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Extruding paths from Adobe Illustrator

From: CINEMA 4D Essentials 2: Polygon and Spline Modeling

Video: Extruding paths from Adobe Illustrator

CINEMA 4D is the tool of choice for a lot of motion graphics artist. And one of the things that motion graphics artists have to do on a regular basis is to extrude type and make it look cool. Now, CINEMA 4D has a great integration with After Effects and it has a really strong integration with Illustrator as well. What we're going to be doing in this movie is importing paths from Illustrator in the CINEMA 4D and then extruding them. So I'm here in Adobe Illustrator and the first thing I'm going to do is create a new document. So it's Command+And or Ctrl+N. Now, I normally work in points inside of Illustrator and I normally work at the size of the final resolution that I'm going to be rendering my scene at.

Extruding paths from Adobe Illustrator

CINEMA 4D is the tool of choice for a lot of motion graphics artist. And one of the things that motion graphics artists have to do on a regular basis is to extrude type and make it look cool. Now, CINEMA 4D has a great integration with After Effects and it has a really strong integration with Illustrator as well. What we're going to be doing in this movie is importing paths from Illustrator in the CINEMA 4D and then extruding them. So I'm here in Adobe Illustrator and the first thing I'm going to do is create a new document. So it's Command+And or Ctrl+N. Now, I normally work in points inside of Illustrator and I normally work at the size of the final resolution that I'm going to be rendering my scene at.

So in this case, I've set my document to 1280x720. Now, I'm going to twirl open the Advanced options here. The Color mode is extremely important. CMYK is bad, do not use it. So let's pull on that Color mode and switch the document to RGB. Now, that I switched to RGB I can hit OK on the keyboard and we get this nice new Illustrator document. And what I want to do is to create a piece of type. So let's hit T on the keyboard to bring up the Type tool and I'm going to click any place in the document window and I'm going to type out a word.

So let's type out H-E-L-L-O, HELLO, and I'm going to click away from there and then take that and use the V tool to get to my Transform options and let's scale that up, holding the Shift key down to make it nice and big. Now, the font I'm going to use is Arial Black. Let's switch that over, so I have switched out of the Type tool. So I'm going to switch back to the Type tool so I can see my Font options. And then in the font, I'm going to click on it and select all. So I'm going to change my font from Myriad Pro and scroll upward and select Arial Black, and that's a nice chunky typeface, I like that.

And so, let's now click away from there and use the V tool to get that out. Now, what I want to do is I want to center this up in the window and kind of maximize its size. So what I'm going to do is cut that type to the clipboard, Command+X or Ctrl+X, and then I'm going to center up the window, Command+0 or Ctrl+0, and then paste it down, Command+V or Ctrl+V. And that centers that type up in the window. Now, I want to maximize the size. Let's drag that up in size. And now what I can do is save this document. So I'm going to save this document and I'm going to navigate to the exercise files to the splines folder and I'm going to save this.

Now, I want to call this type master. The reason I want to call this type-master is because I like to have a copy of the original type files for the Illustrator file. When you're working in CINEMA 4D, it can only read the path information so we have to convert this type to outlines at some point. So I like to always have a copy of my type that I can get back to in case I need to make a new word or make changes to that word. So let's call this type-master. So, type-master.ai and I'm going to save that into the splines folder, which is one of the chapter folders inside the exercise files.

I'll hit Save and in the secondary dialog box that comes up I'll leave it as an Illustrator 6 file. So I'll just hit Enter or click OK on the dialog box. And now, we've got our type-master file. Now that we have our type-master saved out, we want to create a version that we can open in CINEMA 4D. So the first thing I want to do is convert my type to outlines. So I'll hit Shift+Command+O or Shift+Ctrl+O on the keyboard and that's going to convert the type to outlines. Now, I can go Shift+Command+S or Shift+Ctrl+S to save a copy, and I'm going to save that in the same location and I'm just going to call it what it is, the word Hello.

So, I'll type out H-E-L-L-O and I'll do it -8. Now, the reason I have an 8 after that is so that I know that it's going to be an Illustrator 8 file. At the time of this recording, CINEMA 4D can only read Illustrator 8 files, and that -8 at the end tells me that it's an Illustrator 8 file. So now I'll just hit Save and then in the dialog box that comes up, we'll go to the pull-down and change the version to Illustrator 8 and then I'll hit OK. And now, this dialog box that comes up, you can just ignore it. It's just warning us that we're saving it in an older version and that's okay.

