Create a Gorgeous Abstract Greeble Scene in Cinema 4D
In this tutorial you will learn how to create a complex (around 600,000 polygons) abstract Greeble scene without getting into too much modeling. Loft NURBS, Sweep NURBS, Formula object, Structure tools, and Visible light will be used to create the scene, and Advanced Render will be applied to generate the final image. You will also learn some cool tricks on how to tweak the final rendered image, by modifying the visible light, and adding glare and depth of field in Photoshop.
Create a Plane object (Objects > Primitive > Plane) 800 x 800 m and 80 x 80 segments.
Create a Formula object (Objects > Deformation > Formula) and drag it under the Plane object.
Move the Formula object near to the edge of the Plane object.
In the Attributes of the formula object, modify d (u,v,x,y,z,t) to something that you like, but keep the formula wavy. I used "Sin((u)*2.0*pi)*0.2*((u+v)*0.3)".
Move and rotate the Plane object slightly. I used -2, -6.5, and -27 for x, y and z, and -4, 13, and 18 for h, p, and b.
Make the Plane object editable (Functions > Make Editable) and tweak the Plane using the move, scale and rotate tools with soft selection enabled. Note: For soft selection set a big radius (roughly 400 to 600 m) so you can tweak many polygons while keeping just a few selected.
Select all polygons (ctrl+a) and extrude them (Structure > Extrude) with an offset around 10 m, Var. 100%, and the "Preserve Groups" option unchecked.
Extrude the selected polygons again with same settings but set the Var. to 140%.
Use Extrude Inner (Structure > Extrude Inner) with an offset 1m on the selected polygons, then Extrude them with (Structure > Extrude) an offset of around 2m. Delete the Phong tag if it was assigned.
Find a good point of view and add a camera object. Note: I usually add a camera early so I can create my scene around the camera.
Create three linear Spline objects (Objects > Create Spline > Linear) around 500m in all axes. Change the Type to Cubic.
Create three Circle objects (Objects > Spline Primitive > Circle), with a radius of 40m, then create three SweepNURBS objects. Drag pairs of Circle objects and Spline objects into the SweepNURBS objects.
Select all three Spline objects and change the Intermediate Points to Uniform, and the Number to 16. Select all three Circle objects and change the Intermediate Points to Adaptive, and the Angle to 30 (all these numbers & angles may vary from spline to spline). You need this step to make most of the SweepNURBS polygons square-shaped. For all SweepNURBS objects, change the Caps option to None at both the Start and the End.
Make all of the SweepNURBS editable (C on keyboard). Select all of the polygons and Extrude them an Offset of 10m, a Var. at 90%, and Preserve Groups unchecked. Use Extrude Inner on the selected polygons with an Offset of 3.5m, and then Extrude selected with a negative Offset of around 6m. Delete the Phong tag.
Move the SweepNURBS behind the Extruded plane.
Create an Akima spline (Objects > Create Spline > Akima) around 1500m high, duplicate it, and move it to create some sort of arc.
Create a Loft NURBS object, and add both the Akima splines to it. Tweak Mesh Subdivision U and Mesh Subdivision V to make the polygons square (30 x 20 should do).
Make the Loft NURBS editable, select all of the polygons, and reverse the normals (Functions > Reverse Normals). Delete the Phong tag.
Extrude selected polygons (Offset around 100m, Var. 100%, Preserve Groups unchecked), use Extrude Inner on selected polygons (Offset 10m), extrude selected with Offset around -20m, Var ~90%.
Duplicate the Loft NURBS, move both objects behind all of the others, move up one of Loft NURBS objects slightly.
Create a Spline object above the plane, use B-Spline Type, with Intermediate Points as Subdivided and values of around 2 for Angle and Maximum Length.
Create a Circle object with a Radius of 10m, Intermediate Points as Adaptive, and an Angle of 15. Create a SweepNURBS object, and drag the Circle and B-Spline objects under it.
Create another B-spline with Intermediate Points as Subdivided, an Angle of 2, and a Maximum Length of 2m.
Duplicate the SweepNURBS object from step 22 and replace the spline object with the newly created one.
Select both SweepNURBS objects and make them editable. Delete caps.
Select all polygons in both splines, and Extrude them with an Offset of 3m, Var. at 100%, and Preserve Groups unchecked. Use Extrude Inner on selected polygons with an Offset of around 0.3m, then Extrude them again with an Offset of -1m and Var. at 100%.
Create a Sphere object (Objects > Primitive > Sphere) with a Radius of 50m, Segments at 34, and Type set to Hexahedron. Position it above the Plane and Sweeps.
Make the Sphere object editable, select all of the polygons, and Extrude them with an Offset of 10m, Var. at 90%, and Preserve Groups unchecked. Use Extrude Inner on selected polygons with an Offset of 1.5m, and then Extrude them again with an Offset of around 4m. Delete the Phong tag.
