City Kit: Tips And Tricks

February 16, 2011

This was originally part of the training that comes with the new City Kit. But, I thought that it had some good techniques and ideas like always using a camera and setting up ambient occlusion that can be used in any 3D scene, not only with the Kit. Anyway, I wanted to share it with you guys.

Tutorial Focus:  
Software:  ,

  • Hi .. it’s my first visite to our siteweb ..i like it your works … you are the best .

  • Hey Buddy,

    I am very proud to see how the city kit hits the road! Great stuff! Keep up the good work! CHeers,


  • Thank You for sharing…..

    when can we buy it????

  • You tried it on an old computer?
    I dont think my laptop could manage the City Kit on an old Dual core.

  • City Kit looks awesome and fun, bur price is a bit too steep to just get ir for playing around.

  • You didn’t say your signature line! 🙁

    Loving CR! Keep rockin!

  • this is amazing kit man..i just got my copy and i think im not goin to work 2moro…the ideas just keep coing for my next project..realy amazing job..

    thanx for the hard work.


  • this is pure awesomeness… i am working in a channel that has the word City in it and now i can think of so many possible ids for various segments….

    there should be an oscar for great plugins;)…..

  • cool…
    nice tricks nick..!!
    I’d love to meet with you nick..

  • Hey Nick, is there a way to change up the angles of the grid. For example, if you were approximating downtown LA around koreatown and needed to create a N-S grid flowing into the donwtown’s NE-SW grid.

  • I find the price kinda pricy…
    Made me think it’s coming with a case and stuff but it’s just for downloading, isnt it?

  • hello, Nick,
    How do I change windows “wall” material(not windows material).

  • Very nice kit, Nick. Here’s a quick render I set up with it:

  • So every showreel will now include a city scene. Tut tut. I will be interested to see some real creative ideas with using the kit though.

    5 Second project topic?

  • Superb job Nick. This city looks phenomenal! I have learned a whole bunch from your site, thanks for this public contribution 🙂

  • Hey Nick is it heavy to work with? I have Mac pro 4gb ram 2x 2.8ghz cpu.

    btw great stuff!

  • ohh this is very cool.

  • Superb City Kit nick, works pretty fast on my machine i’ve only got a Dell AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core Processor 3800+ 2.00GHz, with 1.00GB Ram and it rendered with picture at 2000×1125 in 1 hour 28 mins which I think is pretty good.

    Thanks once again Nick & Chris, this is brilliant!


  • I haven’t bought your city kit as yet, so the option may already be included:
    but it would be really cool if there was a traffic generator (and perhaps street/traffic lights), even if only achieved with clever animated materials and lights for night shots.
    If it is not something that is included, I might create something in xpresso to work along side your kit

  • Great plugin! Will buy it soon, after my current project is finished.

    Sorry to say that, but City Kit is already available on a very popular 3D site for download. Don´t wanna post the link. I was searching for some texture there and found it accidently. :/

  • Looks nice!

    I’m thinking about buying it, but I have one qeustion: Is it possible to adjust the detail on the buildings? are they even editable? And are you limited to the square like layout, or is it possible to change the shape of the entire city layout?

  • About the video… You forgot to say you were the Gorilla 😛

  • uhmm…. this used to be free a few years ago…

  • Just bought it! Super Stoked! Thanks for an awesome addition to C4D!

  • Hey nick

    I bought the kit, it is very clever, thank you very much! I have 2 important questions though and thought it would be nice for other people to see the answers so i post them here:
    -The random effector is a priceless addition! but… is it possible to add our own spline for instead of the square? i tried to do it but couldnt find a way…
    -i guess i have problems of configuration of my cpu/gpu. My viewport is VERY laggy and most of the times don’t even display the city unless i activate the preview option. The only time it works fine is if i use the mograph preset. I have a I7 quad core at 4ghz, 64bit windows 7 + c4d r12.032, 18gb of ram, and a firepro v5800 (with enhanced openGL). Am i not supposed to be breezing through? i guess there’s something i overlooked in the display option?
    Thanks for your help and your great plugs!! 🙂

    • Hi Chris

      Different machines might run it very differently, since you say the mograph city moves more quickly you might it it working better if you go to your view window for to “Display” then turn of “Textures” and/or “Stacked Materials”.

