Maxon Cinema 4D tutorial: Create 3D type formed of plasticine

Model, sculpt, texture and light fun 3D letters in Cinema 4D.

In this tutorial for Cinema 4D, Jenue explains how he created the letter B from his gorgeous plasticine alphabet series.

He begins by explaining how you can transform what starts as a simple idea – here, Jenue was inspired by primary and secondary colours, as well as organic materials and shapes – into a unique, eye-catching finish via a simple-to-follow modelling, sculpting, texturing and lighting processes. 

You will use Sculpture tools from Cinema 4D and basics tools to create playful plasticine and ice textures with the V-ray renderer, learn how to make a clean and bright three-point lights setup and to create a nice render and, for the final part, dive into the post-production process  in Photoshop.

Time to complete

3 hours


Cinema 4D R13 or later


We want our shot to feel like it was photographed in a real photographic studio – so to start, create a rectangle spline to simulate a light-reflecting white background for our 'studio'. Then uncheck the rounding box. 


When you see some of the points of the square disappear, delete the top points and the first of the bottom ones. You are aiming for a smooth, curved background. 

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Extrude the spline to finish the background. 


Next, select MoGraph > MoText. In the MoText object's Properties, choose a font and extrude it as much as you want by increasing the Depth parameter. In my case, I chose the Didot font.


Now create a sphere. In its Properties, select Type and choose Icosahedron to get a 20-sided polygon (or what the nerds among us would call a D20). Then go to Sculpt > Subdivide and click until the segments of the sphere become small enough.

Keep in mind the number of segments you are producing, as the higher the number, the higher the risk that Cinema 4D will crash.

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Select Sculpt > Brushes > Pull. Choose a small size (30) and a low pressure (20%). You need to create an effect that makes the balls look like they're made of slightly squidged plasticine, so select the Pull tool and press around the ball. Repeat this a few times with different balls. 


Place the finished balls around the letter you created in Step 4, until the shape is full of balls (snigger).


Once your letter is covered in balls to your liking, hide or delete the Mograph text to reveal a B shape consisting only of balls. 

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Once you have created this image, you can start with the plasticine texturing (note, I am using VRAY for C4D 2.55 here).

First, add a colour to the Diffuse channel. In the Specular channel, select around a 25% Brightness with a 90% Transparency – which will produce the correct texture. For Glossiness, select around 0.73 and check the box that says 'Link Highlight Glossiness'.

In the Bump channel, put 3cm. In the Texture Map channel, select Noise and then Wavy Turbulence with a global scale of 66% in the relative scale 222, 222, 222. You can try other parameters – just play with it.


To make the ice texture, you can download my ice texture from the first slide of this tutorial, under 'Project Files'. Upload it to the Bump channel. Put around -8 for the Bump amount. 

In the Luminosity Layer, add around 5% Light to the ice. In the Reflection Layer, add a brightness between 90% and 100% of transparency. 

In the Specular Layer parameters, select 'Link Highlight Glossiness'.

For the Refraction, load the ice texture in the texture map of the Refraction Colour and put 0.38 for Mix Strength. 

Then put 1.33 for the Ior of the ice. 


To give the scene a look like a traditional photo studio, I've used a standard three-point lighting setup: one on the front, one on the left and the other on the right.

Give the one on the front and the one on the side a similar radiant power, and the one left to have double the radiant power. It is important to constantly adjust and test your lighting at this point in order to produce your desired effect. 

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In the Render Settings in VrayBridge, go to Indirect Illumination and turn the GI ‘on’. Then load a GI preset – for example, the Classic Chaosgroup – depending on the quality and speed you desire. 

For the whole process, I like the 04_Ir-LC_medium, but you can select 02_Ir-LC_veryfast, if you want to have some fast renders.


Under DMC Sampler, you can play with the Noise threshold. If you want to do some quick renders, you can put values higher - for example, 0.03. But this will result in your image being far more grainy.

When you are ready for your final render, I recommend you go to 0.01 or even lower if you want a clean render.


Under Antialiasing, select a Type of Adaptative DMC. Under the Adaptative DMC image sampler, select a Min subdivision of 1 and a maximum of 16 (the lower you go in the subs, the slower it will become - but you will get much better results).

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On the penultimate step, just add a camera to the scene. For the Focal Length, select the portrait 80mm, which will make the renders feel far more photographic (or cinematic). I personally love it.


Once you have the render, save and open in Photoshop. There, I only adjust the saturation and contrast; in this case, I increased them a little bit. And, voila – you have your B letter produced.