the TEXTURE OPTION. Select the same exact image file.

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Now your material is ready to be added to your bottle object. CLICK AND DRAG the material from the MATERIALS WINDOW to your OBJECTS WINDOW and drop the material onto your bottle object.

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CHANGE THE PROJECTION METHOD

After applying the material to your bottle object, you will notice that the label is not exactly appearing the way you had hoped. The reason for this is because, by default, Cinema 4D doesn’t understand how the label needs to be placed on your object. The projection method needs to be adjusted in order to achieve the desired effect. To do this, highlight the MATERIAL TAG next to your BOTTLE OBJECT in the OBJECT WINDOW. Then, navigate over to the TAG TAB in the ATTRIBUTES WINDOW.

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Because our wine bottle is a cylinder, we want to change the PROJECTION from UVW MAPPING to CYLINDRICAL.

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By doing so, you now see the label is fitted more properly on the bottle. However, now it seems to be repeated multiple times. To fix this, go to the TAG TAB in the ATTRIBUTES WINDOW and uncheck the TILE option. This is the option that is causing the image file to repeat, or tile, over your object multiple times.

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ADJUST ORIENTATION

We are nearly finished. All that is left is to orientate the label to the exact location on the bottle where we desire. To do this, we need to select our bottle object from the OBJECTS WINDOW and then select the TEXTURE TOOL from the left hand TOOL BAR.

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The label on our bottle object will now have the AXIS ARROWS, allowing us to CLICK AND DRAG the MATERIAL to our desired location.

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The label still may appear a bit stretched or distorted, but no worries. To wrap it up, all you need to do is adjust the LENGTH U and LENGTH V options under the TAG TAB in the ATTRIBUTES WINDOW for your image material.

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How to Use Lathe NURBS in Cinema 4D

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Getting back to the basics. For those not in the know, a lathe is “a machine for shaping wood, metal, or other material by means of a rotating drive that turns the piece being worked on.” For example, a wooden baseball bat is formed on a lathe. A wooden block is spun and the tool cuts away at the block, rounding it out, and over time, forming a perfect baseball bat. In Cinema 4D, using a lathe NURBS will create a perfectly rounded object from a simple outline. In this lesson, I will show you how to create a goblet using the lathe NURBS in three simple steps:

  • Getting the Right Viewing Angle
  • Drawing with a B-spline
  • Adding the Lathe NURBS

GETTING THE RIGHT PERSPECTIVE

I have taught using Cinema 4D in the past, but this time we will be using a few different viewing angles in order to reach our goal. By default, Cinema 4D’s viewing angle is set to PERSPECTIVE, and you can see this clearly written in the upper left corner of the CANVAS WINDOW.

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What we need is the RIGHT VIEWING ANGLE in order for us to be able to draw a 2D simple form that we can later round out using the lathe NURBS. On a PC, you simply need to hit the F3 key in order to get this perspective. For Macs, there is an extra step because the F keys are set up to manage alternate functions on the computer. If you are using the Mac, go to SYSTEM PREFERENCES >> KEYBOARD >> check the box for USE ALL F1 F2 ETC. KEYS AS STANDARD FUNCTION KEYS.

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Once completed, you will be able to use your F keys to change the viewing angle in Cinema 4D as follows:

F1 = Perspective

F2 = Top

F3 = Right

F4 = Front

F5 = 4 way split screen viewer

DRAWING WITH A B-SPLINE

Now we need to create our simple form. First hit F3 to go into the RIGHT VIEWING ANGLE, and select the B-SPLINE tool from the SPLINE DROP DOWN MENU.

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The simple form we need to create needs to be the profile of our goblet form in the positive XY quadrant. The reason for this is because when we apply the lathe NURBS to this 2D simple form, it will take this design and round it in 3D space.

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The B-SPLINE tool is used by clicking three times to create a curve. Click once to create the origin point, click a second for the middle of the curve (a.k.a. the arc), and the third click will be the ending point of the curve.

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As you proceed, the ending point of the first curve becomes your new origin point. Continue through using the B-Spline tool to create the thin walled profile goblet’s cup, stem, and foot. When you finish at the bottom, simply reconnect to your first origin point to finish your simple 2D form.

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ADDING THE LATHE NURBS

We can now hit F1 and go back into our PERSPECTIVE VIEW. To add a lathe NURBS, go to the HyperNURBS drop down menu and select LATHE NURBS.