  • it is a great tool, but it also make evething on web will looks the same.
    like the results of your tutorial or the tutorial of andrew kramer.
    we often get showreels with results of your or other online free tutorials. thats the only thing that sucks. they don´t learn how to use the technik. they only copy that!

    but it is and it stays a great work of you!

  • I live in Northern Ireland and we don’t build city’s or towns on grids. So is there anyway of using curved roads or can I map the city to a shape of my choosing and not have it look so square and American.

    • The kit is based on a grid right now, We hope to have more custom options in future versions.

    • @saunter

      Yes, absolutely there is. No trouble at all. CityKit contains two cloner objects – Buildings and Preview. They’re both set to Grid mode. For experimentation, recommend you use Preview.

      Click on the Preview (making sure its active) change it’s mode from GRID to OBJECT.

      Obviously, you’re going to need an actual object here. So lets make one.

      Fire up Google and nab yourself a street map. The simpler and more schematic the better (better yet, design your own). Ideally you want something where your road network is just simply white and the blocks upon which buildings appear a flat colour. Doesn’t really matter which way round that is – you just basically need something simple that actually looks like a map.

      Open up in Photoshop – if the map contains lots of large, bold block-area’s – bust them up a little by making contrasting area’s inside filled with your road colour (select>contract/select/transform)- just make it as visually interesting as you can. Remember, many blocks of buildings encapsulate relatively open area’s inside them – parking lots, etc. If you want to do a nice job, take a bit of time with your map.

      Once you’re done and happy grab the magic wand tool – select your road network and any open space. Go to PATHS – select MAKE WORK PATH – then hope over to FILE>EPORT>SAVE PATHS TO ILLUSTRATOR. Save the AI file you generate as something imaginatve, like “STREETS”.

      Once you’re done either clear your current path (or convert to selection) re-select the same stuff and invert the selection. Again, make a Work Path – Export Path to Illustrator – save as “BLOCKS”.

      Hard part done.

      Fire up C4D – open BLOCKS. Your splines will import as a group. Open the group up – select all splines, right-click and select CONNECT+DELETE – remove the connected spline you’ve just created out of its null and drop it into an EXTRUDE object. Zero out all transformations on your Extrude, rotate the entire thing 90 degree’s relative to the ground and lower. Select the spline – check which direction its Y axis is pointing. You need it to point up. Use the axis-tool to rotate it so it is. Save file out under the splines name (ie BLOCKS) and repeat the same excersize for the STREETS spline in a new file. Remember to rotate your connected splines Y axis so as it’s facing up before you save out. Only important thing to remember and, if you have any difficulties further on with objects generated by your Cloner – that’ll be why – the Y axis on the spline is facing the wrong direction.

      Back now to CityKit. Merge the BLOCK C4D scene you created with your CityKit scene. Scale up in X+Z as appropriate – this is the object you want to use as the target for your Preview Cloner’s contents.

      You have two options here – both work, both have their merits. You can set the Spline as the Target – the cloner will rail all its instances around the spline (this is why I recommend busting large block area’s up when preparing the map for spline production and export. You can also try refining this further by creating an Outline for your original spline. This gives lots of neat, ordered distribution where ever your city needs it.

      Alternative (and often times it’s actually useful to follow both these methods) duplicate the original Extrude object containing your Spline – make it editable, select the upward facing cap of your (now) polygon object and use that as teh target for your Cloner.

      Use either Volume or Surface and populate the blocks by just ramping up the clone count (another reason why the preview cloner is good for this. You’ll find this generates clones that jostle together and cram themselves onto the poly’s of your new object. Works very well for simulating those really dense inner-city area’s where buildings go up where ever there’s available space.

