Cinema 4D For 3D Product Visualisation

Cinema 4D is an excellent choice for 3D product visualisation. Whether you need to create everything from scratch, or you just want to make your product designs from other apps look fantastic, Cinema 4D can help.


What is Cinema 4D?

Put simply, Cinema 4D is general-purpose 3D software used for creating still images or animations. It's like having your own film or photographic studio, but you create the models from scratch, buy them from model banks or import them from other 3D applications. 3D software is usually used to create any imagery that is too expensive or difficult to create by other methods.

Cinema 4D can be used to create pretty much anything, and that includes products. You can create entire scenes from scratch or import scenes from other applications such as SolidWorks or SketchUp and use Cinema 4D for texturing, lighting, rendering and animation.

Cinema 4D For Product Visualisation

As you can see from the above movie, Cinema 4D is capable of some gorgeous results. This particular reel focuses on product viz work, but the software can do much more than that.

Cinema 4D has a complete feature set, which means you can create, texture, light and render your products all in just one piece of software, if you wish. That said, lots of product designers use Cinema 4D to animate and render products designed in other software. Here's how Cinema 4D can perform in each 3D discipline:


Modelling Products

Cinema 4D has a powerful suite of modelling tools, enabling you to model anything. The system is polygon-based and also offers subdivision surface tools, giving you many different ways to create models.

As you can see from the above image, Cinema 4D is capable of very precise, technical modelling. There's an array of options to type in accurate measurements, or if you prefer working by eye, you can do that too. There are lots of modelling tools that are great for free-form shapes as well, like a sofa, soft toy, etc. 

One thing to note is that Cinema 4D is a surface modeller and as such, it isn't suited to product designers who want to send out solid model data to a CNC machine. But if you're more interested in 3D printing, then that is well-supported by Cinema 4D.


Texturing Products

Most 3D applications offer basic texturing of models, but few offer tools to rival the power of Cinema 4D. The software contains powerful mapping and painting tools, which let you tackle any texturing job, no matter how complicated. The built-in BodyPaint 3D toolset offers 3D painting and image editing tools. You can project text, images and materials directly onto your model and you don't even have to worry about UV mapping seams thanks to the awesome projection painting mode. As if that's not enough, you can even paint multiple material channels (such as colour, bump and reflection) in one brush stroke! Graphics tablets are supported well, and you have a lot of control over how aspects like pen pressure are interpreted.

Cinema 4D's material system is easy to learn and offers loads of channels enabling you to recreate any material you need. As well as the usual colour, reflectance, bump, etc. that you may know about, Cinema 4D also supports the likes of displacement, alpha channels and so much more.

And if the above still isn't enough for you, then you can add plugins for further material options. For example, Allegorithmic's Substance tools can be used with Cinema 4D. This allows powerful node-based shaders to be used directly within Cinema 4D, ensuring you can create some extremely detailed and complex-looking materials, should the need arise.


Lighting Products

Omni, spot, sun, IES, HDRI, caustics, global illumination and much more, Cinema 4D's lighting has you covered for any scenario you can imagine. Lighting is an area where Cinema 4D really shines. You can set up your lighting from scratch with a variety of tools that are easy to understand. Cinema 4D also smartly presents you with options where the main, simple choices are on the first tab of options and then you can delve deeper for further control, if you want to.

It's easy to get confused by the many options available for lighting. However, Cinema 4D contains pre-built scenes which you can use to easily light your product. Simply drop your object into a pre-built scene, hit render and you're done! Even better, you can adapt the scenes to suit your preferences.

Animating Products

Some product design tools offer animation capabilities, but this is an area where Cinema 4D outclasses most solutions! Take a look at some of Bomper Studio's work above. As you can see, that's a tad more interesting than the average product visualisation.

Cinema 4D is massively used in the broadcast industry to generate motion graphics where demand for advanced animation is huge. Whilst product designers don't tend to need such advanced animation tools, it's good to know you can create highly sophisticated animation should you need it.

Naturally, Cinema 4D can handle the easy stuff, like simple product motion, and that is a cinch to do. But everyone can do that kind of work these days. You'll also find that the software can handle more complex animation, like physical simulations of objects colliding, complex interactions, particles, smoke, cloth, character animation, and so much more.

If you're familiar with tools like After Effects, Final Cut Pro or Premiere, you should feel right at home with Cinema 4D. You can either animate without having to delve into the timeline, or you can jump in there and things will seem familiar - the timeline is designed to feel like popular animation editing tools.

