Clones, Step Effector, and Atom Array Tutorial for Cinema 4D

April 23, 2012

In this tutorial, I try to recreate some of the effects in Ion’s beautiful Spherical Animation using the Cloner, Step Effector, Atom Array, and Cel Renderer. I also show you how to do the final composite in After Effects.

Sample Render

Tutorial Focus:  , ,
Software:  , ,

  • very cool…great job at NAB btw…

    • Amazing tut bro!!! But I’m facing a minor problem at the part in cloner where we get the amount down to 98% and set the mode to per step…my r15 is not showing those options…problem with the settings?

  • Wow just watched the sample render. It looks cool πŸ™‚

  • YOu r The King , Amzin Tutorial πŸ˜€

  • Thanks… have seen this animation a few days ago and was about to rebuilt it… but as everybody know, time is the enemy #1… so thank you for this tutorial!!!

  • Awesome! I’ve seen this type of effect a lot lately and I’ve been trying to figure out how it was done! thanks a lot Nick! by the way, saw you at nab, great stuff as always!

  • Very Nice!!!! Groovy fun stuff!!!! Thanks Nick, Chris and The Monkey!!!!
    Peace and Blessings….


  • Very nice tutorial nick, but why not use the loop selection for the edges?
    Would’ve speeded things up a bit

  • Awesome tutorial like always, well done and thank you!

  • I would recommend the loop-selection to select the inner part of the hemisphere. That saves some seconds and makes it a lot easier to mark the polygons at the edge.

    Awesome tutorial as allways!

  • Hi!
    Welcome Back from NAB with a new TUT.
    Thank You
    Now i will sit back and watch πŸ™‚ (and of course learn!)
    ps:watched nab at c4d .(well,late for me in germany but great.)
    pps:xcuse my bad english.

  • Thnx, great tutorial! like your office too, has got some space for wild things

  • No fresnel used!? What the heck man! Just kidding. Great tutorial. Thanks for truly breaking it down and recreating what was otherwise a complete enigma to me. As always, good work!

  • Thanks man, another great tutorial πŸ˜€
    Keep the comming!!!

    • Also while selecting those polygons on the hemi, using ring selection is much efficient

      • or the grow selection command

        • Use the keyboard short cut U,L to bring up to bring up the Loop Selection Tool. Select the loop closes to the edge on the interior of the hemisphere. Then use the keyboard short cut U,F to bring up the Fill Selection Tool. While holding shift click on any of the remaining interior polygons and boom they are all selected.
          Like Nick says, in a 3D program there is always at least three ways to arrive at the same destination. For instance you could also have added thickness to the shape by selecting all the polygons and using the Extrude Tool (with create caps enabled)
          I would not have ever though to use the Atom Array. I’ve never tired it… but now that I’ve seen Nick mess around with it I may see what kind of cool shit I can get it to do.

  • Damn, the sample looks sexy!
    Greetings from Germany

  • Hey Nick! Great work! Thanks for share… Greetings from Argentina! =)

  • Sweet concept.
    Excellent tutorial – thanks Nick!
    Liked you NAB presentation, esp the CS tools shot w/in the city kit … a must have!

  • Cool tutorial !

    Is possible this with the spline mask ??

    Thank u Gorilla !!

  • Really interesting, thanx!

  • nice ,i already busy to create something and try to combinate it with other stuff everthing will be as the subject sphere’s of what mades of it ;0)

  • ok i am on 11.5, whenever i try to add the materials, black for the set selection and white for the hemisphere it makes the whole object the same color, i have a little white lines in the center of each polygon of the set selection. ive gone through the tutorial step by step 3 times now and the same thing keeps happening. πŸ™ anyone help please?

  • its ok, i ended up having to make two separate set selections and dragging each material onto them directly….
    thanks for the tut nick….more like this please they are so win πŸ™‚

  • When you’re doing that type of animation Auto Keyframing make the flow a lot better, you don’t need to click everytime you change something! πŸ™‚

  • Hey Nick, first of all thanks a lot, its a real honor for me that you tried to recreate my work. Ive been working with Cinema4D for a year and a half, actually a started with the tutorials from your page, and a big part of what i know is thanks to you.

    • Thanks, Ion. I really love your piece. I read that you were thinking about doing a “How To” video as well. I’m sure people would love to see how some of the more complicated stuff was made.

    • Hey Ion, I am really interested to know how the part at 1:13 was created. It may be a lot simpler than I expect. Would you mind sharing? Great work btw, very inspiring.

  • Great tutorial, i did some stuff differently, but as you said, there are always many ways to make something in Cinema. As always, i learned something new from your tutorial.
    Thanks again and keep up the great work your doing !!!