Time to set some environment parameters. Create a Sky object (Objects > Scene > Sky).
Create two Light objects with Colors of orange and grey-orange, Intensity of 70%, Type set to Spot, Shadow set to Area, and Visible Light set to Volumetric. Under Visibility, set the Outer Distance very high so it will go through plane object.
Create a Cube object (Objects > Primitive > Cube), and scale it up so it will cover the Plane and the two Sweeps. This Cube will be used to hide some areas of the scene from illumination.
Make the Cube object editable, and select and delete some polygons. Assign a Composition tag (right-click in Object Manager, Cinema 4D Tags > Compositing) and uncheck the Seen by Camera option.
Now you need some materials. Create a new material (double click in the material manager). Double click on the material to open the material editor.
Under Color, set the Brightness to 89%, and the Gradient as Texture. Under the Gradient Properties, set the Gradient to light orange and light blue colors, the Type to 2D-V, and Turbulence to 38%. Uncheck Specular and assign the material to the Sky object.
Create a new material and set its Color to white. Leave Specular as is, and assign this material to the Plane and both Loft NURBS.
Create a new material and set the Color as dark grey, and Brightness to 75%.
Under Reflection set the Brightness to 60%, use Fresnel as Texture, and set Mix Mode to Multiply.
Under Specular, set the Mode to Colored, Width to 91%, Height to 49%, Falloff to 3%, and Inner Width to 25%.
For Specular Color, set the Brightness to 350%, and the Mix Mode to Multiply. Use Lumas (Effects > Lumas) as the Texture, and under the Lumas settings uncheck Active at Shader. For Specular 1, 2, & 3 change only the Color to light grey. For Anisotropy check Active, and set Projection to Planar.
Assign this material to the three Sweep NURBS in the back.
Create a Danel shader (in the Material Manager click File > Shader > Danel). Under Diffuse change the Color to grey.
For Specular 2, change the Color to light grey.
For Specular 3, change the Color to blue (67, 130, 169), the Intensity to 60%, the Size to 60%, the Glare to 90%, and the Fallof to 39%.
For Reflection, change the Intensity to 15%, and the Edge Intensity to 45%.
Check Anisotropy, set the Projection to Shrink Wrap, and check Specular 3.
Assign this material to both of the SweepNURBS at the front.
Duplicate the Danel shader material, and for Diffuse change the Color to bright orange (219, 116, 0).
For Specular 2, change the Color to light orange, and for Specular 3, change the Color to orange. Select all other parameters by clicking on them while holding Shift, then right-click and choose Reset to Default.
For Anisotropy change the Projection to Planar, and uncheck Specular 3.
Assign this material to the Sphere.
Add compositing tags to all of the objects except the lights, the Sky object, the Camera Object, and the Cube that already has a compositing tag assigned to it. Enable Object Buffer for all of the Compositing tags. Note: Make sure you set a unique buffer number for each object (1 for plane, 2 for first Sweep NURBS and so on). This will help you get rid of errors in the render if they occur.
Open the Render Settings (Render > Render Settings...). Under Output, set the Width and Height to your requirements (I used 2400 x 1800 at 300 DPI). Under Save check Save in Multi-Pass Image. For Multi-Pass include Diffuse, Reflection, Global Illumination, Atmosphere, Depth, Illumination, and all Object Buffers. Also, change Separate Lights to All, and change Anti-Aliasing to Best.
Add a Global Illumination effect. Under General, set the GI Mode to IR + QMC (Still Image), and change the Diffuse Depth to 2. Under Irradiance Cache, change the Cache Refinement to Medium, the Oversampling to Medium, and check Distance Map. Render.
Open the rendered file in Photoshop.
In both light groups duplicate the Specular layer.
Duplicate the Atmosphere layer three times and merge the copies. Use the Smudge tool, Blur tool, and Surface Blur (Filter > Blur > Surface Blur) to blend the colors of visible light.
Duplicate the Illumination layer and drop it above all of the other layers. Change the Blend mode to Soft Light, and the Opacity to 50%.
Isolate the Sky from the Diffuse layer by going to the Channels palette and selecting all of the object buffers, then inverting the selection. Copy it to a new layer on top, and change the Blend Mode to Multiply, and the Opacity to 30%.
Make sure that all desired layers are visible and press ctrl+shift+alt+E to create a new merged layer. To add a glare effect, apply a Gaussian Blur filter ( Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur) and erase or mask certain areas. Change the Blend Mode to Screen.
Press ctrl+shift+alt+E again, then apply a Lens Blur ( Filter > Blur > Lens Blur). In the Lens Blur window, change the Source to Depth and choose appropriate Blur Focal Distance and Iris settings. Congratulations, you're done! Hope you learned something new!!