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CINEMA 4D Essentials 4: Materials, Texturing, and Lights
Illustration by Richard Downs

Applying materials with projection methods


From:

CINEMA 4D Essentials 4: Materials, Texturing, and Lights

with Rob Garrott

Video: Applying materials with projection methods

In the 3D world, when you apply material to an object, you have to use something called a projection method. The material that you apply to an object is expressed in terms of a two-dimensional rectangle. That rectangle has to be wrapped around the three-dimensional object. In order for the software to understand that process, the programmers have come up with some things that's called projection methods. These projection methods tell the software how to wrap that two-dimensional rectangle around your three-dimensional object. And I've got a very simple scene here: a sphere and I've got a cube and I've a got a type object.

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CINEMA 4D Essentials 4: Materials, Texturing, and Lights
2h 24m Beginner Sep 20, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

CINEMA 4D Essentials with Rob Garrott is a graduated introduction to this complex 3D modeling, rendering, and animation program, which breaks down into installments that can be completed within 2 hours. This course shows how to lend 3D objects color, transparency, and life with materials, textures, and lights. Author Rob Garrott explains how to create a variety of surface textures, from smooth and reflective to bumpy and flat, and how to add dramatic depth and shadows to your scenes with the different light types in CINEMA 4D. The final chapter discusses texturing in 3D with the BodyPaint module, which can also help hide UV seams.

Topics include:
  • Understanding material channels
  • Applying materials via projection
  • Limiting materials with selection tags
  • Texturing type
  • Using Falloff to limit the effects of lights
  • Working with visible or volumetric light
  • Painting on objects and textures with brushes in BodyPaint
  • Hiding seams with projection painting
Subjects:
3D + Animation Rendering Textures Materials Visual Effects
Software:
CINEMA 4D
Author:
Rob Garrott

Applying materials with projection methods

In the 3D world, when you apply material to an object, you have to use something called a projection method. The material that you apply to an object is expressed in terms of a two-dimensional rectangle. That rectangle has to be wrapped around the three-dimensional object. In order for the software to understand that process, the programmers have come up with some things that's called projection methods. These projection methods tell the software how to wrap that two-dimensional rectangle around your three-dimensional object. And I've got a very simple scene here: a sphere and I've got a cube and I've a got a type object.

With those objects I want to start a new material. Here in the Material Manager, I'm going to double-click to create a new material, and in that material, in the Color channel, I'm going to apply a texture. And the texture that I'm going to use is an image. Now, there are some very important rules to understand about applying images in CINEMA 4D. The most important rule is that CINEMA 4D only looks for your image in three locations. First, it looks for the image in a folder called tex, in the same location as your project file.

And what I mean by that is I'm going to move out to the Finder here. And in the Finder, I've got my Exercise Files and I'm in the materials folder. And you can see I've got my Projection-START file highlighted. In that same location is a little folder called tex. Inside that tex folder is textureGrid. This is the image that I'm going to be using. CINEMA 4D will know where that image is because it's in this tex folder. If it doesn't find the tex folder, the next place it looks is loose here in the Project folder.

If it doesn't find it in the Project folder, then it looks in the Application text folder, which is in Applications, in the Maxon subfolder, in your CINEMA 4D install, and there's a text folder in there. If it doesn't find it there, then it will throw up its hand and say, "Hey, I can't find the texture," and you'll get a render error. Render errors are bad and they can really disrupt your workflow, so it's very important to keep your textures in a predictable location. I always keep my textures in this tex folder. So let's go back to CINEMA 4D, and the way we load in that image is by clicking on this icon right here. This is the Load Image button.

When I click on the Load Image icon, it takes me to a Finder window, and it's asking me, what image do you want to load in? Now I've navigated to the desktop to the Exercise Files folder, and I'm going to go to my material subfolder. This is for this particular chapter. And then in the tex folder, I'm going to grab that textureGrid_1k.jpg. Double-click on that and it loaded in. Now, this textureGrid_1k is simply a grid of numbers and letters that are eight across and eight down. The reason I created it is it allows me to visualize how my materials are being applied to my objects.

Let's apply this material to the objects in our scene and see what kinds of results we get. So let's drag it onto the sphere, and let's drag it onto the cube. Drag it onto the Extrude NURBS. I'll twirl that closed. Now that I've got those dragged on, I can see that I've got very different projections. The material has been wrapped around the objects in very different ways. How did it know that? I didn't tell CINEMA 4D anything; all I did was drag and drop the material on the object.

That's because the objects are programmed in a specific way, to behave in a specific way to materials. On a sphere, you get something called a spherical projection. On a cube, we get a cubic projection, and on a type, it doesn't know what to do and so it just lumps it on there. Now, all these projections, if you click on the tag in the Tag column of the Object Manager, you look at the Tag Properties, in the Projection field, you'll see a pulldown, and this pulldown shows you the projection methods that's being currently used.