      One method of further refining this is to break up the the target poly cap into into zones – Poly Mode – select polys – Function>SPLIT. Where you want lots of cram and jostle – populate poly object by SURFAE or VOLUME. Where you want more control, more order – pop into top down mode, lay down you’re splines where you want ’em, connect ’em all up and use that as the target (obviously, you’re goint to have to duplicate your cloner with whatever is inside it that you want to populate everything with).

      As something to do it’s actually quicker to do it than read How To – play around with, experiment. This is actually quite a well established method doing things exactly such as non-regular urban layouts in C4D already, so you should find plenty out there to read up on.

      But, basically – yeah. Doing what you’re after isn’t a problem, just trace yourself off a map and away y’go.

      One other thing – may be of interest. The method outlined – also works for type splines – write one out (rotation XZ) drop her in an Extrude and same deal. If you’re clones insist on appearing full length but always on your sides – it’s the splines Y axis rotation issue. Y’s pointing in the wrong direction.

      Also, naturally, should work for such things as Logo’s and basically any primative – or more complex 3D form for that matter (assuming you’re of the mightily ambitious kind and want to make a man made entirely of the East Midlands live and breath and make mock of the hand of God*) – you can think of.

      Just ditch the GRID setting and swop it out for OBJECT.

      Good luck, sorry for the length. Hope it proves useful.


      *and yes, I fully appreciate any American readers here may be a trifle perplexed at the reference, but trust me. There are currently 16 people back here in the UK, the urine is just streaming out of them uncontrollably. Torrents of the stuff. Not terribly large on the hygiene, we know it but that’s just generally considered a Friday night out over here basically in a nut-case.

      *hugs* R

    • @rayne

      You are the man!
      Great tutorial!

    • @Bran

      :)… How kind of you to say. Thank you.

      Something I did mean to mention but completely didn’t – clean slipped m’head. The other spline you produced – the STREET spline, obviously – drop into an extrude once connected – instant road. The spline itself however is rather more useful than just that simply that.

      Roads in towns/cities generally tend to have car’s both running on them and parked at the curb – also other details such as street lights, trees – even figures on the pavement.

      With a bit of careful scaling and positioning you can use various copies of the same spline to rail off clones of such things quickly and easily, depending on the level of detail required in your scene all in the right kind of places.

      Obviously, if you’re going for the kind of shot where you can literally count the beads on a cab drivers seat cover, you only need a small quarter of map to begin with and handle specific placement of objects either by line of sight or else top down with a couple of splines – but even so, if such a shot carries way off into the distance – very quick and easy method to place stuff – most especially with top down tracking shots, etc.

      Apologies for any typos’s, BTW. No preview. Never could proof read anything for crap in these tiny little text boxes.

      Glad to have been some use.


  • I purchased this a few days ago and have been having a lot of fun playing with it – great work Nick & Chris –

  • is there an option to have changed the style of a city square to custom geometry (like use the spline to have a custom geometry design not a square city) ?

  • Hey Nick, good job. Thank a lot for teach us.
    Nice tips

  • Nick, the City Kit is great! Thanks for insights, training, style and commitment to helping others in the industry. Pricing is spot on and then some! Really appreciate your efforts. You’ve helped me grow my arsenal and provide outstanding new projects and ideas for my clients.



  • Hey man congratulations!!! You are pushing cinema4d to the top, with the addition of these packs. HDR LIGHT KIT PRO AND CITY KIT are amazing a must add for the cinema 4d users and non users start applying more interess on this great software!!! pretty inspirational the way you design software!! cheers

  • here is my first test at the kit. Your the man Nick!

  • Hi Nick!!! my sister offered me a birthday gift, and I said I wanted the Light Kit Pro and the City Generator!!! and she tell me…ok!

