cinema 4d mograph
EJ Hassenfratz demonstrates how to turn your 3D models into cartoonish 2D illustrations
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.
01 ADD cel SHADER
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.