The Cinema 4D Tutorial For Absolute Beginners

April 11, 2012

UPDATE: Just starting your Cinema 4D Learning? You are in the right place!

We have been teaching 3d artists for over 11 years. In fact, this tutorial below is a bit outdated. Not to worry, join our free Intro To Cinema 4D Series and join over 100,000 other artists that have learned Cinema 4D from us.

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In this tutorial, Chris starts from the VERY beginning and very briefly cover a lot of topics. The goal here is that a brand new user can get their feet wet and create a very basic final render that includes some modeling, texturing, lighting, and animation! Based off of the first session of an old Introduction to C4D course he used to teach.

Tutorial Preview

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  • How to solve this problem, it says “out of memory” when i try to render animations with GI.

    • Give your computer a RAM upgrade 🙂

      • i have a 32 bit system, i have 3gb of ram, and since this is not a 64 bit system i cant add more ram, 3gb is the limit on 32 bit.

        • upgrade your computer then. you cant work in this industry on 3gb of ram if you wanna be efficient

        • You must have other applications running, you don’t need to upgrade your computer providing you have Windows 7 or vista you could use ReadyBoost” the
          Other option is to use Task Manager(PC)/Activity Monitor(mac) and End some Tasks/Activities that are running on the system. just put the tasks/activity in order of Memory (highest to lowest) and End the ones that use the most. (just be careful not to end the C4d application) .

          Also only end the tasks/activity that you know about if you are not sure then search the process name in google before ending it. This should solve your problem and if you are not sure about readyboost then simply google “what is readyboost” for a definition.

      • i’m gonna buy new pc with 4GB of RAM .is it enough ?

        • Yes, you can work with 4gb ram, but you need 64bit OS, not rare to see the swaping file grow up tp 20-40gb.

          So be carefull to have plenty free space on your hard drive, and defrag properly. My advice, buy an Hybrid HD, if you have money, get a large 250gb SSD just for OS and APP.

    • Try to clear your cache inside the picture viewer

    • I have W7 32bit and have 4gb of ram so just upgrade it!

      • With 32-bit, your computer can only use 3gb of RAM, no more. So, your investment in extra RAM was wasted as it cannot be used by your system. I seriously suggest upgrading to a 64-Bit Operating system, be it Win7 or Mac OSX.

        Hope this helps.

      • dude… go to my computer… right click… properties…. find advanced settings system on the left…. click on the first one there, visual effects, processor scheduling, memory usage and virtual memory. Click on advanced tab. In the virtual memory area click on change…. Uncheck the automatically manage paging file size for all drives. Below click on custom size, put in 10000 max 12000 hit set, then ok, keep clicking until it asks to reboot. You now have triple the amount of memory. Your hard drive holds that size for memory use. It helps boost and doesn’t hurt your processor…. until you can go i7 processor… this is cheapest way… hope it helps.

    • Try using sky sampler and a setting around 30 – 100
      that might help some. it renders faster so might uses less system resources.

    • It may be because your using hypernurbs

  • Looks like Chris is the only one contributing to this site anymore…

    • Sorry It’s been a while, Joel. I have a tutorial coming soon. Stay tuned.

      • Its hard coming up with a new act every week.
        you do a GREAT job !!!!

        but could you do some info on materials and using Photoshop or something to make displacement maps or Normal maps and when and why to use each? and the difference between the two.
        Keep up the good work ..

        • I second this…it’s tough to find good tutorials on materials, shaders etc…also tough finding info on environments/backgrounds…seems the infinite floor look is what everyone is doing now days…

      • love you guys’ tutorials<3

    • Looks like there’s A TON of tutorials down here, considering that everything (except the products, of course) is free. 10 years ago if you wanted to get into the CGI animation industry your only option was to spend a ton of money in a proper education. Nowadays, you get free websites packed with tutorials, and if you are willing to spend something you can get front-end courses for less than 50 bucks per month.

      You people should really stop complaining, even a tutorial a year is good until it is free.

  • I also learn so much new stuff while making my tutorials…especially from easy ones!
    Currently I’m working on a color-correction-basics-tutorial in AE. It’s so funny to make, because you learn so many features you didn’t even know about! Keep it on Chris, always nice to learn from your tutorials!

  • Thanks for the tutorial. I picked up some valuable tips.

  • Those basic tutorials are a great way to fill in the wholes of knowledge when you’re learning on your own. Thanks Chris!!!

