How To Shatter An Object In Cinema 4D Without Any Plugins

September 27, 2011

In the first of many weekly tutorials, Chris Schmidt shows you how to shatter an object procedurally in Cinema 4D without any 3rd party plugins using the shatter object, fracture object and dynamics. Chris shows you how to set this up in 11.5 and 12/13 since the dynamic systems are a little different in each.


About Chris Schmidt
Chris Schmidt is a self taught Cinema4D user since version 6 in 2001. After teaching C4D for 4 years at Prairie State College and creating a series of tutorials for Maxon on Cineversity, he cofounded Chicago’s C4d user group ChicagoC4d. With a general obsession of all things C4D especially character rigging, animation, Xpresso and Thinking Particles. Most recently co developed the City Kit with Greyscalegorilla.

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  • Looks Great! can’t wait to play with this one

  • Thanks for that awesome, steady flow of helpful information. You rock!

  • i would love to know how to make that glow effect on the ball too looks like a tron movie effect =)

  • Crumbs. Where were you 3 weeks ago when I needed you, man? I ended up using Thrausi… Look forward to seeing how else to do it 🙂

    • But with thrausi you can make the material look like it’s not broken before the animation.

      The way Chris showed us you can see clearly how polygons are separated. Especially if you use a glass texture.

      I wonder how Thrausi does this… I dont think it’s just the phong tag

      • Thrausi is sick, and it breaks objects in a much more natural way (esp. the Voronoi setting).
        Cool tutorial though , I didn´t know that you could put the shatter thingy into the fracture thingy, I thought Thrausi was the only way to break up an object and then simulate dynamics on the single parts. Really good thinking on Maxon´s part.

      • How does thrausi do it? I have a glass logo that is busted into over 500 pieces. Starts off separated then comes together. When comes together you can still see individual cracks of each piece

  • Thanks for the info Chris.
    How do you smooth the sphere back out after adding the Explosion FX? In the demo video, the ball remains smooth even after half of it has been shattered.

  • amazing tutorial
    really loved the new tips 😀

    the only thing that I missed was the step to “make it look pretty” that we usually get on Nick’s tuts
    I know it wasn’t the focus, but it would be interesting to see how is Chris approach on render settings, lights and stuff
    and because the example is really great looking 🙂

    also, I have a question
    I like to use the Xplode plugin because it fills the insides of the object to make the pieces more solid and convincing. sometimes we may need it, sometimes don’t…
    so, is there anyway to get deeper in this technique and do this “filling” without the plugins?

    thanks again for the great tut!
    can’t wait for more

    • For ‘filling’ filling do you mean add thickness to your polys? If so my favorite way to do that is with Cloth Nurbs. For something more fancy you would likely need to go with a plugin if you want the entire volume to be filled. You’re right about the make pretty part, not my specialty and something I’m trying to improve on myself. Thanks for watching!

  • I think, you’ll be better prepare next time to get the best out of it for the people who are watching.

    I tried to follow your former hydraulic tuts and for me as a person, who is still interested in this “low end software”, it was sometimes hard to follow your steps.

    I mean your tuties are for free, that doesn’t mean that I have to watch your problems with this software. So I dont want to blame here, just see it as a constructiv critic, honey!

    For your name I would appreciate “BuzzygreyBear”

    cruehead from Cologne, Germany

    • If you could be more specific where you think I was unprepared I might be able to make better use of your feedback. I especially don’t follow the “Low end software” part.

    • Wait!! what??
      You mean I paid all that money for “low end software”?

      Well whats the point of watching these tutorials then??

      I might as well stop wasting my time here and go learn some “high end stuff”

      thanks for nothing.


    • You believe this software is Low End? This software cost more than my Computer! And I’m on a Top of the Line i7 Imac.

