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Getting A Low Poly Look In Cinema 4D 150 Comments


In this tutorial, I go over a few different techniques in Cinema 4D to get that low-poly style that has been popping up around the web lately. I will show you how to use the Connect Object, the Displacer Deformer and the Polygon Reduction deformer to get this specific technique working on your models or shapes. I’m not exactly sure how the actual artists are doing this cool stuff, but this is what I found to work pretty well.

Watch the Tutorial

Some Low Poly Artists to Check Out

Timothy J. Reynolds
Geo A Day
Jeremiah Shaw

Transform
Light Kit Pro

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150 Comments

  1. I love the low polygon look more these days. I think it has something to do with Minecraft and how with small primitive shapes you can accomplish awesome designs.

    Reply
  2. Ivan

    You can get graininess with low settings on ambient occlusion.
    Just lower the accuracy and samples and u get nice grain in the shadow area.

    Nice tutorial Nick!

    Reply
  3. Great tutorial! I think especially the rather short ones which remind u of all the tools and styles to get quick and great results are truly awesome!

    Reply
    • That shouldnt be to hard. Quickest way is probably to: create a polygon, add some points to it (so you get a hexagon shaped polygon), put it in a cloner object, dont clone it on x, y or z but make the clones smaller(in the cloner object adjust the scale) and use a random effector (with deforming points on), after that make the cloner object editable (ctrl c) and select all polys inner-extrude all slightly, delete the single poly inner part

      Reply
    • Spice

      Late reply, but here’s a super quick way to do this:

      n-side spline, extrude nurbs, cloner (many clones, I used 60). Turn off the position offset on the cloner. Add random effector, set it to affect position in x, y, and z as desired, scale as desired, and in my case I left rotation off but use it as you like.

      Apply an atom array to the cloner, shrink down the size of the atom array radii (I used .5cm for both), and apply a material to that for your edges. Render that out, render out an object buffer (or just apply a solid material to a copy of your cloner), then composite in Photoshop with some scratchy textures.

      Even with some time for trial and error, I was still able to replicate this look very closely in about 15 minutes.

      Reply
  4. Can anyone tell me how you would get the raised edges like the ones in the 3rd picture down?

    Reply
  5. Sebastian

    I think it’s wonderful that you, probably unaware of it, managed to create a low poly version of the Swedish grand prize in film (our Oscar if you will) – Guldbaggen (The Flower Chafer, or Golden Beetle).

    Compare this http://www.goodbadgirl.se/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/guldbagge2.jpg to your second image. I actually think yours looks better, Guldbaggen isn’t really the best looking prize in the movie industry. Perhaps a result of someone experimenting with low poly models in C4D back in the days?

    Nice tutorial!

    Reply
  6. Saeed

    Nice once nick..in one the links you provided jeremiah says “I drew the rough outline of the smoke with a spline, extruded it, and then cloned a bunch of reduced spheres to that object. Then I merged all of those spheres together and then polygon-reduced that whole merged object.” to make the smoke of the rocket.Can you explain this in your way?..Thanks a bunch and keep going! :)

    Reply
  7. Nice one nick! Perfect look for a new computer game site mascot we’re designing. Keep up the great content :)

    Reply
  8. Pachicito

    You can also click the spinner next to your Gradient colors and change the knot type (“Interpolation”) to none. This provides solid color transitions.

    Reply
  9. A different way to approach that same random look you get through displacer+noise is to grab your model, make it editable, select all the points (or some of them) and in the menu go to mesh/commands/ set point value.

    Selecting the “All” option to Crumple [Axial] you can set values to the 3 axis and it will randomize the points in all directions, based on these values.

    Also, you don’t need to delete the Phong Tag, just reduce the Phong angle to 0.

    Reply
    • Jonathan Ashworth

      Flavio you are a genius. All the ways to do this, until yours, are fine on a static image. If it moves they pop all over. You’ve solved it for me. Great stuff.

      Reply
  10. Patrick Pohl

    Something ‘ive been wondering for a while is when i have a low poly object how do i texture it so that each face has its own ‘color’. say i have a multi colored texture, i dont want 2 colors be on one face, but rather have the edges divide the colors. Does that make sense?

