In this tutorial you will learn how to craft 3D type using a bunch of tricks Cinema 4D has to offer from South African designer and animator Jean-Pierre Le Roux.
Move Illustrator type to Cinema 4D
We will start with some flat vector type created in Adobe Illustrator. You don’t need that application to work through this tutorial – though if you do you’ll learn how best to take that type into Cinema 4D.
Create type in Cinema 4D
In Cinema 4D, you’ll learn how to use the Mograph module’s Cloner to speed up modelling processes. You’ll also learn how best to use the Sweep NURBs modifier, which is my right hand man in most of my work.
Jean-Pierre explains how to create a studio stage for our type to live in, from where you’ll move onto adding lights to the scene to achieve beautiful renders.
Edit Cinema 4D renders in Photoshop
Lastly, if you have Photoshop, you’ll learn how to apply grading and final tweaking to a render.
Cinema 4D R13 or higher. Optional: Illustrator and Photoshop.
Time to complete
Approximately 3 hours
Please visit the desktop site to download the project files.
If you have Illustrator, open Sweet type.ai – if not go to step 2.
Check your paths, and make any changes you’d like. I like using Illustrator to achieve nice round shapes. It’s also a good way to explore ideas and play around.
Always remember that without a plan you will just be going around in circles, try have a game plan and let it evolve. You’ll be amazed at how things change by the time you’re done.
Once you have applied all the changes needed save out a new version as an Illustrator 8 file as Sweet type v8.ai. It’s the only format that Cinema can understands.
Open Cinema and go to File > Merge then browse to the Sweet type v8.ai file. Once you have your paths imported from Illustrator, the fun can begin.
Add a camera to the scene to work from. Position your splines and scale them to get them to look right in the camera. A good tip for this is to pop a cube in the scene that’s a set default size, and use that as a guide to how big or small things are.
Start by selecting the spline and switching to Point mode on the left-hand bar. Working along your spline, push points back and forth so that elements that overlap in 2D space are separated in 3D space: think of it as a hose that shouldn’t intersect. This makes you type seem more real.
Next apply a Sweep NURBs modifier to your spline by clicking on the Objects button and selecting Sweep NURBs (called just Sweep in Cinema 4D R15).
Create a Circle spline from the Splines button’s menu and apply it into the Sweep NURBs (again called Sweep in C4D R15). Duplicate the Sweep NURBs with the circle inside a few times and drop your respective spline paths into each Sweep NURBs.
Hierarchy matters here, so make sure the circle spline is above the spline paths in the Objects palette. Use this to check your paths in more detail. Switch your view to Wireframe (Display > Wireframe) and click on the Isoparms view below it (Display > Isoparms).
To give the ’S’ the shape of piped ice cream, we need to change its circular shape into a star. Click on the Splines button and select the Star. Change all its settings to match those shown here.
Once that’s done select the star spline and hit C to make it editable. Switch to Point mode and select all of the points. Right-click and select Chamfer. Change the Chamfer’s Radius to 5cm.
Replace the circle in the sweep with the star. Scale the star up or down to suit the spline. Next select the Sweep, open the Details section of its Object Properties and change the Scale to fit the example. Cmd/Ctrl + click to create knots in the graph.
For the ‘w’ I used the fantastic (and free!) Reeper X plugin created by Codeworkers.
The Reeper plugin takes a really complex setup of sweeping circles along a helix attached to a spline into one easy step.
Download the plugin, create a Reeper object and drop the spline into it in the Object palette. Adjust the settings to match those shown here. Viola, rope!
For the first ‘e’, I created a cylinder and made sure there were enough subdivisions: four cap segments should be enough, and click on Fillet Caps for a rounded edge. Then push C to make it editable.
Click on the Select menu and click on the dotted line to break the menu off – It’s a real time saver using it that way.
Click on Loop Selection in the now-detached Select menu and select the central two loops on both sides and extrude inwards.
Create another Sweep (NURBs) for the string and drop the ‘e’ spline into that. Select Mograph > Cloner. Switch to Object mode and drop a duplicate of the ‘e’ spline into the object box. Put your cylinder sweet into the cloner.
Colour the cylinders to look like sweets.
The next ‘e’ is a bit tricky and takes some crafting. Start off by creating a Sweep (NURBs), adding the second ‘e’ spline into that. Then create a rectangle spline to sweep along it. Change the settings to match example (1).
Hit C to make it editable. Select the children of editable object as in example (2), right-click and click Connect Objects + Delete. Now it is made into a singular object.