  • Also it was for a beginner also i like it

  • Thanks Chris,I like your tutorials ,
    see you 😉

  • gsg usually lets people know if he is going on a road trip etc..
    did he let anyone know that the site will go lame over the coming weeks?

  • I would really love to see a problem-solving tutorial… one that involves most of our naggings and questions…
    I seriously have problems putting fillet on objects (the one that I can control and edit) and how to import the correct units (mm, cm, in… not just “units“) because sometimes I need measurable support…

    Anyway, tnx to Chris and Nick putting so much effort in this…

    cheers guys

  • When he said “lets make a space ship” I was like what?! =) The tutorial was great I learned so much. Thank you.

  • Another easy way to move around the view port is to use the number keys; 1, 2 and 3.
    1: Move around the view port
    2: Zoom in and out
    3: Rotate around the object

  • Nick and Chris – Thanks to you both for the great content. Much appreciated and very inspiring!

    And Chris, the “H” in H,P,B stands for “Heading”. 🙂

  • So this is how you check, if you are an absolute beginner 😀

    I’m happy to find myself, that i have learned absolutely nothing new from this tutorial, which doesn’t mean that it’s bad or smomething. It seems to be meaning that maybe finally i can call myself “non absolute beginner” LEVEL UP!!! Yeah 😀

    Tutorials on this site are one of the best on internet, and for me it really doesn’t matter if Chris makes most of them nowadays, or Nick beacause i get powerfull amount of knowledge from both of you guys. So keep up the great work !!!

  • Thank You Chris.. I always come away with some new knowledge when I view you or Nicks Tutorials.. I think it was two minutes in on this one, I didn’t know you could right click on the Nav Icons. I don’t think of myself as a beginner. Regardless of the nature of the tutorial, if it came from GSG I know I will learn something, and be somewhat entertained.
    We all need a break sometimes, even Nick. I miss him too. But what’s with all the venom?

  • Hi, I definitely think you guys should stop saying that this site is going lame, most of us (including me) find awesome free tutorials from this site and the time Nick and Christ take to give us their knowledge is precious they both have lives and stuff to take care of. But they sacrifice some of their time to give us some valuables tips so we can be productive at work.Let’s stop being selfish & start being thankful…Thx again Nick and Chris for what you do. GSG fan forever…

    • Thanks Rudy,

      I can assure everybody that this site isn’t going away. We have been working hard on some new stuff lately and haven’t forgot about the site. Stay tuned for a TON of new stuff coming out soon. Trust me, it will be great.

  • Dear Nick, Chris et al,

    Completely OT but this here thread seemed perfect to state my gratitude for you guys and the work + time you so generously have put into my graphic evolution.
    Thank you very, very much for that.

  • Hello All,

    Great work gentlemen!!!! I appreciate all of the time and dedication you all have put to GSG!!!! Teaching and lecturing!!!! Keep the enlightenment and creative juices flowing from this site!!!!
    I would like to send in a DONATION so please let me know where I can send it to. Peace and God Bless!!!! Let’s Create and Deliver!!!!!!!!!!!!




  • Great tutorial Chris! – very helpful!

    Can anyone tell me how I can animate the position of points (or surfaces) on a polygon shape… like a pyramid?


  • Oh…. over 1 hour … again.
    Your tutorials are great, but could you please upload it somewhere else, too? Where you can jump right into the middle or end without the need of buffering the whole video before?

    Quite often I don`t have the time to follow these long tutorials through in one session…

    I would really appreciate an alternative to Vimeo (sigh).

    But thanks for the tutorials!


  • hi Chris,
    i love your tuts.
    I am from germany and i am always asking myself, if you are from germany, too?
    Your voice has a german accent and your name is german.
    So, are you from germany?


  • Thank Chris, simple and funny. Wonderful.
    Sometime we are thankful for a review.

  • I search and not found how can you use “Vignett” effect in yours image, like HDRI Studio Pack. Please tell me because i’m crazy to discovery how can i use : ). Thanks!

  • Whelp, you’ve done it buddy.
    I’ll get off my maya kick and hop into some c4d finally. Maya’s been too fat and clunky for too long.
    I’ll share some experiments with you soon.


  • You really under-sell this tut. It is much more than just a lesson for someone who has no C4D experience. You clarified several things that I’d wondered about for a while, and your style is a a great one for listening and learning. I hope you can get more into C4D general lessons, at a range of experience levels. You are a great addition to GSC.

