Create a CMYK 4-Color Process Shader with Arnold + Free Download

February 6, 2019

Give an RGB image a 4-color CMYK printed look with this Arnold shader. Plus download the free scene file to follow along with and experiment.

In this tutorial, you’ll see how Chad created an Arnold shader that created a 4-color CMYK printed look in Cinema 4D.

The CMYK 4-color process is a look you’re likely familiar with if you’ve ever seen a newspaper or studied a magazine up close. Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black are combined layer by layer as tiny dots, which then combine to create the final look. You may have heard other terms like Four Color Printing, 4CP, Full Color Printing, or Process Printing.

After creating the Spider-Verse halftone look in Cinema 4D with Arnold, Chad wanted to see if he could take the process even further to get a real printed look.

In this process, you’ll see how he created an Arnold shader, that when piped with a traditional RGB image, would then be broken down into the 4-color CMYK. Follow along, and you’ll also be able to adjust the size of the dots to really refine the look you want.

Approaching the look is very mathematic. It was just a matter of figuring out the pitch angles for each color, then calculating and transferring the RGB colors into CMYK. Here’s the thing. Chad’s not good at math.

So with the help of Trevor Kerr (of the Greyscalegorilla Guide to Redshift) the two were able to create an Arnold OSL shader that could convert the colors.

Download the Free Scene File

Want to follow along and use this Arnold shader in your own projects? Download the free CMYK Arnold shader below.

Free CMYK Shader


Ready to follow along? Let’s get started.



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  • Cool stuff Chad!
    Let’s dive deeper.
    How to achieve something like this:×2880/the-predator-2018-artwork.jpeg ?????
    There is a lot of details on the skin and on the mask, but I’m really guessing how to do that blurry painted highlights.
    Another issue: do anyone in GSG play with Vray?

  • alexandre dachkevitch February 11, 2019 at 5:54 am

    great job
    i ll try a way to adapt it for redshift, but the philosophy is there
    congratulations for your aproach

  • once a community…. now a store : (

  • Great tutorial Chad. Would really love to see a tutorial on making complex labels for packaging. Foil blocking, embossings etc. on paper textures. I’ve searched high and low and can’t find one anywhere and can’t seem to ever get these right.

    • You should check out our Redshift training. I have a very large section where I breakdown my entire process for doing product renders. Cheers!

  • Killer as always man!

  • Awesome, will take a look Chad.


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