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  1. 3D & Motion Graphics
  2. Low-Poly
Cgi

How to Create a Low Poly Floating Island in C4D

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Difficulty:IntermediateLength:MediumLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Learn Cinema 4D quickly and easily by creating a Floating Island Landscape. Follow this tutorial step by step for use in video games, graphic design and illustration projects.

You can use the popular low poly style for this project. Some of the skills you'll learn will include creating basic 3D shapes, manipulating them, and using basic lighting and rendering. 

1. How to Create Low Poly Sphere

Step 1

Open Cinema 4D and take a look at the top menu bar of the screen. You'll find almost all the tools that you will need to create the floating island. 

Primary-Click and Hold on the blue Add Cube Object button. This reveals a sub menu where you can click to create more objects. Select the Sphere tool by clicking on it.

Choosing a Sphere from the menu
Choosing a Sphere from the menu

Step 2

Once the sphere has been created, change the properties of the sphere in the lower right-hand corner of the screen. 

Under the Object tab, scale the sphere up from 100cm to 250cm. For this tutorial, I've changed the Segments to 100 and the sphere type to Octahedron.

Editing the Sphere parameters in the object options
Editing the Sphere parameters in the object options

Step 3

Untick Render Perfect and remove the Phong Tag. Do this by clicking on it to select it and then pressing Delete or Backspace on the keyboard. This allows us to render the sphere in the low poly style (otherwise it will appear smooth when it is rendered).

Deleting the Phong Tag and unticking Render Perfect
Deleting the Phong Tag and unticking Render Perfect

Step 4

Primary-Click and Hold on the blue Bend button. This reveals a sub menu where you can click to create more objects. Select Polygon Reduction.

Choosing Polygon Reduction from the menu
Choosing Polygon Reduction from the menu

Step 5

Now click and drag the Polygon Reduction so that it is under Sphere. Now go to the Options tab, and place the Reduction Strength at around 92%.

Click and drag the Polygon Reduction
Click and drag the Polygon Reduction

Step 6

Primary-Click and Hold on the blue Bend button to select Displacer. 

Choosing Displacer from the menu
Choosing Displacer from the menu

Step 7

Click and drag Displacer so that it is situated above Polygon Reduction.

Click and drag Displacer
Click and drag Displacer

Step 8

With Displacer selected, go to the Shading Tab. Here you will be able to select Shader > Noise.

Editing Shading tab
Editing Shading tab

Step 9

Go to the Object Tab and play about with the settings here until you come up with a shape that you like. For this tutorial I have put the value at 30cm Height.

Editing Object tab
Editing Object tab

Step 10

Go to the top menu bar and select MoGraph > Effector > Random. Place Random in the Sphere Object with the others (above Displacer) and select the Deformer tab.

From there select Polygon. You can then go to the Parameter tab and the play about with the options there until you are happy with the shape. 

Editing Deformer tab
Editing Deformer tab

2. How to Model a Floating Island

Step 1

In order to make any further changes to the sphere, I will need to make it editable. To do this, ensure the sphere is selected and click on the Make Editable button in the top right of the screen. 

Once you do this, you will not have access to some of the previous options such as radius, segments, type, render perfect. Ensure you're happy with the sphere setup before moving on to this step.

Clicking the Make Editable button
Clicking the Make Editable button

Step 2

Ensuring the sphere is still selected, click on the Polygons button. This changes the appearance of the sphere temporarily in order to make the modelling process easier. Then click the Live Selection Tool.

Selecting the Live Selection Tool
Selecting the Live Selection Tool

Step 3

With the Live Selection Tool selected, right click and select Brush. In the options, set Falloff > Constant and set the Mode > Surface. 

You can also adjust the Strength and Radius settings as well to suit your preference. For the purpose of this tutorial I will set the Strength > -25% and the Radius > 75cm. 

Editing brush options
Editing brush options

Step 4

Use the cursor to brush over the sphere object to manipulate it into the shape that you want the island to be.

