Sketchup to Cinema 4D: How Grouped Objects Behave

Photo of Mike Heighway

Instructor Mike Heighway

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Using Groups properly will help you with organizing your file for easy Cinema 4D import. Knowing how to prepare your geometry in Sketchup with the intent to import to Cinema 4D can be a big a time saver and help keep your files easily manageable.

Understanding how to use Groups properly will help you be efficient when importing files into Cinema 4D. When you prepare your models in Sketchup with the intent to import to Cinema 4D you can save a lot of time and maintain maximum flexibility when working within Cinema 4D. This video covers the basics of how your model behaves when imported into Cinema 4D with no grouping versus with selected object grouping.



- The first method of organization we will review is how to properly group objects. Groups help keep your files clean and easy to work with, both inside of Sketchup but also after you've imported them into Cinema 4D. Utilizing groups effectively will help isolate your work and the elements of your models efficiently and in an organized manner. I've provided you with some project files for these tutorials. Let's go ahead and open 01Groups. You'll see that Group01 and Group02 are two elements of the Sketchup model. The names are perhaps a bit misleading, because Group 1 in Sketchup is not actually a single group. It's individual elements. I can select the faces. I can select the edge. I can triple-click to select the whole object. Group 2, on the other hand, I have isolated individual letter forms and grouped those. I can double-click and enter into the group. I can triple-click and select the whole letter form. Now, what's important to understand is how this imports into Cinema 4D. So let's go ahead and show you how to import these two objects into Cinema. I'm going to go ahead and flip over to my Finder and show you two ways to import. One, I can grab Groups, the file itself, and drag it into Cinema and release. When I do that, a dialog box pops up, I will leave these all unchecked for the time being, and hit OK. You can see that my file imports properly. I'll close this and I'm going to show you the other way, which is by going File and Open. I can double-click here, again leave these unchecked, and hit OK and I bring in my objects. So this is the Sketchup file that we had open now in Cinema 4D. I want you to see that also once I open this in Cinema 4D, it creates a folder for me. There's nothing in it right now, and we'll review this in further detail later. So here we are looking at this Sketchup file in Cinema, and when I mouse over Group 1 you'll see that everything, the word and the number, all these letter forms are highlighted. What's happening here is that Polygon at the top, which is an object, is Group 1. So all my ungrouped objects come in as one solid object in Cinema 4D. Group 2, on the other hand, I can mouse over and highlight the different elements. You'll see that if I select one of these here, this null object, it selects the letter P. If I twirl down and unfold this, you can see that Polygon is an object within this group. So each one of these letter forms is an object within Cinema, and this makes a big difference when you're grouping objects in Sketchup knowing how they're going to import into Cinema 4D. I have three other files prepared for you to illustrate how grouping works within Sketchup. So let's go ahead and open 02BuildingUngrouped. Now, what I'd like you to see is similar to our first example with the word "Group 1", this is one object. I can highlight the faces, the edges. I can triple-click and select the whole object. But nothing is grouped in this file. I'd like to import this into Cinema 4D to illustrate a few problems with this kind of workflow. I'm going to flip over to the Finder. I'm going to take 02BuildingUngrouped and drag that into Cinema. You'll see the dialog box come up. Again, we'll keep this all unchecked and hit OK. Now, you'll see that I have a stray spline somewhere in my model. Let's move this. Yep, it's somewhere there. I'm going to hit Delete to get rid of that quickly. But what I want you to see is this Polygon object. Now, it's broken up. It's got selection tags, texture tags, etc. But it is one whole object. If I need to adjust any single object in here, like a window, or let's say it was more complex and had a frame and a door, or a roof, or architectural features, these all come in and are broken down by Polygon, ultimately. So I flipped over to Polygon mode here by clicking this on the side, and if I double-click my selection tag you can see that these elements are all kind of grouped together. Right? Now, this isn't a very efficient way to work. So let's go ahead and close this file out, and I'm going to show you a better way. In the Finder, I have 03BuildingGrouped. Now, in this file it's identical, but you'll see that I have the building shell grouped and I have the windows grouped. If I enter this, I can Command+A to select all, and you can see that all these elements move together. Let's go ahead and bring this file into Cinema 4D and see how it handles. I'll flip over to my Finder. I'll grab 3CubeBuildingGrouped, drop that in here, again all unchecked. We'll say OK. Now, in my Object Manager you'll see that I have two groups. One group is the building shell, and if I unfold that you can see I have the shell, and then again my aberrant standalone edge spline. I'll undo that, and you can see I'm going to go ahead and hide my building shell. You can see Group 2 here is the combined windows. Now, this is certainly better than the first building file I opened. But there's an even better way, particularly if you want to modify things or have a really well-organized Cinema 4D file and Sketchup file. I'm going to close this and not save. I'm going to flip over to my Finder and open the final file here 4CubeBuildingElementsGrouped. Now, what I've done differently here is I have grouped each individual window. Within that I can go in and I can select the faces. You can see it's got some thickness and everything like the previous files, and I've got my building shell. So this is nicely broken up. It exists on one layer, but these elements are all grouped. When I pull this into Cinema 4D, you can see a big difference in my Object Manager. So now I have multiple null objects in my Object Manager. I have my building shell, I have a window, another window, and another window. So now, it's easy for me to start organizing this file, and if I need to change the texture on two of these windows it's an easy process for me. One thing I will say is that when we're working with a file like this, often I will go back in and clean this up. I don't necessarily need multiple groups each with objects underneath. So I'll go ahead and fold these back up, and actually what I'm going to do is I'm going to select the first five objects here. These are all my windows. I'm going to undo that. What I'm going to do is I'm going to right-click. I'm going to scroll down here, and I'm going to say "Delete without children". So before I do that, I just want to explain one quick thing. I have a group, which is a null object and that null object has an object axis. Within that group, I have another polygon, which is another object. It's a Polygon object, and that has an object axis. Now, Cinema calculates this object axis of the null and this object axis of the actual object. When you have a really big architectural file and you have a lot of this grouping going on, that becomes pretty laborious since it has to calculate two, basically, axes, its position within the world for each object. So let's clean this file up a bit. I'm going to select these again. I right-click and I move down to "Delete without children". I'm selecting only the top level, the ancestors of the children. I'm going to go ahead and delete without children, and you'll see that it has cleared out the nulls, but it has left my windows there. I can now, on a Mac, Option, or Alt+G, and group those and call these "Windows". So that's one group, and then I can go in, I can pull my building shell out, delete the group and that stray spline, and call this "Building Shell". I'll go ahead and save as, and say "CubeBuildingElementsGrouped Clean", just so you know I've cleaned it up. You can investigate and poke around in that file a little bit. But this is basically how groups work. In summary, I want to review and just recap that objects in Sketchup that are ungrouped come in as a whole object. So let's go ahead and open my 01Groups again. You'll see that this is ungrouped and it's a whole object. Objects that are grouped come in children of nulls. So keep this in mind when you're working in Sketchup how you're choosing to group your objects. Not only will it help you here, but it will also help you with your organization within Sketchup so that you have a nice, easy to work with file that is logical and sensible.
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