Maxon Cinema 4D tutorial: Model arcade machines in Cinema 4D with pinball, table football and Donkey Kong Jr

Anatoly Bazarov takes you through how he created a low-poly arcade as part of his brilliant isometric So Hexy project.

One of the most popular self-initiated projects we’ve featured recently is Anatoly Bazarov’s So Hexy – a tessellating collection of isometric rooms that draw on 16-bit-style of old computer games. These were modelled and rendered in Cinema 4D, so we asked the 24-year-old Russian designer to take us through how he created one of the rooms.

In this Cinema 4D tutorial, you’ll learn how to model an arcade with a pinball machine, table football and Donkey Kong Junior. Anatoly will then show you how he textured, lit and rendered the heavily shadowed, neon-lit scene.


The first thing I do when I sit down to create a new work is searching for good reference material. The best helper for this is Google or Pinterest.

The search tells us a lot about the look and feel of an arcade: lots of blue neon colors, subdued lighting, and completely different machines next to each other with little sense of order.

We don’t have to match this completely - the most important thing is to convey the right atmosphere – so let’s get started.


In this work, cubes are everything. So let’s open Cinema 4D and create one.

Then duplicate our cube and move it along the axes: x 12cm, y 12cm and z -12cm.

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Model a room in Cinema 4D

Apply a Boole object and we can get a room. Left-click to make it editable object.

If you wish your room to have doors and windows, create and place other shapes under the Boole object to cut them out.


Searching for references in Step 1 stage removed one of the biggest stumbling blocks for any new project – fear of the blank canvas. We already know what we want to create, and what objects we need.

Work using the principle of moving the overall to the particular. Create cubes and cuboids for your main elements at the correct approximate size. Arrange them around the room, to have a general idea of the room’s layout.


Model a table football in Cinema 4D

For convenience, I create each new object in a new project, and then bring in the main scene for layout

Let's start with a football table, which is a very simple and symmetrical object. Guess what shapes we begin with? Yep, cubes (which we modify to be cuboids).

The basis of our table consists of five cuboids:  four sides and the floor. Add holes and legs (using more modified cubes).

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From these very few shapes we have got a great table – but we need spinners and players.

For the spinners, create a thin cylinder and put it on his side. Use a Cloner and increase their number up to 8 and level them on the table.

Next you need to make the players. Each player consists of two deformed cubes (body) and a sphere (the head). The handle is a cylinder of six polygons on which I applied a bulge just above the centre.

Arrange everything in its place and you’re finished.


Model a skateboard in Cinema 4D

I love the style of the 80s, so the skateboard will be designed in this style. To begin, create a spline in the shape of a fish.


The skateboard’s suspension is comprised entirely of cylinders of different sizes. This project’s low-poly style is really helping us create this quickly, isn't it?

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Model a pinball machine in Cinema 4D

We shall now proceed to the pinball machine.

To make it, you need to imagine how to make one in real life. The principle is very similar to the football table. First, make the side walls, then make a duplicate. Create the front and back walls.


Create the legs and scoreboard.


Here we have reached the middle of tutorial – so I'll tell you a secret. The most important thing in this project is to pay due attention to small details - even if you think no one will notice. Everyone will likely notice one or two small details and this act of discovery will increase their enjoyment of the work.

Start decorating the pinball with simple objects made from cubes, cylinders, and spheres to fit our overall style.

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Don't forget about the buttons, the coin slot and the plunger. Again, use a small number of Polygons and don’t be put off by sharp edges in the details. This is the low-poly style we want.


Model an arcade machine in Cinema 4D

Everyone loves arcade machines – so let’s build one. Create this in a similar way we used to do skateboard. First you need to make a spline of the desired shape for the side, and extrude it, Make a duplicate. Create the horizontal elements from cubes, using Booles to cut out the middle part of the shelf.


Create the buttons and levers as you did for the other machines.

Once again, remember the little details.

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The lower part of the image is filled and the top is empty. This is where we want some neon lighting in a more interesting shape than a simple strip light. Well, what shape could be more fitting than Pac-Man?

Whatever shape you want to use, create it with a single spline.

I did the same thing to add one of Pac-Man’s nemeses, Pinky.


We’re done with modelling, so it’s time to move onto texture creation and lighting. For almost all of the textures I used similar settings for a cohesive, 16-bit look.

The example here is the texture of the players. Use simple choices for colour, reflection and specular.


To texture the neon tubes, first create a new texture.

Include Luminance, Transparency and glow. Customise these settings until its like a transparent neon tube.

I think my neon here isn’t perfect. If you can get better results, drop me an email.

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The lighting scheme is very simple, in keeping with our look and feel from an earlier age of computer game graphics. I used only two softboxes: one shines from above downwards, and the second at an angle of 45 degrees. The upper lighting has a blue hue for that dingy arcade feel.


Use Cinema 4D’s standard renderer with only Ambient Occlusion applied. This might seem like cheating, but remember – we’re replicating a game look from around 20 years ago, when modern rendering techniques was confined to Soho’s VFX houses.

And that's all. Today we learned how to do arcade room. I'm sure it was much easier than you thought – and I hope that my tips will help you.