Cinema 4D R20 adds impressive new modelling, materials and rendering features

Even in its 20th incarnation, Maxon's 3D suite gains big new tools.


For most creative applications that have been around from the 1990s, we're used to seeing modest yearly updates. There often seems to be little that the likes of Adobe and Autodesk can add to mature apps – unless new technologies enable what wasn't possible before (whether output like VR or input like the touchscreens of Microsoft's Surface Pro tablet PCs).

Cinema 4D keeps gaining fully specced new features with every release, which is evidenced by the newly announced R20. Out in September, the next release for Mac and Windows includes a new materials system, volume-based modelling and improved ProRender rendering.

So here's our visual guide to what's new in Cinema 4D R20.

Node-based creation and editing of materials is found in suites such as Autodesk Maya, and it will be available in Cinema 4D from R20.

Featuring over 150 nodes, artists can build incredibly complex materials – with the flowchart layout making it easier to edit specific parts of the material. 

To make node-based materials easier to learn, you can create materials using C4D's traditional Material Editor and then see the results in the node editor.


Render in image: © Aaron Barreras

The new Volume Builder and Mesher toolset is based on Open VDB technology developed by Dreamworks Animation. They allow you to edit models by using one shape to cut into another (or add to it). 

Rendering engines that support Open VDB include V-ray, Octane, Arnold, 3Delight and Renderman.

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Image: © Christian Wolff

Fields make C4D's Falloff functionality more powerful. 

Falloff is used through to modify particles, MoGraph clones, object points, polygons and splines – and fields give you more options on how each is affected, from shapes to being based on audio to random noise.

It's a powerful and intricate tool, which you can learn more about in this video.


Image: © Aix Sponza

In Cinema 4D R20 you can drag-and-drop in CAD models, and you can adjust the level of detail as they come in so you don't end up with a unwieldy, overly complex model. 

Supported formats include STEP, Solidworks, JT, Catia V5 and IGES.


Image: © Guenter Nikodim (top), YanGe (bottom)

Cinema 4D's version of AMD's ProRender real-time, GPU-based rendering engine has been upgraded with a new core with support for Apple's Metal 2 render tech for faster, better output. 

The upgrade adds support for rendering features such as sub-surface scattering, motion blur and multi-pass output.

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Image: model provided by TurboSquid.com (top), © YanGe (bottom)

There are also improvements to the motion tracking engine and the new Multi-Instances feature. This speeds up the performance of cloned objects created using Cinema 4D's MoGraph toolset.