Presentation – Lighting In Cinema 4D

February 20, 2011

Here is the presentation I gave at the Chicago C4D meet-up in January. It’s all about how to light in 3D. More specifically, it’s about how to look at real life and and then emulate it in your 3D Package. It features a few of my favorite tips when it comes to making realistic product lighting in Cinema 4D. I also go though some different techniques on how to set up and think about how to light your scene. It’s basically me be blabbering on about light for an hour. Hope you enjoy it.

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  • Nice. Thanks Nick. Good stuff.

  • yea!! first comment!!

  • I have screwing up a perfectly put together scene by applying bad lighting. Great post

  • Hi Nick… Just one question…

    At the start of the reunion you say that you learn a lot about lighting in 3D with some friend, but i didn`t get his name. Could you please give some information about him and his work, or where we can find his work s on the web???

    Thanks Nick, this video was really helpfull…

  • Nice Presentation!Cant wait to be there at the Next Meet-up!

  • Thanks man.
    That’s really usefull. More than any “step by step press that button thing”.
    Here’s really learning..
    Really glad I can follow this from Paris.

  • Great tips, Nick. As always, damn good stuff. Keep up the great job!

  • Another good, informative video Nick, cheers.

    Too busy playing around with the Light Kit at the moment, but will probably test out some light scenes pretty soon.

    Thanks again,


  • Hey Nick,

    I know this doesn’t relate to the thread, but I have a pretty long commute to work and back, and was wondering if any of your videos were available for download? I would love to watch this and your other tutorials on my iPad or Laptop when I don’t have internet access.

    Thanks, and keep up the great work.


  • thanks alot nick.. that was pretty helpful..

  • Thx!! Nick…great!

  • Nice video. Very useful, especially for me since I lack photography experience!

  • Amazing talk and quite informative.
    Just a quick note:
    I would like a tutorial on making something like this
    It would be a nice example for trying out different lighting setups

  • This was very enlightening Nick ! (lol) I’m having a real hard time here trying to light a glass object scene in a realistic way with your HDRI Light Kit Pro, hope this will help!

    • Glass is tough. Most of getting glass right is getting the texture and reflections right. Maybe I will try to do a tut using the HDRI Light Kit Pro soon.

      • please please please nick do a tutorial on this!!! I cannot for the LIFE of me get the objects in my glass jars to light.. a tutorial, even a quick one would be SO much appreciated.. Also (trust me I’ve googled, till google broke lol) there are like maybe 2 tuts on this.. Any advice or direction would be AMAZING!

    • @Gustavo Kopit – Glass is a trick one. You want to have an inside object with your normals facing in, and your outside object with your normals facing out. Play with your absorption color and possibly a little Fresnel. You don’t want to over-light your object. Keep it SIMPLE πŸ™‚

    • Thanks for the replies guys.The main problem is really overlighting the object, specially when you have a glass object with another glass reflective stuff inside it (my case). I nearly started to look for a 3D artist freelancer to light and render this for me, but I’ll try a little bit more before take this desperate measures. πŸ™‚

    • Having one object but with an inner and out piece gives it the nice refraction. But glad to help, and good luck!

  • Thank you so much Nick for this tips… you really inspire us all… More power to this site… and also to you…

  • Felt compelled to say “Thank you” just placing your overhead softbox over today’s exhibition stand designs has taken them to the next level…

    …with love from Cambridge

  • Following on my earlier comment. I checked out the author Nejc Polovsak
    He mentions about subspline preset to control the tendrils. I went into Cinema 4D and found the preset under content browser. It involves a lot of Xpresso to control the sweep nurbs with a custom spline, subspline and circle spline. Anyone knows how to implement a subspline for folks like me who don’t know Xpresso much.

    • Shibi? Kind of the point in having the sub-spline preset really is so as it’s set up ready for for you to use. You need implement no Xpresso of your own, the controls are already set up by the Xpresso provided in both the SubSpline and SubSpline R12 C4D files. Select the SubSpline itself, the this will allow you to access the User Data controls direct.

