Join Rob Garrott for an in-depth discussion in this video 043 Animating a paint streak with Photoshop and C4D, part of Design in Motion.
Hi! Rob Garrott here, and welcome to Design in Motion; the weekly series where we explore important fundamentals in the world of motion graphics. Now Photoshop is a crucial part of every designer's toolkit and it's used in every aspect of production. Well today we're going to see how we can use Photoshop to create a texture that we can animate in CINEMA 4D. Let's take a look. So our goal today is to create this animation right here. It's kind of a streaky wipe element. And if I pause on this, you can see that there are these great striations that happen in this surface of the object that's being wrapped through the scene.
And these striations are happening because of a Photoshop texture that I've created. Now let's take a look at how to create that Photoshop texture, and we're going to then come back and apply it inside of CINEMA 4D. So let's move over to Photoshop and now here I am in Photoshop with a blank document, and I'm going to make a new document, Command+N or Ctrl+N, and the size of the document I am going to make, for today, is about 1280 pixels by 1280 pixels, and RGB always, this is not the print world, so we're always want to work in RGB.
And I will leave the Background Content on White, and I will OK here. The brush that I want to use, and I've already got the brush selected, but where I got it from was by clicking on the brush, and then going up here to the Brush options and selecting this guy right here, and then adjusting the size up to about 150 pixels, okay. Now I am going to click out here, and you can see that gives me a little bit of a brushstroke, I will undo that. Now in the Brush options, I will hit F5 on the keyboard to bring up the Brush options, I want to turn on Wet Edges and Build-up, and that's going to give me a little bit better sort of natural feel to the brush as I am painting with a mouse instead of an actual Wacom Tablet, and let's close that up now to give myself some more room.
I am going to hit Command+0 on the keyboard to frame this up so that it's taking up the entire room of the interface. So now what I want to do is before I start painting, I want to make a new layer, so I will click on the New Layer icon, and I am painting on a layer, and I always like to do that rather than paint on just the background, and I'm just painting regular black. And so now let's just go across and start making some strokes, and the cool thing about this process is you don't have to be straight, you don't have to be even. This is supposed to feel a little bit organic and natural, and so you can come through and build up a little texture.
And the thing you don't want to do, I will undo that for a second, the thing I don't want to do is I don't want to do anything like that. I want to have everything be kind of horizontal, so let's undo that, Command+Z or Ctrl+Z, and then come across here, and I will just keep painting. The other thing I don't want to do is I don't want to go off the edge and I want to keep the edges nice and clean. So let's go close to the edge but not over the edge, and I'll do the same thing at the top here. There we go. I think that's going to be pretty good for what we want. This turns out pretty much different each time you do it, and that's really the beauty of it, is that it's a very organic process, and organic is good in this instance.
So I will just add a few more little strokes here, oops, undo that one and then just come back through and make it a little bit heavier towards one end. I got too close the edge right there, so I will undo that and drag through. Now I think that's going to be pretty good. So now, let's save this, and I am going to go to the File menu and do a Save As, and I want to put this into my desktop. So I am going to open that up a bit, and go to the Desktop, to my exercise files and I have a tex folder for CINEMA 4D already set up. So if I go into the tex and I'm going to call this one paint.psd.
And so I'll save that and hit OK. Now that I have saved that, I'm pretty much done with Photoshop, and this is a really simple process. I can move back over to CINEMA 4D, so let's go to CINEMA 4D. I'm inside the START file and what I want to do is I've already got a camera set up and that camera is completely locked off with this protection tag, so I can't accidentally move it. And I have got a spline already built, and this is a B-Spline with the Angle set to 0. So it's nice and smooth. Now the thing I am going to be creating is something called a spline wrap and in order to make this animation work, I need to have my texture applied to a plane object.
So let's start off by adding a plane to the scene, and the plane, I want to change the Orientation to -Z, so it's facing the camera. And now what I can create is a material to go on that plane. So let's create a new material, and then let's call this one Streak, and that Streak material is what I'm going to apply to the plane, so let's go ahead and do that, and just drag it right over here. And now in the Streak material, I'm going to go to the Basic Properties and load in Alpha, and in the Alpha Channel, I'm going to load in the paint image that I created from Photoshop.
So let's click on this Load Image button and navigate to the exercise files and the tex folder, and grab paint right here. You can see what that does for us is that creates this alpha channel in the material, but it's the wrong direction. So I want to invert that. So now it's clearing off the outside and leaving me with just the paint streaks on the inside, and it's working perfectly. You can see I've got some great striations here and I think that's looking pretty good. Now what I want to do is to go into the Color channel and create the gradation that's going to appear on this.
