Topcoat: Making Reflectance Simple

November 23, 2015 - By 


Maxon introduced Reflectance In Version R16. It completely replaced the Reflection channel and it gave us the ability to make realistic layered textures never before possible.

As soon as I started seeing the results from this new Reflectance channel, I fell in love. It gave us layered looks and realistic renders that just weren’t possible in C4D before. Combine this new Reflectance with HDRIs and the Physical renderer and photoreal results were not only possible, they were possible without buying a third party renderer.

I was so excited that we could get something that looked THIS great with built in Cinema 4D tools. Finally, anyone with Cinema 4D could render a scene that approached the quality I previously only have seen with Vray.

However, there were a few problems. Sure, the renders were beautiful. But the new Reflectance channel brought quite a few hurdles for designers trying to get the most out of this new tool.

Problem 1 – The Reflectance Interface

The new Reflectance interface completely replaced the old reflection channel and specular channel that everyone was used to. In it’s place is a confusing set of names, modes, menus, and sliders. The power of these new channels are undeniable, but between the tedious list of reflection types and hidden drop-downs it was hard to navigate and tricky to make what used to be simple changes.

The entire interface seems like something that was made by technicians, for technicians. It definitely wasn’t made for designers and everyday Cinema 4D users like us.


Problem 2 – The Render Speed

The beautiful results of Reflectance came at another price. VERY long render times. Combine blurry, layered reflections with the physical renderer and it’s a recipe for overnight renders or grainy results. The default presets that come with Cinema 4D don’t help much either. Anything over the medium quality settings and it was guaranteed that you will be waiting for that render for hours instead of minutes.


Problem 3 – Can’t Change Multiple Textures At Once

OK, this was the one that really got me. In almost every other parameter in Cinema 4D, you could select multiple similar objects and change their settings all at once. I did this all the time with textures. I would select half a dozen textures all at once and give them all the same reflection settings. It was super intuitive, useful, and a big part of my workflow.

The reflectance channel removed that workflow entirely. There is no way to add reflection to multiple textures all at once, and even if you managed to make them similar, if you want to adjust them all together, that’s impossible too. It was the weirdest of all problems in this new Reflectance future.

Now What?

So here we are. Blessed with a beautiful first rate render engine and texture engine in Cinema 4D. But, it’s interface, speed hit, and non Cinema 4D like workflow got in the way of the average user to start using these tools. In fact, as we started talking to our customers, many people didn’t upgrade to new versions of Cinema 4D specifically because of the new Reflectance channel.

Well, any time we see problems like this in Cinema 4D, our minds start spinning. Is there anything we can do to take this beautiful render engine and expose it’s beauty to designers without them knowing all the weird technical stuff of the current Reflectance Engine? Was there a way that we could speed up the rendering process to help studios and freelancers hit their deadlines with great looking renders? We have worked for months on this idea and I want to show it to you now.


Introducing Topcoat™

Topcoat is a new texturing tool from Greyscalegorilla that we think will help solve these problems and add a simple and fast workflow to your toolset for your next project. We want everyone to be able to use this new Reflectance layer and we think Topcoat is the answer.


With Topcoat, we set out to build a tool that would make reflectance fun and easy to apply to your scene. Not a laborious task of sifting through settings. We also include our new Render Fast™ Presets to take the guess work out of picking the fastest and most beautiful Render Settings for your scene. We even brought back the ability for you to add reflection to multiple textures all at once.

Mostly, we built a tool that helps you get the most from Reflectance and helps you add beautiful realistic textures and reflections to your next project.

Combine eight custom paint coats and over 20 procedural bumps and masks together to make unique materials for your renders. It’s as easy as pointing and clicking.


Learn More About Topcoat Here

Posted In:  News Products Topcoat
  • Stoked for the release, but now I won’t get anything done at work today since I’ll be playing with Topcoat all day!

  • I was all ready to shell out for top coat but then I GET IT FOR FREE!? That’s so rad! You guys are awesome!

  • OH Man !,… THANK YOU. In fact,… Hallelujah, praise the lord of all things beautifully rendered

  • I don’t have any greyscale products yet, but it’s on the Christmas budget. Is it correct that these are all one year licenses, and there’s no option for an unlimited license?

    If so, is there an auto-renew option? Thanks!

  • Looks a great and usefull tool!

  • I already have Texture Kit Pro, how do I get the free version of Topcoat. I can’t find a link anywhere.


  • I’ve been pretty disappointed in C4D material editor changes lately… they’re daunting and I can never get the look I’m going for. This looks promising! I’m a Texture Kit and Light Kit user, so I’m really grateful you’re offering this for free for Texture Kit users. I’m looking forward to test driving it this evening.

  • Hi. I buy a Txtr kit pro back in 2013. will i get the promo too? Thanks!

  • Thanks for the demo show! Topcoat is definitely fun to play with and as expected, I haven’t gotten any work done today.

