A Cinema 4D Primer for Maya Artists: Selecting Objects and Components

Photo of Edna Kruger

Instructor Edna Kruger

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Learn how to select objects and components, from the Live selection tool to creating selection sets, and more.

This video shows how to use the Model and component selection modes, the Rectangle Selection and Live Selection tools, toggle the Only Select Visible Elements option, filter what’s selectable in the Selection Filter, select all objects of a certain type, use the component selection tools in the Select menu, use the Soft Selection option, select nodes and hide objects using the Object Manager, create a Set Selection to store component selections, and solo objects from the Layer Manager or the Solo icon.



In this video, we'll cover the basics about selecting objects and components in Cinema 4D. This may not be the most exciting video you'll ever watch in your life, but if you do watch it, your work in Cinema 4D will be so much easier. When you first open C4D, you just click on an object to select it. How easy is that? The reason for this is because model mode is active, and it's also because the transform tools are active. This makes it easy to transform objects right aways after selecting them. Model Mode, which is like the Object Mode in Maya, is your main go-to-mode for most things, whether you're just noodling around or doing some serious modeling. Object Mode is used when you're animating the objects' transformations, and it affects its axis, or pivot, as you know it, but not its points. Animation Mode lets you change the animation path and stuff like that. But we'll be using the model mode, so don't worry about these other two modes right now. And, of course, we will use the component modes. You can find them down the side here, Point, Edge, and Polygon Mode. Polygon is what you know as Faces in Maya. We'll get back to these in a minute. When you actually need to use a Select tool, you can find one in this menu. The rectangle selection tool is most like Maya's select tool when in Marquee mode. You can also press the 0 key to activate it. You can drag across anything or click on anything. Press the shift key to add elements to the selection, but notice that it doesn't toggle as it does in Maya. And you can press Ctrl to remove elements from the selection. By default, rectangle selection selects everything in the marquee including what the camera cannot see such as the points on the back of our little guy's hair. But we can change this. Select the tool so its attributes show up in the Attribute Manager, and then activate "Only Select Visible Elements." This is the same as camera-based selection in Maya. Now when we select the points on the front of the hair, you can see that the points on the back of the hair are not selected. By the way, you can press the spacebar to toggle between the current selection tool and the tool that you last activated which is the move tool in our case. And all of the most recently used tools are available in this list here. We'll just go back to our selection tool. You alone have the power to decide exactly what you can or can't select in a viewport. Just open the select menu and toggle the options in the selection filter menu. For example, we'll turn off environment so we stop accidentally selecting the physical sky in the background here. And if you want to select all objects of a specific type, you can use the Selector. Let's select all the lights even though we only have one. You can also select objects of the same type in the Object Manager. Click this Filter icon so that the eye opens and looks at you, then double click on the object type you want such as Cameras. We'll just close the eye again and let it go back to sleep. No matter what is selected or selectable in the viewport, you can always select an object's node in the Object Manager. This is especially useful if we hide some objects here by clicking this little top circle so that it turns red. Just click this circle again so that it's either gray or green, and the objects are unhidden. You can press the Shift key to select a range of nodes here and press the Ctrl key to toggle the selection, the same as it is in the outliner. The object manager is also useful for selecting the parent node which also selects its children. Let's just make our little guy's head float around. If you want to select all the children as separate objects, right-click the parent node and choose Select Children, or chose it from the Edit menu here. For example, we need to select all the children first to add them to a layer. If we had just selected the parent node, only it will be added to the layer. Let's click the Layer's tab and see what's happening in the Layer Manager. This is like the Display Layer Editor in Maya. One thing we can do here is click the S icon to solo the objects in this layer. Soloing is the same as Isolate Selected in Maya. You can also solo the selected object by clicking the S button on the left pallet and then choose from the options in the menu. We'll select "Viewport Solo Single" so that just the body object itself is shown or "Solo Hierarchy" to bring its children along for the ride. Select "Viewport Solo Off" to show everything again. If you want to select all objects in your scene, choose Edit, Select All, or press Ctrl+A, and you can choose "Deselect All" or press Ctrl+Shift+A. Now let's take a lot at selecting components. So far, we've been using the rectangle selection tool, but the main selection tool you'll probably use is the Live Selection Tool. You can also press the 9 key to activate it. It acts like the Paint Select tool in Maya because you just paint with it like a brush, but this tool selects both objects and components. You can select components only on the selected object, so to select a different object, you need to first switch to model mode. You could click this icon again, but we'll press the V key and select "Model" from this popup menu and then click the hair. When you're in Model mode, you can press the Enter key to switch to Point mode which is a handy shortcut. And then keep pressing the Enter key to toggle among the three component modes. If any of the transform tools are active, you can select components by just right-clicking and dragging. This temporarily activates the Live Selection Tool with the radius of 0, so you don't really see it, but it's there. And as you can see, this makes it super fast to select and then transform components right aways. When you use Live Selection, it selects only what's facing the camera by default which is good to prevent selecting unwanted components at the back. Of course, you can change this by toggling the Only Select Visible Elements option, the same as you did with the rectangle selection tool. But we'll leave it on because we want to know what we're selecting. Let's say you're selecting points, but you want to keep that same selection for edges or polygons. To transfer the selection, just press Ctrl when you click on the icons for the other component modes. The Select menu has lots of tools to help with modeling components, so you should take some time to get to know them. When you see a keyboard shortcut like this, it means to just press the two keys in quick succession. And we'll do that by pressing "UL" to activate the loop selection tool. Just move the cursor over the different components until you get the loop you want, then click. If one of the transform tools is active, you can switch to Edge Mode and just double-click to select an Edge loop. And in Polygon Mode, you can double-click a polygon to select all connected polygons which can be like a loop in some cases. If you want to select all components on the selected objects, just choose this appropriately named command. And using "Deselect All" deselects the components, but it keeps the objects selected. As in Maya, you often want to keep the same set of components handy when you're modeling. If you're looking for an equivalent to quick select sets, you can select some components like the polygon loop here and save the selection with the "Set Selection" command. This creates a tag for the object that you can see in the Object Manager. You should give the set a name right aways, because you can have multiple sets for an object. To use the set again, make sure that the object is selected and double-click the Selection tag. Or you can click the Restore Selection button in its attributes. So, you're probably wondering if you're favorite Soft Selection tool is available in C4D. Well, it is. You can find Soft Selection in the attributes for any of the transformed tools like the Move tool here. It's available only when you are in one of the component modes. So, let's say that we want to add a little hill to our landscape. First, we'll select it and then make it editable, and then select some points on it. The yellow area around the points is the soft selection gradient. In the attributes for the Move tool, we'll change the radius to be about 300 centimeters. You can see the changes in the yellow area around the selected points as we drag the slider, and we'll set the strength to be about 75%. Now we can drag the selected points up or down to create either a mole hill or a sink hole, whichever one we want. Of course, the sculpting tools in C4D will help you create more sophisticated effects, but this is just easy. So, that's about it for the basics for selection. Now you can go on with your life selecting like a pro in C4D. And here's the cheat sheet with all the keyboard shortcuts we used. In the next video, we'll show you how to set up your viewports so that you can see things exactly how you want to see them.
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