How to Create Great 3D Cloth in Cinema 4D

How to Create Cloth in Cinema 4D

Cloth comes in such a variety of finishes. The way it creases and flows gives limitless ways to photograph or film it. And when it comes to animation, cloth blowing in the wind is such an eye-catcher. Here's how to get started with cloth using Cinema 4D.

How 3D Cloth Works

There are three main aspects to creating cloth in 3D software:

Modelling the cloth. You could either make the cloth yourself using Cinema 4D's modelling tools, or use a specialist clothing modelling tool. Another option is to buy a ready-made model from a company like TurboSquid.

Letting the cloth hang. This could be part of your modelling process, where you shape the cloth to hang in the correct areas, or you can use a cloth engine to relax or hang the cloth on a model.

Animating the cloth. If you need to animate, I would strongly recommend using a cloth engine to take care of this for you, unless you're making figure-hugging clothes which won't swing about. So leggings or tight jeans would be fine to animate using standard tools, but a cloth engine is best for something like a dress.

What is a Cloth Engine?

A cloth engine is a special set of tools that will allow an object to behave like clothing in real life. So rather than the model being static, it can become dynamic and interact with forces like gravity and wind or other objects. It's also worth pointing out that cloth engines aren't just for animation. You can use them to have cloth fall into a natural position or just render out a specific frame.

Cinema 4D has a cloth engine in the Studio version, as part of the Simulation tools. There are various other cloth engines on the market. But the best choice really depends on what sort of cloth you want to make. Here are several cloth scenarios and my suggestions for the best way of creating them.

A Flag Blowing in the Wind

This is a fairly simple job for a cloth engine and Cinema 4D's cloth system in Studio will do this in seconds for you. No need to invest in anything extra. Above is our own Matt Umney's tutorial, which shows you how to create a flag.

Cloth Draped Over Something

This is more demanding because now you have collisions occurring between objects. Again, you should find that Cinema 4D's cloth system can do this pretty easily. Above is another movie by Matt showing how to achieve this.

Clothing on a Character

Now things get interesting. If the clothing is tight, then you could just model it. It's mainly wrinkles and folds in cloth which can be tough to model, so looser garments may be easier to create using a cloth engine. Another option may be to just buy a model from the likes of TurboSquid. For example, you can get a detailed pair of jeans, fully modelled and textured, for around $35. When you factor in your time required to make a similar model and get the materials looking as good, then pre-built models can save you money as well as time.

Another option is to use Cinema 4D's cloth system, which has an interesting tool called Dress-O-Matic (see above). Using this, you make the front and back of the cloth item and place them around your character. You then you choose which areas should be pulled together to form the clothing. The system works quite well, but does rely on you making a reasonable cloth outline first.

If you're interested in creating clothing that will interact with an animated character, now that is getting pretty advanced. If the character and cloth isn't hugely detailed, then Cinema 4D's cloth engine should be fine for the job. But if you're going to do this a lot, I'd recommend you look at using Marvelous Designer.

What is Marvelous Designer?

It's the industry standard for creating and animating 3D cloth. It's used for loads of high-end character work where clothes are used. It's very helpful for all three aspects of cloth generation that I mentioned at the start of this post. With it you can build cloth, apply it to your models and then have it interact perfectly with them. The latter part is the most demanding job for a cloth engine and Marvelous Designer has this absolutely nailed.

Although I always like to try and keep workflow within Cinema 4D where I can, I also like to share with you the best ways of dealing with certain tasks. And if you want to make the best clothing on animated characters for Cinema 4D, then Marvelous Designer is the way to go, if you can justify the cost and time to learn the software. Their licencing is very reasonable for personal licences at $50 a month, but enterprise is a lot more at $1700 a year. If you're a freelancer, it may be worth contacting them to see if they will allow you to be classed as a personal user.

How To Use Marvelous Designer with Cinema 4D

While writing this blog, I came across this rather handy tutorial by Fabian Rosenkranz for working with Cinema 4D and Marvelous Designer. Although the tutorial is quite old, Fabian tells me it still works well to teach Cinema 4D artists the workflow.

And here's a link to the script which he mentions in the video.

Fabian has done a huge amount of character and cloth work using Cinema 4D which you can see on his website. In his opinion, Marvelous Designer's cloth system is the way to go for clothing on animated characters. He's also planning to update the above movie at some point, so keep an eye on his website. Fabian has been using Cinema 4D for many years and also has a bunch of other handy things on his site.

Adding Daz 3D and Mixamo Too

When you talk about clothing, you inevitably talk about character animation too. While I was researching this post I also came across a very handy movie which shows you how to take a Daz 3D model and then apply movement from Mixamo and finally clothing from Marvelous Designer. It's some 45 minutes long, but it's a very worthwhile watch.

As you can see from the above movie, you can get a convincing character animation very quickly by combining the three tools together. In this case, the workflow is:

  • Select a Daz 3D Model
  • Import into Mixamo and add animation data
  • Import into Marvelous Designer and add clothing
  • Import into Cinema 4D to create the rest of the scene, animate and render

I've not written about Daz 3D and Mixamo before. Daz 3D is a 3D application which is particularly good for characters. They have an online store with a huge number of characters you can buy, customise, pose and animate if you wish. Mixamo is a very interesting resource which lets you upload your 3D characters and then apply pre-built animation to them. This is all nicely shown in the above movie.

Hopefully this has been a useful read for you if you're already a Cinema 4D user or if you're just starting to find out about clothing and character animation. If you've not tried Cinema 4D yet, grab a trial below! And if you have Cinema 4D, then why not sign up to this blog? Just fill out your email at the bottom of this page.

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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.