How to Setup And Use Sub Surface Scattering in Cinema 4D R13

October 3, 2011

In this in-depth tutorial, I show you how to setup Sub Surface Scattering (SSS) In Cinema 4D and go into detail about how to tweak the settings for speed and accuracy. I also show you how SSS now renders with Global Illumination properly and how much faster it is when using the new Physical Renderer in R13.


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  • vimeo movie no worky. cant wait to see this nick!!


  • no its all good, glitches and gremlins

  • Hey Nick, Thanks once again for this nice tut.. 🙂

  • Way to go Nick. This is a skill I’d like to improve on. And learning from you the visual specialist, I know It’ll be awesome.

    Thank you Nick. Cheers!

  • gorilla please give me the model pleaseee 🙁

  • yes! can’t use the ply model

  • Hi Nick,

    I am starting to learn cinema 4d R12 with the online tutorials like fxphd,cineversity and so,but my question is how do all the pros that we are seeing (you included!!) learn cinema 4d is it self taught,online tuts,special classrooms,animation institutes…

    I really don’t have a clue how to learn so that i can have good enough knowledge about cinema 4d cuz I can’t find any animation institutes for c4d please let me know


    • There is no secret class or website you don’t know about. Everywhere that I learned is in the “Learning Links” section on the sidebar of my site. The real way to learn is by playing with the software and giving yourself project. When you get stuck, do a search and see what you can find. Of course, finding a good mentor is helpful as well. Good luck.

  • its not working past 9mins for me nick,

    what i see was great thoe ! 🙂

  • I can see a new addition to the GSG texture kit being some custom SSS materials. Nice tut

  • Nick you are really great 😉
    very helpfull tutorial for SSS.
    Thank U 😉

  • Hey Nick,

    Is there any way if you had some time that perhaps you could render out an SSS sample to get a more pronounced effect in the thin parts of the geometry like you can in Vray for comparison?

    Here is an example of what I mean:

    No pressure dude, just if you have time, I know you’re busy. Maybe someone else on here could bust out a quick test render?


  • NICE! Been wanting a break down on SSS as I’m still a bit of a rookie. Going to watch when i get home, but sure this will help. I was wondering if SSS would strictly be used in the luminance channel or if any reason to use in other channels i.e. color etc? Thanks man!

  • Thanks Nick.
    Can’t wait for the time i’ll need sss in my project.

    What is the threshold doing?
    i got the faster part but what are the cons?

  • Great work Nick, thnx
    my little test here :
    wireless headphones :d

  • Google Marijn Raeven and check out his site – he did the amazing image for Maxon of a bunch of grapes using R13 and SSS – really shows what it can do.

  • Wow, SSS seems to have hundreds of possibilities and I have just discovered it. Thanks!

  • nick how we change the rotation as the old one cinema 4d R12?

  • Can you use caustics with SSS
    just wondering if you have played around with it yet or if it even works with SSS

  • Yes! The individual RGB strengths are exactly what I was missing. I always miss those little black menu fold-out triangles…

    Great tut!

  • Woah, switching it up… those are shiny ovals, not just shiny balls. 😉

  • Nick congratulations for this amazing tutorial! It is good as aways!

    For people that couldn’t open de FLY file, there is a program called MeshLab you can import the FLY and than export as OBJ, it is really simple and works perfectly in C4D.

    You guys can download MeshLab here:

    And a tried to do this tutorial in version 12, the result is not as good as Nick’s, but at least I tried! ->

  • Nice tut! Thnx!

  • Thank you for bringing this knowledge to my students. As always, you tutorials are very insightful. Cheers

  • Thanks a lot Nick, i’ve learned a ton from you, you’re a great man, wish more people be like you.
    I have a question: is there any end of render? i rendered 75 passes and it seems it’s just a beginning of infinity, is it normal to stop render by myself?
    Here my result
    p.s. sorry for my english 🙂

  • I love the candel flame I tried my hand at it and was unsucsessful unless I was using after effects as a post but I started using this in diffrent setups already good work

  • wow thanks

    Learned a lot here.

