Over the past few months, Toronto-based illustrator Murilo Maciel has created a series of artworks to celebrate being represented by agents Shannon Associates for five years.
In this Masterclass, he reveals the process he used to create this contemporary and playful piece for the KidShannon division of the agency. It features a composition of 3D objects, with a feel somewhere between the plastic used for kids toys and the shiny slickness of bubblegum.
Many 3D artists wonder why they can’t get their type or elements to have that bubblegum look by using simple extruded shapes and the right texture. However, Murilo points out that getting the textures to render correctly depends on a good lighting setup. “Modelling, texturing and rendering all depend on each other,” he explains, “and understanding how each contribute to the looks is essential to give a piece a playful bubblegum look.”
For this piece, Murilo used the V-ray renderer. However, he notes that all the techniques you’ll learn can be done without it – and that Global Illumination on its own can give you pretty good results. To activate GI, go to Render Settings > Effect > Global Illumination. You’ll need to use a slightly different lighting setup and materials, but once you’ve read how it works with V-ray, you should have no problem setting it up using Cinema 4D’s built-in renderer.
This issue’s project files include a base model of an ice-cream cone, so you can concentrate on how you fine?tune the model.
Time to complete
Cinema 4D 12 or later, Vray 1.2.5 or later (optional)
Please visit the desktop site to download the project files.
Before we start modelling, I want to explain what I did before opening Cinema 4D. I looked for reference images on Google images and searched for elements related to the subject of the illustration – I was after a range of objects that reflect the fun of childhood. I created a moodboard from the images I liked, then mapped out a rough sketch to work the composition and visual hierarchy in Illustrator.
First, open Cinema 4D and create a new document. We’ll start by modelling a balloon. Create a sphere primitive and uncheck Render Perfect in the Objects tab of the Object Properties panel, so we can modify its shape. Go to Object > Deformer and choose Taper. In the Object panel, move the Taper deformer inside the sphere, so it can affect it.
In the same panel, select the Taper, then go to the Objects tab of the Object Properties panel, and change the Mode to Within Box. Play around with the other settings until the deformer has an upside down triangular shape.
To create the balloon’s knot and end, add torus and upside-down cone primitives right above the balloon, and resize them to look like the screenshot. Select everything in the Objects panel and press Alt + G to group them all.
Lets move on and create the ice cream. Press F5 to switch the viewport and have a better view of our object from different angles. Open Icec_conve.c4d from the project files, and copy and paste it inside the document.
Create a sphere and press C to make it editable. Add a HyperNURBS object from the top toolbar, moving the sphere inside it, so we can use it to modify the sphere’s geometry.
Select Live Selection from the top toolbar and the Use Polygon tool from the left-hand toolbar, and choose some of the polygons from the sphere. Move them slightly to give the sphere a less uniform look that’s more like slightly melting ice cream. Ensure Only Select Visible Elements is checked in the Options tab of the Tools panel.
Go to Objects > Spline Primitive > Text and write the word ‘KIDS’ in a nice chunky font – I used a beautiful free face called Bifurk. Instead of adding an Extrude NURBs object, which would leave the letters with sharp edges, we’ll model each letter individually to ensure a much smoother appearance. With this technique, you’ll have much greater control over the type, even though it can be pretty time-consuming, depending on which typeface you decide to use.
Add a cube and match the height with the first letter you want to model.
Using the Top view, change the depth to fit with the other dimensions of the letters. With the cube still selected, go to the Object panel, change the Y segments to 7 and make it editable by pressing C. Choose the Rectangular Selection tool from the top bar and the Use Point tool from the left-hand toolbar.
In the Tools panel, uncheck Only Select Visible Elements and – using the Front view – start adjusting the cube’s edges to match the typeface.
Repeat this process with all the letters except S, and ensure they all have the same depth and same numbers of Y segments to have more visual consistency.
For the letter S, I used a commercial font called Yume (bit.ly/18f1zvc), which has a better S than Bifurk. I used the same process as with the other letters.
Once you’ve finished modelling all your letters, press K to select the Knife tool, ensure Visible Only is unchecked in the Tools panel’s Options tab, and that Use Point tool is selected. Press F2 to switch to the top view.
With the Knife tool selected, create two more segments: one at the back and another in the front. To do so, click outside the polygon, drag through and beyond, then release on the other side. Ensure you start and end the knife cut outside the polygon or selection.
Add a HyperNURBs object and move the polygon inside it.
Once you’ve finished all the letters, start creating your own elements until you are happy.
To create the gumball look, go to your material panel and select New > VrayBridge > VrayAdvancedMaterial. Use the Diffuse Layer 1 tab to modify the colour of it and check one of the Specular layers, changing the Specular Type to Phong.
Repeat the step above, but change the brightness to 30% and the amount of the layer transparency to 25%. In the Specular layer parameters, uncheck Trace Reflections to eliminate the reflections.
In the Material window, hold Cmd/Ctrl and drag the material you just created to duplicate it.
In the new material, check Bump, and change its Texture Map to Noise. Click on the noise thumbnail that opened. Change the noise type to Ober and the global scale to 700. This will give your material a chewed gum look. Lastly, create a simple material with no reflection at all, which will be used in the now reflective surfaces. Before we apply the materials though, we should set up the lighting.
As I mentioned before, getting the right light setup is essential to get your objects and materials to look like they are supposed to. A classic three-light setup will give very nice highlights and soft shadows.
We’ll use the setup shown as a model for the lighting. Rather than creating the setup from scratch, we’ll use the Vray Studio Setup scene template to speed up the process you’re going to use.
Download Vray Studio Setup 1.3 from here. Open the file, and copy and paste the elements from your original scene file into Vray to be rendered. Use the test object included as a reference of size and position for your elements. Apply your materials now, as with the lighting setup in place you can see how they’ll appear. Click on Main Control from the Objects panel to change any lighting parameters you might find necessary: such as light size, position and colour. Try to keep similar proportion between the height of all objects together and the softboxes.