How To Use Global Illumination For Realistic Light in Cinema 4D

December 7, 2010 - By 

In this tutorial, I show you how to light a simple scene using luminant materials and global illumination in Cinema 4D. First, I show you how to set up, model and texture the scene using Mograph type and simple primitives. Then we use GI to realistically light the scene.

Global Illumination is notorious for being hard to use and slow to render. It can definitely be tricky to get it looking right without rendering all day. That’s why I also try to explain a bit about how GI works and things we can do to make it do what we want and get it faster. I hope to be talking much more about GI as Iv’e been taking quite a liking to it lately. Especially for still renders. Enjoy!

This tutorial is based on this awesome piece called Let There Be Light by Jeff Osborne. Big thanks to Jeff for making such a great looking render!

Example Render

Posted In:  
  • “you make it how you want to look it”
    awsome nick

    • It could be sooo awesome if you could make one of the lightpipe-thingy cracked/destroyed- so the glass was around the destroyed pipe πŸ˜€ Nice work πŸ™‚

  • When you render there is allot of boxes going around and it seems really quick, on mine there is 2 boxes, how do i make it like yours.

  • Thanks!
    Useful tutorial!
    Have a great day!

  • Thank you, Nick. Really useful tutorial.

  • Here something I tried based off of the tutorial.

    Modeled a lightbulb and needed something to do with it.

    Thanks Nick

  • Bro, I love you bro, not that way, but as brother πŸ˜‰
    awesome tutorial. thank for the lesson.

  • It might be a year since this tut was put up but i have sth to show for it!!!Thanx Nick for the tuts.Am a kenyan who just has to get better at design.plizzzz have a look at what this tutorial lead me to!thanx!! :)

  • Took me a while to get to this tutorial but as always, awesome, learned some pretty cool tricks,thanks Nick

  • Hey there, You have performed a great job. I will certainly digg it and for my part recommend to my friends. I’m sure they will be benefited from this web site.

  • Thanks for this tutorial, it’s brilliant!
    I’m a beginner, and this helped me understand GI a bit more.

    My outcome:

  • Hey Nick Ive been having some trouble with the GI with an animation im doing from the tut that you did above. wanted to know some correct settings for animation just using GI. the bulb i have rolling into the scene and its the only light source involved but i keep getting shadows that look very nasty and flickering all over the place. Here is a link to the image if that help.


  • Jhonattan Rodriguez May 31, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    No me canso de pensar que Nick es una de las personas que mas admiro en el ambito de 3d!! Saludos desde Colombia

  • DUDE!!!! 1 minute is not a slow render. You should try to render this with my Quad Core. LOL.
    Anyway i learn and understand a lot of things from this tutorial. Thank you so much.

  • Really nice tutorial! This one is for inside (room) renderings. But how about a outside (sky) rendering?

  • Oh boo… my comment didn’t come thru. Made the first one… rendered straight outta c4d:


    and then i decided to combine the tut that lights up using objects only instead of GI… I couldn’t get the glow of the bulbs to show up very well on the floor. But it was worth experimenting with.

    straight outta C4D:


    thanks for the great tut Nick! and for the inspiration.


  • ya sen krals?n kral πŸ™‚ SÜpersin !!!

  • Hi, Gorilla!) Nick., i’m started to create room with 10 light sourse in the section, i want create may be 10 section .. i need they animated when camera zoom in and some of the turn on other turn on/off then when they stay from back yard of the camera, they stay turn on) how i can realize my idea? thank’s for your attension)

  • I know this tutorial is 2 years old but I’m fairly new at the motion arts game. 17 years old. just having some issues getting my luminance to really get brighter. i crank it up past 350 but nothing seems to happen. any help would be appreciated.

  • At 52:24 how to do it? I do not understand. Help please.

  • Hi
    Excellant tutorial as always…

    I am building a neon sign using similar techniques I have learnt from this tutorial.

    However I want to have the glows, reflections all as an alpha channel. This is so that I can then have the sign as a transparent PNG with shadows/reflections and glows for my website. I have learnt a bit about the composite tag, but is this still possible with GI? Or do you have a better suggestion to save all those lighting details as a transparent element.

    I have built my sign using an outer glass tube, and then an inner luminant tube to create the neon gas.


  • Fantastic tutorials! A huge help πŸ™‚

  • Set the random effector over the floor, then put on them Dynamics and let them drop

  • Thanks man … I like this tut so much (Y)

  • Man I always wanted to improve my GI, thanks you’re tutorial is very good ! Here’s what I did

  • Thanks a lot! Turned out to be simpler than it looked.
    I will definitely use this knowledge in the future.
    All the best!

  • Hi Nick! i have one question about blurriness reflection
    Firstly, thank you so much for you tutorials!
    And my question: how I can create blurriness reflection in c4d R16?? Roughness isn’t work correctly. Can you explain? I looked through all the tutorials but didn’t find any information. Thank you!

    • Roughness should be what you are looking for. Is it not working?

      • Roughness does not give such a soft and smooth blur reflection as in your lesson. I read several forums, but no good solution and could not offer. Reflection gives a very rough and smooth dispersion configure fails. In your lesson material turns even, smooth and with excellent reflection. When adding roughness obtained quite different.

  • Hey Nick, great tutorial. I’m not sure if you have answered this comment already (I skimmed through to see if there was an answer), but my GI settings are different in R16 vs the version you made this in. Is there a legacy option that will give me the same look as your GI settings?

    Thanks in advance!

  • I think none so well explained or show how you. Thanx, Nick!

  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


    Follow us on Instagram