Using the brush
Using the brush

Step 5

Deselect your sphere to check out how the low poly island looks.

Checking the island
Checking the island

3. How to Cut the Floor of the Island

Step 1 

Create a Cube by clicking on the cube object button and resize it so that it is large enough to cover the top half of the island. Make sure that the part of the sphere you cover is that section you wish to cut.

Using the new cube
Using the new cube

Step 2 

Go to the top menu and select Array > Boole. Once you have selected Boole, click and drag both the Sphere and the Cube into it. Ensure the Sphere is placed above the Cube.

Selecting Boole from the menu
Selecting Boole from the menu

Step 3

Where the cube overlaps the sphere is where you will cut the floor. You can now select the cube object and move it up and down to find a spot that you like best. 

Cutting the top of the island
Cutting the top of the island

4. How to Create the Mountains

Step 1

Now it is time to create the mountains. Go to the top menu again and select Cube > Landscape. This will spawn a landscape plane. 

Selecting Landscape from menu
Selecting Landscape from menu

Step 2

In the options menu, experiment with the Size settings—particularly the middle option—until you create the size of the mountain that you like.

Editing the size parameters
Editing the size parameters

Step 3

You can also use the Scale Tool (T) to resize the mountain to the desired size.

Scaling the Landscape
Scaling the Landscape

Step 4

Delete the Phong Tag which is located on the right side of the landscape object. This will help give the mountain the Low Poly look.

Deleting the Phong Tag from the Landscape
Deleting the Phong Tag from the Landscape

Step 5

Making sure that the Landscape is still selected, make the Width Segments > 15 and the Depth Segments > 15.

Editing width and height segments from the landscape
Editing width and height segments from the landscape

Step 6

Use the Move Tool (E) to move the mountain into place. Put the base of the mountain inside the floor.

Placement of the landscape on the island
Placement of the landscape on the island

Step 7

Go to the top menu bar, select Bend > Polygon Reduction and drag it into the mountain. Edit the look of the mountain further by editing the Reduction Strength.

Selecting Polygon Reduction from the menu
Selecting Polygon Reduction from the menu

Step 8

Repeat the same steps to create a few more mountains and arrange them to your liking. Change the Seed in the options menu to change the look of the mountain.

Editing the landscape
Editing the landscape

Step 9

Ensure you have the mountain Landscape selected. By clicking up or down on the Seed option you can scroll through different randomised mountain shapes. Select a number that you like. 

Remember you can always go back through all the different options that you used—Polygon Reduction, Displacer and Random—to further tweak the island and landscapes to the shapes that you like.

Choosing the Seed for the Landscape
Choosing the Seed for the Landscape

5. How to Create Mini Trees

Step 1

To create the trees for our floating island, go back to the blue Add Cube Object button again. Primary-Click-Hold and then select the Pyramid tool from the menu.

Selecting Pyramid from the menu
Selecting Pyramid from the menu

Step 2

With the Pyramid selected, click on the Make Editable button and use the Scale Tool to resize it and reshape it to the appropriate size.

Scaling the Pyramid
Scaling the Pyramid

Step 3

Select the Points Tool on the left side of the screen and then use the Move Tool (E) to move the top of the Pyramid down a little. This squashes the object a little bit so that I can fit a second Pyramid underneath. 

If you prefer the look of a taller tree, however, you can leave it as it is or even move the point further up.

Squashing the Pyramid
Squashing the Pyramid

Step 4

Next, you will want to duplicate the pyramid. Control-Click-Drag on your object on the right of the screen. Then using the Move Tool (E) place one pyramid on top of the other.

Duplicating the Pyramid
Duplicating the Pyramid

Step 5

For the tree trunk, we'll need to create a cube. Click on the Cube button and following the same steps as before scale it down and position it below the two pyramids to create a tree. 

Group all the tree objects together by selecting them all and pressing Alt-G. Before duplicating the group and adding it to the island, I'll move on to the next step where we will learn how to add colour.