    Thx!!!!!!! for all Nick!!!

    Greetings from Perú….sorry my english is so bad!! …=(

    Gracias y espero que todo te vaya muy pero muy bien!! =D

  • Hi nick,
    City kit is great, using it for a project at the moment. Have trouble with flickring buildings and lightings in the distance. Essentially am doing a zoom lens helicopter shot type thing and the background buildings seem to flicker a lot.

    Am sure its not the kit itself but maybe rendering settings – using best AA and animation setting but still seems to be happening. Definately not shadows either as it does it with the default auto light too.

    Any ideas?


    • Sometimes with that much detail, you may want to try AA 2×2 4×4 settings. It’s a render hit, but it may help. Let me know how it goes.


    • Another thing I find helps is to go to your render settings under “Anti-Aliasing” and change threshold to 0%, and MIP Scale to 200%.


    • Thanks guys thats some good ideas. Never played with threshold and mip scale.

      I did a double res render last night and scaled it down 50% in after effects – that pretty much fixed it too.

      Will try your suggestions on the next go

  • Hey man, nice toy, but for 149$ it’s like stealing.. c’mon man! it’s not a generator nor a plugin, so why the steep price?

  • Hello everyone,
    I would like to know what do you think about my test.
    Thanx all!

  • Hey Nick!
    now it’s time to create a tutorial of a post-apocalyptic city!

    take care!

  • here is my latest render of city kit. Too bad I can’t figure out how to render a ground for my city. I added on but it doesn’t show up


    One of the first of what I expect many posts you’ll be seeing using this kit! Nick and Chris, you guys are killin it right now!

  • hi greyscale, thanks for the city kit, ill purchase it when i get paid which is at end of the month. Im currently working on my final project in creative multimedia and needed help of making a bunch of letters form into buildings like a city

  • Hi Nick,
    It’s very great !
    A little question, is it possible to specify base of the city area other than a square ?

    • Right now, it’s based on a square, but we have plans to make the city shape more custom in future version. Also, you can use out “custom areas” to shape the city like text or any vector shape if that helps.


  • Picked up the CityKit for a project I am working on, and all I can say is “Thank You” Nick! What an amazing piece of software you have here- very inspirational, very reasonably priced, I believe!

    One question- not sure where to post this, as it pertains to CityKit, and the Irradiance Precache video you did-

    I have completed a city fly-through, and I animated the sun to rise throughout the scene. Am I correct in assuming I can NOT lock the cache, since my light source is changing throughout? (Forgive my “noobyness”, I have only been learning C4D, and 3D in general, for the last couple of months). It seems to me I can auto load, but not lock?

    Thanks again for the awesome design!

  • Hi nick,

    Just bought a city kit and i’m new to cinema 4d. i’m wondering how to add new texture material not just changing the color for the city preset? I tried adding up texture but some part are not changing specially the roof. Please help me.

    Thank you so much,

  • Just got the city kit. Cool stuff. I was wondering if there is a way to animate the city growing up? Even better if it grew or build up with a mograph delay effector for each building? Thanks!

  • Has there been any further development with your city kit?
    It would be cool if you can get it near to the city engine by procedural:

    Have you thought about doing a GreyScaleGorilla multibuy with your various kits (City, material, light)?

  • I saw this and thought of you:
    although it is built for nasty old PC based 3D max only

  • I made my own animation out of the City Kit:

    Hoping to hear some feedbacks.

  • Great kit. One thing though. What if i don’t want the city and only want the surrounding small buildings? I don’t want any tall buildings at all. Almost more like an industrial area. I’ve tried to change the height of the taller buildings but they only reduce in height by so much. Can this be done?


  • hi ,
    thank for your great products and tutorial ,
    i was wondering how to use for example spline text as a source that city kit grows on top of it !?