  • Try using sky sampler and a setting around 30 – 100 frames gr

  • Hi, Nick and Chris, first of all thank you both for these cool and pleasant tutors. I just want to ask you, what if we’l try to recreate the new MAXON logo, with all features include materials and lighting.
    Thank you, i love your tuts

  • Alex, It’s a little bit dirty but check it.

  • I’ve been waiting so long for this… I can’t thank you enough for this!

  • Thanks for this great tutorial. I´m fighting to learn 3d from 10 years, most of the time i see tutorial so cool but very few didactics at the end. This is great, nothing really new for me but great to see and learn about how to work out a project.

    Sorry for my english that is very basic and thanks again for the lesson.

  • Fantastic introductory tutorial. It’s been several years since I played with cinema 4d and I appreciated the refresher. A more advanced followup tutorial to this would be appreciated.

  • Hi Chris,

    Thank you very much for the beginners tutorial. I have been using C4D for a couple months now, pretty much entirely trial and error whilst following other advanced tutorials, so this really helped me recognise the interface a bit more and it was an enjoyable lesson. I know you do more advanced stuff, but if you could ever do another beginners – it’d be hugely appreciated!


  • Hi!
    Just saw the tutorial and learned a lot since I´m new in C4D. There is something that I wonder though. How would you do to make the spaceship lean or “bank” when it takes turns?
    Have a good one!

  • Finally a good solid basics video. Really informative video.

  • Thank you very much for this great tutorial! I have been watching it over and over and creating my own samples along with it. It is perfect! Hope you will do more of these “beginners” tutorials for specific aspect of C4D with more detail.

    Once again thank you for this great work!


  • How can download cinema 4d? help me please thanks every body.

  • Great tutorial and super fun. Thanks Chris!

  • hey chris which headset u r using for recording in this video and what is its cost??
    i am looking for a good headset to recording purposes.. yours is good no noice, no distubances.
    please reply as soon as possible.dont be like nick.. i asked him two questions before couple of weeks till now he didnt answered!!!

  • Hey man this tutorial was awesome I enjoyed every second of it. I like the way you explain things in such detail unlike other tutorials you will find on YouTube , thanks a lot for this Chris and I hope to see more of your beginners tutorials.

  • Hey I’m using an older Cinema 4D in college its 9.5, how do you add different colours to poly’s, the way it works for you isn’t the same whenever I select poly’s I want, then apply the material it just apply’s it to the whole object, any advice?

  • My first c4d tut! Really enjoyed it! Can’t wait to watch the more advanced ones. Thanks!

  • Hey! Thanks a lot for this tutorial! (:

  • Thank you soooo much for this tutorial! I learned so much from it! I was looking for something like this for quite a while now, but I couldn’t find it, until now! 😀

  • I love animated things. I start whit after effect and i love it. Then i realized that some animation are made whit Cinema 4d. I took me a little of time which program that designers use to do some cool animation, but its ok. My university don’t teach me this program so i have to learn for my own like i do whit after effects. So thanks for the tutorial especially this one because it clear me like a lot of basic things that i didn’t know and i understand to do some things. Obviously i start to wacht some tutorials that teach you like some crazy cool effects but the procees i didnt understand, so this tutorial is very very helpful for me. Thanks again.

    pd: sorry for my bad english.
    Greetings from Chile.

  • Hey Thanks for such a wonderful TUT! Job well done, the C4d interface has stopped being such a daunting interface. Really glad you did this. Hey I am ready to buy more tuts, beginner to intermediate. They are worth it. I know ya’ll are busy but give us more tuts! Cheers guys, keep up the good work!

  • Thanks for the wonderful tutorials. I work with Motion Graphics and used to work with 3dsmax for years and damn, C4D is much quicker and practical for daily use. Thanks for helping me in the transition!

  • I’m confused about something:

    When I hover over a polygon (not clicking) with my mouse, and then move my mouse away, the polygon stays colored white until I click elsewhere?

  • I just looking forward to your new works!I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts.I’m actually enjoying the theme/design of your blog.Hope you have another good post!

  • I’m trying to animate a missile that travels in a arc path. I followed the exact set up as Chris’ spaceship, however my missile is jerking itself the other way around everytime it hits the top of the arc (where the vertex is). Does anyone have any idea how to solve this issue?

  • Ive been wanting to learn C4D mainly for text and animation for over 2 years now But Ive a mental block about it. It just reminds me of maths at school which I was useless at.
    What Id love to find is a tut that get back to the very basics and explain it as doing a comparison with Photoshop (MOST peeps I presume find Maxon after Ps) Its the interface/Layers system and terminology that confuses me.
    What Id like to do is take 2 weeks to concentrate on it but keeping sites ging takes alot of my time.
    IF you want a new project I think that would be of benefit to alot of peeps.
    If youd like to post your tut on my site youre welcome. Appreciate your efforts.

