How to use Volumetric Lighting in Cinema 4D

August 4, 2010

In this short tutorial, I show you how to use Volumetric Lighting in Cinema 4D to make Light Rays. You can also use Volumetric Lights for glows, Shine effects and also for dramatic backlighting.

Thanks to Kai Pedersen and Rick Barrett for reminding me about volumetric lighting while I was at Siggraph

Tutorial Focus:  , ,
Software:  ,

  • Thanks I was looking for something like this.

  • Thanks Gorilla, pretty useful ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Wow, THX Nick for sharing this one! It is definitely what I was looking for.

    That would be very nice to have a tut from you on fogs, underwater atmosphere and all that stuff some day. (like this underwater effect in Robert Redman tut N19 “Easy animating with Mograph”)
    Because you can really make it dramatic like this one!

    (omg! one of the first comms:))

  • Thanks a lot ! Ive got some nice ideas for this. Also you think its possible to cover a tutorial on faking liquid in cinema ?

  • Whats the t stand for?

  • Hey nick good tutorial i am from mexico yea!!!

  • Awesome stuff man! That was like Volumetric on Speed! Good times…

  • “WOuuuuuuuh and i’m excited !!”


    Nice tut.

  • Seems like something I’d rather do in after effects – to have more control over, on the fly. Still cool though.

    Not being a c4d user I don’t know about this but I guess you could render the volumetric light as a separate element? That way you have a little bit more control over it.

  • Here’s another use for volumetric lights other than for shine effects.

  • Informational as always you rock dude!

  • Made this test animation last year for a small personal project, playing with volumetric lights and wavy turbulence.

    the idea was to try and make the car headlights stand out, i think i even added an environment and enabled the fog to make it even more misty!

  • wow this is really cool

  • The cross reminds me of something from the band, “Justice”

  • Hey nick great as asual.
    Thx for sharing your knowledge with the “community”

    talking about volumetric like:

    greets from france

  • Another great video Nick – loving the enthusiasm.

    For what it’s worth, this is my quick and dirty contribution – from Cambridge (Eng.) with love!

  • wow. that was really nice.
    thank for tut!

  • hey amigo nick you r soo hyper on this tutorial LOL! wath happened to you? what are you drinking? thanks for this tutorial is very useful

  • Here’s a play with volumetrics and underwater vehicle, old image now but I like the moody feeling.

  • hey nick nice tips. so i use volumetric light to make a test of the c4d-plugin “xplode” a little bit nicer:

  • Quite interesting this volumetric lights thing. This was my first time using C4D cuz it seemed so daunting but it’s not half bad.

  • Great tuts!!!!!!!!!!
    RESPECT Nick!

  • Great effect and very useful, cheers Nick! Here’s mine. Threw in some effects from the glass blocks tutorial such as starglow and compound blur.

  • Thanks for this one Nick, we are glad you’re back from Siggraph, looking forward to see you presentation for Cineversity…

  • I am using volumetric lightning for letting a star explode. Whith lensflares switched on and some colour manipulation over time, this looks really good for me and helped me a lot to achieve a certain look.

  • Nick,

    Did you know that when you put a Volumetric Light inside an object that has a colored transparent material, the light will take that color?

    This is a very good technique for making REALISTIC GLOWS on objects like lightbulbs or neon tubes. Waaaay better than using the crappy Glow post-effect (that Maxon should update/fix or remove in R12!), because it shows in reflections, through alphas and so on.

    Only downside is that if you have a few of these in your scene, the render time will go up. But I found that tweaking the Sample Distance in Visibility is a flexible way to speed the render up.

    I’m going to use that technique in a project I’m concepting now. Because it will have close to 100-200 of those lights, I’m doing lot’s of tests with it to get a reasonable render time. I’ll post a link when it’s ready.

    This effect is not limited to a single color by the way: when you use a multi-colored transparent material, you can greate dramatic colored lighting effects.

    What’s also very cool to experiment with is INVERSE VOLUMETRIC LIGHTING. In your example with the text that will result in the text ITSELF shining (That’s REALLY like Trapcode Shine :-). That’s not something that’s realistically possible, but it’s very handy in when lighting scenes, because you can create lights with very complex shapes. I used this a couple of times to make street lights. Like in this TVC:

    In this very old tutorial on the Maxon site that dates back to R6, it is used to make the sun shining though Stained Glass:

    Hope you find these tips helpful. Maybe you could do a Volumetric Light tutorial SEQUEL!



  • Zachary O'Connor August 5, 2010 at 6:43 am

    Here’s my go at it:

    Thanks Nick! Love your work.

  • hi nick,

    i used this technic to generate a underwatherlook. that worked very well. i just need 5 klicks for this lightsetup.


    Nice tuts Nick… From Venezuela ๐Ÿ™‚

  • And btw: as always a great tutorial. Since I stumbled upon this webside, I watched a lot of your videos. Very fine indeed. Gives me a lot of input to generate more stuff and to experiment with things.

  • Hi Nick

    Following you for quite a while now, some really impressive stuff you make and also always super dope tutorials! Its always a fun roller-coaster man!