      • I think cruehead means that part at 38min “Woooow, that is not correct at all.” I love these mistakes in tutorials though. It´s nice to see true professionals running into the same kind of problems as I do, makes me feel less stupid…

    • I completely disagree – the ‘remembering where things are’ or trying to work out exactly how you did the effect last time is a great part of the tutorial. I used to think everyone could pretty much do these things blindfold and if you only follow perfect tutorials or examples its easy to see why – people aren’t flawless though and no-one can know everything about these programs. I love the umming and aahin aspects of Nicks and Chris’ tutorials – they make them more human. Great tut by the way, tons of useful little working hints and tips in there as well as a fantastic end result.


  • hey chris,how would the plug in do it,select polygons and make it seperate objects right?

    • I’m not sure what plugin you mean. I’ve never tried any of the shatter plugins or those nifty plugins that break objects apart.

  • looks better than any plug in

  • Very interesting – Thank you!

  • Very smart indeed! I said it would be the explosion FX 😀 Old deformer never dies! 😀
    Really creative, good job and welcome aboard Chris!!! Good to see you doing tutes!

  • Great tutorial Chris, learned lots from this especially the velocity peak stuff. Glad to hear you doing more of em!

  • So cool! great to have Chris over here.

  • Welcome Chris,very nice tutorial.
    Dynamics are great in C4D 😉
    I want to more tutorial Chris,you are great.
    You are the best with Nick,
    see you 😀

  • I started the tut this morning the had a crash-out. I’d gotten 1/4 of the way through and had made the sphere break apart onto the floor.

    I’ve just been back through the tutorial twice, but each time I try and re-do it, I end up with a dynamic sphere hitting the floor and not breaking apart at all. What am I missing?

    My first thought was maybe there is some issue with the Fracture Object, but it’s set to Explode Segments… but they’re not breaking up… :-/

    • just as a side note. You may want to be more specific of the issues you are having. Things like what version of the software you are using would be helpful in troubleshooting. if you recall, CS used both v11.5 and v12 and had different results that could occur. So simply saying “its not working or what am I missing?” isnt conducive to helping you..

      • Sure. I’m using r13, I applied dynamics tags as per 11.5, so the floor is a collider and the sphere is a rigid body.

        I know there are differences between the versions, but they all seem to have legacy support, and as I said, I got it working the first time I did it. I’m just getting a little frustrated now going over and over it trying to work out what’s wrong!

        • <> Chris mentioned the default setting on the dynamics tags were different from v11.5 and v.12.. Somthing about top level.. did you check that? also going back to my most basic trouble shooting tactic. have you closed down the programs and restarted it? I once had issues with motors that didnt clear up until after I came back to it. and the only thing I could think of that solved it was me turning off c4d and re starting. But honestly I think it has to do with the dymanics tag and its default setting. Mind you Im no expert.. but it sometimes help to have another set of eyes look at it and thats my best guess from your description.

          • Thanks – I’ll watch on. I was working alongside the video and didn’t continue after my little bug! 🙂

          • Ahhhhhhhh. I’m so dumb. I should’ve watched on. But I don’t understand how I got it to work the first time! Must have accidentally hit the correct switch whilst messing about.

            For anyone else reading this in the future – jump to the Cinema 4D r12 part, Chris explains that you need to set “Individual Elements” to “Top Level” on the Dynamics Body tag.

          • ooh thanks for posting!

          • Cool! Glad you got it to work..

          • Oh man, thank you Rob, I was having the same issue (r13) and didn’t think to keep watching. Success.

            Thanks again and thanks Chris, glad to have you “offcial” around here.

        • Thanks for posting the solution, i restarted the project 5 times (R13) and got so frustrated at the end .
          Never thought of watching the entire video first ^^ 😀

  • oh! this is so much great!! i was trying to do that for ages. im new to cinema, so that’s a very useful tutor! thank you!

  • Is this achievable in version 10? ie fracture objects.

  • Nice tutorial Nick! Been watching GSG ever since I found out about Cinema 4D.