    Reply
  11. Mark

    Just wanted to say thanks for the awesome tutorial! I’m just getting my feet wet with c4d and loving every minute of it.

    Reply
  12. this is so typically gen y.

    why do all of your tutorials just show you how to recreate the trends that have been around for the last couple of years? do you call that creative? do you think that you are doing good to the creative communities by doing this? all you are doing is filling vimeo with tediously boring so called creative animations.

    i work in post production, we get so many showreels containing short animations just like yours. we get these guys in, put them on a REAL WORLD job… and they are completely useless, they look dumbfounded because people like you teach them that this is the way to go, this is how to be creative. this is generation y. you guys seriously think you have it all coming to you. it takes a lot more work than this to become a true designer than making this visual garbage.

    nick, are you able to think laterally? was you trained as a designer? you seem to be more of an operator than a designer. if you are a designer, why on earth dont you teach these people to think for themselves? i know you do tell them not to copy, to try to create their own. but i think you really need to explain to these people how to think like a designer, how to survive in the real world. i have seen the industry change so much over the last 10 years, when i trained at uni, i was tought to push my creative abilities, to think laterally, to want to be the next big thing or the next trend… all you are teaching these people is “come with me, i can show you how to fill your portfolio with 5 second visual garbage to look like a designer and get a job” people like you are actually killing the industry because the producers in the post / production houses see these showreels and think… “oooh 3d, bouncing balls, ooh they can do the low poly thing, ooooh you can do dynamics!! thats takes so long to do in maya but you did this is a day!!! wow!!!” these guys then get employed… then you have the deer in headlights scenario.

    all you people that think this site teaches everything you need to know to get into the industry….

    all this will teach you is how to be 10% of what it takes to be successful in the industry.

    you HAVE to be able to think for yourself.

    try to create something that you actually came up with.

    inspiration does not have to be from sites like this, go outside, its everywhere! get away from your tv / monitor.

    Reply
    • Mark

      Blah, get over yourself dude. Don’t automatically assume that everyone here is an amateur designer. There are people with all levels of experience that get lots of inspiration and happiness from these tutorials. Do you remember why you started in this business to begin with? Hopefully it was a passion for creating things and inspiring others. That’s exactly what these tutorials do my friend.

      Reply
    • Blah -

      I don’t know if you’re intentionally missing the point of all this, but this site is a great resource catering to all types of people – some who are interested in the technical aspects of what Nick teaches through his tutorials – some who are genuinely creatively inspired by the work they see here.

      I also suppose that many of the people who come here are hobbyists, many are looking to break into the industry, and some, including myself, already have a lot of experience and still find this a great resource for any number of reasons. Nick appears to be a genuinely nice guy, providing a service that hundreds (if not thousands) of people find inspiring and useful.

      Greyscale Gorilla is not the be all and end all of inspiration and learning on the web, and it never presumes to be. Nick does what he does, and does it very well. If you have more specific ideas for how being can be more creatively inspired, by all means, share them. That’s what this site is all about.

      Gordon

      Reply
      • im just sooo tired of seeing every under 25yr old’s reel that lands in my inbox is full of GSG tests. it just shows me absolutely nothing about that person. its just so bland. this is not pushing creativity.
        nick is always telling them to push themselves, but id rather see him show them some possible ways to do this. he’s definitely a talented guy, i admire his work too, its just his followers that really need to look at his work as inspiration, and not just make the same thing but in blue.

        Reply
        • Brian

          In that case it seems like your problem isn’t with Nick, its with the people sending you reels. It’s not Nick’s fault that they don’t attempt to go beyond the short tutorial he makes. However, for those that do such a thing… it should at least make it easier for you to weed out the people that can’t think for themselves.

          Reply
          • no true.
            all nick is doing is taking someone elses creativity, and telling everyone else to do the same. its very typical of a gen y “designer”

            nick should change his name to “mimic campbell”

          • c’mon guys, i mean this in the nicest possible way! ;)

          • It’s pathetic how you are blaming Nick for sharing his passion. He mentioned many times not to use any tut stuff in your reels.

            In fact, in one of his reel citiques he explains that no one should use any tut stuff for his or her reel and in the 5sec projects the topics are very large, so people will make unique pieces which show their talent and learn them how to be creative.