    Anyways, Im doing a small personal project, did not want to show this crappy -in progress- image yet (only half way this project, haha), but I hope this shows yet another way of using volumetric lights.

    Keep up the super awesome work!


  • my little volumetric lighting test using some of the spiral stuff from the monkey’s tut.

  • Great tutorials!

    tried to get an underwater effect.

  • Very nice! I never played with volumetrics in C4D before. I’m with a i5 and seems to run pretty fast. I come from XSI experience and volumetric lights run different and much slower. In fact, it was the heaviest pass in the entire piece.
    Still, it was done when I still was in college, and my Pc’s weren’t as much as fast.

    Still, here you’ve got the clip if you want to check it out:

    It was my first experience with Xsi, and it was done as a final project for Morphology class.

  • Very nice tutorial,thanks
    can you please make a litlle tutorial about how to make a texture with an image.
    like in this wallpaper:

    its just an idea, if your busy I understand.

    *Sorry if my english is bad =P*

    Greetings from Mรฉxico.

  • Hi

    Here is my kick at the volumetric lighting theme:

    I’m not happy with the converted version of this video. The original is much brighter.

    The other thing that bothers me is global illumination. It does weird things. I works on smaller scale projects like type but when it comes to do serious scene rendering I just cant grasp the right settings for it. I was impressed with the “no keyframes” video but as i took it apart i saw that it has no globillum settings. Aixsponza did it without global illumination (fascinating). I would like to see Maxon enabling volumetric lighting on the luminance channel. That way animated textures could light the scene and have a cool foggy look.

  • i did this test b4
    check it out

  • The third example reminds me of Justice. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Hey Nick,

    Love the Holga Cam you’ve got there standing in the back…

  • I cover a lot of the material on basic lighting in my tutorial here:

    It is probably not as interesting as GSG, but it is very in-depth.

    I also created a tutorial on caustics which is very similar to volumetric lighting:

  • Combined some tutorials and made a little test:

    thank you.)

  • I tryed to make a depth in a background using volumetric.Here is what I came up with:

  • A short animation with some volumetric ligting;

  • Tnx Gorilla! I just needed that for my new theatre project! Massive respect from Estonia ๐Ÿ™‚

  • So I didnt do an animation, just didnt have time to render it so I just did one frame…

  • Thanks, Nick. Great tip!

  • Dude! I’m brand new to cinema 4d and scouring the web for good video tutorials. You’re like the best guy there is.

    Anyway, I’m really glad you’re doing this and here are a couple examples for you:

    thanks again man!

  • exactly what I was looking for! your site is a gold mine, much thanks.

  • i know this post is pretty old, but you maybe answer me here since my trouble is related.
    When i’m using volumetric with text and simple objects y never have any kind of problem (except when im cranking up the intensity)
    BUT, im having a problem with this render i came up:
    I tryed using GI, shadows, checking and unchecking everything. But I still can’t find a way to fix this :/
    Hope you can give me a hand.


  • I loved this tutorial and it was exactly the effect I was going for. Now if I could just learn how to have brushed metal text with shiny metal pinstripes on it I would be SET!

  • please i will sincerely need this tutorials for my present work to go well. Thanks.

  • Hey, Wow!
    I just started to think, it has to be easy! Eveyone’s doing that how is that?

    And you enlightened me! THANKS!

  • A fascinating discussion is definitely worth comment. I think that you should publish more about this subject matter, it might not be a taboo matter but typically people don’t discuss these subjects. To the next! Best wishes!!

  • Thank you Nick!, That was awesome…….

  • I know I am late but here’s my result. Thank you Nick

  • Wow! It’s amazing how the light changes everything!!

  • Hi Greyscale GoRillaz,

    I just did a small space scene with volumetric lighting and all the do-dads associated.
    I like the effect and trying to stay out of AE so…new tricks help. The problem is when I add a planet to the space scene the volumetric light shines on the planet rendering the scene unrealistic. Adjusting the intensity of the light decreases the ill effect but I loose the dynamic look of the volumetric lighting. Any suggestions also can you do a TUT on space scene or water scene? – Cheers….vectorcinema
    ( AKA Horton aint never heard no Hoo )

  • Yes, i’m 4 years late. but thank you for this Tutorial Nick. i really needed some help on lighting for this scene and i appreciate this tutorial!
    heres whats done so far:

  • Volumetric lighting is great fun to play with.

    Got the underwatery effect on this my Doubling up and adjusting the volumetric lights from the floaties rig on this

  • Awesome dude! Something that I wanted to do over a year ago, but search results did not yield anything. Glad I found this.

  • Thanks for the video it helped me a lot!!! I just have a question, at the end when it comes to render with the moving clouds effect you set how do I make that smooth effective loop that it keep going without restarting to first frame like continuous. Because when I Save it to png format or avi it works but effect not smooth as it restarts to frame 1 again. I feel as it has to do with time line and animation? With start stop?



  • Hey,

    jut getting into C4D. I love the first of your 3 example-Pics. Any chance you can share, how you did it? I am not getting it as nice. (

  • Leave a Reply

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

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.