Cinema 4D Basics

March 16, 2009

UPDATE: This tutorial was recorded over 10 years ago. If you are new to Cinema 4D, we would reccomend you watch our Intro To Cinema 4D Series Here instead.

Today, I run through the basics of setting up a scene in Cinema 4D and rendering an image. We are gonna make this abstract sphere scene above using HDR lighting, The Mograph module, and Global Illumination.

Tutorial Focus:  , , ,
Software:  , ,

  • great one. straight to the point! thanks man.

  • Hey, I just have C4D 9, with no MoGraph, and I’ve just been trying to get into it for my motion graphics, should I wait to get mograph for v10 does it carry over if I got it for 9, thanks man, great tutorial

  • sweet! i never know what the hell i’m doing in C4D

  • LOVE the C4D tutorials man, thanks and keep it up!

  • Great tutorial.Some Great tips! Really to the point, I like that.
    Thanks Nick!

  • I agree with ughsassin, PLEASE keep up the C4D tutorials:)

    …I’ll even go one better:
    I LOVED your teaching style, it was very refreshing compared to a lot of other instructors out there.
    So, I’ll be happy to PAY for anything you offer in the future regarding C4D as well:)

    Thanks again!

  • Awesome. Ever since you posted some C4D works I’ve been meaning to give it a shot, now’s my chance. Keep em coming! C4D and Ae baby!

  • Nice tut!
    but how can i get the lay-out that you use?

  • Its my first time here and I already like it ๐Ÿ™‚
    Nice tutorial, keep it rolling!

  • Hey Nick, I noticed that when you were rendering, your renders were LIGHTNING fast, appearing to take no more than 5 seconds for your final HD image.

    Now, I’m only on a quad-core with 16 gigs of ram, but the project as downloaded took my machine over a minute to render??

    Is there a magic setting I missed?
    I even took the antialiasing and set it back to the default, but still the time was nowhere close to yours.
    Any ideas?

    Also, Jeroen, here are the layouts:)

  • Thanks for the great tutorial Nick.

  • Great tutorial. I agree with about doing postwork in After Effects or Photoshop. Modo doesn’t have any chromatic aberration effect so I have to fake it in Photoshop to fake the photoreal look. Could you do more Cinema 4D tutorials, but this time show how to render out different passes (diffuse color, occlusion, specular, depth of field) for greater control in After Effects?

  • Hy
    Thanks for this beautiful tuto.
    What do you suggest for the HDRI pict when you have a cubic ?

  • Enjoyed it Nick. I have C4D 10 sitting on the computer and have never opened it once. Why have something you don’t use… I think now I have a reason. I’m more of an AE guy, but I need as much in the arsenal as possible, right?

    Thanks again. I’ve become addicted to the webcasts.

  • Works well with a nice glass material as well. Here is my take:

  • Great tutorial, definitely picked up a few tricks.

  • Is it just me or is there a problem with the .exr file…..C4D gives me an error when i apply it.

  • Some people have had some issues with using EXR files in Cinema. Not sure what the issue is. You can convert that file into a 32bit TIFF and it will work also. That should work

  • Great tutorial on C4d , allways wanted to mess with HDRI maps but didnt know..

    here the link to my render
    and also posted in my blog…

    Thanks and keep it up!!..

  • Dope Render Andres! Thanks for the link up!

  • Thanks for the hint. Really great tutorial…..could you at some point talk us through your backup strategy….i see you’ve got a raid array, drobo and time machine setup….be interesting to see just how paranoid you are!!

  • hey, i m a hong kong based designer, juz wanna tell u tht ur tuts are awesome! rock’on!

  • hi, very interesting tutorial. only thing is that the .exr file doesn’t work for me. i always get a “texture error” when i try to render. i already downloaded your zip-file two times, always the same…

  • Nice tutorial
    I made a short test with this map
    I love your project “use this song”

  • Thanks for all your tips, good stuff. If anyone is interested, add a composite tag to your sky and uncheck seen by camera. You still get the the reflections but not the image in the bg.

  • The “Clapper Thing” is called a “clapboard” or “clapperboard”, actually. Very close. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Great tutorial ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Great tutorial. Thanks!
    Dumb question, but… How can you tell if Advanced Render is properly installed? Are there certain options that do not show up in the render settings if you do not have AR installed? Thanks again.

  • Wow! This tutorial is great. I’m a C4D newbie and was looking for something like this. You’re getting added to my RSS feed!


  • You’re a great teacher Nick! I really like this C4D tutorial. It’s not easy to find great tutorial like this one. I learned A LOT.
    Thanks man
    Keep it up!