  • Wikkid stuff was amazed when i saw the original video and now i can do it my self thanks to the Gorilla . . noice work. best thing is in theory (cos i ain’t tried it yet) you can do this with any shape . . or object like say half a human head the front half with face . . well maybe not actually mite cause some problems but anything is possible.

    Cheers Campbell Party on πŸ™‚

  • Awesome,thank you πŸ™‚

  • just loop select?

  • Hey Nick, at the beginning you were selecting all of the inner polygons. you could of just don’t a loop selection at the top then used the fill selection. its 10x faster.

  • Is there a way you could do it without the cloth simulator?

    • In Spherikal, i actually didn’t use cloth simulation, nor hypernurbs, i just made a semi sphere, extrude with caps and bevel some edges, but Nick always brings other options and thats great.

  • AGTdesign (James) April 23, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    This has nothing to do with this tutorial, even though it was great! If someone could please just take a look at this render and tell me how I did. I did all the modeling by myself. If anyone has played Call of Duty Word at War, you know what this is!

  • Great tutorial Nick!

    To make selecting polygons easier you can use the loop selection tool. (Shortcut U L) UI also inverts the selection. My two most used selection tools.
    Thanks Nick!


  • Like a couple of suggestions for poly selections previously, it would be quicker to do a loop selection around the top (U, L), and then use a Fill selection (U, F)for the remainder. All the polys will be selected in two steps. Boom!
    Thanks for the tut, Nick!

    • I didn’t know about fill selection, thanks. I used expand selection when doing this one, which ment a lot of: UYUYUYUYUYUYUYUY πŸ™‚

  • Hello Nick, I saw some great tutorial by Chris Schmit about selecting polygones and stuff, really helpfull, check it out. πŸ˜‰

  • Well done Nick!

    Too bad you focused on the (at least for me) rather obvious parts. I’d love to know how the bits from 1:10-1:30 or 1:53 – 2:05 in the original were done.
    Any suggestions?

  • And here is my try.

    I dont know where to use this, but its cool to know πŸ™‚
    Thx for this tutorial.

  • Very Nice!. Where do you get your music? I love the music you use on your projects (I miss living in a city).

  • cool tutorial, thank you.

  • hΓ©hΓ© this cell renderer made my day

    thx Nick

  • Hi thanks for another great tut.But i have a question to ask.I have Cinema 4d R13 BROADCAST edition.
    Is there any way to convert that to studio?(I dont have the original one)

  • Try U~L and U~F, should save you a couple minutes….

  • This was amazing tutorial . I was always confuse about how to do this , and i learn it from you . So thank you wery much GSG.

  • very nice tut Nick. Thanks a lot πŸ™‚

  • just finisch my idea greetz….

  • where is the Like It button ? o.O

  • Although these are not done with Cinema, this is the beauty of working with Black and White



  • really cool stuff, though I would not underestimate the cell render…
    for effects such as transitions from wire frame to final render it saved me more than once.

  • Mohamed Aljazaere April 24, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    Welcome Back NICK!!

    Very awesome way how u think about it..!
    What a creative man are you πŸ™‚

    i will tray it with different shapes and see how it’s cool and sexy !

    Thanks alot ..

  • great tutorial!
    THX Nick

  • Looks like you beat me to the punch. I’m going have to try this…with cubes.

  • Where is cloth nurbs in r13???

  • All thought I didn’t saw it yet I am really excited to check it out!

  • Thanks Nick! Great tut!

  • this is excellent. i’ve been trying to achieve something like this for a while. i will have to take a look at the tut to see how it’s done. thanks!

  • Nice tutorial.
    I tried with cyclic movements with cmotion and it’s nice too.

  • How do you do starting point i mean closing circle lines part?

  • I dig the ikea furniture in the BG

  • Thanks for the great tutorial, Nick! I loved this one. It was about simplicity and doing cool stuff. I dig this the most! Can’t wait to see more of these πŸ˜‰

  • Thanks for the tutorial! I learned new things and this is soo great! YouΒ΄re the best Nick! Looking forward for your new plugin Transform!

    Here is my render…

  • Great stuff. I think I need to use the step effector more often. Seem like a great way to make things look cool and complicated without investing a lot of time and effort.

  • Le Mignon Step Effector!

    Good one, thx my friend!

  • Thanks for the tut..
    I learned a few cool tricks while comping it together.
    Quick test version \\ \\

    • creativephudge May 1, 2012 at 9:17 am

      Great tutorial and I followed it carefully all the way through and gained a lot from it, however, it was at the point up opened up after effects you lost me. is there any chance you can explain how you put it all in, as its done and you just explain only small parts of the comp rather than a step by step like the c4d tutorial.

      many thanks


  • Hi Thanks great tut. Made my own version.

