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In this installment of Mograph Techniques, Ian Robinson shows you how to model and animate a stylized 3D flower that grows and blooms over time, using the combined power of CINEMA 4D and Adobe After Effects. You'll start by creating a single flower petal with traditional polygonal modeling techniques. Then you'll load the petal into a cloner object, and nest that cloner inside another, resulting in a complete flower with multiple levels of control for animation. The second phase is animating the cloners and refining the animation with the Step Effector. In the third and final phase, you'll bring the project into After Effects to add animated color effects, transitions, text, and shadows.
If you've been working in 3D for a while, I'm sure you're well aware that the appearance of an object can be greatly effected by changing your materials. Now, we're going to create a rather smooth, flat graphic look to our petals. And we're not going to worry about adding color until we move these elements from cinema 4D in to After Effects. So our material is going to be gray scale. To get started, let's just go down under the Create menu > New Material. Under my Material Options, I really only want to work with two channels.
So I'll actually just double-click on the material so you can see which two channels we'll be working with. I've got my color channel, and my specular channel. Let's de-select Specular. Like I said, we're creating a flat graphic look. And let's go ahead and enable luminance. Let's start by adjusting our color settings. I'm going to go ahead and decrease the brightness of our white color to a setting of around 13. Now I know I can't see much of a difference, but let's go to our luminant settings and make some adjustments here. I'd like to add a soft gradient to each one of these petals in the scene.
So, I'll do that in the luminence channel. So, under the texture setting, let's go ahead and click on this File button here and choose Gradient. Now, let's go ahead and click on the gradient button to edit the gradient settings. First thing, I want this gradient to move from the bottom to the top, because I want it to kind of start from the bottom of each petal to the top of each petal. So, let's change the type from u to v. We can leave it 2D, that's perfectly fine. Now I'm going to move the black area up just a little bit, just so we have a little bit more darker section and I want to change the angle of this to about 35.
This is going to give me a little bit more of an interesting shape to our gradient. Now, when you go back to the color channel, notice when I adjust the brightness settings, I can wash out the gradient that we have. Now, I don't want to do that, I just wanted to show you how these two different channels are working together. So let's rename our material petal shade, and then we can go ahead and close our material. Now in order to apply this to our cloner object, all we have to do is add this to the top most cloner in the hierarchy.
Now when we go ahead and render the scene, you can see I've got a much more graphic look to my actual flower. This is looking kind of cool, but I want to add a little bit more definition between the petals. Now, rather than having to light the scene, I'm going to to do this just with our render settings. So, let's open up our Render settings and I want to add an effect. So, under the effect settings, let's go to ambient occlusion. Now, when we go ahead and close and then render our scene, things have gotten a lot more interesting. That definition was created just by adding the ambient occlusion.
Now, ambient occlusion does slow down your render a little bit but since this is pretty much the most complicated thing we are going to be building. We are going to be perfectly fine with the settings that we have set up right now and in fact we can't increase the accuracy of our ambient occlusion which usually slows down the render a little bit more but I want to do that because again this is an, a terrible complex scene. So, let's go ahead and open our render settings one more time. And in here, I'm going to increase the minimum number of samples. Let's go ahead and double that minimum to a setting of 20.
Now, when we re-render the scene, you can see it's not quite as grainy, and I have a little bit more detail to my ambient occlusion. So, anytime you think you think you need to add definition to any of your objects, you might want to start just by using ambient occlusion and especially if you're creating an animated graphic element, you may not need to get into lighting at all.
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