Getting Started with Cinema 4D, Part 08: Introduction to Organic Modeling

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In this video, you’ll be modeling a simple fish by being introduced to some of of the basic but most important tools to enable you to be able to begin confidently modeling and manipulating geometry in Cinema 4D.

In this video, you’ll be modeling a simple fish by being introduced to some of of the basic but most important tools to enable you to be able to begin confidently modeling and manipulating geometry in Cinema 4D. You’ll also be introduced to the Subdivision Surface generator object that allows you to smooth out a polygons surface.



So far we've covered how to model or create geometry using Primitives Generators and Deformers. Now we're going to take a dive into traditional modeling techniques to model ourselves a fish for our fishbowl and we're going to start it all with a single cube, so let's go to our primitives menu here and grab a cube. Now just as Michelangelo chiseled the David statue out of a giant block of marble, so will you unleash a fish from this simple cube. Now, how we typically model in 3D programs is you start out with a very crude version of whatever the form of object that you're going for. So in our case, we have a cube and basically what we can do is adjust these handles to get the basic form of a fish so it's kind of skinny, kind of long. But here's the deal: a fish is smoother than this, right? So what we can do to smooth out our little blocky beginnings of a fish is to go and grab a generator object called the Subdivision Surface. Okay, now remember, for a generator to generate geometry based off another piece of geometry, we need to make that geometry a child of that generator and you can see that once we placed our cube in that subdivision surface, you can see this is looking a lot more like a fish. So basically, the subdivision surface generator smooths out your geometry based on the subdivisions set here in the Object tab. Now there's different subdivisions for your editor view which is the view we have right here and then the actual render view. So what that means is that if I set this Subdivision Editor to 3 and just saw what that looked like, you can see this is much smoother because basically we're dividing it yet another time and it's a much smoother piece of geometry so that's basically what that's going to look like when we render. Now, why there's two different versions is because you want to keep your viewport nice and light as far as geometry goes in subdivisions, so that's why we have this working value and then this rendered value. But since we're not really dealing with a whole lot of geometry here, we can leave this at 3 and actually see what this smooth piece of geometry is looking like. Now what we can do to better see what's going on with our subdivision is going to our Display, Gouraud Shadings (Lines), okay? And this will allow us to see all the different subdivisions that the subdivision surface is adding. So if I go ahead and click this little checkbox, you can see just what that subdivision surface is doing, it's subdividing it three times and making this look much nicer. Now, one thing we can do is add some more segments to this cube object. Now watch what happens as I add a few more segments. You're going to see that this actually sharpens the edges in the X, you can see that we're actually adding these two subdivisions here, okay? And that in turn is sharpening things up, tightening things up along the X. Now we can add a segment in the Y and we're tightening things up in the Y-direction. If we tighten this up enough, you can see we're getting more of a cylindrical type of look. So I'll just bring these segments down to, say, two, again we can see what our cube looks like before the subdivision surface but the problem is is that our cube can only do so much for us, right? We can adjust these handles to adjust the size, we can adjust the segments to, you know, tighten things up but we actually need to access some of these points and polygons that we have on our base cube to be able to more form this into a fish. So what that's going to require us to do is have access to the points edges and polygons that we don't have access to right now. So what we need to do is take this primitive and convert it to an editable object and how you do that is a couple of ways. The first way is just clicking this little button, you can see the description at the bottom left here. It converts a parametric object into a polygonal object that allows us to then be able to manipulate and edit the points edges and polygons of that object. So I can either hit this button or you can see that the shortcut is also "C," I'll just click this button and when I click that, you're going to see that we lose all the parameters of the cube because now it's a polygonal object. But if I go ahead and select, you know, a point here, I can select a point. Here's our little axis here so this acts almost like any other object where we can click and move the axes and just move this point around and we're going to Cmd or Ctrl+Z to undo that. But