  • You guys have no idea how excited I am about TopCoat! Thanks for making my day and my month! By the way, is there an easy way to take an existing texture and simply add imperfections, such as bumps, to it? I’ve tried just adding a Gloss TopCoat layer to the existing texture, then adding a bump to it, but the Gloss layer imparts an unwanted haze. After adjusting the modifiers, I can get pretty close to the original look of the texture with new imperfections, but I’m wondering if there is a faster way? Thank you!

  • FINALLY got to sit down and give Topcoat a test run! I am very excited to use it in a real world situation. I was 5 minutes in and already very impressed. This may be your best work yet and I can’t believe it was free… makes Texture Kit Pro even more worth my money.

  • Thanks a lot! This is great. I watched some Lynda-Tutorials on the reflectance channel and slowly got the hang of it but it’s really not intuitive at all. Keep up the great work!

  • Wow…thank you guys for giving me a reason to use R17.

    Question: I noticed a few “bugs” while watching your intro video. The color picker icon would not change color and a few of the sliders would not update to show values after you made a selection. Have those been resolved? I assume you were using a release candidate in the intro video, but want to make sure.

    Also, how do you get into Topcoat? For example, do I select Topcoat as a reflectance shader or does it work from the plugin menu? Dumb question, but I would assume that I can still set all other channels (bump, normal, displacement, etc) on my materials in the standard way and then use Topcoat on top of those settings to work reflectance only. Please let me know.

    Finally, is the license cost still $69 a year or a reduced price in the second year. I ask because normally you don’t pay full value for an upgrade in later years. On the plus side, I like that you don’t take it away so no issues either way…just want to know.

    Great work…as a City Kit, Transform and Signal user, this is just one more reason to love the Gorilla…..oh, wait, I also get Topcoat free if I purchase Texture Kit Pro….two more reasons to love the Gorilla!!


    • Hi David. Thanks for the questions.

      About the “bugs”. We have intentionally made those sliders and color swatches reset back to their standard settings. This is so you can change multiple settings at once on multiple materials or channels. Watch Chris’ training video about the modifiers tab, and I think it will clear some things up.

      “How do you get into topcoat”
      All other channels of material making stay the same. You can open up your material and adjust them there. Topcoat only changes the reflectance channel and will leave other channels untouched.

      “Is the license cost still $69 a year or a reduced price in the second year.”
      No, renewal prices are 30% off the retail price when it comes time to update. And, like you said, we never take away your software.

      Thanks for the questions dave, Let me know if you have any more. I would be happy to answer!


  • Awesome plugin – however, I’m having a couple of issues. Sometimes (seems kind of random) when I open the plugin, the material preview is blank and nothing I do brings it back. Also, when this happens, choosing an initial Topcoat material doesn’t create a material to start from in the material manager. Any ideas?

  • Solving 3 mayor problems of the reflectance channel in one plugin makes this functionality, that has been sitting there for some time now, finally useable for the “less technical” amongst us. Lets call it the mother of all plugins.
    But why give it for free?
    There must be a catch somewhere…

    Ther are some minor issues, and i dont like the fact that the sliders jump back to their original position, but that does not spoil the fun in any way…

    • No catch, Diederik. It’s for free to our current Texture Kit Pro customers. We wanted it to be in everyones hands to help make Reflectance easier for designers.

      Glad you like it. Give the sliders some time. They grew on me for sure.

  • Nick, are you using Top Coat on yourself? I have been noticing that you don’t seem to age hahahaha. I just purchased Texture Pro, got the Top Coat, and watched the quick tutorial, tried it, it is amazing. I feel like i’m cheating in math class in 10th grade. Really really cool! worth every cent (after using it for 10 min)… now I can’t wait to try it on X-particles…

    P.S. you guys are really the best. You give great value and it is obvious that you care deeply about what your trying to accomplish. I Salute you!!

  • Hi I’m from holland:-) Topcoat is really really hot, what a great tool !!! I do have one question how can i activate “Add HDRI” in Topcoat? I also have HDRI Studio.
    Thanks gr. mikel

  • Do I have to purchase Texture Kit Pro from the GSG site to get Topcoat for free? I ask because Toolfarm is selling TKP at a slight discount $94.5 vs. $99.

    I don’t want to short you guys for the awesome work you did, but every dollar counts these days….I hope you understand.


  • Is the free copy of Topcoat a 1:1 when it comes to how many copies of Texture Kit Pro I bought? So my 3 workstations with 3 puchased licenses of TKP can each have Topcoat installed?

  • Hey Nick,

    Just started playing with this new tool of yours. Thanks for putting this together! Topcoat is making my textures pop like never before.

    Keep up the good work!

  • when i render i get too much noise.. please helpo

  • There is a ton of noise when rendering, even with the most basic materials.
    What am I doing wrong?

  • It there a possibility to scale the flakes in Topcoat? I’d like to make a material with large flakes.

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