Maxon’s Cinema 4D has a vibrant and well-supported plugin ecosystem, providing all manner of extensions for the app – from filling holes in its toolset to streamlining the workflow. One of the best 3D modelling software (opens in new tab) packages, the way Cinema 4D is structured means, not only are these plugins nicely integrated into the app (often seamlessly at times), they all play well together.
So you can find Cinema 4D tutorials (opens in new tab) 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 plugins (although not all of them by any measure!). There’s something for everyone here.
- Price: $29.99 (opens in new tab)
Every now and then you find a plugin that doesn't offer a means to a particular end, but inspires you to investigate further nonetheless. Trypogen (opens in new tab) is one such plugin. It's a generator plugin that lets you take a simple object and create something that combines the best of mathematical-based processes with the random and organic nature of the more playful side of 3D.
It's a bit of a niche product, but Trypogen encourages playful experimentation and can actually yield beautiful, if unexpected, results in very little time. Combine that with its compatibility with MoGraph, and you have a very useful tool for little cost.
- Price: £590 (opens in new tab)
This amazing particle and VFX system (opens in new tab) has a host of useful features. You can create stimulations for cloth, smoke, fire and fluids, for example, and it integrates seamlessly into Cinema 4D. If you can use C4D, you can use X-Particles.
TurbulenceFD (opens in new tab) 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 plugin and see the end results to agree it’s pretty special.
04. Light Kit Pro 3.0
The latest update to Light Kit Pro (opens in new tab) provides a complete and fully customisable lighting solution – providing a variety of realistic lights, panels and softboxes with which to really hone your lighting. It's easy to use, includes 120 studio presents and has built-in support for renderers Octane, Arnold and Redshift.
- Price: €65 (opens in new tab)
Lazaros, aka ‘NitroMan’, has created many useful plugins, but Nitroblast (opens in new tab) is probably his best. This great little tool automatically shatters objects and enables you to blow them to pieces using C4D’s dynamics.
06. Scroll Roll Deformer
Scroll Roll Deformer (opens in new tab) 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.
07. Motion Stretch Deformer
The second entry from Curious Animal, aka developer Daniel Fitzgerald, is Motion Stretch Deformer (opens in new tab). When applied to a mesh, Motion Stretch Deformer – as you might guess – stretches the geometry according to its movement, creating things like motion trails.
- Price: $129 (opens in new tab)
Signal (opens in new tab) is a GSG plugin 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.
09. SplinePatch 3.0
As its name suggests, SplinePatch 3.0 (opens in new tab) brings spline patching to C4D, which enables you to create smooth, curved surfaces from intersecting splines. This is ideal for creating complex forms that remain editable and animatable, such as cars, clothing, characters, packaging or other convoluted shapes.
- Price: £287 (opens in new tab)
Forester (opens in new tab) is a procedural vegetation creation plugin 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. Its latest update also integrates with C4D's Variation shader, so you can colour your leaves randomly.
- Price: $199 (opens in new tab)
GSG’s Transform (opens in new tab) is a neat plugin for generating animation without the need for keyframes. It provides a set of over 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.
- Price: €24.99 (opens in new tab)
This tool (opens in new tab) 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, Vonc 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.
13. Difference Map
The Difference Map (opens in new tab) is a handy plugin 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.