  • Thanks for posting this. Like many others on here, I’m new at this C4D stuff. Anyway, here’s my attempt:

  • Thank you
    it was good

  • Great work! for some odd reason I downloaded the exr applied it but won’t work. I get a missing it error and a red box around the material sample on the material manager! I tried resaving the exr but no luck any suggestions?

  • Great stuff Bill!
    Thanks for sharing.

  • Hello, really enjoying the site. Your portfolio and tutorials are very inspiring!

    You mentioned in this tutorial that your friend Chad, made the HDR map in a PC app, I was wondering if anyone has come across a Mac app for creating HDR environment maps, anyone?

  • Hey nick,
    I’m a little late to these Tutorials, but i’m gonna go through each one and post an example. Hope you still check the earlier tutorials comments.

    thanks for the tutorials.


  • Hi, after creating and animating my object how do i export it as an avi or other movie format in maximum quality?
    Thanks a lot.

  • Su: I will go though export soon.

  • Nick, this tutorial was great – Thanks so much for doing these – so rad to see so many people learning and sharing!

    I posted a few stills with a bit of post here:

  • Great job, Thanks man!

  • So, I just got Cinema 4D r10 two days ago and loaded it up last night. A studio bundle version just to practice on and learn the program. I was very excited to try it out and follow your tutorials. Naturally I wanted to start with the Intro to Cinema 4D tutorial. What a let down, when I found out I don’t have Mograph module to follow along what you were doing. Any ideas on how I can get that module to use and practice with? I still watched the tutorial and you do a great job of explaining. I look forward to following along on other tutorials hopefully outside of the Mograph since I don’t have it. Keep up the Cinema 4D tutorials and let me know any other references you may recommend for my learning.

  • I’m also unable to get the HDRI map to load correctly. I select the exr file but then it doesn’t show up on the material and the box around the material display turns red. Any ideas?

    • Seems that the EXR isn’t loading properly for some people. I will upload the hdr file soon.

      • HI!!! just new to the programme but am learning really quickly with your great tutorials!!! you make it look so easy – thank you!!!

        However, have been trying to download the HDRI map so i can do the orange and blue spheres but it just doesnt want to!!! the file is there but when unzipped its empty!
        Im still just using the demo!

        any ideas???

    • Nick, the exr doesn’t work for me either … any chance you’ll upload the HDR file?


  • Nick I can’t get the Global Illumination option to be active on my Cinema 4D v.10 program.

    I’m not using the MoGraph module so I thought I would go through the steps with a single sphere instead maybe thats the problem?

    Also I want to build an interior 3D studio/building in Cinema 4D. Do you know of any good tutorials for this?

    Thanks for your tutorials and keep up the good work!!


  • thank you that was a great tutorial. here is my finished work

  • HI!!! just new to the programme but am learning really quickly with your great tutorials!!! you make it look so easy – thank you!!!

    However, have been trying to download the HDRI map so i can do the orange and blue spheres but it just doesnt want to!!! the file is there but when unzipped its empty!
    Im still just using the demo!

    any ideas???

  • Hello there.

    Thanks for making the tutorials. The reason i watched this was because i needed to make a bubble, and so i did ๐Ÿ™‚
    Here is the result:

  • Hey! Great tutorial, in fact I love all your tutorials and you’re helping me a lot (just got Cinema 4D three days ago!).

    I ran into this problem during the material part. Here’s a picture:

    As you can see, my material isn’t looking like yours. Mine have that dark gradient around it while yours have a lighter/white glow around it. My settings are – well I think – 100 % the same as your settings. A simple color and the rest into ‘Reflection’. I hope you’ll be able to help me out. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Show me your color channel.

      • I fixed it (only saved my final render), but thanks!

        But hey, I’ve a suggestion for a tutorial. How about rendering med Vray or something like that. I’d love to see how to capture realistic looking renders with Vray (if you have it.. ๐Ÿ™‚ If you don’t, then modelling would be nice. Maybe a glass with some wine in it or a couch!

  • I ran into a problem today modelling a couch. Whenever I try to use the FFD bend object and put it as a child of my model (in this case it’s the back of the couch).. whenever I mark some polys and try to modify the back of the couch nothing happens. Can you help me solve this problem?

  • After the tut, I went out and found some nice FREE HDR map packs (no affiliation to the creator and I haven’t tried them out yet, but they look promising):

  • can any one help me ? how to save sound in c4d i have animation with sound but when i render it its with out ๐Ÿ˜

  • Here’s a move on a bubble I did based on this! Thanks, now just have to learn how to use mograph to make a bunch of deforming bubbles…

  • hello & thank a lot !
    just a question, with c4d r11, global illuminaton has changed and the render seems to be very long in comparaison with your video. Any idea about this ?

