Using the Cel Shader to Apply an Illustrative 2D Style to 3D Objects in Cinema 4D

May 23, 2014


Since presenting for MAXON at NAB 2014, I’ve received a bunch of requests asking me to go further in depth on how I used the Cel Shader in a client spot in my presentation. In this tutorial, I’ll show you just that: how to create and apply a cool, stylistic, flat, illustrative 2D look to 3D objects in Cinema 4D. We will achieve this look by using the often overlooked Cel Shader & Spline Shader. Learning how to leverage C4D in your 2D workflow is critical when it comes to saving time creating elements and animating. If you’ve ever tried to make something look 3D with 2D objects, you know how painstaking it can be to sell the 3D depth using flat layers. I’ll also show how you can use the Cel Shader to apply shadows to objects with 100% luminance. One final note, be sure when you render to turn up the Anti-Aliasing settings as well as using a sharper Filter than Animation; such as Cubic (Still Image) or Sync so you have nice crisp edges in your animation to sell the 2D style.

Here’s the tutorial I mention in this video that shows you how to create the text material using a Spline Shader that is applied on the ribbon element:
Using the Spline Shader in C4D to Create Text as a Material

And here’s my MAXON NAB 2014 Presentation where I go over many ways to use Cinema 4D in a 2D workflow:
My MAXON NAB 2014 Presentation
And here’s the scene file I used in this tutorial that you guys can mess around with:



Visit Eyedesyn For More From EJ

Tutorial Focus:  , ,
Software:  ,

  • nice tutorial great 🙂

  • sorry Ej nice tutorial 🙂 😀 i have one NAB means what it is animation presentation studio 🙂

  • i have one problem in transform plugin when i check full update it says its a demo version what shall i do 🙁

  • No one commented?!

    Really great tutorial, that’s a really nice and quick way to do a flat illustration style.

    Thanks a lot, I will use that technique for sure.

  • Riccardo Zaffalon June 23, 2014 at 11:00 am

    Cool and well explained!
    Looking forward for your next tutorials EJ!

  • It WOULD be nice to see the animation itself in the end… so we can see what the cellshaded shadows look like animated.

  • Thanks for this Tutorial, tried it and it came out really great. Thanks alot ;0)

  • This tutorial is killer, I was wondering if you had any idea on how to do glass in a cel shaded style? I am trying to make a beaker type thing that is 2d looking any ideas?

    • Immediately I’d think you should add a Cel Shader to the Alpha channel of a material and work with it there. Camera option enabled so you have some sort of outline and then a nice specular highlight.

  • Hey E.J. ,
    Man this is great stuff. Today i practiced on my own logo.
    There’s still a lot to learn, but hé wtf my nephew liked it !

  • EJ, the spline shader info is one of the most useful, greatest things I’ve learned from any Cinema 4d tutorial. Seriously. Thank you.

  • How do you export this out with a straight alpha channel and transparent background?

  • 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.