  • Thanks for the tutorial man!! You did a great job getting in the little details of different functions of cinema 4d! I definitely learned a lot of tools and quirks that will be useful!

  • Hi all! Would like to send my regards to Chris and Nick for making such a nice site available to all of us. Im new into CG, though I have gotten most of the needed softwares. Hope im welcomed? Thanx all.

  • Nice tutorial! Thx a lot! 🙂

  • Thanks. Really helpful 🙂

  • You, sir, ROCK!
    Just wanted to say thank you for taking the time to help us.

  • Hey jst bumped on ur tuts haven’t gone tru all dough.I wud appreciate a site were I can learn architectural modelling using cinema 4d and vray fankx

  • Just a fabulous start to learning C4D…everything you need in less than an hour to get going. Really appreciate the tutorial. Many thanks.

  • I dunno how to thank you for this tutorial. You have made me go over through all the basics which I don’t think I would be able to if I were to explore this alone. Very nice tutorial! Million of thanks and keep it up!

  • THANK YOU SO MUCH guys . . I’m blown away . . I’m beginner n dis was like an amazing exp . . thank you ! 😀 😀

  • Thank you so much Chris for this tutorial!

  • Hey, I found this tutorial so helpful!

    Recently got the software and without the help of GSG I’d be lost!

    Really appreciate these tutorials, thank you:)

  • Why when i may an objet i see lines only? i dont see the full objet like you do (the 3d objet)

  • Chris, YOU ROCK!!!

  • This is really great! I was like nowhere when I just came abroad to cinema 4D and now i think i can see some way around. Thank you very very much 🙂

  • Hahah, dude, that’s awesome. I rarely stumble upon a video tutorial that doesn’t bore me . I’m glad you move through things so quickly and you give a lot to think about.

  • thx so much

  • Hey there! I’m a very newb c4d user, actually 3 day user. But so far created some pretty nice animations and modeling.

    Love your tuto because you keep saying what you are doing. Very nice and instructive. Thanks!

  • Best tutorial I’ve watched. Perfectly paced and packed with concise information. You have given me a great foundation for learning C4d. Thank you very much! Much appreciation to you! I can’t wait to watch the rest.

  • Hello i m new in designing and dont know anything about flash tell me where from i can start and i want learn animation movie making please help me thanks

  • Hello,
    That was a brilliant tutorial!
    Learned a lot! Keep posting more such tutorials! Thank you!

    I just have one problem! When I tick on tangential the ship points to the left hand side through out the path! Please help!

  • This was a great tutorial! I learned so much, i appreciate you helping us newbs out!

  • make more videos and if you have already then send my a link
    You really helped my thank you!!!!

  • Timothy Lugasa May 8, 2013 at 4:17 am

    i loveeeeee………………….. animation especially modeling
    try me for character design en props.

  • Timothy Lugasa May 8, 2013 at 4:18 am

    i love my job modeling en prop design halla if u wanna.

  • uh, that was great! and helpful, thank uuu!!

  • Hello Mr.Chris,

    I am 12 years old and I have been influenced by my older cousin to take a course of cinema 4d. I have a little problem with my spaceship: when i align it to my spline and click on the button that makes it follow the spline properly, it turns upside down. I even tried the rotate tool. What should I do?

    Please reply ASAP.

  • Dude!
    Ace tutorial for beginners, a great review of the basic principles and techniques, thanks a million.

    As a newcomer I was wondering if anyone out there knows of any tutorials on the new snapping functionality in R14.

    Man, I’m sure it’s my limited intelligence that’s to blame, but believe it or not I find it a bit of a puzzle. A complete, exhaustive tutorial just on snapping would be double-awesome and also triple-cool.

    Thanks again.



  • good day, i hope you can still answer questions here..

    about a little in to your tutorial you started making multiple objects. My problem is in my end, i can only see objects when i select them in the layers menu and i cant see the other.. for example, i cant make another cube move to it’s side because i cant see the other cube.. moving objects relative to another object is impossible for me.. thanks in advance..

  • Hi- I’m a total novice at 4D & this tutorial was really helpful; basic enough for a newbie like me, but not at all slow or patronising. Look forward to learning more from you soon. Many thanks. RB

    PS. the clock on your screen was saying around 2am- get some sleep. dude!

