Maxon Cinema 4D tutorial: Create bright, shiny textures in Cinema 4D

Learn how to model, texture and renderer vibrant reflective shapes in Cinema 4D and bring them together to form a colourful metaphysical-abstract 3D scene.

In this Cinema 4D tutorial, Italian artist Emilio La Mura will detail how to texture and render objects with a brilliant shine.

He begins by explaining how his Metaphysical Abstractism project was born, beginning with the references and artists that influenced the series. Then you'll learn his modelling, texturing and lighting process.

You will use boole and spline wraps for modelling, create shiny reflective textures, learn how to place the three-point lights making up the scene, and the create a perfect render.

The final part shows the post-production process in Photoshop.

Time to complete

3 hours

Software needed

Cinema 4D

Adobe Photoshop CC


For creating this series I was inspired by two of the greatest exponents of abstract and metaphysical art: Wassily Kandinsky and the Italian painter Giorgio Morandi. I looked at Morandi's metaphysical composition style of his still life paintings, mixing it with Kandinsky's abstract geometric shapes and colour combinations.

For this project I wanted to combine abstract 3D shapes and ‘key objects’ like buttons, stripes and balls into a Heath Robinson-type machine – where the shapes assume new symbolic meanings in this metaphysical contest.


So, let's start with creating some cubes with different length, width and height. They will be our first structure for the composition.

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To give a more realistic look to the object, smooth the edges of each cube – switching on the Fillet option in the Object section of the Attributes panel for each, and giving the fillet a small radius (here 0.4cm, but yours will depend on the size of each object).


Now it's time to make our key objects, which for simplicity’s sake we do in a new document.

For the buttons, create two different cylinders with smoothed edges. Go to Create > Modeling > Boole and place the cylinders inside it, with the big one on top of smaller one (the default for a Boole is to subtract B from A).

Then copy and paste the smaller cylinder out of the Boole, reducing it till you have a little space between the tube you’ve created and the cylinder inside.


For the stripes we first need a spline that we use as a rail for a plane. Create a new scene, go to Create > Spline > Formula and modify the setting like the example for creating regular waves.

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Then go to Create > Object > Plane and give it a rectangular shape, increasing the number of the segments for the big side.

Select Create > Deformer > Spline Wrap and place it under the Plane in the Objects panel. With the Spline Wrap selected, drag the Formula into the Spline parameter in Object Properties in the Attributes tab. Then in Rotation, modify the Banking from 0° to 90°.


Once you’ve created all of the ‘key objects’, you can return to the primary project and place them in the scene.

Using Booles, create hollow spaces in the cubes that fit around these new objects.


Place a Set behind the scene as a background and floor.

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Now it's time to texture our scene. For almost all the textures, I used variations on a single set of shiny, reflective settings – changing almost only the colours, which were selected from a palette inspired by Kandinsky’s paintings.


The textures are created by applying only Color, Reflection and Specular layers. Here’s how I created each.

For the Color, use a texture with a minor gradient.


For the Reflection, apply a Brightness of 5% and a Fresnel with a Mix Strength of 30%.

Finally add a simple Specular layer.

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For the Set use a simple gradient texture as shown here.


To create the texture for the Stripes texture, first add a checkerboard in the Luminance layer by going to Texture > Surfaces > Checkerboard.


Click on the checkerboard itself on the top left, which opens a new control panel that you should adjust as shown.

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For the last texture – for the glass button – create a simple glass texture using Transparency, Reflection and Specular. Use the Transparency settings shown here (we’ll get to the others next).


Use the Reflection settings shown here. Don’t change the Specular settings.


The light scheme is made up by a three-point lighting setup. The primary softbox on left side should have a soft orange tone at 100% Brightness.

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The secondary softbox on the right side should have 50% Brightness and a soft blue tone.

Finally, place an overall white softbox at the top with 30% Brightness.


In Render Settings, select the Physical renderer, with Depth of Field switched on. Add Global Illumination and Ambient Occlusion with contrast at -40%.

This gives you a realistic feel that contrasts nicely with the abstract concept.


Now it's time to place the camera. Increase the focal length for a more professional look.

Set the focus distance by selecting the camera and going to the Object tab of the Attributes panel. Selecting the mouse cursor icon next to Focus Distance by clicking on our scene objects.

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So you now ready to render – so render!


Once you have rendered your image, you are ready to move on Photoshop.

The first thing you have to do is reduce the dominant colour caused by the background – in this case, cyan. Go to Image > Adjustment > Selective Color and move the sliders as shown here (apologies if you don’t read Italian).

What you do here should largely be down to personal preference, and it will vary depending on the colours you’ve used for the background and the objects.


Next we have to balance the shadows, so go to Image > Adjustments > Shadows/Highlights and set the Shadows to 40%.

After that, apply a Photo Filter (Image > Adjustments > Photo Filter) using a Warming Filter as shown here.

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Finally, apply a very thin vignette effect, going to Filter > Lens Correction > Custom and setting the Vignette amount to -10.

We can also add more lighting to some points of the image that seem darker – such as the button's cap – using Dodge tool (O) set to Midtones and 100%.