  • hey Nick,
    when i use shapecity, its not workling. the buildings are to small and not much buildings. why?
    the rest of the city kit works great.

    one more question.
    in citytext. its not working with all fonts.. why not?

    grz Nate

  • Hi bro,

    i am testing city kit now, but when i do a preview render its rendering 5 minutes.
    and in your video like 2-6 sec.

    Im on a macbook pro, and maybe u can tell me whats wrong


    I saw this trailer on mtv of an Italian program
    and I immediately recognized your plugin!

  • How do I replace the CHANGE ME text for a bespoke logo created in Illustrator?

  • Discovered that if you use the mograph rig and then put the ‘Classic_Glowball_purecandy’ texture from the texture kit on it, there is lots of glitches on the buildings from overlapping geometry (on each building) that aren’t fixed by increasing the antialising settings. Any ideas how to solve this issue? Thanks

  • Angel C. Lovefield August 6, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    Hi everyone! I’m trying to build in C4D not a city, but just a building. I want it to be realistic, but no matter how hard I try modeling details or applying textures, it never looks quite that real. So I wonder:
    Could it be something with the light and shadows? (the light is supposed to be sunlight)
    Should I try something with camera projection from a picture of a real building?
    I’d appreciate any tips or redirections to any web where they show how can that realism be accomplished.
    Thanks in advance, gang.

  • I’m having an issue with a missing texture. I followed another tutorial you have about NOT copy and pasting the city into another scene. however, the problem is still occuring. It say’s its missing this texture: TileLines[1].jpg (Building Lines)

    Can I get some assistance please??


  • I googled this missing texture problem and found on an forum (not sure if I may post links here if not mea culpa) the next thing:

    “Clear the missing texture in Building Lines -> Specular.
    “TileLines[1].jpg” is missing in R12/R13 as well but you won’t notice.

    You think: “Wait! I’ll use some details!”?
    No, “Specular” and “specular color” used to be different channels (specular color uses the missing texture).
    In R12/R13 specular color was disabled in Citykit Building Lines Material.
    Those channels were merged in R14 and Maxon thought it would be clever to activate them both then.
    Thus you’ll notice the missing texture when rendering in R14.”

    So simply delete it, should be fine.


    “(alternatively you can also fix the c4d files…)
    Make sure your c4d is closed
    create a backup of your GSG_City_Kit.lib4d
    move(!) it from your app dir to your user directory, something like
    C:\Users\#####\AppData\Roaming\MAXON\CINEMA 4D R14_########\library\browser
    Start Cinema, open Content browser. You can write to the library now.
    create a 1x1px white (rgb 255/255/255) image (using paint, photoshop, gimp, whatever…)
    Save it as “TileLines[1].jpg”
    Drag it from the folder you saved it in to the tex directories of the GSG Citykit library (content browser in c4d)
    exit cinema
    move back GSG_City_Kit.lib4d to app dir \library\browser
    test it
    The white image should act as a neutral color (just as if you didn’t use specular color at all).
    If you did everything correctly it shouldn’t complain about missing textures any more.

    Copypasta from:

  • Simple quick solution! Open up the material that uses the lines material, (go through all the layers (Colour to Displacement even if they are not turned on, to see if the material is being used there)).
    Open up you Content Browser, select City Kit, open the TEX folder. with your material open, drag the lines material from the Text folder and drop it on “TileLines[1].jpg”. The path will be replaced.


  • Is there anyway to make the texture wireframe?
    I tried changing the “city texture” material to a wireframe alpha, but there are a lot of places that are black and opaque.

    I can’t seem to figure out why.
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

  • I had the same issue with the Asset Error: TileLines[1].jpg (Building Lines)

    Here is the solution from Maxon:
    That error seems to have happened from one version to another in C4D with content browser changes.

    Here is the fix.
    In the “Preferences” menu click the “Files” column.
    In that window in the first available slot copy and paste the line below

    That should do it! Sorry for the inconvenience. Happy rendering.

  • None of these solutions are working for me.
    Anyway, I’m sorry to say explanations are not really clear…

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