  • Awesome stuff dude, very inspirational as always!


  • thanks for the tutorial, here’s my quick attempt.

  • Hey Congrats Nick … for your new Office .. you are awesome!! Thanks Man for your great Tutorials .. use-full technique.. Tips and many more !!

  • Welvis Fernandes April 30, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    I wonder what site you get this sound library? Recommends a site?

  • Any idea on this effect :

    i suspect its done with a tracer but i cant reproduce it sofar…

    • HEY NICK..

    • Hey there, just figured out an option for this. Make a disc and use the white texture from Nick’s tutorial on it. Then make a second black disc immediately behind it. Break up the white disc with the method of your choice. I used Thrausi set to 20 pieces. Here’s the big trick: in the Mograph menu, add a PolyFX to the heirarchy under the Thrausi group. This tells MoGraph to treat all the separate pieces that Thrausi made (or that maybe you made using the Knife tool) like clones. Now you can drop a Step Effector in the middle of your white disc. In the parameter settings, set the transform mode to absolute and the make sure you’re only effecting the Scale. Set it to uniform scale and set the scale to zero. In the Falloff settings, set the shape to sphere and adjust the size so that at 100% scale, the step effector envelopes the whole disc. You can adjust the falloff slider to determine the distance from the most effected objects to the least effected objects. Then you can adjust the scale slider and you’ll see that it animates the way it does in Ion’s video. Viola! You can play with your disc settings and the settings of whatever you’re using to break it up to get different results. The main trick is using the PolyFx and Step Effector. You could also spice it up with a Random Effector and set the falloff to be driven by the Falloff settings from the Step Effector. Then you could randomize things like the rotation and position of the pieces as they shrink. Have fun!

  • I’m a beginner at C4D so this was an awesome tutorial to work on. Here is my try at it

  • Really nice Nick and Ion! I love cell render and sketch and toons, actually I’m working on a motion video with it. I hope there will be more tuts about the complicated stuff from Ion.

  • Good way to do the selection of the inner polygons, instead of live selection, is the phong selection tool (Shortcut U, N) and instead of creating the selection, just double-click twice on the material panel to create the materials and drop one onto the selected polygons which automatically creates the selection tag, then invert selection (Shortcut U, I) and drop the other material onto those polygons to create the other selection tag. just my two cents. Awesome tuts as usual and great office!

  • Somebody help me, i can’t find a cloth i have cinema r13

  • Great tutorial. Had a lot of fun doing it. Here’s my take –

  • Hi Nick and thanks for your beautiful tutorials! Everything I know about 3d is thanks to you!
    i’ve tried to used this animation to make a trailer for my new album coming soon.. hope you like it!

  • Hello Nick, I have followed your C4D tutorials for about 3 months and I really appreciate your work. It helps me a lot and makes the study so interesting!

    After watching this tutorial, I tried some Mograph functions. But I got a problem. I tried to search answers on the internet but found nothing. Hope you can help me. Here’s the problem:

    I created a sphere, made it editable, disconnected all the faces and used “Fracture” in Mograph, changed the mode to “Explode Segments” to animate the pieces. Then I used a Step Effector, and animated the Position parameter so the pieces could fly along an “8” shape path.

    But then I found a problem: I want the pieces to animate in different time, not start together and stop together. But seems like the “Step Effector” just affect the falloff, not the time offset, even though I turn up the “Time Offset”.

    I do remember the “Time Offset” is useful. Maybe it only affects the own animation of the child object? Because I tried a lot but none of the Mograph Effectors’ animation can be affected by the “Time Offset”.

    I also tried the falloff function. But those pieces affected later cannot do the right movement, because when “Falloff” comes to them, the “fly along ‘8’” animation almost end.

    So how can I make the pieces fly along an “8” shape in different time? Is there any way to make “Time Offset” work on Mograph Effectors’ animation?

    Thank you very much to read this…. I’ve be puzzled for several days, sorry to bother you. πŸ˜›

  • Heres my attempt thanks for a really fun tutorial! Loved it!

  • Do you think this would be possible with an octagon?

  • I’m using this effect and a few others to make a full length music video using all abstract 2 color art. Here is a test render for this effect

  • Hey Nick,
    Love your stuff man, but with this particular tutorial I am missing a tool that you use, the “Cloth Nurbs” I have Cinema 4D Broadcast. I think this version of Cinema 4D does not have the “Cloth Nurbs” compared to Cinema 4D Studio. Is there anything else I can use to make the semi-circle thicker or am I S.O.L. Thanks man I am a true fan!