now what we can do is turn back on our subdivision surface and actually see all these edges and points and polygons of our cube and now we can start manipulating this piece of geometry to more resemble a fish form, okay? So there's two different modes to view a subdivision surface model, one is the way we're looking at it right here where we have all the subdivisions and it's nice and smooth. Another way is by going to your Options menu and unchecking this Isoline Editing and what that allows you to do is actually see the original box shape of your object before the subdivision surface was applied to it so you can see that cage. Another way to be able to quickly toggle the subdivision surface on and off is by hitting Q, okay? So I'm hitting Q and this is toggling the subdivision surface on and off, so very handy. So now what we can do is go ahead and adjust some of our points, our edges, our polygons, depending on which mode we have selected here that gives us access to whatever part of that geometry that we want. So what I'm going to do is I want to control a looped edge to be able to scale up or scale down different looped edges of my geometry, so what the heck does that actually mean? Well, if I hit U, this is going to bring up a bunch of modeling shortcuts and basically what I want to do is bring up the Loop Selection Tool. You can see that the Loop Selection Tool is L on this shortcut key menu. So I hit U to bring this menu up, if I hit L now, you can see that now instead of just selecting individual edges, I can actually select an edge loop and so I can select this loop and now I can go ahead and hit T to bring up my Scale Tool and scale this on up or I can undo that and just scale this up in the Y. Now, I'll do U and L to bring up my Loop Selection Tool again, hit T, scale this up as well, and then I can even hit U+L again to grab this loop selection, hit T for scale and scale this on the X. You can see we're looking a lot more like a little fish here. So let's go and create the fins on the tail and to do this, I'm going to utilize one of the most common functions in modeling called the extrude. Now, we already used an extrude object to extrude geometry based on a spline, we can actually use an extrude modeling function to extrude polygon faces from others. So, again, instead of using the U menu to bring up some modeling shortcut keys, I'm actually going to hit M, so U and M bring up some very important modeling tools and in this M menu, you can see that I want to extrude and Extrude is T, so that's the shortcut key when you're in this M menu, this modeling menu, so I'm going to hit T. This will bring up our Extrude Tool, okay? Now all I need to do to extrude is just click and drag, you'll see that I just created some new polygons here. Now I can go and just scale this on down and hit E to bring my Move Tool up. You can see that we're basically shrinking the end of this model and basically making this look like the beginning of a fishtail, okay? So now I'm going to extrude again, so I'm going to hit M+T to bring up my Extrude Tool one more time and this time I'm going to uncheck the Preserve Groups because I have two polygons selected...and again, you can select a polygon and hit Shift to add to your selection just like you can hold Shift to select multiple objects and I'm going to uncheck this Preserve Groups. Now watch what happens this time is it's actually extruding individual polygon faces from each individual polygon that we had selected. So now I can go ahead, hit T to bring up my Scale Tool, scale this on up, I can select these individual edges by going to the Edge Selection Tool and maybe select this edge, hold down Shift to add to my selection, and select this little edge right there. Hit E to bring up my Move Tool and just kind of, you know, adjust this, scale this down in the Y. Maybe go ahead use another loop selection, so U and then remember L is the second key we need to hit to bring up our loop selection and maybe grab this little loop right about here and hit E, move this in, maybe scale this down on the Y, maybe scale this down on the Z as well. I can also hit U and L to grab this loop selection, maybe move this in, scale this up on the Y and you can really see how much control you have over a single piece of geometry and just remembering all of these shortcut keys to be able to manipulate not only the objects in your scene but the edges, the polygons, and be points. So let's maybe shrink down the little fin here and maybe we find that the Isoline Editing helps us a little bit more to actually see what we're selecting here, so I'll hit U+L and I just want to...sometimes it's a little finicky to be able to select whatever loop that you want but I want this basic thin loop right there so I got that selected. I'm going to hit E for the Move Tool, maybe we shrink this down even more, okay? That's looking good and this is where orbiting around, looking at your four view is going to come in handy. Maybe bringing the loop selection up again, maybe fattening this fish up a little bit, he's been, you know, eating a lot of algae maybe, something like that. And let's go ahead