In each of these tags, it's exactly the same thing. You can see that on the Sphere tag, it's using UVW, the cube is using UVW, and the tag for the TAG NAMES is using UVW. Each of these objects has been programmed with a different UVW. That begs a question: What does UVW mean? UVW is the same as XYZ except that it relates to the texture space on the surface of an object. The programmers needed to have three letters. They couldn't use XYZ because they were already used for the workspace.

So they said let's use UVW, and so that's the convention that's been adopted all over 3D software. The sphere has a UVW projection that's being calculated ahead of time--same with the cube. But the type does not. So we need to change the projection method. Before we change the projection method, let's see how it's being applied. We can do that by clicking on this icon right here. It happens to look like a grid, just like the grid that I used here. Let's click on that and then click on the TAG NAMES object in the Object Manager.

We get this yellow grid across the window. This yellow grid represents the projection method and the projection method for UVW is taking all of the polygons of your object and smushing them out flat onto a rectangle, and so you're seeing this rectangle represented by the yellow grid. If we click on the cube and select that, you see the exact same thing. Same thing for the sphere. It doesn't look any different. So let's go back to the tag for the Extrude NURBS and click on the Extrude NURBS, and now we'll be changing that.

In this tag, we're going to go to the projection method, and let's change it to Flat to start with. When I change it to Flat, we now see the projection has changed and we have this new rectangle that's being flatly projected onto the object, and let's zoom in on there. I'll use the 1 and 2 keys to dolly in. And you could see that that this rectangle now is showing up on the very front of my object. The other thing you'll notice is that it's projecting all the way through. If I look at the back side of the objects, the letters are backwards over there.

You can see, it's smearing on the sides. A good rule of thumb is you should never trust the Editor window for your texture. You should always render. So I'll hit Command+R or Ctrl+R on the keyboard, and now I'm rendering that type. And you can see in fact, that it is smearing on the sides. And that's what the Flat projection does. It projects all the way through your object, unless you tell it otherwise. And one of the questions you might be asking is, how does a texture repeat itself across the surface of the type? You'll notice that I've got A1 through A8; that represents the entire grid, and then it starts A1 again right there.

So there's an A1. There's an A1. There's another A1 somewhere over here. CINEMA 4D is repeating that texture across the surface of the type. The reason it's doing that is because of this checkbox here, the Tile. When I turn that off and then I redraw, Command+R or Ctrl+R, you'll see that it's only projecting the texture in this one area and it's not repeating across the surface. If I turn that tile back on, when I hit Command+R or Ctrl+R, it repeats it again. In order to fix the projection on this type, to get something that's a little bit more usable and predictable, we need to change it to a different projection method.

Let's choose Cubic. Go to the Tag for the TAG NAMES object and click on Projection and select Cubic. And when we do that, the tag is now repeating the texture, but in a cubic fashion, around the object. You can see, now we have a cage that represents how the texture is being applied. The tag is being applied on the tops and the sides. If we go to the back side, we can see the texture is also being applied on the back side as well. When you're creating type with the Extrude NURBS object, a cubic projection is often times the best way to go.

Let's hit Command+R or Ctrl+R on the keyboard to see what that looks like when it renders. You can see, that's a much more usable projection. Some of the other projections that you have are Cylindrical, and I'll redraw that. And you can see that's projecting it around in a cylindrical fashion. Not very usable for the type object. We can also do the Cubic we saw. The Frontal is based on the camera's point of view. You can see that as I rotate around, the texture looked like it's blocked in place. That's because it's being projected from the camera's point of view onto the object. And when I render that, you can see that the type shows up perfectly flat.

It really changes the perception of the object shape. It can be very useful in design. Another method is Shrink Wrapping. Shrink Wrapping is much more easily seen on the sphere object, so let's undo that for a second, Command+R or Ctrl+R. Let's navigate over to the sphere and zoom in on that. And then I'll click on the sphere and grab its Texture Tag, and let's change that one to Shrink Wrapping. What you can see on the sphere is the way Shrink Wrapping works is it wraps it from the top, from the Y axis down and pinches it at the bottom, a lot like a balloon being stretched.

Last up is Camera Mapping. Camera Mapping is a really cool technique that's used a lot in visual effects, and it relies on an actual camera projection. I don't have a camera in the scene right now, so it's not working correctly. I'll undo that to get back to the UVW Mapping for the sphere. So those are the different projection methods. The most important thing to remember is that you're not limited to the default projection that you get when you apply it to an object. By adjusting the settings in the Texture tag, you have a lot of control over how your object looks.

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