The Best Cinema 4D Tutorial Ever!!!

October 24, 2011

There is a feature in Cinema 4D that I think is the most unused, most helpful feature there is. So useful, I’m calling this “The Best Cinema 4D Tutorial Ever!!!” So, what is it? It’s the ability to click on anything in the Cinema 4D interface and pull up the exact section in the manual that describes what it does. Just Right Click or Control Click on the setting you want to know more about and BOOM, you are there.

More Than Words
Of course there are tons of technical descriptions of what is going on behind the scenes in Cinema 4D, but there are also many visual examples to show you exactly what happens when you crank up that slider or click that button.

The Only Cinema 4D Book I’ve Read
You ever wanted a good book on Cinema 4D? No need to buy one just yet. Just print out some of these pages and follow along. There is even a section of tutorials on things like Modeling, Animation, Xpresso and Materials. Ever wonder why there are 9 different GI Modes? It’s in there. Want to know the difference between Mitchell and Cubic Anti-Aliasing? It’s in there, too. Want your render buckets to start from the top instead of from the center? Type in “Bucket Sequence” in the search feature of the help menu and find out how.

Really Nick? The Best Ever?
OK, OK. Video tutorials are still the favorite and most entertaining way to learn. But, I have learned so many useful things from the help menu, it’s worth making sure you know about it. I use it a ton because it’s so accessible and easy to use. When I ever get stuck, I check here first before searching google for tutorials or forum posts. Especially for some of the mundane things that really don’t have a tutorial. Things like learning what the MIN and MAX values do and what the different GI settings do are usually too dry for a video tutorial, but work great in the help. Go give it a try. I think you will be surprised.

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  • Exactly! The help menu includes all information step by step and from A to Z..of course tutorials are great but sometimes we only focus to what we need and skip over other important stuff. Thanks Nick, good suggestion for sure

  • Awesome! “check google” < EPIC!! lol

  • this is just fantastic.

  • Or you just hover the thing you need help with and press cmd + F1 (mac). Guess its like ctrl + F1 in windows

  • I fully agree with you Nick, but on a separate note, I wish there were also a printable pdf of the whole help file. I can’t stand reading pages and pages of technical stuff on my comptuer and would rather have a reference book sitting on my bedside table…How come Maxon does not provide it?

  • This is a good post, if only to prevent people from asking Nick so many dumb questions. Like “How do ya make ribbons!?”

  • cmd + F1 its been a great friend of mine since version 9.1.

  • The first thing i did when i began learning C4D was to read the entire manual.

  • I’ve always loved this feature. It is miles beyond any of the adobe help. I wish this was the industry standard for these sometimes very technical programs with individualized vernacular

  • The C4D help menu has saved my bacon a million times. The fact that you can right click on anything and get a thorough breakdown of what it is, how it works, and what each setting does is streets ahead.

  • As my sound design teacher would always say if you asked him a software related question: “RTFM!”

  • Thank you a lot for this Tutorial…
    Iยดve got only one question, is there any way to make the Fontsize bigger?


    • You can change the font size by hacking the css file as follows:

      CINEMA 4D R13/help/files/wickie.css

      Open up wickie.css in a text editor and change the font-size on line 35 (body) from 11px.

      You may need to adjust the permissions first.

      I picked this tip up from a Maxon rep at a recent training day in London.

      All the best.


  • Thank you! This is awesome.

  • Oh, F1, So easy. Now I could remove ur blog from fav ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Hello Nick,

    So nice to hear your voice, you are such a nice presenter, sometimes its not about the knowledge but how you present it. we love learning from you, I hope you can take help from Chris Schmidtโ€™s on some advance stuff and present it yourself… no offense to Chris, he is a nice artist and presenter but we come to GSG because of you ๐Ÿ™‚ its like we went to see spiderman film and found Ironman there.. he might be more powerful but want to see spiderman ๐Ÿ˜€

    All the best dude..


  • Grand evercool tip!
    I use cmd_f1 alot on icons but never realized it works with text & menus as well

  • Hi Nick, thanks for the amazing tutorials. I have some text animation thats really giving me hard time, its based on the Scion XB Splicer TVC i found on youtube.
    Any assistance will be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks Ronnie

  • The most important point in this tutorial: Try to figure it out ON YOUR OWN before defaulting to Google!

  • If you’re ever bored, just ctrl+F1 on some obscure option button or checkbox you’ve never used before and away you go.

  • Hey Nick

    I was wondering how come there is no pdf file of the cinema 4D manual?
    When I look at the help manual online it is so small and for some reason when I hit the command + keys damn thing just stays the same.
    Also I can’t put it on my iPad for when I want to put myself to sleep at night.
    Real pain

  • Totally agree! Maxon have done an outstanding job!

  • C4D has ruined every other application’s help system for me. Adobe’s CS help feels like banging rocks together.

  • lal. really think , its better with a PDF version ^^

  • Nice.


  • thanks Nick great tip!

    the best way to find out how an animation is done is watching it frame by frame. Download it and watch on quicktime.

  • 4 Minutes of my life I won’t get back. Thanks for that. RTFM.

  • Thanks a lot Nick, I’ll post the final animation video when completed.

  • Thanks Nick, as always appreciate you digging out these little gems.