    You Are ……Nick
    You Are …..the Gorilla
    This was…. a brilliant tutorial


  • Hey Nick- Just wanted to say, these are some of the best renders I’ve seen in Cinema 4D. The textures are gorgeous and the lighting is perfect. Well done, sir.

  • Loving this physical renderer!!!

  • Thanks Nick. I once followed a short and brief tutorial on sss and did not get it right. My character was transparent and did not have the right colour. Now with your in depth one. I will understand what I’m doing and why.

  • Hey! I forgot to mention this, but I like the new look of the website. One thing that I always had a problem with is when trying to find a certain tutorial that you do not know the name of. It would be a tutorial that that you know it’s there but do not know the name of. One would have to got through the older posts button until he finds it.
    What I did was now go to Vimeo, find it and get redirected back here to continue in you website. Anyway thanks for helping us learn the harder things in an easier way.

  • Just a little question, the SSS is now working with GI, ok that’s good, but does it alter it shadows ? It seems not.. I mean the shadows of your dragon during the first half of your video is still a dark one, even while you’re pushing lenght of the scattering no rays alter the deep of the black (vs the more transparent an object is, the ‘lighter’ its shadow). Nice walkthrough, as always !

  • how did you do the beans?? Do you have a tutorial for it?

  • Great tut Nick, taught me alot about sss , I love comming to your site and learning new stuff, for me 3d grafics are a form of art, and c4d is my canvas like all art the final product depends on the artist, you get to take a quick glance in thier world, the user images that people put up showing thier results are all great. good job everyone. also you must excuess my english it is not my first language. here is my attempt at the tut hope you enjoy, I am still very new to c4d as am still learning.

  • this is cool. can i pls get a little tut on Mospline in R13, thanks!!!

  • Great tutorials, Nick, but PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, drink water before you do your tutorials, or get a some different sound setup or something. The spit swallowing noise really has been grossing me out. It feels like you’re doing it right next to my ear.

  • Hey nick, great tutorial as always!

    I was just wondering…is there a way to have a light in your scene not affect SSS? I’m just wondering because the more lights you have the longer it takes to calculate but I dont need all the lights to affect the SSS.

    Keep them coming!!!

  • Wow, great tutorial!
    SSS gives otherwise boring scenes so much!
    Started to experiment with SSS, came up with this

  • Hi Nick, I’m restarting with c4d after 6 years of not touching it. I’m trying to do a realistic still of a candle and I’ve been following along this Surface Skatering tutorial, but for some reason I’m getting getttin very dark results. I’ve been playing with the settings in any possible way, also tried scaling the model up/down, more light, less light… the only way I can get it to show some SS results is when I crank the values way way up. Ant ideas of what can I be doing wrong?

    btw, excellent tutorials! u r talented, keep gng!

  • Hi guys. New to cinema 4d. I just got cinema 4d r12 broadcast edition installed on my work station. I was wondering if anyone can help me figure out if this version of C4D has SSS?. I have seen tutorials out there using the same version that I have that do SSS. However on my version when I go under material editor effects- SSS is no where to be found. Any help I would appreciate greatly. Thank you.

  • Sir,

    Can you please make a sss tutorial for skin shadding. Sadly there is no Tutorial anywhere for realistic skin shading in c4d.

  • Hi Nick!
    I have a question: Where is the blurriness choice(25:55″) in c4d R16?

  • Can somebody tell me how to deal with shadows from sss objects. No matter how much you buff Subsurface scattering strength it dosent effect to shadows which is annoying and non-realistic. Yeah? Im trying to create piece of natural environment scene and it would look a lot better and realistic if i could get subsurface scattering effect to my shadows. I thought about one way which was basically copy every single subsurface scattered object and add simple transparency material to copies, then use compositing tag to delete shadow casting from original objects and delete seen in camera from transparency objects. That way i would see original objects but lighter shadows from them. That is just so complicated and not that friendly for my computer.

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