With Solidworks creating highly accurate product designs and Cinema 4D creating limitless scene creation, texturing and rendering options, this combination of software is ideal for creating high-end product visuals.
The above example is from Bomper Studio, who have created a number of pieces for Gtech. If you think the still image is impressive though, wait until you get a load of the animation, later in this article!
Bomper Studio has a talented group of 3D artists who create stunning product visuals for a variety of high-profile clients. At the heart of their workflow is Cinema 4D, which is 3D animation software used in many walks of design life: motion graphics, VFX, product or architectural visualisation, you name it, Cinema 4D is used there. The artists at Bomper are also very used to dealing with product design data from Solidworks and so I got in contact with them to help with this article.
What is Solidworks?
If you're an industrial designer, product visualiser or similar, I would be extremely surprised if you've not heard of SolidWorks. But just in case... SolidWorks is a 3D design software solution for rapid creation of parts, assemblies, and 2D drawings.
According to the makers, more than 3 million product designers and engineers worldwide, representing over 240,000 organisations, use SolidWorks to bring their designs to life – from the coolest gadgets to innovations that deliver a better tomorrow.
What is Cinema 4D?
Cinema 4D is 3D animation software used in many industries to create any image or animation that you can imagine. It's particularly renowned for its ease of use and compatibility with other applications, offering a wide range of import and export options.
Whilst Cinema 4D does have a powerful modelling toolset, it does not offer the range of precise modelling tools found in applications like Solidworks. It can however create models that Solidworks would struggle with such as organic shapes and characters. But modelling is only a small part of Cinema 4D's toolset. It has very powerful texturing, animation and rendering tools and outstanding compatibility with other applications; both 3D and 2D.
What can Cinema 4D offer a Solidworks designer?
The showreel above from Bomper Studio shows you the level of quality a single studio can output. Cinema 4D breathes life into your SolidWorks models. Benefits of adding Cinema 4D to your toolset:
- Add any materials you need, to any level of realism.
- Use Cinema 4D's modelling tools for organic shapes to compliment your designs.
- Handle even the most complex texturing with powerful 3D painting tools.
- Create surrounding scenery to show your models in a real-life context.
- Animate in limitless ways. As well as simple movement, advanced tools can simulate real life scenarios like collisions, cloth, etc.
- Render to any level of realism. Either use Cinema 4D's powerful inbuilt renderers or add external solutions.
- Have access to a wide range of plugins to create specialist effects like smoke, fire, fluid and more.
- Export in layered format to apps such as Photoshop or After Effects for ultimate control of your images.
Importing files into Cinema 4D from SolidWorks
There are a variety of ways to do this. As each designer tends to work slightly differently and has differing visualisation requirements, it's worth experimenting to see which method works best for you.
Exporting directly from SolidWorks, you can try .obj, .3ds, .stl or VRML. Be sure to try the various options on each file to see what suits your model creation best. If you find a format that works for you here then great! If not, fear not because there are other solutions.
Another option is SimlabSoft's FBX converter which is a plugin for Solidworks. This plugin lets you save your files as FBX format, which is a file format that works well with Cinema 4D. This plugin currently costs $149. You can also get a demo on the above link to check the workflow.
The most advanced file converter that I know of is Okino's Polytrans. This is a Windows only solution, which starts from $395. This is a very robust converter that converts a variety of file formats and will give good file conversion to Cinema 4D. Okino's support is outstanding and they also offer a demo so you can check models come in as you would expect.
If you're on a Mac (also works on Windows), you could try MOI 3D software which can convert many CAD files to OBJ format which works well with Cinema 4D. Bomper Studio have found that STEP files come nicely into MOI and convert well to OBJ. MOI currently costs $395 and can be trialed for 30 days prior to purchase.
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!