  • Thanks for this one!
    Although i have a question, i try to make a animation with those ones. But when i animate the DHR Map is shown, kan i disable it in the render or so?

    Thanks man! Keep up the good work

  • Grreat stuff man! Love your site. Had a question though. Im VEEEERY new to C4D and I saw that you use ‘Global Illumination’ in the tut. When I click on Global Illumination its all greyed out. Im I missing something or is that another extra I need to fork out cash for? Thanks!

  • Cheers for these nick, really helped getting me up to speed with c4d!

  • Thanks for this very useful tutorial for noobs like me.. ๐Ÿ˜€

    Keep it up!

  • Great work Nick,

    @Nick + everyone else

    I’m new to C4D. Was wondering how long a render should take on an iMac 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo,with 4 gig of ram.

    I’ve got the advanced render module.

    It’s taking 2 minutes to render the scene!

    I take it, Nick, you’re running a large ass Mac Pro and that my own render times are to be expected with my system?

    Any feedback from anyone would be great – especially anyone who’ got a similar system to mine.


    • It all depends on your settings. it’s hard to give you a number without trying to render your scene here. It’s all about finding out what settings you can reduce or remove to get a good looking render with the shortest time. That, for me, is one of the hardest things to learn. Keep playing!

      • good advice – it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that there’s one magic setting. i reworked your tut and got the renders down to 20 secs. Much better. Still not lightning though.

  • nice tutorial, i have made it, very easy, thanks for texture, greets from berlin

  • Really appreciate stuff like this mate, having never used C4D (or a 3d app) it’s great to find resources like this.

    Here’s my render (with photoshoppery) –

  • Nice TUT GSG :),
    can’t seem to find Global ill. in Cinema 4d R11 though, makes me feel a bit stupid…
    any suggestions? ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Great tutorial, simple, clear. Thanks for sharing.

  • woah, how do you get your render to come out so fast?

    I’ve got a 2.2ghz macbook pro with gefore 8600M GT and it takes 3-5minutes to render what you do in a few seconds. that’s quite the different, this is a relatively new computer too.

    any suggestions? is it settings or just graphics card?

  • this was really helpful, thanks a lot! this actually was the first tutorial I ever took for any 3D program ever. so yeah, you kind of set me off ๐Ÿ™‚

    funny to see how your room is brighter after the 20 minutes of tutorial filming. heh.

  • hey there. Really impressive stuff here, just found your site! I’d love to get my head around c4d, What’s it like for masking and revealing objects? It’s pretty much all I do in after effects with layers. Can you do similar in c4d?

  • Thanks Nick!
    Really helpful in more ways than 1.

    Just wondering is there a way to download the tutorial to my puter?
    Slow connection where i come from and it takes a while to load.
    Thanks muchly!

  • Great stuff! Thanks!

  • Just went through this bit myself and wanted to note that has since closed their doors and I happened to find a link elsewhere to the mentioned C4D layouts. You can grab them here:

  • hey, this is really great

  • Great tutorial!! Especially the HDRI trick! One question: I noticed that the original image had a dark blue background, but the one you made in the tut was more gray. How did you accomplish the darker blue background for the promo image and also, is there a way to “hide” the HDRI from view while retaining the reflections it creates on the spheres? If any of this involves rendering Alpha Channels, perhaps you could make a tutorial on that in the future?? Thanks dude, you rock,

    • The difference between the two is all in the post production. I must have made a more extreme color correction for the original image.

      As for hiding the HDRI, use the Compositing tag and turn off “seen by camera”


  • Oh also, it seems that Global Illumination is a bit different now. I’m working off of C4D 11.5 and I had to apple-click in the render settings dialogue to add GI to the available options. It slowed down render time SIGNIFICANTLY but got the job done.

  • Hey Nick,

    Thanks a lot for this tutorial, I am still experimenting with lighting and all. But I cane up with this:

    Thanks a lot!

  • Hey Nick,

    I just got C4D yesterday, and this was my first run through with the program. Great work with the blog and everything, it totally gets me excited about motion work all over again with every post.

    this tutorial was super easy to follow and really helped me get going.

    here’s a link to my first render!

    im gonna go through all of your stuff in the next week or so. really excited!

  • Thanks Nick,

    I have been using C4D since the early days. I must say I have learned a lot from your tuts on here.

