Maxon’s Cinema 4D has a vibrant and well-supported plug-in ecosystem, providing all manner of extensions for the app – from filling holes in its toolset to streamlining the workflow. And because of the way that Cinema 4D is structured, not only are these plug-ins nicely integrated into the app (often seamlessly at times), they all play well together.
So you can find Cinema 4D tutorials that mix third-party Modifiers and Effectors with native tools, use Turbulence FD to convect X-particles and then visualise them with the Hair shader, shatter meshes with Nitroblast and then animate them with Signal... the combinations are endlessly creative.
In this feature we’ve rounded up a few of our favourite plug-ins (although not all of them by any measure!). There’s something for everyone here.
01. X-Particles 3.5
The latest version of this amazing particle system can now be combined with Cinema 4D’s Effectors, enabling you to colour, scale, randomise and distort the particles with the familiar motion graphics toolset.
TurbulenceFD is a voxel-based fluid dynamics simulation system for making fire and smoke. TFD is used in movies, TV shows and video game promos, and you only need to use the plug-in and see the end results to agree it’s pretty special.
Lazaros aka ‘NitroMan’ has created many useful plug-ins, but he says Nitroblast is probably his best. This great little tool automatically shatters objects and lets you blow them to pieces using C4D’s dynamics.
Scroll Roll was designed to help create rolling paper and carpet-like effects, says Daniel Fitzgerald, developer at Curious Animal, but he found it was also a fun way to create sprouting animations. Scroll Roll also turned out to be perfect for growing sprouting objects and growing feathers.
By scaling these objects up from nothing as they unroll he was able to transition them on smoothly, but in a much more interesting way than a simple scale.
05. Lumen 2
Lumen 2 was created by Chris Montasano, and although he’s no longer actively developing it, it still works fine under C4D R17 and has loads of useful functionality. Chris says that one of the cool things he likes about Lumen 2 is the ‘visibility’ adjustment, which is useful to quickly populate an area with random objects.
The second entry from Curious Animal, aka developer Daniel Fitzgerald, is Motion Stretch Deformer. When applied to a mesh, Motion Stretch Deformer – as you might guess – stretches the geometry according to its movement, creating things like motion trails.
Signal is a GSG plug-in that’s aimed at automating the animation process. It’s applied as a tag to an object or deformer and you simply drag any animatable value into it (including colours). It’s then a matter of setting some values and letting Signal do its thing, generating random, noise- based animations and seamless loops.
08. Effex 2.7
Effex 2.5 is a framework for physics-based simulations, able to create fire, smoke and fluids of various viscosities while also combing these effects with Bullet rigid body dynamics. So now, for example, you can have objects that fall, hit one another, create splashes and float or sink depending on their mass and densities.
09. SplinePatch 3.0
As its name suggests, SplinePatch 3.0 brings spline patching to C4D, which enables you to create smooth, curved surfaces from intersecting splines. This is ideal for creating complex forms, such as cars, clothing, characters, packaging or other convoluted shapes, that remain editable and animatable.
Chris Montasano says that there are a few tricks for EdgeShade’s Soft Edge shader that keep surprising people, even though he’s posted information about them. The main features are a Ray Traced Render Mode, which lets you soften edges, even those between objects. The Ray Traced mode also allows you to adjust angles.
Reviewed in issue 202 of 3D World and receiving a five-star recommendation, Forester is a procedural vegetation creation plug-in that makes an endless variety of grass, trees and plants, and that also comes with a rock generator and a scattering function, called the Multicloner.
GSG’s Transform is a neat plug-in for generating animation without the need for keyframes. It provides a set of 65 presets for various animation sequences, which can then be tweaked to suit. It works well on text, clone arrays or fractured objects made using Nitroblast.
This tool by César Vonc unwraps an object as strips of connected polygons, like peeling a banana. It’s a very cool effect with plenty of options to alter the way it unfolds and disappears. However César explains that you can’t easily cache the effect as Unfolder changes the point and polygon count by default, and the PLA cache needs them to be the same.
14. Difference Map
The Difference Map is a handy plug-in that enables you to layer effects on
top of your deformation by creating a vertex map describing the effect of the deformer on each point in your model. So, if using Impact deformer to create ripples, you could use the Difference Map tab to create a vertex map that you reference in a material to give those ripples a different colour to the rest of the object.