Join Rob Garrott for an in-depth discussion in this video Deforming objects: The Spline Wrap , part of CINEMA 4D R12 Essential Training.
The Spline Wrap deformer is head and shoulders my favorite deformer object. The effects you can create with it were literally impossible before it came along. It allows you to deform an object along a spline. Now, let's see what that means. Underneath the Deformer objects is the Spline Wrap object. Now, originally the Spline Wrap object, when it was first introduced, was part of MoGraph. But now for Version 12, they've actually added it to the regular deformer object. So even if you don't have the MoGraph module specifically, you'll still have access to the Spline Wrap object, which is a really cool thing. Let's add the Spline Wrap object to the scene. Now, what it does is it takes an object and deforms it along a spline.
So we're going to need two more elements here. We are going to need an object to deform, and we're going to need a spline. So let's create the object that we're going to deform. I am going to create some type that we're going to end up deforming along this spline object. So let's select the Spline Objects and go to the Text spline, and let's just type out some numbers: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. And then I will just click off of that. And so now, we've got these eight characters here. We need to extrude these characters. So let's add an Extrude object to the scene, and add the text to the Extrude NURB. So the Extrude NURB object now is extruding the text, and you can see that when we render--Command+R or Ctrl+R--we can actually see all these numbers.
What we want to be able to do is wrap these numbers along a spline, and have them flow smoothly along that spline. The next step in the process is to create the spline that we're going to actually animate these guys along. So let's hit A on the keyboard to redraw the frame. Now, I'm going to draw a spline here, using the B-Spline tool, and I always like to draw my splines in one of the orthographic views. In this case, we're going to draw it in the Top view. So I am going to go to the Top view and back out just a bit, and I'm going to go to the Spline Objects and grab B-Spline tool.
The b-spline is a really cool object in that it allows you to create very smooth, flowing, organic shapes. The way it works is the first time I click, I get a single point. The second time I click, I get a straight line. The third time I click, I get an arc based on the position of these three points, and it sort of averages them and creates a smooth arc based on them. Now the next time I click, it'll look at the previous three points and create a new arc. So I can create a very smooth flowing shape quickly with very few points. So let's switch back to the Perspective view now and take a look at our spline.
What we want to do is to have this type stretch along the spline. So we're going to use the Spline Wrap object to do that. Now, the Spline Wrap object, because it's a deformer, it works in Parent or Peer mode. I always, always use the Spline Wrap in Peer mode. So let's add a new null object to the scene. Let's change the name of this null to be "snake." Now, I call it snake because whatever I wrap with the Spline Wrap object is going to behave very much like a snake. So I always like to call the thing that I have spline wrapping a snake object, even though it's not really a snake.
So I am going to take the Extrude NURB now and make it a child of the snake. I always put whatever I am going to spline-wrap underneath the null, because that allows me the ability to go and switch that object out at any time. The next thing we need to do is we need to add one more null object that is going to encompass both the snake and the Spline Wrap. So if we add a new null object to the scene, and we'll call this one "Wrap group," and we'll take the snake object and the Spline Wrap object and put them underneath the Wrap group, now initially, nothing happens. The Spline Wrap Object is here. They're both peers to one another.
It should be affecting the object. Well, that's because there is one important step we've left out. Under the Spline Wrap Object properties is this field right here, and the Spline field is waiting to be filled up with the spline. So we take this spline object and drag it into that field, just by clicking and dragging. When I let go, suddenly my numbers are stretched along the length of the spline, and that's because of this mode down here. The mode in the Spline Wrap object defaults to Fit Spline, and if I click and hold on that, I can switch it to Keep Length. That will allow the text to be the same length that it was originally.
So now we're free to animate it along the length of the spline. Now our text is upside down, so what we need to do is to rotate it around a bit. And if I twirl open the Rotation field, there is a bunch of controls under here that we're going to be able to use, and I'll talk about more of these in just a minute. But first thing I want to change is the Banking. So if I change the Banking from 0 degrees to 180, that's going to flip our type over, and now our type is animating backwards along the spline, and that's because of the spline direction. Now, I'm in Point mode over here on the left-hand side of the interface.
If I click on my spline, I can now see the colors associated with that spline. These colors indicate the direction. The Spline Wrap Object always starts at the beginning of the spline and finishes at the end of the spline. And because I drew my spline from here all the way over to here, this point is the beginning of the spline object. So what I want to do is reverse that, so that my type will be going the other direction. So I am going to right-click in the interface and tell it to reverse sequence. Now the beginning of my spline is over here on the left-hand side, and the end of my spline is over here on the right-hand side.