So I'll click OK here. A nd that's it. We were ready to move to CINEMA 4D. Now, I can do a Command+S or Ctrl+S and I'll get that warning dialog again, I'll hit OK. And now I've saved that out for CINEMA 4D. Now, what we need to do is switch over to CINEMA 4D. Now, here in CINEMA 4D I'm going to go to the Object Manager File menu and select Merge Objects. And then I'll navigate to the Desktop to my exercise files in the splines subfolder and I'll grab the HELLO-8.ai file, and then I'll hit Open.

Now, the Import dialog box that comes up has some options here and I'd leave them on the defaults. The Connect Splines option is what gives you your compound paths. If I were to uncheck that then letters like O for example, would come in as two separate splines instead of a merged spline that gives you a hole cut out in the center. So let's hit OK and now you'll probably ask the question, well, where the heck did my type go? And you notice this little blue arrow down here, this arrow indicates that we have an object selected but it's currently off camera. Now, if I click that, that will take me right to the object and it highlights it on screen.

Now, this isn't a view that I actually want to see. I want to get this object back to the center of the world. So let's go back to the View menu and do a Frame Default. And then I'm going to zero out the position of this object. So let's go to the Object Manager, select HELLO-8 and in the Coordinate Properties, we'll go to the Position Value and I'll zero these out. So I'll double-click to highlight that and hit 0 and then Tab zero, and then tab over one more time and that gives me my object right at the center of the world. Now, if I twirl open the HELLO, you can see that I've got paths for each of the individual letters.

I'm now ready to extrude that type. So let's go to the NURBS menu and grab the Extrude NURBS object. And the Extrude NURB object is a generator icon and that generator needs children in order to function. So, let's take the HELLO-8 group and drag it and make it a child of the Extrude NURB. When we do that, nothing happens. The reason nothing happens is that the Extrude NURB, by default, tries to extrude the very first thing it encounters. Well, in this case, the very first thing it encounters is this Null object right here. And it can't extrude a null.

It doesn't know that these paths are underneath it. So, we have to tell the Extrude NURB to look pass the null to the paths that are below. On the Extrude NURBS under the Object Properties is the Hierarchical button. When I turn that on, I now get the word HELLO and this will render. If I click the Render in Active View, I can now see the word HELLO. Now, let's zoom in on that word on the edges here and there's a very important thing I want to talk about, and that's the transition on the edges of the word. Let's click on the Render in Active View button.

And one of the things you'll notice about this type is that at the transition from the face to the top, it is extremely razor sharp. That is a dead giveaway that the type was generated in the computer. Now, you're probably thinking, of course, it was generated in the computer, it's CINEMA 4D type. But, when you render things out you want people to have the illusion that they feel like real objects. And a sharp edge like that just doesn't exist in a real world except on a scalpel. And so, what we want to do is create a little bit of a transition from the face of the type to the top edge of the type.

And the way we do that is by using the Caps option on the Extrude NURBS. So let's select the Caps and go to the Start Cap, that's the front face here, and I'm going to change it to Fillet and Cap. And I get this really big bevel and that's not necessarily what I want. Big bevels are kind of going out of style now. So I want to change it to a nice small bevel, and the way I do that is adjusting the radius. Let's change that to a Radius of 1. And now I've got a nice tight bevel. And I'm going to add one more level of step to it. If I change the steps, let's change that step to say 5, this is going to be too round.

But you'd notice if I zoom in on that, you can see it gets a very rounded look to it. You can see that round transition there. I don't want five steps. I want just two and that's going to give me a nice soft transition, that's not round filling. Now when I back out, the difference between having that razor edge and having an edge that has a smooth transition is that you get these great highlights on the edge. If I hit Command+R, which is the same thing as hitting the Render in Active View button, it's Ctrl+R on the PC. You can see now that I have these great edges on my letters and you could see it's picking up those highlights nicely.

That creates a lot of visual interest in your type. Working with type from Illustrator in CINEMA 4D is a really straightforward process and it's a crucial part of every motion graphic artist workflow.

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CINEMA 4D Essentials 2: Polygon and Spline Modeling

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Rob Garrott
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