Animation can be output in any size or at frame rate you need, in a multitude of formats. You can even export After Effects project files, making compositing a breeze.


Rendering Products

Cinema 4D offers standard or physical rendering, both of which provide you with infinite possibilities for final image creation. The software supports a mass of render options including global illumination, depth of field, non-photorealistic rendering, hair, caustics and so much more.

If you need still images, Cinema 4D can render out width and height of up to a whopping 128,000 pixels on 64-bit computers. That would make for one huge billboard! Animation can be output in any size or frame rate you need in a multitude of formats.

Perhaps Cinema 4D's most powerful render option though is Multi-Pass rendering. This allows you to output image data on separate layers, allowing easy compositing in your favourite image or movie editor. This makes it a doddle to tweak images rather than re-render. Shadows too dark? Just brighten the shadow layer!

One other recent addition, which is great for product designers, is the Take system. This makes it easy to create multiple variations of your scene - e.g. different materials or camera setups - in the same file. This is really useful for handling multiple variations of products. Suppose you need to render out the same product in a dozen different finishes, and they all need to use the same lighting. What if your client wants you to tweak the lighting? With takes, you only have to change the lighting once, you don't have to update a dozen different files. Once you are used to takes, you won't want to go back to the hassle of maintaining multiple files!

Importing Products From Other 3D Applications

If you want to use Cinema 4D with other 3D applications, it supports a huge range of formats including: 3D Studio, Alembic, COLLADA, DEM, DWG, DXF, FBX, IGES (limited), SKP, STL, VRLM 2 and Wavefront OBJ.

For even more options, take a look at Okino Polytrans (Windows only) which supports file conversion of many formats to Cinema 4D. Other popular apps for file conversion include MoI 3D or Rhino 3D (both available for Mac or Windows), which are often used to convert STEP files to OBJ, which is well supported by Cinema 4D.

Why Consider Adding Cinema 4D to Your Pipeline?

Cinema 4D gives so many options for product visualisation that your only limitation is your imagination. You can create any scene or effect you can imagine to make sure your work stands out from the crowd. As Cinema 4D is truly general-purpose, professional 3D software, you're not bound by a look that is the same as many others, which can be said of results from certain 'drag-and-drop content' type 3D apps. With Cinema 4D, you have full control over every aspect of your scene creation, enabling you to ensure your work remains truly unique.

As you start using Cinema 4D, you'll soon notice some of the software's key benefits, including:

  • Intuitive interface
  • Renowned stability
  • Massive, versatile feature set
  • Fast, efficient workflow
  • Fantastic workflow with Photoshop and After Effects

Various Configurations for Various Needs and Budgets

Quite unusually for 3D software, Cinema 4D still comes in various configurations to suit the needs and budgets of customers. You can also upgrade from one to another if you so wish. Cinema 4D comes in four configurations:

Cinema 4D Prime - Designed with the core features that make it an ideal choice for those new to 3D who want to toe-dip or produce less demanding 3D work.

Cinema 4D Broadcast - Designed for those who work in TV Broadcast. This pack contains all the features of Prime as well as some specific tools for more advanced rendering and creation of eye-catching motion graphics.

Cinema 4D Visualize - Designed for those who work in product or building visualisation. This configuration provides Cinema 4D's best render tools for highly realistic or stylised renders, as well as special content to help populate your scenes with furniture and objects.

Cinema 4D Studio - Contains all the features of the other editions as well as hair, a physics engine, network rendering and advanced character and particle tools.

All of the above are available as perpetual licences, which means you can buy them outright and use them for as long as you need. Cinema 4D Studio is also available as a short-term licence where you can buy three or six months of run-time.


Try Cinema 4D 3D Software for Yourself

Easy to use, powerful, stable and fast. If you'd like to try out Cinema 4D and have a go with all the powerful features on offer, then be sure to grab yourself a free trial. The trial gives you access to virtually all of Cinema 4D's features and you can also opt to activate it for 42 days of save functionality. Simply fill out the form on the link below to get started!

Get my free Cinema 4D trial!


Subscribe to Email Updates

About the MAXON Blog

Welcome to the official MAXON UK Blog. This blog provides the most up-to-date official information about MAXON, its products – in particular its flagship product Cinema 4D – and the Cinema 4D community. You can expect to see posts from a wide variety of MAXON UK employees.