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Cinema 4D – Splines: Primitives to Polygons
In Cinema 4D, some interesting possibilities unfold when you convert primitives to polygons. The whole world of “make editable” pops up and it’s your world, the world you create. We see exquisite creations; forms become art, buildings explore architecture. Still, the best part is… you can also do a lot with a little, and you’ll also train a little.
Most of your primitives will go through the ‘3Dness’ window with the help of a ‘NURBS’ tool. The “non-uniform rational B-spline” was invented in the 1950s by designers applying precise mathematics to free surfaces. Cinema 4D’s nurbs tools take the shape of your skeleton and give it almost instantaneous three-dimensional shape, texture, and curvature.
We see amazing imitations of real objects from movie masters, in movies, in most commercials we see, but see how easy it is to create a simple one. Since our splines and polygons are two dimensional, it helps to visualize and create the desired shape by drawing the skeleton in a profile view, then applying your nurbs tool, then viewing in full perspective.
Choose the front view by pressing the “F4” hotkey, then choose the cubic spline tool from the splines menu at the top. The cube tool icon gives you an idea of how it will handle the points you provide. You see an icon shape that looks like a horseshoe with four equally spaced defining points.
The curvature will be applied between each of the two points according to their distance in the ‘X’ and ‘Y’ directions. It could be the height and depth of your final shape, the sharpness of her curved face. In our profile, “front” view, imagine the outline of a bowl and enter the top, middle, bottom right, then end point in what would be the center of your bowl. In this approach, that’s really what we’re doing, defining “half” of the shapes we want our nurbs tower to create for us. A ceramic bowl can have a nice “S” shape with a flattened bottom, so enter a dot here for the top right, indent a bit to indicate how it curves down the body, add a third to the right and near the bottom, where you want the base of this shape to be, then add your last “closing” point at the bottom on the “Y” axis, at what will be the center of our new shape.
Now add a ‘lathe nurbs’ object, then drag your spline onto it, making it a child object. You immediately see a 3D shape with depth and curvature. Render your new shape and you see a very impressive 3D shape, probably a nice curved piece of pottery. Check your nurbs, ‘object->angle’ value. 360 degrees will produce a complete shape. Try reducing this value to see a partial shape. This could be used to show a cut section in an architectural view or any object you would display in a cross section.
Whenever I’m impressed with a new technique and almost instant results, I always add a material from the Cinema library. This always adds another dimension of “instant reality” when we create shapes and objects in Cinema 4D. The nurbs family offers a world of definition and projection doing most of the math for you. When you add a predefined material, you’re ready to place it on your shelf!
We’ll be looking at more nurbs and how they relate our 2D world… to reality.
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