Brighter and More Natural Lighting In Cinema 4D

January 16, 2013

In This Tutorial, I will show you how to get brighter, more natural lighting in Cinema 4D using a few different techniques including, Linear Workflow, Gamma, Color Mapping, and HDRI Bounces. Try these techniques to help make renders less contrasty and give your lighting a more real-to-life look.


Learn More About Linear Workflow Here

Tutorial Focus:  ,
Software:  ,

  • Very handy tip there with the color mapping. Thanks!

  • Quick question not exactly related:

    When you use standard 3D lights to light up your scene, you can include or exclude objects that will be affected by that light.

    Is there a way to do the same thing with luminance planes? For example, if i have 2 reflective spheres but i just want one of then to reflect a specific plane with the luminance cranked up, what can i do? I know i can use a compositing tag on the plane and set it to be not visible for reflections, but as far as i know it will exclude from the whole scene.

    Thanks in advance!

    • You’re on the right track. Use a compositing tag on the plane, but take a look at the ‘Exclusion’ tab. drag one of the spheres into the list and use the little icons (Transparency, Refraction, Reflection, Hierarchy if you’re wondering) to exclude the planes reflection.
      Hope that helps.

      cheers 🙂

  • Thanks Gorilla. Very good info for making it all look better, and that’s what we all want to do!

  • Thanx for this lesson.

  • Thanks for great 2-part tutorials ))
    Please make tutorials about product (for example juice or beer bottle with condensation effect) modeling, texuring and rendering.

  • This was awesome! Thanks so much

  • Video not loading for anyone else?

  • The link to the Linear Workflow tut isn’t working for me for whatever reason.
    Frickin great lighting lesson though! Love these short and sweet kind of tips.

  • Does anyone know how to make this effect in Cinema?

    All those abstract shapes moving and all

  • Guilherme Harrison January 16, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    Thank you for that mr. Gorilla. I’m actually right now rendering some scenes that’ll use this knowledge of yours. The only thing I would add to that is that messing with gamma might not be the right decision for any type of media. If I’m going print, some light parts are going to get a little too white, I imagine. Worth the tests!

    In a side note, may I ask you what type of hardware are you playing with? Is it some kind of super duper mac with 4 bajillion cores? I know you’re using a very small window for interactive rendering there, but bite me, that is fast!

  • did anyone know how the artist did the part from 0:49 to 1:00? thank you in advice!

    • Guilherme Harrison January 18, 2013 at 10:20 am

      Do you mean the slick camera move? In R14, when you change the cameras you’re using, cinema will animate that movement from one camera to the other, so you have a better idea where you are in the scene.

  • ooops i forget the video link!

  • I thought you didnt Need Gi with Physical renderer as it has the indirect illumination feature

    • I was confused by that as well. If there is some overlooked benefit to using GI in addition to the Physical Renderer over using said Renderer’s Indirect Illumination function, I’d be curious to see Nick elaborate on it.

      • I have been learning a lot about exactly that recently. I will have a video soon. For now, know that Indirect Illumination is recommended in 13 and Global Illumination QMC is recommended in 14 and up.

        • Really!?.. hmmm interesting

        • Interesting indeed. One of the things I liked most about the Physical Render engine was that it could render across a network without one machine having to build an irradiance cache file. If GI > II in R14, it would seem that our network render workflows have taken a step backward.

          Looking forward to the new video that will expound on this.

        • Very interested as well. I just did a QMC vs. Physical. Same results, but QMC was double render time.

  • I second that question about the GI. From what i’ve heard from Maxon tutorials, the indirect illumination option works better with the physical renderer than using the GI effect. Is there any benefit to using the GI effect with physical render?

    Nice Tips tho, thought colour mapping was just a vray thing.

  • Hi,Nick,I am your big loyal fans.
    And i really like your manner of teaching.
    Recently,i encountered an animation problem,it confused me for a few days.
    I hope i can get some advice from you.Can you leave me an email address?

  • If you are going to be lazy and not want to mess with it in the render is it easier to correct lighting in Ae if the gamma is set to high or to low?

    I know we have all been up late and just say hell with it ill just let it render and see what i get in the morning.

    • If you want to take a ‘fix in post’ approach, I strongly recommend that you render to 32-bit Open EXR sequences. Having that extra data will make that type of corrective work in AE much simpler, and with better results.

  • I dig the new “Preview” features in the HDRI Studio Rig controls. When can we expect an update? Looks super helpful.
    Ryan D.

  • It occurs to me that if one is generally happy with the lighting in their scene, but finds the shadows are simply too dark, then simply making an adjustment to the Density and/or Color values of the shadow itself can help alleviate the problem without adding to the render time. These settings can be found in any light’s Attribute Manager under the Shadow tab.

    Just another tip for those who may not know. 🙂

  • Can you show us how to remove the glow of the objects that the r14 has…

  • Would love to know how to remove the glow from the objects on r14.. would be really helpful

  • Nick –
    I like what you said in the tutorial about the Gamma settings that give you something that looks right are more important than having the lighting math perfect. We have to remember we are only SIMULATING the look of reality in C4D. The art of 3D graphics is after all, an illusion. Sometimes a very convincing one, but an illusion none the less. The best artists are the ones who have learned to use whatever tricks they can to sell that illusion.