        • Trust me. I feel your pain with seeing the same stuff in reels, blah. I’m doing the best I can. But, how could I simultaneously show people how to be more creative without making more copy-cats with the new “pushing further” tutorial? I always encourage everyone to push further than tutorials. Some will and some won’t.

          As for me “mimicking”. Your right. I love figuring out how people do things and showing others who are interested to learn though tutorials. That’s all. It’s what the site has always been based on. If you are looking for true unique inspiration, might I suggest another site or a walk in the woods. However, if you are interested in learning what I was inspired by enough to try to figure it out and use some fun tools to recreate it, you are in the right place. I can only teach what I know. I’ll leave it up to the other better designers to decide if they want to stat doing tutorials.

          Reply
          • i see your point nick. i really do. its just an unfortunate result. blaming you was wrong, its the new generation of motion graphic designers that i have a problem with. not you.
            i apologise for the way i worded it.
            just out of interest, did you study design at college? or self taught?

    • Brian

      This guy… geesh…
      I can’t imagine that this is not just someone trolling, .. but I guess I’ll bite. First off.. the best artists steal, borrow, rearrange, and add their own influence and style. This website can give you a basic idea on how to do something, you can then use that information to create the exact same thing that was shown.. or create something completely and utterly different than Nick or anyone else might have expected. No one here is going to use this website as their ONLY inspiration for art for anything they create in C4D or anywhere else. There is so much more I would say on this, but the rules at the bottom say not to be rude and I’m having trouble keeping the F-bombs at bay.

      Reply
      • hahah, are you under 28 by any chance?
        steal away my friend.
        good luck to you

        Reply
        • Peterson Crockett

          Portfolio full of GSG tutorials is the new filter for the no pile at my place. In the real world you will get told to make x happen or change y…. you need to know how to do it and not just be able to follow tutorials.

          The new crop of 3d people coming through don’t seem to know how to actually model objects… is something going wrong somewhere?!

          Seems every graphic designer is doing a few tutorials on the web and then calling themselves motion graphic artists…

          Reply
        • Jens

          Jesus Christ, blah, you sound incredibly frustrated with your job.
          Remember when you started out and your head was full of ideas and inspiration and you had very little knowledge of how to get things done? All Nick and Chris (and Simon and the Monkey and everyone else on this platform) are actually teaching is for people not to be afraid to dive right in and try things out, not to be intimidated by the software but instead see the fun side of it and experiment. If it means copying other stuff as a first step to understand an approach, so be it. It’s the knowledge you take away from it that matters.
          Being able to work under pressure and in a team is the part you will learn on the job, neither Nick nor anyone else on the net can teach you that. And as an experienced artist you should be able to tell talent from a copy cat. It does start with the reel but heck, there’s usually a conversation involved before you hire someone.

          Reply
        • Andrew Hoeveler

          Blah – I’d LOVE to see all this groundbreaking work that is in your portfolio, since you obviously have such a taste for the original and unique. As others have already said here, Nick is simply using the excitement of learning “how did they DO that?” to help teach the tools. We ALL started somewhere, and learning how to use the tools properly is the first step in creating unique art that comes from the heart. Besides, let’s be honest here; if I were a kid wanting to start out freelancing (we ALL were at some point), and went through all of Nick’s tutorials, I would know 90% of what I would need to get booked on at least 75% of the motion graphics work out there. And that sure beats being broke, working as a checkout clerk for years while trying to figure out this stuff on your own! To repeat, Nick doesn’t teach creativity (though he inspires it). He teaches how to use the tools. Don’t confuse the two.

          p.s., Blah, are you also upset with all these hacks who actually use applications instead of writing their own source code?

          Reply
  13. Tomás Almeida

    Really like the tutorial, but I have Cinema 4D R13 and I bougth the HDRI Studio Pack and when I was applying the seamless floor there is not that little box where you turn it to background.

    Can you tell me what’s wrong?

    Reply
    • Usman

      u can also hide the floor by un-checking seen by camera in external composting tag. or by simply turning off lights of Disc object aka floor.