    Here’s a problem I got following the steps in your tutorial. I cant seem to get it to work with MoText. It doesn’t shatter and when I make it editable the text seems to just disappear. Same thing also hapens with text made from extruding text splines.

    Hope we could get more tutorials and I would especially like to see some basic modelling techniques for those new to C4D just like me.

  • I recommend the name: Dr. Rhesus…
    kinda (not really) rhymes with Dr. Zaius – no copyright violations.. and Rhesus monkeys are synonymous with experimentation… 8 )

  • Nice Tutorial, thanks a lot! I figured out that if you set the Explosion-strength also to 0.1 there not that much distortion on the surface. How did you made the sphere in the example video to have such a smooth surface? Did you shut off the explosion-deformer by keyframing and turn it ot just a frame before the other smal sphere hit the big one? I have that trouble with the phong shading 🙁


    • Same problem here. Don`t think it’s keyframed, otherwise we would see the edges after the impact when it rolls away, wouldn’t we?

      But – great tut, thanks for that, Chris!

      • Chris Schmidt posted a new follow up video where he explains how he managed the phong smoothness. as I thought first it’s keyframed and I also figured out if you increase the amount of segments of the sphere and also increase the fragment settings you’ll get a lot smoother sphere. thanks again Chris!

  • Yeah, you’re right. It must be some Gorilla-Magic 😀 oh … I’m in the train at the moment so I can’t test but couldn’t it be solved by using the “connect Objects” nurb thing? (don’t know the English word for that, sorry).

  • If can help with something is with the icosahedron 😛

    It comes from the greek “ikosi” (pronounced ecosy, like ecosystem) so ecosy means twenty in greek.

    type icosahendron in google for the wiki version. Still not that proud being greek in that epoch xP yup, epoch is greek too.

  • Very shaggadelic. Can’t wait to watch this one!

  • Excellent Tut Chris. I learn a lot from your trial and error style of teaching. Im looking forward to some more tuts from you as well.
    A good name possibly would be Ceaser the Ape, he was the leader of the revolution in The Rise of The Planet Of The Apes.

  • I’m using R13 and it doesn’t have moving mesh for the shape type in the collision for the dynamics body type. What would be the best substitute?

    • Your “new test” IMO has nothing to do with the tutorial CS posted. So I wonder why outside of trolling for views, would you post it on this particular forum?

  • Really cool tutorial Chris, thank you!

  • Hi..
    I did exact the same you did in the tut but the sphere didn’t break is just keep the same shape.. would you put a the tut file.
    note that i am using 11.5 ,,
    sorry my bad english 🙂

  • Sou brasileiro, adoro o C4D estou aprendendo muito com vocês do Greyscalegorilla, este tutorial é uito bom, adoraria também se vocês pudessem preparar um tutorial do C4D juntamente com o RealFlow.

    Parabéns a todos vocês.

  • thanks much for the tuts Chris, would you kindly relay the specs on the machine you used to create this tut?

  • Hey Chris

    Great tutorial!!

    As some of the other followers request I would like to know how you made your glowing sphere. Did you make it as “The Tron Ball”-tut on youtube?

    Also I would like to know how you setup your ambient lighting?… I think the key to a great render-result is great lighting but I usually have problems with my lighting… Could you share this with us “mortals”

    The Doktor

  • This is really cool. Thank you Chris! I never wanted to use one of those plug ins 🙂
    Is there a way to make this work for a mograph-Text?

  • There’s also this method if anyone is interested:


  • ummm Probably me being a Newbie but I’m using R13 and I’m still having to use a fracture object .

    I cannot just add a dynamic body tag to a shape (sphere) to make it drop as mentioned in the video

  • Hi there,

    Im having the same trouble as Steve, when I create a sphere and add a Dynamic Body tag, nothing is happening, I cant get my ball to drop hehe.
    Using R12 and just updated to the latest version,

    Any ideas?