select this polygon here and holding the Shift key, I'm going to scale this up maybe, you know, 150%. So constraining to increments of 10, I'm going to do the same thing here, clicking the Y-axis, holding Shift down and scaling this up the same exact amount. Now I can go ahead and select both of these polygons, scale them up a little bit more. Maybe even move this up 10 centimeters, move this down 10 centimeters in the Y, maybe grab these two edges, move them over like this. Grab these two edges, maybe scale them up, so really just tweaking this fin to look good, you know, fin-y. So I think that's looking pretty good, what we can do now is start to add some detail. So let's just go and grab a capsule, go from our Edge mode to our Model mode, we can select the capsule and this capsule will be the fin, okay? So I'm just going to grab the orientation here, change it to "+X," I'm just going to scale this down, just rotate this, and just move this. And again, we can flatten out this capsule by going into the coordinates, scaling this stuff on the Z, maybe something like that. We can add maybe a Bulge Deformer or a Taper Deformer to be able to taper out the top of the capsule, so make this taper a child of the capsule, go to the Object tab, hit Fit to Parent, and let's see what's going on here. You can see that it's actually tapering in the wrong direction, I'm going to hit R for rotate and just rotate this 90 degrees. Again, holding down Shift to constrain the movement to increments of 10, now I can go ahead and adjust the size of this taper. Looking good, maybe scale this down in the X even more, something like that. Looking good, now let's add some eyes. So let's just rename this fin, let's rename our subdivision surface, the "Fish Body" and I'll just add an "SDS" for subdivision surface just so I know what that is and then just type in "Fish" for the actual polygon object. Now, let's go and add a sphere, this will be the eye, scale this down. And again, we'll flatten this out by maybe bringing down the Z scale to maybe 6.6 or something like that and we'll rotate this to have this flush with the surface of the fish body. Maybe scale this down even more, there we go, liking that. And I can just duplicate this sphere and this will basically be the iris of the fish. See, it's looking pretty fishy now, right? So this will be the "Eye," this will be the "Iris." And let's add a mouth, we'll add a very crude mouth by just grabbing a torus here. Go into Object tab and orientating this to "+X," move this forward, just scale this on down and let's just adjust the torus pipe radius so you got a big old mouth. Something like that, that's looking good. So the only problem is is that we only have a fin and an eye on one side, so this is where we can use the Symmetry Object to symmetrically copy and mirror these objects onto the other side of our fish here, okay? So what I'm going to do is just grab all of the objects...let me just rename this "Mouth." Grab all the objects that I want to mirror symmetrically and right-click, go to Group Objects, and just name this "Eyes & Fins." And what I can do now is grab my Symmetry Object and throw all of these objects underneath the Symmetry Object. And again, you can see that the symmetry is not in the correct mirror plane, so if I change it to "XY," you'll see that now we have this eye and fin on the other side of our fish object, perfect. So again, I can just click on the top dot or stoplight, change it to green to hide that taper from my viewport view, go back to my Gouraud Shading and check out the fish geometry that we have. So at any time, we can go back into our fish geometry, go into whatever mode we want, hit the U+L to bring up our Loop Selection, maybe we want to scale this down a little bit. If we wanted to actually slide down this Loop Selection, there's a really handy shortcut that is called the Slide Tool and you can access that by hitting M and then O and if you click and drag, you can actually slide down an edge selection down the surface of your polygonal object here. So I can do the same thing, go to U, L for Loop Selection, hit M+O with that loop selection active and just, you know, move these edge loops down. Do this one more time, M+O, just move this on down, maybe scale this up and I'm liking the form of this fish a lot better now. So let's just clean up everything by grouping up all of these fish object pieces, right-clicking, go into Group Objects and naming this "Fish" and now we have everything that is fish related underneath this one null. I can go ahead and just name this "Fin" or "Eyes & Fin Symmetry" so I know exactly what that is and then we have everything all nice and neat under this one Fish null and there it is, ready to go, ready to go swimming. So if that seemed kind of hard, never fear because modeling admittedly is one of the hardest 3D disciplines to learn and we just barely scratched the surface of what's possible but it's important to learn the keyboard shortcuts, all the basic modeling functions to be to have the ability to create simple objects like our very simple fish.
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