I was lucky enough to get a place on a recent Maxon Cinema4D training day. For some time now I have wanted to spend time customising Cinema4D to suit my modelling needs. I tried it back in 2009 and whilst I got a decent layout built I was still very slow. The inspiration I took from the day made me sit down and do it. I have tried using C4D a few times in my pipeline but I never seemed to be able to pick up enough speed to switch to using it 100% for box modelling. I also found that a few of the important modelling tools that I liked to use were either missing or not to my liking.
Then I found R13. Not in itself a massive leap forward for modelling but enough to make me want to try again. So this week I set my self the task of making a cartoon creature using a primitive cube and standard box modelling techniques.
Here’s a quick summary of the palette layout I’m using. I made a new panel with the tools I use most often broken into four sets (selections, transform, create and object effectors). Whilst I use right click to access a lot of these tools and a set of keyboard shortcuts, I like to have the tools I use the most on hand and clearly visible.
I always use Point, Edge, Face and Object mapped to A,S,D and F. I map Grow and Shrink Selection to + and -. I find Ring and Loop selections are both used frequently and I like to have Set Selection out and ready to call. Whilst all of these tools are available from the normal menu drop downs I find having the most used ones out there on a panel a real boost to my speed. One tip; spend an afternoon modelling and write down what you are actually doing. Record how often you are calling a particular tool then decide whether to map it to a keyboard shortcut or have a button on the custom modelling tool panel.
I’m still not a fan of the Iron tool and the way that soft selection works isn’t intuitive. To allow me to see the fall off I have but then have my entire mesh whited out with the influence being a yellow gradient is not useful. Whilst I can work with this method it does slow down the whole tweaking process. On the flip side I find the Brush tool to be a little gem. I make buttons for Brush>Smooth and Brush>Smear and they solve the Iron issue.
I use Knife a great deal but I find it annoying to have to switch between Loop, Line and Hole all the time. I use the Script Log to record the action I want to call then Script Manager to add the action to a new tool button.
Extrude is a well used command; having it available just by holding down CMD and dragging is awesome. A tiny feature enhancement but one that speeds things up. Every second counts!
Being a creature and character modeller I create a lot of symmetrical models. The Symmetry function works well enough to allow Symmetrical box modelling but to not have the centre seam snapped shut it annoying. This was perhaps my biggest gripe last time I tried to adopt C4D into my workflow. I downloaded a plugin called TrueSymmetry and all my issues went away. This little tag gives me all the functionality I could ever want when modelling a symmetrical object like a head.
There are lots of superb polygon creation tools available in C4D with my favourites being Bridge, Matrix Extrude and Close Polygon Hole.
This first little creature test started out as a primitive Cube. I split it in half across the X axis and then used the Symmetry mode. The core shape was crafted by using the Extrude command on either Faces or Edges. I built up a rough silhoutette and created the basic anatomy (head, body, legs then arms). I then began to add some rudimentary facial detail like an inner extrude for the mouth and eyes. I extruded out the ear shape and tweak the shape to roughly match the concept I had in mind.
The video below is a 30 minute time-lapse of the two hour modelling process. There is no audio at this stage but it gives a good example of my modelling workflow in Cinema4D. Next I’ll UV unwrap the little fella and create a nice texture map for him and work out a hair solution to match the modelling style. I intend to make Cinema4D my goto 3D package for character modelling in 2012 and I will record my progress for anyone wanting to do the same.