How To Make Custom Tracer Text In Cinema 4D

March 21, 2013

In this tutorial, Chris shows you how to make a unique custom type animation using Tracer Object, Matrix Object and Sweep Nurbs in Cinema 4D.

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  • Hi guys. great tuts as usual. question.. I just have Visualize. Is there a work around or cheat to simulate Cloner ?

  • sorry! i meant Tracer. doh.

  • very cool, thanks!

  • Looking great. Can’t wait to go home and try it.

  • Nice. I’ve been trying to figure out a way to do this. You guys must be mind readers. Now this is going to sound like a dumb question…But, how can I get it so that it changes colors?

  • from spain! thanxs a lot!

  • Having this slight problem here, when I do a quick render it show’s my text but when I want to render it to an image it only show’s the background and not the text O.o

  • Cool Thanks!!! Exist a keyboard and mouse that recommend me for best performance to 3D compositing??

  • Excellent tutorial, already experimenting with this and it is explained so well that I am a complete novice and picked it up through watching the video once. Not only that, you explained precisely why each parameter works the way it does instead of saying ‘Moving this changes it and it looks like that.’ Which makes it easier to think how you could apply similar concepts to other projects.

  • Awesome tutorials, I think what would be cool is if you added some dynamics to the matrix, with return position turned up. That way you could “throw” objects at the text and have it deform for a while until the tracers have moved on.

  • great. but when i try to render with the render manager i can not see anything.. ?
    chris, can you check that out please.. thx. swinxx

    • i mean, i can see everything in the viewer, and i can render there.. but when i try to render with the render manager i can only see the background.
      greets. swinxx

      • You don’t have a sweep nurb probably

        • yes. i have done it like in the tutorial.. in a sweep nurbs. but when i render there is nothing in my render manager.
          so can anyone help me? thx swinxx

          • Had this problem too. Seems like an animated tracer does not render in the picture view unless you render the entire animation from the start, which obvisously is not what you want in most cases. Haven’t found any solution yet.

  • Awesome tutorial Chris, Thanks! Combining the tracer with a “Hair material” allowes for even more awsome additional variation.

  • Very inspiring tutorial.
    Good way to simulate “writing with light”
    Definitely I would try.


  • hi guys!!!
    this tut’s fantastic!!!…I would have a question: how can I do to apply this effect at the sides of a cube???…stuff like this
    thanks in advance everybody!!!

    • Great tutorial for experimenting with, thanks Chris.
      That effect is done with 3D projection mapping; basically consisting of taking a reference shot of the cubes, bringing the image into a 2D or 3D app and then animating effects on to it, then video projecting the results back on to the geometry. The important thing is to match the lens sizes and match the projector to the original source image.
      This might get you started:
      Good luck ^^

  • hello, I was wondering can you make it jump from one object to another?

  • Awesome tutorial Chris. Love how you play around and tweak the different values to create entirely new looks – all based on a simple (but genious) setup.

    As to your problem when Cinema freezes, you should try clicking the V next to either of the objects on your object manager. Although it takes some seconds for Cinema to recognize it, disabling the tracer or the sweep (or clones which I often have this problem with) will often release your viewport from the immense workload 🙂

  • Thanks for the tutorial, fired my imagination. I am having problems net rendering the scene, the sweep nurbs seem to glitch about depending which network client they rendered from. I can’t get the tracer to Mograph Cache and am rendering from frame 0. any tips?

  • This would be cool with the sound effector, if that would work offcourse!

  • Thanks Chris, very fun stuff … Any chance you could do a tutorial on combining with dynamics; adding a spline & inheritance effector with the matrix?

  • I too am having the problem with the text disappearing in the final render. I’ve followed the tutorial exactly as is, except the text doesn’t seem to show up when rendering the final piece. I’ve got the sweep nurb too, with the rectangle and tracer inside it exactly how the tutorial shows. Any advice on how to sort this problem out? I’m fairly new to cinema 4d so might not understand indepth solutions!


    • I sorted the initial problem I was having. Basically I was rendering it out as a jpeg set to a specific frame i needed, and for some reason that makes the text disappear. I rendered as an animation and it worked fine. However the problem with this is I need it as a JPEG! any ideas on how I can solve this?

      As I said i’m new to cinema 4d so this may be a really stupid question, I don’t know haha


      • Problem solved. I just rendered out all the frames as jpeg, for some reason i didn’t think to choose manual frame selection and just choose 2 or 3 frames before the one I needed, which probably would have worked. Quite a long winded solution as you’re left with frames you don’t need, but I just moved to the trash haha. Probably an even easier way but I don’t know!

        Hope this can be of any help to the guys above with the same problem as me 🙂

        • Carlos Wallaberto March 24, 2013 at 4:51 am

          Just uncheck the “save” box in your render settings. Doing this will allow you to save the specific frame you desire from within the picture viewer.

          • hey all, I am facing the same problem, when i check it render view, it shows everything perfectly fine but when it comes to picture viewer, it just shows background, please help…:)


  • hi i want to choose visual effects as my career what is the course that i have to choose for collage.

  • mmm…
    It might be a useful and cool technique, but in terms of quality the result is according to me way below the average GSG work. I was quite surprised when I saw the example video and the styleframes.
    Very sorry..but thumbs down on this one.
    BTW, just to be clear…, my comment is not about plain criticism…I truly love GSG!! But when something is ugly….it’s ugly.

  • Hey,
    how can i trace every letter separately?? i know i can use the function in the Cloner object called ( in German : pro segment ), but when the first letter was traced the tracer don’t stop to record the movement until the next letter. I hope you know what i mean.

    Please, can u help me?

    PS: My Target is to write a text with the trace ( word 4 word ) with using the Sketch and Toon Material

  • How would they of done this?

  • Really useful technique there.
    I use it a lot when making visuals:

  • Great tut!!

    I was trying to do the same thing to geometry and haven’t been successful. Any hints as to why Text works, but say a sweep nurb with a rectangle in it doesn’t?

  • I have a glitch. Running C4d Studio R14.042 Build RC76788
    The sweep NURBS only render when I select Connect All Objects under Tracing Mode in the tracer. I can see the sweep NURBS in the view port while previewing. However, they will not final render. I have tried using Text, Squares, Splines, Helix as my Matrix object and no go. The Rectangle that is sweeping renders though. Any insight?

  • I have downloaded the CS tools and tried to put them in the library folder under objects but there is no objects folder and my attempts to create one will not work. Any suggestions?

    Appreciate it…

  • I don’t believe CS Tools works with Cinema R14/R15, but I could be wrong.

  • Hi guys!

    Is it possible this technique does not work in r15? It seems like the cubes in the matrix object are jumping from one letter to the other, and because of that, the tracer lines are also jumping from one letter to the other. This way I don’t get a readable text, but some lines are just going wild all over the text. (hope that made sense 🙂


  • this is a great tutorial. thank you for sharing it with us 🙂
    omg you speak so fast sometimes! hehe
    (english is not my native language.)

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