      Reply
  14. After playing with this tutorial I decided to figure out how to randomize the color of the polygons.
    I couldn’t find any short easy tutorials on this, so once I figured it out I decided to make a tutorial of my own. If anyone else was trying to do anything like this… feel free to check out my (first ever) tutorial:

    http://vimeo.com/54738781

    Reply
  15. Chuck Leed

    That Timothy Reynolds guy is super defensive on twitter for no reason about HIS low poly style. I stopped following him because all he does all day is yell about people copying him or something. I bet he is pissed you posted this.

    A real artist doesn’t yell about people copying them, only enjoys that people like their work enough to do so. What is he so defensive about?

    Reply
    • I’m not sure what you’re talking about, Chuck. You must have heard something out of context. There was a guy who uploaded a low poly tutorial a few weeks back that claimed the style was his. I was only saying that it didn’t belong to anyone, and that it had been around a long time. Please don’t spread false rumors like you’re trying to do here. You can talk to me anytime @turnislefthome

      And I’m not pissed at all. I’m flattered I was mentioned in the post. I just enjoy making my little worlds and will continue to do so until it’s not fun anymore. I hope that’s a long time from now.

      Thanks for the mention, Nick.

      Reply
      • BS Tim… you were bitching on instagram how everyone would be doing your lowpoly work now, “yea. sucks that everyone will be trying to do it now.”

        at least nick is trying to share knowledge with a lot of us who are just learning and developing our vision. when anyone asks for pointers you give a BS answer… You think if you share a technique our work will look like yours? that is very conceited of you, and in-light of the fact that your work is still very immature.

        technique does not equate to ones vision… no matter the technique, or how you shade a stupid low poly tree, someone will always design to there specific nature…

        Reply
        • Billy

          RBD,
          Your “vision” probably shouldn’t be what’s popular.

          Reply
          • Well you might be paid for ripping off someones technique @billy, but I make a living off my vision and the unique service I provide my clients.

  16. Florian Bork

    Loving your tutorials but I think you are overdoing it with noise in your post processing recently.

    Reply
  17. Adam

    someone once said… “If you go through life without making a few enemies, you’re doing it wrong.” … something like that anyways

    Reply
  18. Hey nick,

    Great tutorial as always!

    Quick question though, how do you make this work with text? I am using motext to create the text and then setting the subdivision in the caps to quadrangles to get polygons, and also changed Intermediate points to natural and increased the number to get more polygons. The problem is that when I apply the displacer or the noise deformer pluggin the front and back cap of the letter look like are not “weld” to the rest of the letter, and I can’t seem to find a solution for this.

    Also tried making the text the old fashioned way, with a spline, extrude nurbs, then made it editable and used the knife tool to create random polygons, but when I use the displacer the same thing happens and I can see the inside of the letter which is not what I want. Tried using the Connect thingy and it helped but still…

    Any thoughts?

    Reply
  19. I made some random low poly shapes using a sphere with polygonal displace and polygonal reduction, then put it in an array object with some interesting results. Finally, brought it into after effects for some final touches.

    https://vimeo.com/54896736

    Reply
  20. I really like your information. I would like to forward to my friends. I am also going to bookmark this informative page.

    Reply
  21. Hey, thanks for the tuto, does anyone know how do we modifie the look of the edges, like on the third picture ? thanks ;)

    Reply
  22. Samira

    Bravo!! i love this style thanks for sharing !!!!

    Reply
  23. Pedro Chavarria

    Hey Nick, is there a way of animating this low poly objects with a soundtrack?

    Reply
  24. Thanks Nick! this is a good principle to make great things! I was searching this kind of tut!!!

    Reply
  25. Hey, Nick!

    Gotta say this, its nice seeing how your style and quality has rised in the passed few years!
    From After effect tutorials or 7up text, to getting a great low poly render.

    Keep it up, nice seeing how you stepped out of your ‘mostly sphere’ look!

    - Tom

    Reply
  26. Thanks Nick, and thank you everybody for all the inspiring links.
    My job just asked for something like this and I was really scratching my head!
    Just what I needed :)

    Reply
  27. Hey Nick,

    Great tutorial it’s awesome whenever I can get one that’s not too heavy on the pc. I walked away saying mission accomplished, here what I made.