    Here’s my render

  • Hey Nick

    Any chance youโ€™ll upload the HDR file? I can’t load the EXR

  • its a cool tutorial and i love it
    hope to see more mograph tutorial


  • Thank you for a great tutorial!
    Here’s my take

  • Nick! thanks a lot for this tutorial. GSG is great, i love it I’m going to do evrey tutorial you will post here.

    never see so many “beautiful balls” (O_O) in a single web page, congratulations to everyone.
    Here’s mine:

  • Great tutorial Nick, I applied the technique you showed in the video to a logo instead of a sphere and it came out great. Thank you

  • HI NIck! GRACIAS for the TUTS ….. I just got Cinema 4d 11.5 and I can’t found the GI. Is not in effects ( render settings>effects ) so all my fun is stopped by this. ๐Ÿ™

  • Thank you so much. I’ve just starded cinema 4D and it’s so simple compare to maya or 3DSmax. After this tutorial and 1 hour I can create things !
    Big thank to my teacher, Nick.

    • This site is amazing and I am very surprised that you keep responding to peoples questions, I was wondering if you could explain how to incorporate text in this. I tried adding text (even the mograph text object) and it was a disaster. I wanted to make the text randomly generate like the rest of the things in the scene…

  • I found it, he posted that on your vimeo page.

    As a side note, I just found this site yesterday and its amazing all of this stuff you have done. Posting so many videos, replying this fast and such. Honestly, I intend on watching every video you have posted.


  • Awesome tutorial – here are my results.’

    This is my new favorite site.


    Thanks for the tutorial. Well explained and even went the extra mile to show and explain post work. The PS post work will help a lot of people that aren’t used to it.

  • I just wanted to express my thanks to you Nick for giving your time to produce these tutorials. Im a Maya user and new to C4D and I have to say these tutes are awesome!

    I had a little play with the techniques and resources provided in this tutorial, you check them out here…

  • Great tutorial! Here’s my outcome. It’s my first c4d.
    How do you render a c4d with an alpha channel? I can’t find a tut. And yes, I am a noob.

  • Hi, just found your website, still a noob at cinema 4d and 3d stuff

    so this is mine, tell me what you think

    sorry for the quality

  • Awesome Tutorial for newbies like me!

  • goin’ way back with this comment, but this is the result of my introduction to C4D through these early tutorials over the past few days.

    Thanks Nick and Thanks!

  • I think your tutorials are awesome. I am getting ready to purchase C4D 12, Can I still render a toon sketch animation as I could in 11.5. Where is looks like it is being sketched out as you watch… Thanks…

  • Hey Nick,
    I’m a absolute newbie in C4D. I went through couple of your tutorials and you really inspired me! Thanks for that! I don’t know many people doing something with such passion like you!

  • Hey Nick this is what i got…thanks again..just got C4D on my 2 week with it…this was very helpful!

  • Sweet tut dude. Just found you, but I love the site.
    Here’s a little diddy.

  • Thanks for this…it helped me get the most basic of basics down and I made this as a first try in the world of 3D and Cinema 4D

  • Hi
    It very good tutorial of cinema 4D

  • Great tutorial!

    I recently installed 11.5 and my render time for this project is painfully slow. It seems to be the GI – but I’m on a fairly new MacBook pro (unibody) with 4GB of memory.

    Any tips to speed that up? Is it because I have the Advanced Renderer installed?

  • Thanks Nick….U doin grt job brother..

  • hey Nick! your stuff is great. Thanks man

  • Thanks a lots Gorilla. I’m a illustrator and Animator from Vietnam and love to see your great tutorial. Thanks again man!
    Here is my render, it was my first time using Cinema4D:

    Cheers man!

  • nice tut.

  • Wow. Clearly I’m a bit late. I’m a complete beginner to both C4D & Photoshop. I thought it would take forever for me to do anything I could be proud of. Thanks so much for this tutorial! I can’t believe I just made this. Here it is!

    • Im a beginner too.. just about to do this tut.. inspired another beginner can create something so awesome and shiny! well done!

  • Thanks for this tutorial

  • On Point, thank dude!

  • yaay watched your tut and understood most of the mechanics of c4d!! thank joo nick!! and i know this seems like a really old post but i’m going all the way back ๐Ÿ˜€ here’s what i did after the tutorial :):)

  • Vaibhav Bharadwaj August 9, 2011 at 4:10 am

    Hi Nick,

    Very nice tutorial im new to cinema4d so i really loved it while i was doing great experience…thank you very much!

    and my version:

    Thank you all ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Great tutorial, thanks a lot!

  • I am new to C4D and have been looking over your tutorials and they are all freaking awesome! I have one question and that is do you need an hdri when making an object reflective? Or till it just be able to use a color and where ever you put the light it will so the reflection from that light?

