Use Decal Mapping to Add Logos and Labels to Product Packaging

Photo of Rick Barrett

Instructor Rick Barrett

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  • Duration: 05:41
  • Views: 35543
  • Made with Release: 18
  • Works with Release: 18 and greater

Decal Mapping applies textures like stickers.

Decal mapping is a great way to add logos and labels to product packaging. Decal maps work just like stickers, and stack on top of a base material using an alpha channel. In this tutorial, you'll learn how to create and apply decal maps. You'll see how to align and place maps using the Texture Axis mode, and how to scale maps in proportion to the original artwork using the Fit to Image command. You'll also learn how the whole process is simplified by using the CV Import Image plugin available from Cineversity.

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Decal mapping is a powerful technique that allows you to apply flat textures onto your 3D objects without needing to use UV mapping. You're basically applying a sticker directly onto the object. So this works great for applying logos and labels to packaging for product renders. You'll typically apply a Decal map as a stacked material on top of another material that defines the base color for your object. This works great because you can adjust the base color of the object without affecting the Decal map. So let's take a look at the process of adding a Decal map in Cinema 4D. To start, you're going to need to create a new material. So we'll go down to the Material Manager and choose Create New Material. Then simply double-click to open the Material Editor. We need to go ahead and load our label into this material. So to do that, we'll make sure the Color channel is active, and click on the dots here to load the texture. Select your label and hit Open, and now you can see that we've got the color in here, but we want to knock out the white portions of this label in order to see the color of the tube underneath. For that we need to go ahead and apply an Alpha channel. So activate the Alpha channel and load the same image into this channel. So click the arrow here, go down to Bitmaps, and choose your label file, again, from this menu of all of the bitmaps that are currently in your scene. Now you can see that we've got a transparent label that we're ready to apply onto our object. So to do that, we're going to drag this material either onto the tube in the viewport, or directly onto the Tube object in the Object Manager. Now you can see that this doesn't look quite right, and that's because Cinema 4D defaults to UVW mapping. When you're applying a Decal map, you almost always want to use Flat mapping. It still won't look quite right, and that's because the Flat mapping isn't being applied in the right way. To see how the Flat mapping is being applied, make sure the Texture tag is active, as well as the object that the tag is applied to, and then activate the Texture mode. You'll see a yellow grid here, indicating that the texture is being applied sort of straight down from the top. So we need to go ahead and adjust this. To make adjustments to the mapping, make sure the Axis tool is active. We're going to go ahead and rotate our mapping, so we'll activate the Rotate tool. We'll just drag this red rotation band here until this looks like it's going to line up properly. If you hold down the SHIFT key while you drag, your rotation will be limited to 10-degree increments, and you can see the current rotation value right on top of the rotation gizmo. I want to rotate this to -90 degrees, and then it looks like it's still backwards. So we'll take the green band here and rotate that around 180 degrees. Now it looks like we're getting somewhere, but I need to adjust the size of the label. So we'll activate the Scale tool and scale it down. Cinema 4D defaults to tiling all of its textures. So we need to turn off the Tiling so we only get one version of the label. Activate the Texture tag, go into the Tag tab, and deactivate the Tile option. Now we can use the Move tool and move this label back up. Now our next problem is that the label doesn't match the proportions of the original artwork. You could go back into the Scale tool and sort of manually try to fudge this, but there's a better way. Simply right-click on the Texture tag and choose Fit to Image. This is going to ask you for an image, and it's going to look at the size of that image and adjust the Texture tag to match the ratio of the width and height. So now we know our label is in exactly the right proportions, and we can go into the Move tool and reposition it in order to get it exactly where we want it on the object. And that's the basic process for Decal mapping. Now, the good news is that we can make this even a little bit faster, using the CV Import plugin available here on Cineversity. So let's look at the process with CV Import. Simply select the object that you want to apply the image to and go into the CV Import menu and choose CV Decal from Image. Choose your label artwork and hit Open. Now you can see that this automatically created a material that already has the image applied in the Color and the Alpha channel. So all of that work has been done for us. It also applied a Texture tag automatically, which will drag to the end of the list, and it automatically put us into the Texture mode and the Texture Axis tool. So now we can go into the Rotate tool and go ahead and do that same rotation to get this lined up properly. Then go into the Scale tool and scale this down. You can also see that it automatically did a Fit to Image for us, so that the Texture tag is the right proportions for the label artwork. That is the process of doing Decal mapping in Cinema 4D. Now, in the coming weeks, we're going to look at some additional quick tips on how to optimize your Decal mapping, as well as some other ways that you can optimize your product visualization workflow. If this quick tip was helpful, please like, share, and visit for more great tutorials and resources.
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