    -http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.560805197267500.141122.100000140756996&type=1

    Reply
  28. Barry Levey

    Hey Nick

    If rendering out a image , what is the best settings to do this on. My images look great on C4d but then I set them as a desktop background and they look grainy hazey, just not sharp at all. What am I missing??

    Reply
    • You should render it out at your desktop resolution (or higher) 1920X1080 would be a good call.
      If there’s a lack of sharpness turn up the Anti-Aliasing and switch it to Best at least.
      Graininess could be from the Ambient Occlusion – turn up the maximum samples if so.

      Reply
  29. Hi! Thanks for the tut, Do you know how to apply this to Type?
    I’ve been trying but I can’t get the result I need!! HELP!

    Reply
  30. Betty

    Great tutorial! You should try adding a Metaball Object, loose its phong and play around with its settings a little, some cool cloudy stuff comes out…

    Reply
  31. This is quality. Can you tell me how to get the wire-y lined effect on the fist picture? It looks amazing

    Reply
  32. Jesper

    How did you make the sphere look so colorful in the second pic?

    Reply
  33. The cell renderer in the render settings effects menu is also a great way to create a low poly look. You don’t even have to delete the phong tags or anything all, the objects you have can be rendered with the cell renderer to give you the same looks. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, offcourse.

    Reply
  34. Hi, I was just wondering if it’s possible to achieve this same low poly effect with text?

    Reply
  35. Apeman

    Hi everyone!
    There is this cool designer who has done this low poly polygon. It is crazy how she has modified the surface without touching the original sides of the pyramid. But with these tutorials it is not possible to do such a think like that!
    Does anyone knows how was it done?

    the picture: http://static.squarespace.com/static/50ac876de4b04170ccade2f5/511cc0fae4b057ac416db735/511cc7eae4b0e13018ed91cc/1360840718217/extraction.png

    Her website: http://ninageorgieva.com/trivalent

    Thanks!

    Reply
  36. Kevin Lorenz

    This is by far the most helpful tutorial I was able to find in the whole www about low-poly art! Thanks a bunch!!!!

    Reply
  37. Grimz

    Brilliant Stuff! Been looking for this for a while now.. Thanks a lot Nick!

    Reply
  38. The problems is when one want to animate. If you put a displacer with a slow noise animation, the poly reduction or the connect object will jumps trying to connect polygon creating a very fast motion that is not possible to slow down. And this even if your noise speed of the displacer is very slow (0.1). BEcause the displacer change the mesh, even slowly, poly reduction or connect just go bezerk on trying to connect them…

    I’m trying to find a solution, if someone has one please fell free to share!

    Reply
  39. I really like this low poly look! I was wondering how to use it on an extruded path?

    Reply
  40. Helga

    Hello, thanks for the tutorial, it is very helpful for beginners.
    Can you please tell whether the features used in the tutorial are available in C4D Prime, or the full C4D Studio is needed? Thank you.

    Reply
  41. Great tut!

    Does anyone know why my low poly shape changes when I render it out? Its looks normal when I render within C4D but when it goes out to preview the shape and poly get reduced?

    Reply
  42. Maria

    hi, this was real useful tutorial, Thanks :) )
    I’ve been trying to figure this out but failed miserably.. but with this tutorial I learnt alot :) )

    Reply
  43. SEVENNN

    YOUR TUTORIALS MAKE ME HAPPY EVERY DAY. I LOVE IT. : ) THANK YOU SO MUCH !!!

    Reply
  44. SEVEN NNNN

    YOUR TUTORIALS MAKE ME HAPPY EVERY DAY.THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

    Reply
  45. Daniel

    hi nick! great tutorial :)

    i wonder how did you get the material of de picture above with the 2 color rings and black wall? Thanks!

    Reply
  46. Hey thank you for the video!! One thing though… I can’t seem to find the Seamless Floor thingy anywhere in the HDRI Studio pack. I saw something that said it is now part of the HDR Rig, but i dont see that either. Is it another pack i have to buy?

    Thanks

    Reply

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Comment Rules

This is a friendly community. Please treat everyone with respect. We don't all have to agree, but we do have to be nice. Criticism is fine, but rude comments and name calling will be deleted. Use your real name and don't be spammy. Thanks for adding to the conversation.