Right now, it's just a basic gray color, and so in the Texture pulldown, I'll go to Gradient and the gradient starts off by going horizontally across that. And if I click on the Gradient options and I go into the Type and tell it to be 2DV, that's going to make it go up and down. Now what I can do is to start to create some colors here. Let's raise this up to give me some more room. I am going to twirl-open that Gradient option so I can see the knot colors here. That's going to make it easier to change the colors of these knots. And so, I am going to grab the first knot and let's start off by making it a really nice bright red, and then, I can hold down the Ctrl key and drag that out, and I am going to make that kind of a magenta, or maybe fuchsia I guess would be a better way to describe that color, and then I am going to add some blue in there.
So I am going to drag that knot out and bring down the red and have it be more in the blue range, and then I'll Ctrl+Drag this red knot over here, and I'll get rid of that white knot completely, select it and just hit Delete. And so now I've got this great looking gradient that's going from red to fuchsia to blue and back to red again. And you can adjust the midpoints of these knots to sort of season your gradient up. But that's good for now, and so I think you get the point. So now I can click back on the Streak material, and in the Basic Properties, I am going to load up the Bump Channel, and in the Bump, I am going to load in the exact same material that I have in the alpha.
So if I go to the Texture pulldown, there is this Bitmaps; any bitmaps that are already used are listed here, and so I don't have to go back out to the Finder, I can just load this in, and now I can take that Strength and crank it way up, and that's going to give me just a little bit of texture on the surface of this thing, I think it's going to look really nice. So that's pretty much it for the streak. Let's render that and see what it looks like. I will hit Command+R or Ctrl+R on the keyboard. You can see I end up with this really great looking streak. Now I don't like the specular highlight on there. So let's go to the Specular property and take the Height down, there we go! Just dial that way down.
What that's going to do is let the colors shine through instead of having them washed out by the specular highlight. So now what I need to do is create a spline wrap. So let's give myself some more working room here and the spline wrap process is based on a deformer object, now click on the Deformers, and go to Spline Wrap, and because it's a deformer, I know it works on its parent or its peer, and that Spline Wrap object is going to need to go under a null. So let's add a couple of nulls to the scene, I will add one null and then a second null. The first null I am going to call Streak Parent, and I am going to take the Plane and put it under there.
Now the reason I do that is when every time I spline wrap something, I always like to have it underneath its own null, makes it easier in case we'll want to add something to the group, and you can spline wrap more than one object at a time. The other spline I am going to call Streak Wrap Group, and now I am going to take the Spline Wrap and drag it under here, take the Streak Parent and put it under here, and let's move the Spline Wrap. I always like to put my Spline Wrap up above in the hierarchy here. So now the reason nothing has happened is that because the spline wrap needs to have a spline in order to work its magic.
So I am going to take the spline and drag it into the Spline field on the Spline Wrap object. So I drag this in here, and as soon as I do that, I get this. Now there are a couple of things going on here. The first thing that's going on is that the Spline Wrap is stretching the object all the way across. Let's render that, Command+R. You can see that we've got this great looking texture, but it's got some jagged edges to it. The reason for those jagged edges is because of the number of polygons that are in this Streak object.
I twirl-open the Streak Parent and grab the plane. You can see that there are these giant polygons getting stretched across here. That's because I don't have enough segments in my original plane. The way that CINEMA 4D works in pretty much all 3D applications is that a single polygon cannot be bent. So I need to introduce more segments in here so that I get a smooth transition through these corners. So let's go to the Width Segments and change that up to, let's try 100 first of all. That's pretty good. I've still got some jagged spots though, let's go to 200.
Still some jagged spots, let's go to 600, there we go! That's going to give us a nice smooth transition. Now I've got some interesting things going on in this corner right here, and I can fix that with a Spline Wrap, and if I go to the Spline Wrap object, let's raise this up here a bit, there are some disclosure triangles down here that I can twirl-open, and I can look at some really cool options for Rotation and Size. So the first thing I want to do is adjust the Offset to show you how I am going to animate this through.
By scrubbing this value, you can see how the object is going to move through the frame. Well, there is a very important spot on there right here where I am getting this crease, and that crease is happening because the object is folding back on itself. So what I want to do is go to the spline, and let's raise that up. There are two different types of rotation; there's the Main Rotation and then the Spline Rotation. The Main Rotation is for the object itself, the Spline Rotation is along the length of the spline. So what I want to do is find that spot on the spline, and anytime you see a graph like this, it goes from the beginning to the end of the spline, and my spline starts over here, and ends over here.
