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Cinema 4D - A Look at Nurbs

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In today's tutorial, Jamie Faulkner walks us through the different Nurbs tools available within Cinema 4D - the Sweep, the Bezier, the Hypernurbs, the Lathe, the Extrude and the Loft! Let's take a look...

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The sweep NURBS is a tool that uses two objects, a spline and an object spline such as a circle or N side. The sweep NURBS combines these two objects and makes them into one, using the object spline for the width and overall shape, and the other spline to define the length and curve.

Open up Cinema4D!

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Now, in the front view port change the camera so the green and red line (axis) appear as shown below - we're now looking down the Z-axis. We do this to ensure that we can accurately position the objects we'll be creating.

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Grab a cubic spline from the spline palette and draw out something something similar to the shape shown below.

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If you're not happy with what you've drawn whilst creating, rather than delete the whole spline you can use the live selection function to grab points and move them interactively to change the shape of the spline.

Once you have created your spline, go and grab a circle from the spline pallet and also the Sweep nurbs tool from the nurbs pallet.

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Now in the objects manager, grab both the circle object and the spline object and drag them inside the Sweep nurbs object as shown.

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You should now see that your object has been thickened! Essentially, we have extruded (or 'swept') the circle along the spline, to form the new object. You can edit this interactively by clicking on the circle object and scaling it down with the scale tool (short-cut T). Once you have scaled down the circle slightly you should be left with something like this.

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And that is the basics of the sweep nurbs tool! Obviously you can create these objects in which ever shape and form you wish, whether it be to create ornate sculptures, wires and cables, or even skirting boards! It's a very useful tool which can really speed up your workflow.

We'll now move onto the hypernurbs tool. This tool is extremely useful for creating organic shapes and can save you a lot of modeling time. It essentially changes the shape of an object by doubling the amount of polygons, whilst smoothing the overall structure to give you a smooth edge.

Start by grabbing a cube. If you now grab a hypernurbs and, in the Object Manager, drag the cube into the hypernurbs object, you'll see that the hypernurbs will transform our cube into a sphere - not what we want! If you now select the cube, go into it's attributes manager and raise the number of segments, the whole object starts looking much more cube-like, but stays smooth on the corners.

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The settings shown above will result in a cube that looks like :

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Now click the live selection tool to make the cube editable (short cut C). If you now grab the polygon tool you can start selecting some polygons. Here I've selected all of the polygons that make up the middle of this face of the cube.

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If you now go to Structure > Extrude (or use the shortcut D), left-click in the view port and drag you'll see that the polygons extrude in or out, but still maintain that nice curved edge. Feel free to experiment with this to see what shapes you can make!

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There are also some settings you can change in the attributes manager of the hypernurbs object itself. You could add more subdivisions so that the smooth edges of the object become yet more subdivided, and appear smoother. There are also different types of subdivision, though personally I use the Linear 7 type as I think it looks a little smoother than Cat Mull Clark in my final renders.

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Now though, what if you don't want the whole cube to be curved like this? Well if you use the polygon tool to reselect some of the polygons along the top, and then hold in the full stop/period key and drag the mouse left and right, you'll see that those edges will shift between smoothed, and hard-edged. This is called edge-weighting and can be extremely useful when adding hard-edges to otherwise organic shapes.

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Now we will start on the lathe nurbs. The lathe nurbs tool is an extremely useful tool to use when creating circular/cylindrical objects such as cups, plates and bowls. In essence, it takes a spline and revolves it around a specified access. As it revolves, the spline will dictate the edges of the object, building up a solid model bit-by-bit. It's a very very useful tool!

Start by grabbing the cubic spline tool (previously used in the sweep nurbs section above), go in to the front view port and create a design something similar to the one below, which, as you'll see in a second, is actually the cross-section of a cup!

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Now that you've made your source spline, go to the nurbs pallet and grab the lathe nurbs tool. If you now drag your spline object into the lathe nurbs object, you should be left with something like this :

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A rather elegant cup - simple but effective! If you dislike the shape once it has been lathed, (for example, I think mine is a little bit too short) just grab the scale tool (Short cut T) and use the red and green axis to transform/scale your spline object. Here's my now slightly taller cup :

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If you now go into the lathe nurb's attributes panel, you'll see that there are some more options we can take a look at. If you change the Rotation value so that it's lower, you'll see that you are no longer creating a full glass, but instead only a segment of it (useful for creating semi-circular objects). If you change the Subdivision amount, you'll notice that the mesh gets more dense, which in turn makes the glass look much more rounded - useful for close-up renders, especially as I didn't use many spline points in my initial shape! There are also settings to change the movement of the lathe as it rotates. Make sure you play around and see what all of the individual settings do - it's important to know these things and you're not going to break anything by doing it!

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So we'll now move onto loft nurbs, which creates a surface connecting the two parented inside it, essentially morphing one object into another! Test this out by grabbing 2 star shape splines from the spline pallet as well as a loft nurbs tool from the nurbs pallet.

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Now change the position/rotation/scale of one of the stars so that they aren't right on top of one another. Then drag both stars inside the loft nurbs object and you'll see a solid 3D surface appear between them!

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Onto bezier nurbs! This is essentially a smooth plane object that you can easily deform to create hills and troughs - and it's obviously a great tool to use when creating simple landscapes!

First grab the bezier nurbs and alter the rotation so that it lays flat on the floor.

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Now head to the attributes manager for the bezier nurbs. Changing the X & Y grid points will enable you to have greater control over the deformation of the mesh object, but for this test I'll just set both to 8.

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If you now activate the live selection tool like before, and then grab the points tool, you can click select points on the surface of the object's grid (shown here in blue), and then use the axis controls to move them around in space. As you do so, you'll see the grey grid below deform and warp, forming a much smoother version of the grid shape you've created!

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So onto the last tool - the extrude nurbs. I personally use this mainly for creating custom 3d text, when Cinema's built in text tool doesn't supply me with enough options!

Start by grabbing the text object from the spline pallet, as well as an extrude nurbs tool from the nurbs pallet. Now with the text selected, head to the attributes manager and change the text itself to whatever is required.

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If you now grab the text object and drag it into the extrude nurbs object, you'll see that the text instantly becomes much thicker!

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In the extrude nurb's attributes manager you'll find some settings that can give us greater control of our object. For example, movement alters the direction of the extrude itself, so you can have the back faces of the text object higher or lower than the front.

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If you click in the Caps tab, you'll see that you have some settings which can give your text a much different appearance. Play around with the different cap types and steps to see what they do!

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And that's it for this quick intro to Nurbs in Cinema 4D. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Feel free to leave me a comment if you have any problems or questions. Thank you for reading!

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