    Thanks Lee


    Because you have MoGraph does NOT mean you have all the features to do this tutorial.

    The Broadcast Version (R13) has is limited features:

    1) The “Moving Mesh” option is NOT available

    2) You CANNOT simply drag a rigid body tag to any shape to make it a MoGraph Object. You still have to have your shape as a child of a MoGraph object (i.e clone, fracture etc)

    These feature seem only available in Studio

  • I followed all the steps you said up to about 8 minutes in, but when i hit play the sphere doesnt shatter, it just drops and rolls.
    any suggestions?

  • Thanks so much Chris and Nick for this awesome tutorial. Can’t wait for next Tuesday.

  • That was a great live tutorial Chris, I learned a few things there about the fracture object which I have hardly ever touched. Look forward to your next session.

  • Thank you for the first tut and you Gorilla. I enjoyed it and I hope we see more from both of you guys.Thanks again….

  • Thank your for this really great tutorial.
    I made this based on your tutorial:

  • Hey Chris,

    I’m having the same issue in 11.5…when I hit play…the sphere doesn’t fall…and doesn’t shatter…I’ve been doing everything exactly the way you’re doing it…
    Are there certain Dynamics settings that I can check…maybe in Project Settings, that might be causing the simulation not to occur?


  • thanks Chris…learned alot

  • hy,

    first, i want to thank you for this tutorial.

    but i have a question:
    how can i make this shattering with a cube? i tried it the same way like the sphere, but it doesn´t broke in many pieces, only in a few big polygons.


  • Thanks a lot man for Your Tutorials

  • I’m getting a lot of jitter with the broken pieces and sometimes they stick to the half shattered sphere. I’ve tried changing the Linear Damping with no joy. Also increased the Steps Per Frame ( which made the baked memory smaller ? )
    I’m going mad trying different settings. Can someone point me in the right direction ?

  • Hey guys, thanks for this great tutorial! I’ve been teaching myself C4D with online tutorials and have found this site really helpful! Here is my render:

    I wanted to ask 2 follow up questions to try and more closely emulate Chris’ demo. The first thing I noticed is that Chris’ glow ball emits a glowing light that reflects off the ball and floor as it rolls. How can I get my glow ball to glow that intensely? Second, I noticed Chris’ backdrop is much more defined and has very clear horizon. I assume this is to do with how the scene is lit and as I am really new to these things I probably just need to play with it more, but any insight as to how to set up the scene a bit better would be amazing! Thanks again for these great tutorials!

  • Chris,
    Great tutorial, you are a great addition to GSG. I tried to do this shatter process to text and couldn’t figure out how to break up the face of the text, it just broke off as one large piece. I tried using the slice tool but that didn’t work either, any ideas? Thanks.

  • its pronounced (eye-soss-a-heee-dron) lol

    amazing tutorial.


  • Please Please help me out, ive followed this Exactly up to 8:30 but when i hit play, nothing happens, at all.

  • Hey Chad, i haved the same problem as you, and there was a easy solve, you are probably using CInema 4d R12 right? then the first part isnt the one for you. Skip to 23:00

    • thanks for your reply, but nope, im using 11.5 🙁 i’m currently trying to upgrade to R12, then ill follow the next bit and hopefully i can get it working

  • Chris, I am Brazilian and despite not knowing English well, follow your tutorials and the nick turorials too. it helps me a lot, learned a lot from all that you post. when I made this tutorial, I could not make the ball move higher, it only breaks, but without going anywhere. could you help me? thank you

  • Great tutorial, just one thing my sphere when i add texture to it is no smooth i can see the fractures before the animation starts. Any ideas

  • Hey Chris, Great tutorial.
    didn’t think this was possible without any plugins,
    i use plugins to break objects all the time so this
    is very useful.

    Created this test scene:

  • Hi !
    Great tutorial ! Thanks for sharing…
    I’m running a 11.5 version and I had an issue at 8″30, as some other peoples here… nothing was happening, the sphere was just not exploding.

