Cinema 4D r10 Handbook: Chapter 3

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.

This was a long chapter and took me longer to write-up than expected.

Chapter 3: NURBS

Finally some modeling. Chapter 3 is all about using splines and NURBS to create 3d models. It goes over generators, Boolean, how to use splines, and has two modeling tutorials. NURBS is considered non-destructive because you can go back and modify the spline, or the generator, at any time. “…linking a spline, or series of splines, to a NURBS generator makes NURBS geometries.”

NURBS Generators

There are four NURBS generators: extrude, lathe, loft, and sweep. Like I said previously, you link a spline to a generator to create a model. Splines have no depth of their own, and generators have no shape of their own. So, they work together to create your model. C4d gives you a number of pre-made splines to choose from; the main thing to note is the differences between the hand-drawn splines and the spline primitives. Hand-drawn splines allow you to place points where you would like. Spline primitives are pre-made shapes, with pre-placed points.

Extrude NURBS

Extrude NURBS gives depth to 2D splines. Extrude NURBS can handle working with multiple splines, but you must have hierarchical checked. When working with Extrude NURBS it is easiest to work in Front View. Works best with geometric shapes.


Lathe NURBS revolve a spline around a center or rotation. You can only use one spline with Lathe NURBS. Always work with Lathe NURBS in Front View or Right View, never in Top or perspective view. The Lathe NURBS generator uses the y-axis as its origin.


Loft NURBS connects spline “ribs” together. In order to use Lathe NURBS correctly, you need two or more splines; and you can be created in and view except Perspective. “The order the splines are linked in the hierarchy is critical for the operation to give the desired results. You must link them in order.”


Sweep NURBS extends a profile along a path. No more than two splines can be used in creating Sweep NURBS. Create the path in Right, Front, or Top View, and create the profile in the Front View.

Tutorial 3.1: The Castle

This first tutorial teaches how to use basic shapes, combined with Boolean objects, to create more complex objects. It’s basically a crash course in using Boolean objects. Booleans are used to add or subtract from linked items.

These are shortened directions to the tutorial:

Creating the Spline:
1) Go into Front View.
2) Use the Bezier Spline Tool to draw your spline.
3) Create rounded edges. Select points, hit “V” to bring up tools menu> Edit Spline> Chamfer. “Chamfers are a great way to get perfectly rounded edges without hassle.”

Use Lathe NURBS to Create 3D Shape:
1) Create NURBS object. Objects> NURBS> Lathe NURBS
2) Use the Objects Manager to link the spline to the Lathe NURBS. Drag the spline over the NURBS to link it.

Use Array Tool and Boolean to Create Gaps and Window:
For the Castle Notches:
1) Create Cube Primitive.
2) Create Array object. Objects> Modeling> Array
3) Link Cube to the Array. This will give you multiple cubes. The Array object multiplies the linked object, and wraps them around a center point.
4) Place the Arrayed cubes in position over your Lathe NURBS.

For the Window:
1) Create a rectangle. Objects> Spline Primitives> Rectangle
2) Hit “C” to make the spline editable and chamfer the edges.
3) Create an Extrude NURBS.
4) Link the rectangle to the Extrude NURBS
5) Use the Coordinates Manager to move the rectangle so it intersects with the castle body. *NOTE: when working with the coordinates manager, you have to make sure you hit apply, or the settings won’t take effect.*

To Create the Negative Space:
1) Create a Boole Object. Objects> Modeling> Boole
2) Select both the Castle Notch Array and the Window Rectangle and group them. Option+”G” will group things together, doing so groups themas a single Null Object.
3) Link the grouped Null Object to the Boole.
4) Link the Castle to the Boole. *NOTE: proper hierarchy is very important in this step. If you link things wrong, you wont get the right look.

This is what my final model looked like:

Tutorial 3.2: The Desk Lamp

The desk lamp tutorial is meant to further teach how to use NURBS generators. It covers do’s and dont’s of NURBS, array and boolean objects, and how to combine pieces together. The tutorial actually has you create four different projects: three to create the different pieces, and one to combine them together. The three pieces are the Base, the Neck, and the Head. This tutorial also introduces Displacement Mapping. “Modeling is not confined to just splines, polygons, and NURBS generators. Materials and their accompanying displacement maps can be used to alter geometry.”

Creating the Base:
1) Use the Linear Spline Tool to create the spline.
2) Line all the points up using the Objects Manager. The Structure Manager allows you to see numerical coordinates of points, this is one way to ensure that all of your points line up how you want them to.
3) Create a Lathe NURB to wrap around the spline.
4) Link the spline to the Lathe NURB.

Making the Neck:
1) Create a B-Spline and align the points in a straight line. Objects> Create Spline> B-Spline. *Use the Structure Manager to make sure your points are in a perfectly straight line.
2) Create the profile by making a 2D Circle. Objects> Spline Primitives> Circle. This will tell the NURB how wide it needs to be.
3) Generate a Sweep NURB.
4) Link the spline to the Sweep NURB.
5) Link the circle to the Sweep NURB. *NOTE: It is important that the spline is above the circle in the hierarchy for the Sweep NURB to work properly.

Assembling the Head:
For the Head/Neck Connector:
1) Create for 2D circles and arrange them vertically. *Copying the circles is an easy way to create more.
2) Use a Loft NURBS to create a mesh around them.
3) Link the four circle layers to the Loft NURBS. *NOTE: in order for the Loft NURBS to properly generate the mesh, you need to double-check the hierarchy of the links: lowest to highest.
4) Use the Objects Manager to hide the connector.

For the Head:
1) Use the Bezier Spline Tool to create the base spline in Front View. Objects> Create Spline> Bezier
2) Create a Lathe NURBS and link the spline to it.
3) Use the Coordinates Manager to turn the head 90°
4) Unhide the connector and, using the Right View, move it in position under the head. Rehide both pieces.

For the Switch:
1) Create a Capsule. Objects> Primitive> Capsule
2) Create a Cylinder and resize it.
3) Create and Array and link the cylinder to it.
4) Position the array so that the cylinders are overlapping the capsule.
5) Create a Boole and link the Array to it.
6) Unhide the head and position the switch behind it.

For the Lightbulb:
1) Create a Sphere Primitive.
2) Change the size so it fits inside the head.
3) Move the sphere into the lamp head.
4) Combine all the parts together in a group.

Adding Detail

At this point, the books talks about how adding detail to the tutorial models will help you experiment with the program. They say, “part of the modeling process is learning how to problem solve.” I agree one hundred percent. The book has five tips for problem solving:
1) Keep it organized. Pay attention to your hierarchy.
2) Name your objects. Helps you stay organized.
3) Keep it simple.
4) It doesn’t have to be exact. You can go back and adjust.
5) Be creative. If you can’t make it work, find another solution.

Finish the model by Merging the Parts:
1) Create a new project.
2) In the Objects Manager, choose File> Merge Objects. Select one of the other projects, and hit enter. Do this for all three pieces. This will import the base. the neck, and the head into the Objects Manager.
3) Resize the pieces so they all match.
4) Adjust the base so that it is at the bottom of the neck.
5) Align the head to the neck by right clicking on the head and selecting Cinema 4D Tags> Align to Spline.
6) Render the scene. Command+”R”

Here’s what mine looked like:

I now look forward to Chapter 4: Polygon Modeling. Should be posted tomorrow.

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