Getting Started with Cinema 4D, Part 12: Introduction to Materials

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Instructor eyedesyn

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In this video, you’ll be introduced to the basics of creating and applying basic materials using the Material Manager.

In this video, you’ll be introduced to the basics of the Cinema 4D material system and apply materials to the objects in your scene. You’ll learn how to create a material and utilize the various material channels like Color, Reflection and Bump.

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The Cinema 4D material system is vast and powerful, especially, with the newest edition of the node-based material system. But for new users, the more visual material editor is the perfect way to get your feet wet, creating and manipulating materials inside of Cinema 4D. So let's start adding some color to this pretty drab, gray scene. Now there's a couple of ways to create a new material. You can go to this bottom menu and click on Create and go to New Material or you can just double-click anywhere in this little Material Manager, and it will create a brand new material. Now to open up the Material Manager and edit all these features, we can just double-click on that newly created material. Now here's where we can go into some of the settings here. Now, there's a lot of different channels in here. But for our purposes, we're only really going to deal with the Color and the Reflectance Channel. Now the Color Channel is where you can set the actual color of your material or the surface of the object that you are creating. So for me, let's go and create a yellow submarine because, you know, yellow submarines, love them. And now we can go into our Reflectance and here's where we can add things like reflection, okay? So by default, there is a Specular Layer in the Reflectance Channel. Now what specular is, is just a fake way to represent reflections. And we don't want to fake that. We actually want to add some nice real reflection. So what I'm going to do is click this Remove button and that will get rid of our default Specular Layer. And I'll just click Add and I'm going to grab this Beckman Reflection. Now the Beckman Reflection is kind of like your default reflection, good for plastic materials. very shiny materials. So we'll just start with that. And you're going to see that we have a very, very shiny, reflective material here in our Material Preview Window here. So we're going to need to do a few things to make this look a little bit realistic because basic 3D makes things a little bit too perfect and your job is to make things look more realistic and add more imperfection. So one of those ways to add imperfections is to add a little bit of roughness or blurriness to your reflection, okay? And you can see how that's affecting our material in the little Material Preview Window here, okay? One thing I'm going to do is just get rid of the Specular String. So, again, don't want the fake reflection and what we can do to make this a little bit more realistic because this looks like a shiny metal and we're not getting any of our underlying color poking through here, so what we're going to do is go to this Layer Fresnel. Now Fresnel is basically the realistic reflection fall off that occurs in real life. So if you're looking at a reflective surface straight on, it's going to be less reflective at those surfaces facing you, versus the curved areas facing away from you, okay? So let's go ahead and click on this drop-down menu for Fresnel and choose Dielectric. Now, this is a Fresnel type that's best used for a lot of surfaces, okay? This other one conductor, is mostly for highly reflective metal. So I'm going to stick with Dielectric and that'll allow us to use a preset. Now a lot of material systems in Cinema 4D have their own nice presets that you can start from, okay? So if I bring the preset window up, you can see we have a whole bunch of options. And since I want to go for like a nice toy, like, plastic toy effect, I'm going to choose PET, which is a type of plastic. And that's going to change the IOR or the Index of Refraction or just the type of reflection amount that is reserved for that kind of surface in reality. And you'll just see that'll bump that up a little bit. So now, we can also see some of that underlying color because we're not seeing this fully reflective surface. We're having that Fresnel or that reflection roll-off occurring, okay? So now what we can do is, let's rename this material Yellow. And let's apply this to our submarine. Now we can apply objects a few different ways. The one way we can do it is just by finding our sub hole or whatever object we want to apply that material to and just clicking and dragging onto and hovering over that object. And you'll see that'll apply that material. Now another way you can do that... And right now our Fishbowl is in the way so let me just double-click on this top button so we can hide it from view. Another way we can add a material is instead of just dragging and dropping it onto the material in the Object Manager, I can just simply drag and drop this on to my object here in the Viewport. So maybe I wanted to add this same yellow material to this little submarine scope so I'll just drag and drop that material there and you'll see it is now applied to that object. Now another way to apply a material to multiple objects, say, if I wanted to create a blue texture and maybe add it to these two little hull-welding objects here, what I can do is duplicate my material by CMD, click, and dragging, again, the same way you would duplicate an object in the Object Manager by CMD, click, and dragging. And then I can double-click on that newly-created material, make this blue, go to the color channel, just choose a nice blue hue here, something like that and I'll select both of those hull-welding objects. And I'll right-click on the blue color that I want to apply and just go to Apply. And you'll see that's one way to add a material to multiple selected objects. So now what I'm going to do is just create a whole bunch of different-colored materials using the same Reflectance Channel, the same kind of reflection on all of my materials. So now that I have all of my materials applied except for the Fishbowl Texture, we can easily say, "Change the reflectiveness of all these materials all at once, okay?" So to do that, I'm just going to click and drag to get a rectangular selection. And we can utilize this little Attributes Menu here to maybe go into the Reflectance Channel and maybe we say we want to pull back on the strength, the overall strength of our reflection. Now what I like to do is not adjust the reflection strength here, but the overall layer reflection strength right up here. So if we bring this down to, say, 30 to make this a little bit more subtle, you can see that our shininess is not overpowering, it's a little bit more subtle. So it's just nice to know that you can go in and adjust this at any time on all of the materials and it'll automatically update on all those materials as well. Alternatively, I could double-click on a single material to bring up the Material Editor. And then with that window open, do another click+drag to get a rectangular selection. You'll see that you'll now be changing multiple materials as you can see this multiple values here. So now I can go into the Reflectance here again. And, again, you'll see that cascade through and update. So one thing we can do to make the Sand Texture a little bit more sandy and bumpy is to go into our sand material here and maybe add some bump to the Bump Channel. Now the Bump Channel just kind of gives the illusion that the surface is kind of bumpy and imperfect. So I'm going to check on that Bump Channel to activate it. And I'm just going to load up some simple noise. So I'll just load up some noise here. And you can see in our Material Preview here, what the Bump Channel's doing. It's looking like we have a very bumpy kind of surface. And for sand, that's a little bit too much. I just want this to look like grains of sand. So for the global scale of the Noise Shader, I'm going to bring this down fairly low to say 10% and you'll see that update here. We're seeing a little bit more of those little granules of sand. We can maybe even shrink this lower to maybe, 2%. Another thing we can do to make this a little bit less pronounced is just decrease the contrast of that noise to make it a little bit more subtle. And, again, we can maybe even bring this Noise Scale down to say, 1%. And you can see if I close out of my Material Manager... And let's actually turn off our Fishbowl from being active by clicking that little checkbox and hit render, you can see the nice little granular details on our sand. So our reflections might not look like much right now, and that's due to the fact that reflections are all to do with the environment that your objects are in. Now if you look around in the room you're in now and notice the reflections of say, your mobile phone or your computer, all of the reflections you see in it are due to the objects surrounding it. And since we don't have a lot of objects populating the scene, a lot of the elements in our scene like the Yellow Submarine, doesn't have a lot of objects to be reflected. But don't worry, we're going to get to that as we're only really skimming the surface of what's possible with materials in Cinema 4D. But you can see that it's pretty easy to achieve a nice, plastic toy look, which is perfect for the style of animation we're creating.
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