  • I have a problem, when i add a cube or any 3d model i only see the side lines what i need to do? (sorry for my bad english)

  • I love the tuts from you, but that could well put the footage, thank you!


  • how do i get the full software package

  • Hey, when you create the plain and divde it into multiple polygons, I cant work out how to adjust my settings so that I can see the individual polygons crated… its just a basic outline… same when you edited the cube at the start to increase the individual polys creating it, all I could see what just the cube… how do I get those “guides” or what ever they’d be called… I had to stop at the canyon section because it wasn’t working from there on…

  • hi sir you are really great graphic designer in the world for me .

  • Thanks for the excellent (and easy to follow) tutorial. I’m a seasoned print designer looking to move into animation and I’m thrilled you took the time to put this together.

  • Thanks man!

  • I know this is a very old post, but I found it very useful. I can’t figure out while my objects are highlighted with orange instead of orange and white like the ones in the video. Any help?

  • Hello, I have got a problem with C4D. When I make my object editable, then I cant drag/move it. I only move the three arrows. Pls help!

  • Estanislau Gomes de Araujo January 23, 2014 at 12:52 am

    I want to download the software Maxon 4Dimensional but, I didn’t know how to download the software.Thanks a Lot.

  • Hello nick, first of all thanks for the tutorial it helped me a lot understanding how to use the software. I’m using R14 version of cinema 4D and i got in trouble while i wrapped my spaceship to the spline and i marked the option tangential the ship was flying on the side still. i think i might built it on the wrong direction =( so im stuck for hours figuring out what to do… what can i do now?

  • Not comment but it is request.I would like send me notes and tutorials on my email, on how to go about c4 because am a beginner who is really green about it.

  • Hello 🙂 I’m a Korean studying Cinema4D alone. This tutorial is so Good! It’s just what I wanted! Thank you!!?

  • Thanks for the tutorial. I picked up some valuable tips

  • Nice tutorial, I like your style, fast and straight to the point, usually I want to scream when I hear all the bla bla with 10 min introduction, sky is blue and earth is round instead of 2 min of showing something, I want to learn fast not to waste my time with cheap bla bla..


  • Is this in R13?
    I’m still learning off R11.5
    So plenty of buttons are in differnt places. null and camera for example. can you advise on any walkthroughs (video or walkthrough) relevant to what I’m using?

    All the best,

  • Thanks for the great tutorial, nice pace and a lot of topics covered in a short time.

  • Like , this page

  • If you wanna avoid render issues and even have a possibility to rendering a little faster, Get yourself a customized PC. No I am not talking 2000 or 3000 bucks for a pc. There is still a wide variety of computers in the range of 600-1200 euro’s, where you can get a computer with 6GB RAM or more, a decent quad-core processor and a decent Nvidia or AMD Radeon graphics card.

    (If you solely Design and you don’t game, go for a graphics card that is faster in processing data (Ask your pc retailer what cards are the best for Graphic Design and rendering).

    Do make sure your pc is a 64 bit Windows 7 (home or professional) so you’re always able to build out further or change components without too much trouble (or let someone change them for you).

    Hope this helps.

    Kind Regards,

    John Giovanni

  • Perfect.
    I really enjoyed this intro to the fantastic world of Cinema 4D.
    Well presented, in depth, and easy to follow. I was so glad I accidentally stumbled upon Chris Schmidt, you made my day!!!

  • Thank you so much!!! Really for beginners as me this was absolutely friendly, I must confess I was afraid to not understand it, I was terrorized to do 3D objects in Cinema, now I’m ready and exited to know more about the subject. You are a totally Yoda 🙂 infinite thanks

  • hi, I am using cinema 4d R16.050 in a windows 8.1 computer with 4gb ram, quad core processor and 64bits but my mograph doesn’t seem to be anywhere on the screen. pls i need help, thanks.

  • as someone that has avoided learning c4d but has done creative coding and OpenGL stuff, this is an amazing introduction. exactly the right amount of information (and no more).

  • wooow thank you very much man. It was really usefull.

  • SPACESHIP!!!!!!!!!!!
    Thanks a lot, It was really useful.

  • SPACESHIP!!!!!!!!!!!
    Thanks for the great tutorial.

  • Pls i cant find all my tags on d cinema 4d lite wah can i do

  • Best tutorial ever!! helped me sooooooooooooooooooooo much,

  • How can that video in this tutorial?

  • March 2020 and this is STILL relevant and the best C4D fundamentals tutorial online. Thank you!!

  • I don’t have a tex folder in my c4d library

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