  • you guys are just simply awesome! learnt so much in these days watching dynamics and animating stuff. i felt so lazy to keep learning by myself mograph, but now, i realise its kind of fun actually. keep diggin and sharin your amazing ideas! best luck

  • Cool one thanks for sharing these tips!

  • Felipe Valladares January 17, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    Hi Nick really helpfull as always. I’m following this Gamma related things since the 2.2 recomendations and Linear Workflow, so is good to re speak about it and not just attach to a “rule” of a value.

    A little bit off topic. I’m starting into R14 and for some reason that I can’t figure it out something, when applying a texture with the texture mode and cillindrycal proyection I’m locked to resize the Z axis. Of course my scale tool is able to do in XYZ but my diameter on the cilindrycal proyection don’t go down. 🙁

    I’m stuck with it, my noise textures depend on the position of the proyection.

  • Nick. thank you so very much for all your efforts and your helpful tutorials.
    i’m new in C4D and lighting my scenes is a huge problem for me.
    as always you rock.

  • Hello Nick,
    Thanks for this tut…But i’ve got a BIG problem…When i use Color Mapping in the render settings, my infinite floor (the one you use in HDRI studio Pack) appears (a big grey disk…)….
    Please could you help a poor Frenc who is not good in english…
    Thanks…You Rocks…..

  • Houps….I think, i’ve just found the solution…check the background affectation in render settings…Does i Rocks ?

  • No, idon’t rock…it doesn’t works….BOUBOUBOUHHHHHHH

  • Hey, I have a huge problem with grain using the physical render. The grain level is very high when I render metals. Should I just crank up the all settings or is there something else I should know about the physical render?

    I would also appreciate if someone could share som knowledge about realistic leather texturing, I’ve had a really hard time creating and finding great leather textures to be used in high res and close up renders!

    Thank you Gorilla for the great work! It means a lot!

    Cold winter greetings from Sweden!

  • Is there any tutorials on how to model a watch like the one in this video? That would really help me a lot!

  • Hey, the option Preview on is available only on the 1.8 version? I can’t find this option in version 1.5 and i think this will help so much the work.

    So, sorry my english, i like so much your job. Thank you, and i will wait a return.

  • Hi Nick, I’m really wondering why you didn’t mention the “environment object”, it really help things out even for non GI scenes (with AO). Is it an outdated method now?

  • The only thing you really showed in this tutorial was how to color correct inside C4D – for me, that is not the way you should work, especially if you’re trying to archive photo-realistic results. These techniques may be useful if you are in a hurry or if you do mainly motion graphics.

    But most of the time you would just work in linear workflow for correct lighting results and then light your scene until you like it. I really missed fill lights and bounces (not the GI setting) in your tutorial, because they are the key to realistic lighting. After lighting I would start tweaking the scene with color corrections (either in post or cinema 4D).

  • There is another very simple solution to the problem. Add a light and click the Ambient Illumination.

  • Sorry, that I post in here, but this is torturing me for a long time. How i can save my hotkeys in cinema 4d (Customization -> Customize Commands…)
    After re-install system it’s file quickly set my hotkeys options.
    Thank you

  • I am trying to get Nick’s email. He said in a tutorial it was on this site but i cant find it. Please help!


  • Thank for tutorial

  • My C4D does not have Color Correction. Does anyone know the problem?
    Thank you!

    • That´s because you´re using another Cinema version instead of the Studio version, happened the same thing to me and I installed the Studio version and solved

  • thanks a lot for tutorial….

  • I’m using Cinema 4d V.13, Could somebody tell me why the “Color Mapping” menu doesn’t appear in my render setting?

    • I hope still help, since your comment was 9 months ago, I had the same problem and I didn´t realize that I had installed the Broadcast Version of CInema 4D instead of the Studio Version which is the one who let you “see” the Color Mapping in the render settings. Hope this helps you

  • I´ll never stop to thank you sharing your knowledge with us!

  • Then… what if i wanna create a black hole, but i want everyone to see it…?

  • Was wondering – when Nick rotates the hdr in the rig controls – the viewport show actually shows the reflections – how the heck do you get that to work – when i rotate i se no reflections in my reflective surfaces…

  • hi is there a way of use colour mapping on your scene but exclude it form a particular object?
    I have a scene which I looks good when I use colour mapping on but there is a part of the scene which is a projecting screen and it gets made gray instead of white when I use it ?

    good tutorial very helpful as always

  • i am coming from Maya , and i hope i can learn C4D quickly

  • Can somebody please help me. I was following this video and when i turned on the linear work flow all my materials render as a default grey now and I have tried everything to get them back to there original state someone please help me!!

  • Hey Nick! don’t know if I’ll get a reply to this but I’ve purchased one of you HDRI light kit pro, when I was using one of your studios I’m seeing this flickering of light on the walls on the studio; And it looks terrible

    Any help will be gladly appreciated

  • Is it possible for you to post all videos on your site on youtube? It’s close to impossible to watch your video! It keeps lagging and crashing….

  • Great Work…I appriciate it..
    Tutorial is very useful…

  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.