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Skill Level Beginner
CINEMA 4D has two broad categories of objects: passive and active. Within those categories are a whole bunch of subcategories that really make up the body of objects that you're going to be using on a regular basis inside of CINEMA 4D. First up is the most important object, which I think is the null object. And I'll click and hold on the Primitive Objects, and you can see there's the null right up there at the top. And when I add that to the scene, a null object is simply a location in space, an axis point, and there's no geometry associated with it at all.
It's just an empty axis, and that really is the most powerful thing in the application because it can be used for a whole bunch of different purposes, as you'll see throughout the course. Next up are the primitive icons, and if I click and hold on the cube, you can see all these other light-blue icons here. The Primitive Objects are all light blue, and Primitive Objects are also known as parametric objects. Let's add a disc to the scene for example. And the reason they are called parametric objects is because the parameters have been predefined by the software makers and they can be changed.
If I click on the disc and go to the Object Properties, you can see that there is properties that can be changed by sliders. And these are parameters, and that's why they call it a parametric object. And so for example, I can adjust the Inner Radius and expand it, instead of a disc, make it a hoop. I can expand the Outer Radius. I can also change the segments. I can also change the orientation. So there are properties, or parameters, that you can change, and these are defined by the software and they are parametric objects. Next up are Polygonal Objects, and Polygonal Objects can be generated from parametric objects or they can be manufactured on their own.
For example, to turn this disc from a parametric object into a polygonal object, all I need to do is to click this icon right here, which is the Make Editable button. I can also hit the letter C on the keyboard. If I click this, the icon for my disc is changed. The other thing you'll notice is that I've lost the parameters for it. I now only see the Basic, Coordinate, and Phong. My Object Properties are gone. The parameters can no longer be changed, and you'll notice also that the icon for the disc is changed. It now shows a little blue triangle, and that indicates that it's a polygon object.
It's made up of polygons. The parameters can no longer be changed. That's not to say you can't do things with it, and you can't model it and you can't change it; you just can't do it with sliders. Next up are Spline Objects. Let's delete both the null and the disc from the scene. And the Spline Objects are a special type of object that are both primitive and free-form. So for example, I can make a spline that is shaped like star. When I add that to the scene, I get a star-based spline. Now splines are not polygons and so they cannot render.
The Spline Objects exist to create shapes, and also animation. But this star is a parametric object in that I can change the parameters. For example, I can change the Inner and Outer Radius. I can also change the Twist. I can adjust the number of points on it. So there's a wide variety of things I can do. I can adjust the Plane and change it so it's going along the floor. So that's a spline primitive object, or a parametric. Le's delete that star and take a look at the free-form splines.
If I grab a B-Spline for example, I'm going to switch to the top view by middle-mouse-clicking. And I middle-mouse-clicked once and then I middle-mouse-clicked in the top view. Now in order to draw out a B-Spline, I'm going to click once over here and then click again and click again. You can see that a B-Spline starts to draw a path based on the points that I click. And it's different than a Bezier Spline, and we'll get more into that in the spline portion of the course. Next up are the Operator Objects. And let's delete this spline, go back to the perspective view, and take a look at the Operator Objects.
If I click and hold on this purple icon here, these are a bunch of different Operator Objects. Now, Operators work on their parent or their peer, and deformers are the prime example of Operator Objects. The Operator Objects will take a primitive object or a polygon object or some other type of passive object and then modify it nondestructively. So let's take a look at that. With the Bend object--I'll add a bend to the scene. Now the Bend object is a deformer, and it doesn't do anything in the scene until it encounters another passive object, like a cube for example.
So let's add a cube to the scene. Because the Bend object is an operator, it works on its parent or its peer. So let's take the Bend and parent it to the cube. Now when we take the Bend deformer and adjust its Strength under its Object Properties, you'll see that it starts to bend. I'm scrubbing back and forth between those. One of the things you'll notice is that the cube isn't bending. That's because of a very simple rule that you have to remember when you're working with polygonal objects or objects that are made up of polygons. Even though the cube is parametric, it still has polygons.
