cin­ema 4d mo­graph

EJ Hassen­fratz demon­strates how to turn your 3D mod­els into car­toon­ish 2D il­lus­tra­tions

3D World - - CONTENTS - Au­thor EJ Hassen­fratz EJ Hassen­fratz is an Emmy Award-win­ning free­lance 3D de­signer and tu­to­rial artist based out of Den­ver, Colorado. Over his ca­reer he has worked with nu­mer­ous big-name brands in­clud­ing Ap­ple, Mi­crosoft, and Com­cast. He also runs a comp

Dis­cover the tech­niques of an­i­mat­ing in C4D

Cin­ema 4D is one of my fa­vorite ap­pli­ca­tions be­cause of its ease of use, and it en­ables me to tackle any sort of project in any type of style and keep up with the lat­est design trends with its vast ar­ray of tools.

With the ad­vent of mo­bile games and in­die video games, I’ve seen a big in­flux of il­lus­tra­tors and an­i­ma­tors get­ting into 3D, mainly through ap­pli­ca­tions like Unity to cre­ate 3D games. This has cre­ated a trend of cel shaded ob­jects in 3D space, bring­ing a whole new aes­thetic, depth and di­men­sion to 2D-style art. Thanks to this trend, a fea­ture in Cin­ema 4D that has ex­isted for years is now see­ing a resur­gence. Util­is­ing Cin­ema 4D’s pow­er­ful, and pre­vi­ously un­der­ap­pre­ci­ated, Sketch and Toon mod­ule, you can trans­form your 3D art­work into an il­lus­tra­tion with just a few clicks of a but­ton. The flex­i­bil­ity of the Sketch and Toon mod­ule lets you ex­per­i­ment with dif­fer­ent 2D cel shad­ing styles and have it re­act to lights in your scene. The flex­i­bil­ity that build­ing your de­signs or char­ac­ters in 3D af­fords is mas­sive. Think of all the com­plex ex­pres­sions and rigs you may have seen used to cre­ate just sim­ple par­al­lax to ro­tate or turn the face of a 2D char­ac­ter. You can toss all the com­plex rigs away and sim­ply ro­tate the ob­ject in 3D and save your­self loads of time! Sim­ple things like this makes Cin­ema 4D so pow­er­ful not only for the 3D artist, but the 2D il­lus­tra­tor/ an­i­ma­tor as well.


Be­gin by cre­at­ing a new ma­te­rial to cre­ate the car­toon tex­ture. Turn off both the Color and Re­flectance chan­nels. We’ll be us­ing the Lu­mi­nance chan­nel be­cause we don’t want any type of dif­fuse shad­ing. We’re look­ing for nice flat shad­ing for our model. Nav­i­gate to load­ing the cel shader into the Lu­mi­nance chan­nel.

02 choose your cel shad­ing colours

The cel shader works by us­ing a gra­di­ent to ap­ply ma­te­ri­als across the sur­face of your ob­ject. The more you move a colour’s gra­di­ent knot to the right, the more of that colour will be rep­re­sented on your model. You can add or re­move colour chips to get the colour com­bi­na­tion you like, whether tri­tone, duo­tone, or any other com­bi­na­tion.

03 cre­ate A light

Let’s cre­ate an In­fi­nite Light with Hard Shad­ows en­abled for a car­toon­ish directional light and sharp shad­ows. In­fi­nite Lights act like a mas­sive light source, for ex­am­ple, the sun. To change the di­rec­tion that the light is be­ing cast, all you have to do is sim­ply ro­tate the In­fi­nite Light.

04 use lights to Drive cel shad­ing

By de­fault, the cel shader uses the cam­era or your de­fault view as the point of the light source (Cam­era box checked on). To be able to use a light in your scene as the cel shader light source and to ac­cept shad­ows, you just need to uncheck Cam­era and check on Lights as well as Shad­ows. Now you have to­tal con­trol over how the light is driv­ing the cel shad­ing across your ob­ject.

05 Ex­per­i­ment with gra­di­ent in­ter­po­la­tion

By util­is­ing the dif­fer­ent types of gra­di­ent in­ter­po­la­tion by click­ing on the ar­row next to Dif­fuse, it be­comes pos­si­ble for you to ad­just how each colour blends into another one, and also dis­cover some in­ter­est­ing stylised dif­fuse shad­ing beyond just us­ing no smooth­ing be­tween each colour. For ex­am­ple, try adding con­trast by spac­ing some knots closer to­gether than oth­ers!

06 ADD stylised grain

You can fur­ther stylise the look of your cel shad­ing by util­is­ing the Use Bump fea­ture to add some grain. First of all, you must ac­ti­vate the Bump chan­nel and load up a noise shader. Smaller noises work best for fine grain.

07 use Bump

For the Bump chan­nel to act upon the cel shader, click the Use Bump check­box. You’ll see the Bump chan­nel break­ing up the cel shader and adding stylised grain to your ma­te­rial. Ex­per­i­ment with the Bump strength in the Bump chan­nel as well as dif­fer­ent noise types.

08 ren­der set­tings

When ren­der­ing out car­toon shaded ob­jects, it’s im­por­tant to main­tain a sharp, vec­tor-like qual­ity to ren­ders, es­pe­cially if you plan to com­pos­ite the im­age in After Ef­fects with vec­tor lay­ers. Typ­i­cally you would ren­der out us­ing the Gauss (An­i­ma­tion) fil­ter be­cause it pre­vents flick­er­ing for some an­i­ma­tion, but it also blurs your im­age. To main­tain im­age sharp­ness, choose fil­ters like Cu­bic (Still Im­age) or Sinc.

Essence of design By just us­ing the Lu­mi­nance chan­nel with­out the Color or Re­flectance chan­nel, you can re­move all 3D dif­fuse shad­ing and turn your 3D model into flat 2D shapes.

colour con­trol Cre­ate greyscale cel shader gra­di­ents and change the Cel Shader Tex­ture Mix Mode to Mul­ti­ply to quickly and eas­ily cre­ate mul­ti­ple colours that utilise the same cel shad­ing.

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