    I fixed it by taking the fracture object out of the HyperNurbs and adding a “Rigid Body” tag to the sphere…

    Can’t figure out why it was not working as you did it… but i’m just starting, maybe I did something wrong…

    Anyway, your result looks very cool !

    Thanks again

  • Hi Chris –
    Thanks for the excellent tutorial!
    Noob question:
    Can you tell me how to get my smashed sphere rolling away (after its been hit with the smaller sphere) like yours does in the video…(?)
    I’m in r12.
    Anyone know? Please?
    Thanks again! Great stuff… keep it up.

  • I am using version 12 and I don’t have the cache option 🙁 it can only be found in the Stuido version?

  • Fracture object doesn’t work in R13. won’t explode. It is still all treated as one object. Anyone know how to correct it?

  • Hey thanks your tutorials are great.. I can’t seem to find the mograph tags at all. Its not in the menu and i have no idea where it would be..

  • You actually can have only part of the object shatter in 11.5. Maybe I misuderstood, but it sounded like you were saying that this was impossible in 11.5. I just moved the explosionFX effector over to affect only the half that was being hit by the ball–as you had shown earlier on in the tutorial.

    Cool toot, btw, thanks!

  • I have the same problem as Doug ,the sphere doesn’t explode ,and if i use explode segments in fracture the ball disappears. I’m using studio R13

  • Hey Greyscale… Im new to C4D and I’m eager to learn. I have been messing around with this tutorial but i cant get the pieces to fall, once I play the animation?? Any suggestions?

  • Probably late considering the day you published this wonderfull tutorial, but here is my try :

    Thanks, again !

  • Hey. Very great tut. But i have several questions:
    1) how did you set up the scene that your sphere affects the big chunk? My falling sphere hits that other sphere but big chunk do not react realistic.
    2) material on the shattering sphere is broken. I have material with the straight line, but when i apply it to sphere the line is broken in weird angles. How to set up correctly?

    many thanks in advance.


  • Cool,,,,,just what i required.

  • Thanks for the great tutorial, I have a little question. As soon as I add the fracture object to this ‘system’ and increase the segments (more than 24, which is default) the sphere disappears and just not coming back, if I reduce the segments back to 24, it works. Now why is this happening? I want to use much more than 24 but I just can’t…

    • For some reason it works ok in version 12, I turned the segments on the sphere to 50 and it still worked, slowly, but worked. Do you have any idea what can cause this!?

  • Great tutorial, I have just uploaded a sample project based on this tutorial that uses XPresso to replace the keyframes making it fully parametric. See twitter link!/Penboa/status/183171714816020480 for details.

  • How do you do this with a cube? Is there a way?

  • Michael Allen Hollinger July 8, 2012 at 12:10 am

    I’m running into an issue in C13 in which I’m not getting ball to explode like it does at 8:39 of the tutorial. It just falls and bounces for a second then rolls a little. Not sure if I’m missing a step here.

    Floor (Collider body)
    -Fracture (Rigid body)
    -Explosion FX

    • Michael Allen Hollinger July 8, 2012 at 12:22 am

      I got it to work if I put the Rigid body on the sphere instead of the fracture object.

      • Michael Allen Hollinger July 8, 2012 at 1:02 am

        Also – you get to it later when you talk about C4D 12 with Individual Elements. Love your tuts though.

  • Thanks from Mexico City… Very useful!

  • Thanks for sharing! It was a great tutorial. Unfortunately I was not able to render the ball very smoothly. The various parts are already showing, yet it was so much fun to give it a go anyway. Will be back for more 😉


  • hi, i am from egypt ,its highly inspired work i like your work so much , i hope to learn a lot about your motion graphic work …………mohamed taher

  • How do you create an impenetrable object? So that other items won’t kind of penetrate it. Kind of like when the ball hits the other. How did you make the object hard? It’s only for a still image though, not an animation. I love the videos 😀

  • Im working off c4d r12 I would like for my object to fall an hit the plane once. The second bounce my object explodes. Im trying to use the explosion fx tool with a dynamic rigid body tag on a object. Can some one help me achieve this effect. Thank You!

