Cinema 4D r10 Handbook: Chapter 2

Over the course of September I’m going to be going through the C4D r10 Handbook chapter by chapter and posting general overviews and my thoughts. Once completed I hope to be able to do basic 3D animations and graphics. Posts will come Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

First, let me apologize for not getting this out yesterday. The Labor Day Holiday through me off a little bit.

Chapter 2: Beginning Modeling

It makes sense that one of the first chapters in the book is pretty much just a theory based chapter. Without a little background on terminology and application you’re building a foundation that is bound to crumble. “This chapter is dedicated to covering some of the basic ideas behind 3D object construction. Try not to become discouraged as you read through the ethereal, abstract theory analysis. There are many fun, upcoming projects, but it’s important to lay out the basics.”

3D Construction Theory

3D modeling is based around the idea of a point. The book compares the point to an atom. It is the most fundamental building block in the 3D world. Two points combine to create an edge. Three (or more) edges create a polygon. The place where points combine to create a polygon is called a vertex. “When polygons share points, the result is a solid surface. If two adjacent polygons do not share two common points, there is technically no solid surface. The result can be shears, or “holes,” in a surface.”

The Concept of Poly-Count

Polygons are the pieces that hold together the 3D world. Everything is made of polygons. “…higher polygon counts create smoother forms that are more pleasing and organic.” But, the higher your poly-count, the more processing power your computer will need. If you’re working with a model that has a super high amount of polys, then your computer will chug if it can’t process the information. One way of working around this is to work in Primitives.


Primitives are objects that C4D creates via mathematical formulas that create shapes based on determined values.” When you create a basic shape (cube, sphere, cylinder, etc..) from the icon palette, or from the menu drop downs, you are creating primitives. Primitives are objects that C4D can easily manipulate by changing the parameters without changing the actual polygonal shape. The objects properties can be easily changed through the Attributes Manager. One of the cooler options I’ve found is “Fillet.” If you create a cube, then choose fillet in the manager, it rounds the corners for you (it also adds polygons to the shape once you enter edit mode).

Modeling Tools

Make Object Editable

The first tool is the “Make Object Editable” tool. Remember how I said that primitives aren’t polygons? Well, this tool is how you convert them. The keyboard shortcut is “C.” But be careful using that, this tool is a destructive edit. Basically, if you make an object editable, then save, there’s no way to go back to a primitive. “This is called destructive modeling not because the action can’t be undone right away (it can); rather, it is destructive because there is no way to restore it much later in the process.”

Model Tool

If you want to be able to make any actual changes to an object, then you must be on the Model Tool. “The Model Tool is the default tool that lets you move, rotate, and scale objects.” If you make changes to an object (EX: point of origin), then want to change the model (EX: rotation), you won’t be able to unless you first click on the model tool.

Axis Tool

“A primitive’s center of rotation cannot be modified. you must convert it to a polygon object first. Afterwords, you can change the center of rotation using [the Object Axis Tool]. Select it and then use the Move and Rotate tools to alter the center point.”

Point, Edge, and Polygon Tools

After you convert an object using the “Make Object Editable” tool, you can edit the object using point, edges, or polygons. The Points tool allows you to select and modify individual points. The Edges tools does the same with individual (or groups, if multiples are selected) edges. And the Polygons tool allows you to select one or more polygonal faces to edit. You can gain quick access to the tools by hitting “V” on the keyboard and scrolling over “tools.”


At first glance, all this makes me want to do is yell “NERDS!!!” while shaking my fists in the air. But, NURBS are actually really useful. “NURBS (Non-Uniform Rational B-Splines) can make a pipe out of a circle, a vase out of a squiggle, and a vine from a line and a profile.” With NURBS, you are altering the source objects that create the final objects; as opposed to editing the object on the polygonal level (which increases your need for faster computer processing). They have many advantages, and some drawbacks; one of which is relying on C4D to fill in the math, and when working on a NURBS object, you can’t make minutes changes. NURBS are made of Splines.


“Splines contain points that still have no geometry of their own. These points define the shape or the lines between the points.” Basically, splines work like bezier curves in Illustrator. The points themselves have no inherent mass, but they act as reference for the overall model. Splines will never render. Although they don’t have any geometry of their own, splines can be used to create a whole range of geometric objects.

Thus ends chapter two. I’ll be doing chapter three tonight, and posting it up tomorrow. This will get me back on track.

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