How to Add Caustics In Cinema 4D

November 28, 2011

In this video, I will show you how to set up some simple caustics on a scene. Caustics allows light to bounce off of reflective objects and go though refractive objects to produce realistic light patterns. Caustics can take a long time to calculate, but in product shots, it can really help with making the scene more realistic.

With Caustics

Without Caustics

Tutorial Focus:  , ,
Software:  ,

  • Awesome Tut Nick! Another tool for my tool box!

    Happy Holidays!

  • Nice, although it might have been a better example to use glass, since that is often where caustics are needed. Nevertheless, great tutorial as always. Keep up the god work Nick!

  • Hey Nick! Nice Tuuut. Dumb unrelated question tho, what kind of keyboard you sportin? Cheers!

  • LOVE your new site, brother! Practically every bit of it is embracing, just not that weird grey 45º drop-shadow on the text in the header items. That’s all, haha! 🙂

    Keep it up, you rock!

  • Hey Nick, I’m getting some strange display problems with the site. The text in the description for the tutorial runs into the column on the far right. Looks fine when I click on the link and go to the post though.

  • Love your tuts Nick, and this one is no exception! Great work, keep it up!

  • Hi, Nick thank you for Tut.
    But i have problem with C4D R13 every-time I start it and add object the app not \ stop responding . In every time !!!

  • Looks fantastic

  • Outstanding tutorial thx sir

  • You can also use caustics with GI, i don’t know about the indirect illumination tho…

  • Took a stab at this, found that the direction of the spot lights has a lot to do with the caustic patterns:

    Gonna use this a lot more, I always thought caustics was just for water and jello.

  • Sorry, for dumb question but i really wonder what is this font that you use this site it’s looking great 🙂

    By the way this is my result 🙂
    I really don’t like mine colors colors really hard for me…

  • Beautimus! This has gone well…

  • Omar Gonzáles Díaz November 28, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    Hey Nick, just to thank you once again, but i have an idea. ¿Why dont you and chris do a tutorial togueter? A little modeling and animation from Chris and u in the second part de lightening, ¿What do you say?

    *A 5 min animation, a project for a commercial or something. Thank you!

  • here’s my go at it, but I deviated a bit.

    I liked the spotted dot effect that caustics can have so I left some of that in. Did a bit of color correction and blur in photoshop

  • Thank you Nick! Great quick tip!
    You’re making awesome things in simple way! That’s awesome!

    Thank you again!)

    Hi there from Russia 🙂

  • Hey there, Can you supply us with maybe some texture files? If not I understand why. My metalic structure isnt anywhere near as good as yours…. Id just like to see if spruced up.

  • That is awesome nick, great tut. love it

  • Nick! Great tutorial! Love it…Here is what I came up with:

    I also thought using the same set up would work nicely with a simple glass…although I’m still trying to tweak the settings, cause you can tell I’m not getting enough Photons on the floor in this scene…but I like it nonetheless!

  • Sorry…it wouldn’t let me embed the video…heres the link:

  • Very Pretty! I like how with caustics there is some light that bounces off of the surface to fill in some of the shadow areas.

  • Hello, Nice tutorial as always. I find that faking a chromatic aberration effect in C4D add some dramatic effect by duplicating light & changing a color to RED GREEN and BLUE whith a little offset without with THANKS

  • really usefull knowledge!

    thanks you

  • what a bummer, isn’t enabled in the R12 Broadcast Version?


  • I have an old setup for some animated pool water with caustics. It can be downloaded here if anybody is interested:

  • With dynamics, MB, DOF.

    300,000 photons and still pretty noisy some areas.

  • Hey Nick ich bin der Dave und komme aus Germany und ich wollte dir nur mal sagen
    das du echt der beste bist ich feier deine sachen du machst das echt gut
    und du bist echt ne hilfe ich bin ein grosser fan von c4d und es macht mir einen sehr grossen spass
    bei dir zu lernen ich würde mich über ne feedback sehr freuen wende magst kannste mich ja mal auf meine seite besuchen unter 🙂 ja das warst dann erstmal ich wünsche dir weiter hin alles gute mfg Dave:)

  • Hi,

    Can caustics be used with the GSG Light Kit Pro???

    As I understand it, all lights are disabled in the scene and luminance is used.


  • Im not sure why, but the floor I’m using isn’t picking up the caustics.

    I’m trying to animate some little crystals growing out of an arm rail in live-action footage.

    so, my floor is a cylinder (sized to match the real rail), and I have it textured with the background image set to “frontal” and a compositing tag to make it invisible against the background to catch the shadows and caustics.

    the shadows are being cast onto it correctly.
    but the caustics aren’t.

    I have everything checked from this tutorial and to double check, I set the caustics to render as a separate multi-pass.
    In the caustics multi-pass channel of a single-frame render, they show up, but in the overall composite render there’s nothing there, which makes me think it’s the floor surface.

    Any suggestions?

  • Hi Nick,

    Have you experimented with caustics using just GI and a luminance material?

    I’m working on a neon tube light which has the illumination on the material cranked up to generate more light and I wanted to add a bit more to it by adding caustics but not getting anywhere with the neon tube being the only light source.


  • Hey nick,

    Saw this caustic tut about optimizing caustic for a very short…wait for it…… (8 secs) render time. The render is perfect. However, the tut was in 3dsmax. I tried looking for similar settings to get it to work with c4d and I’m lost. Intermediate c4d user and learning. Can you provide help? Here’s the link:
    Thanks for all your tuts!

    • I case you didn’t find a solution in 2 years :).
      Add a second spot light, focus it on the object, disable the light diffuse & specular (also GI, i think…), enable caustics and play with the settings to find a balance between quality and speed.

  • Hey Nick! Thanks for the tut and all of the help you have provided me! One thing I do know about the Caustic effects, is the Energy percentage controls the overall brightness and not only can the effect be controlled in the light(s) and render settings, but the material settings. In the material settings, if you go to Illumination, you will see it there. You can also control the radius of the dots in the same location. Cheers!


    PS: You prolly know all of this already.

  • i love that intro, you rock nick!

  • Hey Nick.

    Thanks for the tutorial. I was curious if you had any tips for working with caustics within octane. Any help would be appreciated.

    Thanks for your work man

  • Hey Nick. When I try rendering all frames, whether it be a png, tif or mp4, I don’t get the caustics. I get the objects and the light on the object, but no caustic reflections on the surface. I can render out a single frame however. Am I missing a check box or something?

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