So I know that my point right here is going to be some place, probably about two-thirds of the way. So if I grab this, I am going to hold down the Ctrl key and add a point right there, I can now drag that up. And as I do that, there we go, I'm getting an overlap there, that's pretty good, that cleans that one up. I can add another control point there, and then rotate that one back down. We'll take that one through like that, there we go, and I'll take that one and rotate it through like that. I want to try and get rid of as many of those as I can.
And sometimes you've got do some adjustments. There we go. Let's take this one and move it over that way. There we go! Take that one, I will add another control point here, and just adjust that. You can see now I have cleaned up all those nicely. If I go back out and take a look not to the camera, just at the actual scene, you can see I've gotten rid of most of those overlaps just by twisting that. So you can see what was happening there was just adjusting that rotation, and I've cleaned up all those overlaps.
So now what I do to animate this is I go to the Spline Wrap options and let's scroll that up, and I want to adjust the Offset and keyframe the Offset. So let's scroll this up. So at time 0, I am going to adjust my Offset, so that my object is all the way off-camera. Let's look back through the camera, so we can see what's going on, and I'll bring that down, and I will hold down the Ctrl key and click on this black circle, that sets a keyframe for the Offset. Now I can move forward in time and then adjust the Offset back the other direction, all the way through.
And now hold down the Ctrl key one more time and set a keyframe for that. So now you can see that the object passes through the frame--nicely, really nice. Now the last thing I want to do is make a little tweak in the size of the object. So if I scroll down here, I am going to twirl- close the Rotation and twirl-open the Size, and the Spline Size is what I want to tweak. If I drag the Spline Size down, that changes the size of the object along the length of the spline. What I want to do is change this top one and this one affects the size of the object itself, and so I want the ends to be a little bit tapered, and so I will take these and drag them down a bit.
I want to drag them all the way down, let's scrub back to where we can see one of the endpoints, and there is the end right there. If I drag this all the way down, it's going to go to a complete point. If I drag that up a little bit, there we go, I've got a thinner middle and I will drag this one down as well, about the same width at the each end. And I will hold down the Ctrl key, add a point right there, and make it thicker in the middle. So now you can see that I've got this great looking feel to it. Now you can see how it feels like it expands a little bit and then comes back down again.
That's that organic movement that was missing when it was all the same width. So now what I can do is just render this out with a simple Alpha Channel and you can go under the Render Settings, and under the Save option we're just going to render this with a Alpha Channel to the straight Alpha, and bring that into After Effects. So let's move over to After Effects, and here in After Effects I've got a clean file, and I've already rendered this out ahead of time and I am just going to import that file. So I have got the streak wipe in the 3d renders folder. So let's just import that and I want to import it as a Straight file, and that's because I rendered the Alpha Channel as a Straight Alpha.
That gives me a much cleaner composite in After Effects, and so I will take that streak wipe and drag it onto the New Composition icon. Let's drag forward in time. You can see that I've got great looking Alpha channel. You can see lots of translucency and striated translucency right through there, and do the Transparency Preview, and we've got that going. And now I can add a little bit of a glow to this, go to the Effect menu, and go to Trapcode, and I love Starglow. Let's add Starglow. Now when you first add it, it gives you this kind of discoee feel. Let's turn that down, let's adjust the Streak Length down.
And then let's go to the Presets and if yours is not showing, you can go to the Preset, and Show Animation Presets, and then we can go under this Preset pulldown, we'll do White Star. That gives me just a single color. And on the Colormap, I am going to change this to kind of a lavender. Let's pick one of these colors here. That's looking pretty nice, and hit OK. Now we can adjust under the Pre-Process menu the Threshold to expand that out a bit, so it's affecting more of the object. And now we can do a little RAM Preview and see our object in action. I will hit 0 on the Numeric Keypad.
And you can see, that was a really simple process to create a great looking wipe. Now that really is just the tip of the iceberg. Photoshop is such an important part of the workflow that the programmers at MAXON have gone out of their way to make sure that it integrates well with CINEMA 4D. Now to learn more about Photoshop and CINEMA 4D, you can check out the Essential Training courses for both of those applications right here on lynda.com. That's it for this edition of Design in Motion, keep it moving and I will see you next time!
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- Using expressions to control animation
- Rendering type in a seamless environment
- Doing more with less in the After Effects render queue
- Creating bouncing animated type using dynamics
- Creating realism with Global illumination
- Working with Xrefs to simplify the workflow