Using an Object as a Light in Cinema 4D

April 14, 2016

In this tutorial I’m going to break down how you can turn any object or spline into a light source in Cinema 4D!  This method is a great alternative to large render hits you could get by using Global Illumination.  First, set up my carrot scene with some basic textures.  Then, I’ll show you how you can use Area Lights to turn any object or spline into a light source.  Finally, we will go over some things to be wary of using this technique as well as how to prep the scene for possibly compositing a glow in After Effects.

By the way, this tutorial can be followed along using Cinema 4D Lite that comes for FREE with Adobe Creative Cloud!

If you have any questions, be sure to post it in the comments section and if you create anything cool using this technique, be sure to share it with me! Thanks for watching!

This was recorded live on the C4D Live Twitch Channel.  To get alerted for future live design casts & get sneak peeks at new tutorials before anyone else, sign up for the Eyedesyn Newsletter


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  • Love the effect but I’m struggling to use it on things like letters for a logo. When I scale down the object it does not fit within the original objects space it instead overlaps. Is there a way around this?

    • try using a displacer with a pure white color shader…

      • That is a great alternative, Sammy!

        Steven, if you need help with this check out my “Cartoon Outlines” with the boxing glove tutorial, I use this same technique but to displace the polygons out and not in.

        • I have tried this using a negative value to make it go in and it shows the sample object in the material getting smaller but doesn’t affect the actual object when I apply it and render.

          • try using the displacement deformer instead of the displacement channel in the material.

          • Still no joy. The displacement deformer breaks up the geometry in really odd ways.

            Frustrating as I think this would look awesome inside text.

          • Ok, I have found a slightly fiddly workaround which is to copy the ‘word’ object and inner extrude the front face, invert the selection and delete which leaves a smaller version which can then be extruded back and capped making a smaller version that fits inside the original object.

          • May want to just add some Fillet Caps and check the “Constrain”, therefore shrinking the text with the size of your fillet.

    • is this “the” Steven Walker of Walker FX?


  • Great tutorial….

    • Hey EJ! Super cool work and I appreciate your tutorials enormously. I would love if you could keep the lessons a bit shorter 🙂 Not sure if other people agree, but we usually have to fight against tight deadlines, and keeping tutorials short make a great difference 🙂 keep up the great work!

  • Hey, I really love your work! You were very inspirational, as always.
    I’d like to watch more tutorials about character modeling. I know that you – or somebody else here – had already posted a great content about it, but I miss something more focused on expressions and human characters with clothes and everything.

    Anyway, thanks a lot!

    • Hey Cissa!

      Really happy you enjoy my work and tutorials! I’m not too good with character stuff outside of my goofy little cartoon characters but I hope to do more of them in the future!

  • Could you make a tutorial on Justin Mallers Ghost II picture?

  • amazing tut!!!! thanks you

  • Love the idea of using a torus as a ring light! Also, these tuts are lifesavers for C4D lite users like myself. Many many thanks!

  • Great tutorial. What are the specs on your mac? Thing is a beast.

  • Thank you very much you help me so much for a project. Continue like this <3


    Here is my go at it. Love you tutorials by the way EJ.

  • Hi EJ, not sure if you check this or the vimeo more, so I’ll repost my comments here. Feel free to iggy whichever one is redundant!

    Awesome tutorial, thanks much!

    Quick question 1: how did you set up your color pickers the way you have them? Looks great.

    More Involved Question 2: when I’m trying the technique but putting the lighted object in a cloner I’m getting some weird artifacting. I’m putting the main body object and also the lighted body object in a cloner. I notice I need to use fix clone on both and not use render instances on the lighted body cloner, but I’m still getting some weird shading artifacting when I do this vs manually cloning the light bodies across the scene. Any idea what might be causing this?

    • Hey David!

      Q1: The color picker is the updated color picker in R17.

      Q2: Might be a limitation due to the cloner, but you definitely don’t want to turn on Render Instances as this has the tendency to muck up things that aren’t pure geometry. Might want to try putting the Object in one Cloner and the Light source in another cloner and see if that helps having 2 Cloners. If that doesn’t work you may just need to do it manually unfortunately

  • When my brother was little, he thought that the way carrots would improve his night vision was by making him glow in the dark, so he shut himself in a cabinet.

  • Great tut as usual EJ! This technique is really going to come in handy AND save time.

  • Hi, it didn’t work on the C4D Studio R15, because de material features have changed!

    Can you help me by doing this tutorial in a newer version?

    The steps don’t match here.


  • Can someone tell me how to model the carrots ?

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