  • Great tutorial and awesome effect but if anyone can help……have done everything step by step, but when I play back to see effect, nothing happens. At a lost as I have done it over and over with same result. Help Please, something I am missing??

  • K, followed Lamish’s steps and it worked…..thx guys 🙂

  • Hey! I’m pretty new to C4D and your tuts have been invaluable. I can’t seem to get the shatter effect to work that you demonstrate at around 9:00 — it just drops onto the floor. I’m currently running r14 studio. Does it have to do with the fact that the rigid body tag is part of the simulation tags as opposed to mograph in r14? Thanks for your help!

    • Thank the lord! I have done this tut twice now thinking I’ve missed something, and I don’t think I have. I’m in c4d 13 and have the same problem. It will smooth/shatter if I move the explosion f/x, but if I play it as it was done in the tut, it just falls to the floor and rolls. no exploding. I want to blow some stuff up.

  • This question has been asked before, but no one answered. How do we get the target sphere, the one that shatters, to roll away? At impact my target sphere stays in a static position, I would like it to react like it does in the example video, and roll away.


    • you have to hit the ball a glancing blow – i.e. the right edge of the small sphere should hit the left edge of the large sphere – if it’s not moving to the right you are probably hitting it too full on.

  • Hey guys
    I was having a question about this tut .. it was a success so far but i can’t get the sphere to be as round as the one in the preview
    it looks way too edgy with many polygons going around it … not as perfect as the one above

  • Could the shattering object be able to hold a liquid so when it breaks the fluid would pour out?

  • Hey man 🙂
    Love the tutorial, i was just wondering if this would work with text? Because im trying it now however it just doesnt seem to break!

  • Askt that guy WTF

  • Mitch Walleser May 24, 2014 at 4:55 am

    Hi i have the R14 version for mac and I get to the part where you add the dynamics by clicking the floor and the hpyerNURBs groups but it doesn’t show the option to add the dynamics in the menu. What am I missing?

  • Eugene Chrisovergis June 5, 2014 at 7:59 am

    Hi all…Great Tutorial as always. I want to break a glass window, but I want when the pieces hit the ground to break again…any ideas?

  • Hi! You guys make terrific tutorials! Thanks a lot! I’m learning a lot with you! But i have a problem, when i put explosion FX like a child it doesn’t star automaticaly like you, can someone explain why it happens?

  • Hi, first of all, thank you for this fantastic tutorial.
    I have one problem, I am using C4D R17 and It doesn’t work the fracture part, I mean, the sphere does not explode just only fall into the floor, but in my other computer I have R13 and works perfect… How can I do this effect in R17?

    Thank you so much

  • As Dani mentioned above, this method doesn’t work in the latest versions of Cinema. Any ideas on how to accomplish the same effect?

  • Thank you so much for this tutorial. Found it on a google search and it has saved me tons of time.

    I had to tweak the settings a bit differently to get this to work in R17, and the scale of the object is definitely a big factor. But for those having trouble, the idea is to get the settings so that the object is just *barely* beginning to explode. Too little explosion and the object will not be fractured at all, too much explosion and the object will already be exploded before it hits the ground.

    I also found that for detailed simulations, it’s helpful to set a keyframe on “Individual Elements” so that it goes from “None” to “Top Level” shortly before the object is impacted (by another object, or hits the floor, whatever your simulation is doing). That way it’s not trying to process collisions for as many elements until it has to be.

    Again, thanks so much.

  • Im trying this on a cube in R16 and it doesnt work. Like I get all the segments, but it wont shatter, the sphere works fine

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