      I gather you want to make tendrils such as Nejc, correct?

      With the R12 SubSpline scene opened select the top ((RED) sweep nurbs object. This is the one we want to play with.

      Select the next Sweep Nurbs object down (BLUE). Delete both it and the spline underneither. Don’t need them.

      Re-select the red sweep nurbs object. Under the object tab dial End Scale from 100% – 0%. Hit play in the scene’s timeline. The spline sweeps along with a tapered end.

      Select the SubSpline object. Under User Data tick the Keep Length box. Hit play. The spline now animates full length, the back end appearing to follow along in the direction of the sweep before returning to the start point – but leaving you with a full length red “tendril”.

      All you really need now do is lock the start point of the sweeps movement to the beginning of the spline.

      Manually scrub the timeline slider back from the end to the exact point the sweep initially starts – as you will observer, it currently doesn’t start at the beginning of the spline but 1.667% its length at 1 frame in.

      Open up the timeline fully – open the sweep nurbs, open the SubSpline – select Start Position and delete that line of key data.

      Reselect the SubSpline in the hierarchy. Notice that under User Data Start Position is still at 1.667%. Move the slider back to 0%.

      Now hit play.

      The red sweep now starts at the beginning of the spline with a tapered end and sweeps the entire length of the spline, just like a growing tendril. Congratulations, you just made a growing vine.

      Now – go into top down view – open the window up. Go to splines and select a bezier spline. Draw yourself out something nice and even more tendril-like. Give it plenty of viney-curly goodness.

      Reselect your SubSpline object – in the User Data tab note that there’s a target (reference) box. Currently its set to to teh previous spline. Hit the boxes > to select clear and now drop your new bezier spline (Spline.1) into the target box. Hit play in the timeline.

      Even better tendril goodness – tentacle porn, a-hoy! πŸ™‚

      Yesterday I provided you with links to a two part tutorial by Robert Leger:

      You can download them to your own machine – right-click Save Target As – these tutorials will show you exactly how to make not only very similar flowers featured in Nejc Polovsak’s video, the way they emerge out of a perfectly spherical pod, etc – they also so you how to trigger the entire flowering animation by the possition of another object in the scene and run you through the Xpresso you need to drive everything.

      It’s a very good tutorial. Will teach you much in very little time.

      Everything with your SubSpline though is worked out for you in the presets scene. All you need do is integrate whatever tendrils you want to grow out of your flower (or whatever)in Roberts scene which is very similar to Robert Leger’s – the difference obviously being Bob walks you through this with a tutorial.

      I hope this helps.

      My regards,


  • Good presentation man. It really put alot of things into perspective and was great to see your thought process and workflow.

  • Hey Nick,
    I am a Chinese and English is not good,but I really like your tutorial, you is very severe.

  • WTF is that dude on your left doing there all the time?!?
    That sayed, nice presentation and excelent tips!

  • Thanks for the lesson Nick! thanks to you I’m learning how to make cool my 3D rendering and I’m improving my English! πŸ™‚
    Your method has the virtue of simplicity ‘and this’ important for people like me who are not familiar with the world of cinema 4d and its rules.
    gorilla 4 president!

    when you launch another “five second contest”?


  • Thank you Rayne for helpful comments.

  • Where is the 2 part about citykit???(((

    Presentation is really nice! I like your way of talking and explaining! :D.

    Best wishes! xD

  • This makes me want to learn more C4D lighting

  • Hey, Nick… It’d be interesting to know what other tutuors’ blogs you’d suggest. I guess you have some other competition except hellolux and videocopilot. You’re a cool guy so I guess you won’t hesitate to advertise some other useful learning places.

  • Hi nick,

    I just want to thank you,it is really nice when you upload your presentation, and i really hope you will do that more often.

    And thank you, again, for remind us suzane vega πŸ™‚

    Great stuff on GI :


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  • was just wondering if the techniques used in this can be applied to maya aswell?

    thanks in advance

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