So now if I go back to my Spline Wrap object, I can adjust the Offset and have it move around. Now, I am going to have to adjust the Banking one more time. Let's bring the Banking back to 0 to flip my type over. Now, my Offset is looking pretty good, and I can have these numbers flow along the spline. You can see I am scrubbing the Offset value here. This is the value that you want to keyframe when it came time to animate this object. I am going to resize the window here a little bit, just move the Attribute Manager up, so we can see the attributes of the spline object a little bit more.
And let's close up the Rotation field. Now, let's take a look at a couple of other properties up here in the top of the Spline Wrap Object properties. The From and the To option will animate the object along the spline in a different way than the Offset does. The To field will allow you to stretch the object, and you can actually go beyond 100% and have it stretch along the entire length of the spline. Generally speaking, you'd only want to leave that on 100%, and then the From function does just the opposite; you can squish it on that side of the spline. There is also something called the Extend mode, and the Extend mode will either clamp or extend the spline as the object passes beyond it, using the Offset function.
If we adjust the offset, we can actually go beyond 0% and beyond 100%. And when it's set to Extend, the object will pass beyond the end of the spline. When it's set to Clamp, it will hit the end of the spline and get choked off. So you can see that it actually physically disappears when it hits the end of the spline. So I am going to set that back to be 100% here and then change the End mode back to Extend. Actually, let's bring the Offset back to 0%. So now the next function I want to talk about is in the Size area.
So if we twirl open the word Size, we've got two graphs here. Anytime we see these graphs, the left- hand side of the graph relates to the beginning of the spline, the right- hand side of the graph is the end of the spline, and these points can be used to control how the object behaves along the spline. Now there is two Size graphs here: Size and Spline Size. The best way to think of them is the Size graph controls how big the actual object is. The Spline Size graph controls how big the object is as it moves along the spline. So let's see what that means.
As I change the Size graph, if I bring it down, you can see that my numbers on one side gets smaller, and as I pinch this other side down, they'll disappear entirely. I can then create a point in the middle and create a height for my object so I have a very thin point and a very thin end. Now that's just the size of the object. As I move the object along the spline, it stays exactly the same size. Let's bring the Offset back to 0 and then let's reset this Size graph. I am going to right-click here and go to Reset, and that resets the position here.
I don't have any points here, but I can always click and add them again to get points at the top-left and top-right of this graph. Now the Spline Size graph controls how big the object is as it travels along the spline. In order to see what that means, let's take this Spline Size and move it down. You'll see that if we zoom in on our object here, it's nothing at this end of the spline, but it gets slowly larger. You'll see as I scrub the Offset value, it will grow as it travels to the end of the spline. So that's what I mean by saying it's along the length of the spline.
As the object moves along the length of the spline, it will get larger. As it travels back to the other side, it will get smaller. So you can have something appear to grow along the spline. This is really fun to use for vines and things like that. Next up is the Rotation field. Let's twirl close the Size field and twirl open the Rotation field. Now, the Rotation field has the same two graphs as the Size field except to this control the rotation of the object along its length and the rotation of the object along the spline. Actually, you know what I am going to do is I am going to go back to the Size field and reset the Spline Size graph so that my object will remain a constant size over the length of the spline.
Let's twirl close the Size and then leave the Rotation open. So now we can adjust the Rotation value. And of course this is 0 Rotation down here. If I bring this up, it's going to twist, and that's the object twisting on itself. As we adjust the Offset value, you can see it remains twisted the entire way along the spline. So let's just drag this point off to get it back to straight again, and take out the Spline Rotation, and this is a little bit more useful I think. If we adjust the Spline Rotation, you can see it will rotate as it passes along the spline.
So as we adjust the Offset function, it will start out straight and then twist as it goes all the way through the object. That's a really fun way to create a dramatic type animation. Hopefully, it's obvious now why this is my favorite deformer. You can see how powerful it is. In fact, my entire lynda.com course, "CINEMA 4D: Designing a Promo," was based around this very deformer.
- Exploring the importance of object hierarchy
- Modeling with splines
- Modeling with the Knife and Extrude tools
- Applying materials and texturing
- Creating and manipulating light sources
- Animating in the timeline with keyframes
- Controlling camera movement
- Compositing in After Effects
- Texturing with BodyPaint
- Using XPresso and MoGraph
- Creating particle systems
- Rendering and adjusting final render settings