  • Have to give it to MAXON they did a GREAT job with the help files.

  • i would appriciate any comments or constructive critism for this animation i have just made, what do you think guys?

    • i like the animation, I see that your using ease-ease allot for the camera animations. although this is good for long sweeping shots, for shorter shots i would try linear animation. It makes the animation look sharper.

  • Please get Simon Holmedal back for some advanced tutorials!!!!

  • How have i not looked at the help-file yet. I guess i was just turned off by some other programs help-files, thanks nick.

  • small typo “Just print these out some of these pages…..” in the “The Only Cinema 4D Book Iโ€™ve Read” paragraph. O

  • Thanks,

    But frankly, content of this tutorial doesn’t justify the topic’s name. It’s sufficiently exaggerated.

    Good food for google’s BOTs, but not a best way to attract visitors on your site.


  • Hey Nick, could you use your magic and show us how to do this in Cinema?

  • Thanks Nick and good advice! This persuades me I should really sit down and read that manual properly.

  • it’s so sweet, thanks! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • @Adrien > on macs, you can right click in any help page and choose โ€œprintโ€, and then print it to a PDF.

  • That is a bit of an overstatement. Sure the manual is useful to look some stuff up, but the examples it uses are sometimes so vague and brief. I found a search in any cinema4d forum is usually way more informative than reading the manual.
    Also, your layout is still all-kinds of messed up in Opera.

  • realy thanks for this tip

  • It is an awesome feature. I converted the help to a PDF document long ago, simply because it explains what everything does.

    I haven’t compressed it down for my iPad yet though…I really should do that but it is pretty damn big.

    Thanks Nick…as always!

  • Hi Nick,
    Every time I visit your 3D ‘Gorilla Jungle’, I get a smile on my face.
    It’s so nice and many thanks for the work you do.
    I’ll be back ๐Ÿ˜‰ (that was not an Nick I believe)

  • ๐Ÿ™‚ it is indeed the simplest and best tip ever x

  • Guys That Want A Downloadable .PDF Go Maxxons Website The Go Documentation And Look For Your Version And Click One That Is Around 28 mb And When It Opens It Give You A Chance To Download And Print

  • This has changed my life. Not the first time you’ve done that.
    Thank you Nick Campbell.

  • Hey can anyone help me ?? how can u isolate an object in cinema 4d like 3ds max has short cut altQ

  • Apparently it’s just me, but I think the Cinema4D manual is one of the sloppiest, copy-pasted manuals I’ve had to deal with. Why does the manual talk about OTHER effectors when I’m looking at the help items for a specific effector? Quoted from the manual, for example, in the shader effector section: “The following applies to Effectors … with the exception of Shader and Random Effectors: ” Why tell me about something that is an exception to the shader effector IN the shader effector section? There is simply too much that is copy and pasted around the manual that simply makes the manual more confusing than it otherwise should be. It’s been that way for years… I just wish they would clean up the manual. It can be utterly confusing, even when I re-read a section over and over to understand it better.

    • One more example of writing that confuses me, and perhaps others could shed some light on this… from the Step Effector color parameters section: “When using the Shader Effector, random colors will be generated by the Random Effector for the shader defined in the Shader tab. When using other shaders grayscale values will be generated that reflect the effect of a given Effector.”

      What does that even mean?! I am looking up information about the way the STEP effector handles the color settings and I end up with two run-on sentences about other effectors that don’t make any sense (to me).

  • Hey, someone help me. With me it doesnt work. I click with the right bottom but nothing appears. do you know what i should do?

  • Nice idea ๐Ÿ™‚

  • “The manual can be a bit dry sometimes (It’s translated from German)”

    Best i’ve ever read…
    Greetings from Hamburg, Germany ????

  • Sooooooooooooo good!!! I wish I were a little Gorilla like u guys. Best work ever. Thanks!!

  • Hi Gorilla dude. I think I used the show help by accident
    and then forgot about it. Thanks for the tip “Show help” itยดs
    really useful option.

  • Glauber Silva Braga February 3, 2014 at 2:23 pm


  • Jeremy Solterbeck February 5, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    Sorry if I am redundant here as I have not read all the comments, but there is (I think) an even easier and better way to use the help menu: hover the mouse over the thing in question and hit Command-F1 (or whatever that would be on Windows). It will open the help browser and go directly to the thing you pointed at. I use it more than the contextual menu help now.

  • Mike - February 26, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    I simply agree.
    ‘ftm’ is so last century.

  • Hi there,

    I’ve been pulling my hair out trying to copy your GUI… I really want to get a ‘Render Settings’ tab like you have but for the life of me cannot figure it out. Please could you let me know how you managed it?

    Thanks in advance!

  • I get an error message if I try to access any of the help menu, any idea on what the problem could be? I’m running R15 Student and an example of the pop up error message reads…

    Error Opening Help File.

    Please help ๐Ÿ™

  • Thanks Nick, have gone true it and its wonderful

  • Thanks Nick, have gone true it and its great

  • Great tip, Nick! Now I’m just still waiting on that updated video on optimizing renders ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Thank You-This is a great tip!! I will be using it a lot.

  • Please can I use Maxon Cinema 4D studio to create 3D text? Please help me

  • You made this world better, thank you!

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