  • Hey! i jx started surfing here and belief me am going all the way through with.thanx for these awesome tutx keep’em coming.

  • Hi there Nick! Thanks for this awesome-as-usual tutorial. This is what i came up with.

    Hope you’ll like it

  • Hi man, I am starting C4D from here. Thanks a lot.

  • Thanks for this! A great tutorial to start with. I was shown your website by a friend and have started going through all the AE and C4D tutorials! Really great resource for those looking to teach themselves the software ๐Ÿ™‚

    Here’s my render:

  • Hey Nick, do you put color correction on your final render? If so is it in C4D or in photoshop or other programs?

  • great tutorial i used the things i learned in here to do this …. i was having alot of trouble manipulating the materials and getting reflections but i see a few tutorials on your site that may help me with that…. great site! thanks

  • Hey Nick. I’m new to Cinema and I’ve watched some intro tutorials but this is the best one yet!

    Here’s my render

  • Hi Nick! Thank you very much for posting this. I learned quite a bit!

  • Thanks for helping me to see tgihns in a different light.

  • Starting learning ur lessons!
    Thx a lot!

  • Great!!!!! Very good job, easy explanation…

  • Josรฉ Marques January 20, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    What about do the exact same thing, but with another solid? like a piramid, or a platonic solid? I’ve tried to apply this tut with a platonic solid, but it diddn’t work.. any tips, or other tutorials?
    (Excellent tutorial though.)

    Thank you,

  • after i loading the hdri.. its been all black…whats that mean…?

  • Thanks for this tutorial….

  • Heres is how far I got with this tut. My first C4D project.

  • Hi man. i am starting C4D from here, thanks man, nice reflection i like your tutorial man

    Thanks for this tutorial…

  • Thanks for all these tuts. Have learned more from your website than the stinking class I took. Wish I could get my money back… Well, here’s what I came up with. Original export from c4D


  • wow. your tut is really helpful. im new to C4D but from your tut it makes it so easy to understand. Thanks a lot!

  • helo,i m a newbie in cinema 4d. i would like to know where can i get tutorials for cinema 4d?

  • I already commented this but I do not see my comment showing up anymore. I’m using Cinema 4D ver 13.061

    That’s fine and dandy however the random effector is not doing what I expect it to do according to your tutorial. I’ve tried different settings but nothing happens when I change various attributes in the random effector settings. Anyone who can help I greatly appreciate it! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Newbie here, the very first meeting with cinema4D and your tutorial, this is what my result looks like . Thanx man, will be following you for long now.

  • Hi, I’m not able to download the HDR map (link down). Please help me..

  • Yes, I’m sad about the HDR Map too. Chad’s website is down, the link is down. I just found out about your website and started with this tutorial. ๐Ÿ™

  • Jonathan Hasson May 7, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    Just completed this tutorial and made it my own:

    I combined the techniques I learned in this tutorial with the ones from your volumetric tutorial as well as your seamless background tutorial.

    Seriously Nick, these tutorials are amazing! I cannot believe how fast I’m learning Cinema 4D thanks to you. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Hi Nick,

    Please see my first render based on your beautiful tutorial!!


  • Hey Nick,

    great tut! But my problem is, that the objects (in this tutorial the spheres, in the other one the black and white baloons) contact or touch with each other. For me it looks more professional without contacts/touches. But i dont know where i used here the collision dynamic.

    Thx + Greetings from Germany

  • nick u r such a help mann! god bless u!

  • Hello Nick,

    Here’s my version, just started out learning C4D and this is a wonderful tutorial for me, here’s my outcome after following your tutorial:

    Thank you very much!

  • Pls Help! I’m stucked in the middle of this tutorial because I don’t have the Advanced Render Module.

    How can I get this Advanced Render Module?

    Where can I get it?

    I’ve searched the entire google but i couldn’t find answers.


  • Andreia Oliveira July 1, 2014 at 6:03 am

    Thanks a bunch! This video really helped me a lot… I’m new to Cinema4d and I really needed some help to get me started… My renders, after following your tutorial are here:

    Thank you so much!

  • Hi! I Folloved your tutorial step by step but when I have downloaded your texture from this site it is just black not like yours ( Iam running on PC not MAC) how can o fix this ?

  • When i use your texture (light) it is all black not as your colors.. what i should change?

  • The Link Doesn’t work for DL’s anymore :/. Have a great day ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Here Is mine. The First work in Cinema 4D.
    Thanksyou so much for your supports sir

  • I’m using C4D 19 and can’t find the global illumination option at my render settings, can somebody help me?

  • In one word, ‘GREAT,’

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