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In your OBJECT WINDOW, you will need to CLICK AND DRAG your B-SPLINE OBJECT on top of your LATHE NURBS. When you do, you will see your simple object has now been lathed and is now a rounded 3D object.

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After review, I found that I still wanted to go back into my simple form and change some of the points to give the cup a higher wall. To edit my simple form, I first need to CLICK AND DRAG my B-SPLINE OBJECT out of my LATHE NURBS with the OBJECT WINDOW, reverting my 3D object back into 2D.

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Back in the RIGHT VIEW (hit F3) you can select the anchor point you wish to manipulate, and DRAG it to the proper destination.

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After finishing your simple form, be sure to add the B-SPLINE back into your LATHE NURBS. You can now view a QUICK RENDER by hitting CMD+R.

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To finish, you can add some great GLASS MATERIALS in the preset materials to your LATHE NURBS to finish your 3D goblet.

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Standard and Multi-Pass Rendering in Cinema 4D

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Once you have created the 3D model, lit it just right, created the background, and animated a camera in the scene, it is now time to render out our creation. For some, rendering is the end of their journey and the rendered file will become the final video of their project. Others render from Cinema 4D, which is just another step in the project. Commonly, After Effects CC is a compositing program that works well with C4D files for further developing a creation. Regardless of which avenue you may be taking, rendering is an inevitable necessity of learning the software, and I am here to shed some light on the process.

I will show how to render out your C4D projects in two different methods:

  • Standard Render – method used if the project is finished and this is the last step.
  • Multi-Pass Render – method used if you intend to import your work into another program for further revision.

STANDARD RENDER

The standard render is the method to be used when your project is finished and you are looking to create a final Quicktime video of your image sequence. To create the standard render, you will first need to select the WHITE CLAPBOARD furthest to the right on the toolbar.

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You will then be presented with a window that looks like this.

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Keep the first option, GENERAL, at its default option, FULL RENDER.

In OUTPUT, choose the preset that best fits your needs. For me, I create a lot of content for film and video and render at HDV 1080 29.97. Depending on your needs, these numbers may change. Towards the bottom, you will want to input the frame range your render will be taking place (remember that the sequence starts with 0, not 1).

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In SAVE, you can now designate where you want the file to save by selecting the ‘…’ option to the far right of ‘File.’ Using the FORMAT drop down menu, you can select the file type of your choice. For example, if you are looking to create a video, you would want to select QUICKTIME VIDEO. On the other hand, you may want to create an image sequence, in which case, you would choose JPG or TIFF, depending on your preference.

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At this point, you can close the render settings window and then select the MIDDLE WHITE CLAPBOARD on the ORANGE BOX. This will initiate the render sequence. The program will then go frame-by-frame, mapping out the sequence until it creates the final output.

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MUTLI-PASS RENDER

A Multi-Pass Render is a multi-layer file that stores all of the data so it can be imported into another program and manipulated further. For example, say I wanted to place my text and shadow in the middle of the road somewhere and eliminate the background. If all the data is from a multi-pass render, I would be able to control those individual characteristics of the file, eliminate the background, and composite my text appropriately. If I felt that the shadow was not dark enough, but everything else looked fine, I can just go into the multi-pass render file and adjust the shadow’s contrast… instead of going back into the master file and rendering out a whole new sequence.

A Multi-Pass Render utilizes all the same key points mentioned above in the STANDARD RENDER with a few added adjustments thrown into the mix. After setting your OUTPUT and SAVE settings, go towards the bottom of the SAVE menu and open COMPOSITING PROJECT FILE.

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Turn on SAVE, RELATIVE, and INCLUDE 3D DATA. Select the compositing program of your choice (I chose After Effects).

Go to MULTI-PASS and check the box to the left in order to make the multi-pass options available.

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Now, select the MULTI-PASS button next to EFFECT at the bottom of the sidebar. It will open a drop down menu with numerous selections. Select the first one on the list, ADD IMAGE LAYERS.

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By doing so, all the layer options will appear in the side bar. In most cases you will not be using the vast majority of them. It’s important to know what your image is composed of, which will help decide what options are necessary. For example, I know I used SHADOW in my project, so I want to keep SHADOW checked. The same applies for AMBIENT, DIFFUSE, and SPECULAR. After I go through and select/deselect the options that are necessary/unnecessary, I am now able to close the render settings window and render out my final sequence.

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