Adding the Cube
Adding the Cube

6. How to Add Colour to 3D Objects

Step 1

To add some colour to our 3D objects, click on the Create button at the bottom left of the screen. Then select New Material.

Select New Material from menu
Select New Material from menu

Step 2

Double click on the small sphere icon that appears. In the material editor, you have access to a variety of options that will change the appearance and properties of the shapes that you create. 

Untick Reflectance.

Untick Reflectance from Material
Untick Reflectance from Material

Step 3

Click on Color. Choose the colour you want—you can see the colour I have used for the tree below. Once you've chosen the colour, close the material editor. 

Choosing a new colour
Choosing a new colour 

Step 4

Click-Drag the material onto your tree to apply the material colour.

Adding the colour to the tree
Adding the colour to the tree

Step 5

Repeat the steps for the tree trunk and rest of the floating island.

Adding the colours to the rest of the model
Adding the colours to the rest of the model

7. How to Group and Duplicate you Objects

Step 1

I'll begin to populate out floating island with the trees that I created earlier. I must first select all the objects associated with the tree (cube, pyramid x2) and then press Alt-G on the keyboard to create a group. 

Rename the group from Null to Tree and duplicate the group to create more trees.

Grouping objects in the scene
Grouping objects in the scene

Step 2

Hold the Control key on the keyboard while you Click and Drag the tree group to the section below. This duplicates the whole group.

Do this several times until you have the desired number of trees for the island.

New tree groups in the scene
New tree groups in the scene

Step 3

Use the Move Tool (E) to move the trees around the island.

Placing the trees on the island
Placing the trees on the island

8. How to Create the Moon

Step 1

To create the moon for the floating island, return to the blue Add Cube Object button again. Left Click-Hold and then select the Sphere tool from the menu.

Creating a new Sphere from the menu
Creating a new Sphere from the menu

Step 2

Delete the Phong Tag. I'll add a Polygon Reduction and a Displacer to the Sphere. Edit the settings to your liking as before.

Editing the new Sphere
Editing the new Sphere

Step 3

Add a colour to the moon and use the Move Tool (E) to the location that you like.

Choosing a colour for the Sphere
Choosing a colour for the Sphere

9. How to add Lighting and Render the Scene

Step 1

Choose a suitable angle in the viewport by navigating around the scene. Click on the Camera button at the top to create a camera.

Select Camera from the menu
Select Camera from the menu

Step 2

To set up the basic lighting, you’ll want to go to the Floor button located in the top menu bar. Left Click-Hold and then select Physical Sky from the menu.

Select Physical Sky from the menu
Select Physical Sky from the menu

Step 3

Ensuring that Physical Sky is selected in the menu on the right, a new menu will appear on the bottom right of the screen. Select the Time and Location tab and choose a time using the left and right arrow keys. This changes the lighting.

Choose lighting using Time and Location tab
Choose lighting using Time and Location tab

Step 4

Click on the Render Settings button on the top menu bar.

Click the Render Settings button
Click the Render Settings button

Step 5

Choose the resolution, height and width of your image. For this tutorial I have chosen 1920x1200 72dpi.

Choosing Output settings
Choosing Output settings

Step 6

Choose where you'd like to save your file and the file name. You may wish to tick Alpha Channel on, if you want to continue editing the image in another program like Adobe Photoshop.

Choosing Save settings
Choosing Save settings

Step 7

Go to the Effect button at the bottom left and select both Ambient Occlusion and Global Illumination from the drop down menu. This will add these options to the render.

Adding Ambient Occlusion and Global Illumination
Adding Ambient Occlusion and Global Illumination

Step 8

Click the Render button and wait for your render to finish!

Conclusion

And with that, the 3D Floating Island is complete. Feel free to share your own creations below. 

You can also export the image into Adobe Photoshop to enhance it further or to use it as part of a larger illustration. 

Final rendered image of the Floating Island
Final rendered image of the Floating Island
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