Next you will need to create the icing. Use the Loop Selection tool and select the top rows like the example (3), right-click and choose Split. This will create a second object containing just the selected polys.
Now push and pull the edges to match icing dripping over the sides however you like. Drop this into a HyperNURBs (Subdivision Surfaces in C4D R15) while working as it will give a nice smooth effect (4).
Lastly the topping (5). Create a Cloner, switch it’s Mode to Object and drop the icing into its Object. Drop a capsule into the Cloner in the Objects palette, scale it down and duplicate by holding Cmd/Ctrl and dragging downwards in the stack.
Add different colours as shown. Apply a Random effector (Mograph > Effector > Random) to the Cloner, with rotation B set to 80.
The ’t' is quite simple. Start by creating a Sweep (NURBs). Create a Circle spline and size it down. Place that and the ’t’ spline into the Sweep. Change the settings to match those shown here.
Next, create a second Sweep using the same ’t’ spline – but here we’ll use with a different trick: the Spline Wrap modifier.
First create a tube primitive. Change the settings as shown. Create a Spline Wrap modifier. Then create a null object. The order of this is critical: drop the Spline Wrap and the tube into the null, and leave the ’t’ spline outside of the null – as this is the only way it knows which object to wrap.
Once this is done drop the ’t’ spline into the spline box of the Spline Wrap. Now you have two sweeps: one inside and one outside.
The Lollipop is super simple to create. For the stick, start once again with the spline and Sweep (NURBs). Using a Sweep here gives you the flexibility – pardon the pun – of bending the shape if you want to, which you can’t do with an ordinary cylinder.
The lollipop head is just a plain old sphere with a centre extrusion. Create a sphere as shown, hit C to make it editable and – using Loop Selection – select the centre ring of polys.
Right-click and choose Extrude. Drop that into a HyperNURBs (or Subdivision Surfaces in C4D R15) and you’re done.
Now we’ll be creating an infinity curve to place our illustration in. Move your view so you’ll looking at the scene from the left (or move to this view if you’ve got more than one view).
Select the Bezier Curve tool and draw out a curve as shown. Then select the Loft NURBs tool (or just Loft in C4D R15) and drop your curve in there.
Select that curve and Cmd/Ctrl + drag it down the X axis to duplicate it. The Loft will connect the two with geometry. Bump up the resolution of the polys in order to get a smooth clean curve when rendered.
Add details including the straw and choc chips in the ice cream – as these little things really help push the illustration. Details are a great way of give your illustration that something special.
The choc chips are just a random little shape created using a Landscape object with Spherical ticked and a small tweaks made to its parameters.
Create a Cloner, set it to Object Mode and drop your the Sweep (NURBs) of your ice cream in there. Set the mode to Volume so that it places them randomly inside the ice cream object.
The straw is a simple cylinder created with enough segments to make the bends possible. I made it editable, selected loops, extruded them and scaled them down. I then just grabbed some of loops and rotated them to get the final look.
For lighting the scene, there are some great tools out there you can purchase to make life simple. I love Greyscalegorilla’s Light Kit Pro. I have been using it for ages. That accompanied with GI can yield some fantastic results – it takes the strain out of tweaking light setups and, in the fast-paced working world, it’s a huge time saver.
Having said that I recently discovered Vray, which I highly recommend using. It is amazing how much better it renders. Because of that I now prefer Josef Bsharah’s Vray Studio Tools. He has created some amazing tools to accompany the Vray render engine.
Both tools have great skylights and HDRI setups to use and with a few softboxes and bounce cards set up, you can’t go wrong. Note that learning lighting by yourself is a must. It will teach you a lot about what certain aspects are used for and differences between settings. Otherwise you will just be changing dials not knowing what you’re really changing.
The Vray Render settings can be quite confusing. I highly recommend researching how it works. For this tutorial, open the Render Settings dialog (Render > Edit Render Settings), select VrayBridge as the Renderer, click on the GI tab and adjust the settings to match the example. Then hit Render.
For the final step take your rendered image into Photoshop and do a little colour grading. Apply a Levels adjustment layer and push the red green and blue individually to make the colours pop nicely.
Next, I usually add a little Gradient Map adjustment layer with a low opacity to give the image a warm or cool tone depending on the feeling you’re going for.
Lastly add a new layer and fill it with a light grey. Go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise. Change it to approximately 10 %, drop the layer’s opacity down and set its blending mode to Overlay.