  • Hi Nick,
    Thanks for your great tutorial, its fantastic.
    I have one question: What effect do you use, just at the start of the tutorial, when the thin line forms around the circle?

    Thank you so much!


  • can this be done in cinema 4d r 12 or 11.5? PLEASE HELP! THANKS

  • This was great fun! thanks!

  • Quick and creative … Like a boss Nick, Like a Boss πŸ˜‰

  • Here’s is my attempt at this project:

  • Hey! Amazing tutorial!

    Allthough I was wondering if it’s possible to combine the Sound Effector to control the rotation of the Step Effector? If it’s possible, I’m sure there is some Xpresso work to do, but I don’t know how to use Xpresso. So if anyone knows, please respond. It would help me out so much!

    In advance, thank you.

  • awesome tut ! Thank you so much
    here’s my video

  • Hi guys,

    in this video its all about spheres, circles and a bounge of other round things. Thanks GSG for the great Tutorials and all the inspiration.

  • I have been using Cinema 4D for quite some time now and it is way better than Maya and other 3D software.

  • The selection of the inside of the bowl is much easier with Phong Break Selection.

  • Hi GorillaΒ΄s
    I love the tutorial, BUT I’m hear Cinema 4D R13, and is wondering if you could tell me if it can be done in that version as well ?

    (no cloth NURBS?)

    • Yes, this should work fine in R14.

    • R13 has the clothnurbs: but check your version! Only broadcast and/or studio version has the Mograph, dynamics and hair stuff.

      So If you don’t have the cloth NURBS, follow along.
      1. Create sphere (select hemisphere) and make it editable.
      2. Duplicate the hemisphere (if it’s normal size (100 radius), scale the copy 1.01 up in X-Y-Z coordinates. (depends on the thickness you prefer).
      3. Select ‘Polygon selection tool’ (see Nick’s tut)
      4. select BOTH spheres (otherwise it wont work properly)
      5 rightclick in viewport window > Create polygon (shortcut M – E)
      6 close the edge of the spheres by connecting the points of both spheres!

      It’s a bit more work to make the thickness in your object, but if you’re done with that, you can continue to follow the tutorial!


  • As I’m trying this tutorial, I want to zoom into the form a bit more, but as you turn up the count for the clones, the gaps between the spheres gets bigger.

    Like, the cloth nurbs’ added thickness seems to get smaller faster than the model does.
    any way around this?
    I tried putting the cloner with a basic hemisphere inside a cloth nurbs, but the same thing still happened.

  • Hi!! here is with what i ended up, after following this amazing tutorial!!
    Hoe you guys liked it. Comments are more than welcome.

    Thanks Nick!! for everything you share to the community,

  • I had to pause the video and say: “I love you Nick!”.

    P.S. I am not gay. :))))

  • Hey this is great man! Iv got a problem with the key frames though… animating the sphere (cloner) is fine but when i try to animate/record the ‘step’ part in a certain time period, it doesn’t do it. Instead, it fixes the final ‘step parameter rotation’ degrees and add that to the whole animation when i only want the step to animate after i’v moved the sphere.

  • Thanx for the Tutorial gorilla πŸ™‚
    Just one tip for those applying the tutorial, a faster way to choose the inner polygons of the hemisphere would be to use “loop selection” under “Selection” .
    Shortcut for it :
    pressing “U” then “L” …

  • Thanks for the tut man! itΒ΄s awesome! and youΒ΄re a great teacher, as well!
    This is my result of the tutorial. The cameras look weird, but I may be itΒ΄s ok for being my first C4D&AE project. πŸ™‚

  • this is such a wonderful composition!! original and redo! thanks Nick!

  • Great stuff as usual man!

  • just couldn`t resist to try this cool stuff on my own. here`s the result

  • just couldn’t resist to try this cool stuff on my own. here’s the result

  • Would you or anyone for that matter have any idea how to create this effect specifically? The lines are as crisp as a cel render but with multiple colors and I can’t pinpoint the deformer being used either.

    Any insight majorly appreciated πŸ™‚

  • Is it possible to give a hemisphere thickness in any other way than “Simulate”? I am working in C4D Lite.

  • Hey, nice one like always, using loop selection and fill selection gonna speed up your workflow:)

  • Hej Nick and all the others. Check out how that technique looks on type.

  • I love this stylish tut… I was trying to recreate the same look in After Effects with Plexus, but the result is not comparable with yours! Amazing! πŸ˜€

  • Guys please, where is the tutorial? I only see the Sample render video… Please help me out haha cheers

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