That rule is that a single polygon cannot be bent. It can be twisted, but it can't be bent, meaning that the edges of the polygon can't deform. So in order to get this cube to look like it's bending, I have to add more polygons along its Y axis. So if I click on the cube and go to the Y Segments and adjust it to say 20, now suddenly I've got a cube that is much more flexible. So if I go to the Bend deformer and adjust the Strength, you can see that I've got a great deal of flexibility in that cube now.
I can adjust the Angle on the Bend deformer and have it do some really interesting things. Next up are the Generator Objects. Let's delete the cube and take a look at the Generator Objects. Generator Objects have green icons. There's a bunch of different types of generators. The one we're going to take a look at now is something called an Extrude NURB. If I let go on the Extrude NURB object, it doesn't do anything. A Generator Object needs to have a child or multiple children to generate some sort of result. So in the case of the Extrude NURB, the icon tells you what it needs.
It actually has a little white line there indicating that it needs a spline in order to extrude. So let's go to the Spline primitives, and let's add that star again that we had before. Now the Extrude NURB is a generator, so it needs a child in order to generate some sort of results So let's take the star and drag it on top of the Extrude NURB. Instantly, you'll see that the star has now been extruded, or thickened, along the Z axis, and that's really what the Extrude NURB does, is it takes pads and extrudes them, creates polygons based on their shape.
Let's delete that Extrude NURB and talk about another very important type of operator object, and that's called the effector. Now if you have the MoGraph module, which is part of the CINEMA 4D Studio bundle or Broadcast bundles, then you'll be able to follow along. If not, just try and comprehend what's going on here. I'm going to add a cube to the scene and the MoGraph module has a series of effectors. If I go down to the Effectors submenu, I can go to, say, the Formal Effector and add that to the scene. Now, nothing is happening.
The Formal object has a purple icon. That tells me that it's an operator. That means that I have to either use it as a peer of another object or as a child of another object in order to get it to work. So let's take the Formula and drag it on top of the cube to make it a child. Now if I hit play, nothing really happens. That's because on the Formula Effector, there's a very important attribute under the Deformer properties. We have to change the Deformation from Off to Object and when I do that, now suddenly the Formula Effector is modifying the cube.
What it's doing is it's animating the scale of the cube over time. Let's hit pause. So now under the Properties for the Formula Effector, if I click on the Effector property, you can see that there is the formula being used to modify the cube, and if I go to the Parameter, these are the parameters that are being modified. Now if I turn off Scale, I can have it just move on the X axis. So let's crank that up so you can really see that. So now when I hit play, you'll see that it's going to oscillate along that X axis. And so those effectors can be used to modify regular objects.
They can also be used to modify MoGraph objects as well, and that's really where their power comes from. So let's delete that cube and talk about Scene Objects, and Scene Objects are things like lights and cameras and floors and the kinds of things that make up the scene that your objects exist in. And so their icons are pale blue, and they are divided into three icons here with subicons underneath. If I click and hold on the Floor Object, there's a bunch of things. These are all environmental objects, things like skies and actual Environment, a Physical Sky, which is a special sky generator.
Each of these serves a different purpose, but I'm going to add a Floor Object for now, and you'll see that the Floor Object doesn't look all that impressive. It's just a plane that seems to end right here in the Camera view. But when I render--I'll click the Render Inactive View button--and it goes off to infinity. That's the power of the Floor. It's a procedural object that generates polygons infinitely in two directions. I'm going to hit A on the keyboard to redraw the screen, and I'll delete the Floor Object. Next up are the Materials, and that's a very special type of object in C4D.
I'll add a cube to the scene, and the cube renders as just the default gray because it has no material applied to it. If I go to the Material Manager, I go to Create and then New Material, what I get is a Material icon, and that Material icon has its own set of parameters. And I can change the color of those, but before we do that, let's take it and drag it from the Material Editor onto the cube. And that Material icon now affects the cube. If I select that and I can change the colors, you'll see the colors of the cube change as well.
So that's a very quick overview of the different types of subobjects in CINEMA 4D. The most important thing to remember about them is that they don't exist alone, generally speaking. They are designed to be used in concert with one another to produce amazing results.