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Chapter 4. Organic Modeling > Preparations for Modeling

Preparations for Modeling

Despite Cinema 4D's greatly improved modeling tools, since Version 6 there are still several smaller specialty areas for which there are no standard tools. A while ago, therefore, I wrote three quite useful plug-ins, which you can download from my Internet site (www.vonkoenigsmarck.de). Of course you can also find these plug-ins on the CD ROM for this book.

Because I know from many Cinema users that these plug-ins already belong to their standard toolkit, I would like to work with them intensively in this workshop. You will soon see why these plug-ins have become so beloved.

EdgeExtrude, EdgeBevel, and Cutter

Installing the Plug-ins

Before you begin, you should place the three plug-ins with their accompanying icon files in Cinema 4D's plug-in folder. Only then can their presence be registered properly. Each of these plug-ins has its own icon so that it can be integrated into the existing layout without a fuss. You can also assign these plug-ins keyboard shortcuts.

Adding Tools to the Layout

To do this, pull down the Window menu and select Edit Palettes from the Layout submenu, then select plug-ins from the drop-down menu. Right-click or use -click (Macintosh) somewhere on the layout to create a new command palette. Pull the icons for the plug-ins Cutter EdgeBevel, and EdgeExtrude into the empty palette (see Figure 4.15). Right-click or -click on the command palette again and select Create Command Group.

Figure 4.15. Creating a new command group

The icons should then collapse into a single icon with a small black arrow on the bottom corner. Using this icon, pull the group someplace on the Cinema 4D layout where you'd like to have access to these commands (see Figure 4.16). Now stop editing the layout and the palettes by closing the Commands window. If you are satisfied with the contents and position of the new command group on your layout, you should make this layout the default layout and save it under a new name. Otherwise, you won't see the command group you've just added the next time you start up Cinema 4D.

Figure 4.16. Integrating the command group into the layout

If you'd rather not change your layout, you can also start the three plug-ins using the Plug-ins menu. However, it's faster to access them via icons.


The function of each of these plug-ins is easy to explain. I'll begin with EdgeExtrude. As the name suggests, this plug-in extrudes edges, that is, connections between points (see Figure 4.17). Using values, you can control the distance and direction in which the extruded points and edges should be generated. The Cross Extrude option can also create diagonal connections—if this is possible. If you select and extrude the four corner points of a four-sided polygon with the Cross Extrude option, you will create not just four new polygons that stand vertically on the edges of the polygon, but also four x-shaped arranged polygons that meet exactly in the middle of the polygon. Furthermore, there are diverse options for determining the direction of movement with respect to the starting object. We are not concerned with this here, however. We will only use the plug-in as follows: to select points, start the plug-in, click Create without changing the values, and finally, move the newly-created points with the normal move tool. This leaves us the greatest possible freedom to control the position of new points. Because the EdgeExtrude dialog is modal and it can therefore remain open all the time, a click on the Create button will suffice to start the action.

Figure 4.17. EdgeExtrude dialog box


I've called the second plug-in EdgeBevel. It can bevel the previously-described edges of polygons. In areas with many triangles, this doesn't always work, but it eases the task of adding points to a model after the fact. In order to test its functionality, create a normal cube, convert it, switch to the Points tool and select the four points on the upper surface.

Start the plug-in and enter an EdgeBevel offset of 15. Leave all the other values alone and click Create. New points and surfaces are created around the selected points. If you repeat this in another place on the object and select an Edge type of +45 degrees, the resulting region will not remain as-is; instead, it will be beveled between the newly-generated points. Whether this happens to the inside or the outside depends on the normals of the polygon. If the bevel is created in the wrong direction, undo the last command and change the Edge type to –45 degrees. If you set the Edge type to Free, then you can enter your own value for the Edge offset.

Please Beware

If you have played with this a bit, you will soon become familiar with its limitations. You will experience few problems with low-resolution objects; with objects with many divisions and triangles, however, it can lead to wrong or undesirable results. It is important to know that after you have used it often, sometimes the normals must be established anew. For this there is a command on the Structure menu.

Figure 4.18. EdgeBevel dialog box


The third plug-in, the Cutter, doesn't have any dialog boxes. This plug-in cuts neighboring selected polygons in two. The advantage of this plug-in as compared to Cinema 4D's Knife tool is that with the Cutter, you can make cuts around corners and create necessary connecting polygons just within the selected surfaces. All non-selected surfaces remain untouched. As a little bonbon, the Cutter also contains already-existing UV coordinates. After using the Cutter, you don't have to replace and readjust assigned and fixed textures. A typical use of the Cutter would be to select the surfaces of an object within which you need new points. You would then call up the Cutter plug-in from the Plug-in menu or by clicking the icon. Then you can see the results in the editor immediately; no further steps are necessary.

Using the Sketches as Models

Before we can begin modeling, we must first load the sketches that we created into Cinema 4D and place them in the editor.

Using Pictures as Models

Create a new material in the Materials window and deactivate all channels except the Light channel. Then use the Pictures window to load the picture with the frontal view of the head.

If the picture has been loaded, you'll see a miniature copy of it in the preview window and also a distorted one on the material ball at the upper left of the Edit Material window. Close the Edit Material window and create a second material with the same settings, but this time, read in the side view of the head (see Figure 4.19).

Figure 4.19. Configuring two materials with the picture models

A Plane as a Picture-Bearer

Create a plane using the Objects menu or the Basic Objects icon and enter the values from Figure 4.20 into the dialog box that you can open by double-clicking. These values are by no means arbitrary; they correspond precisely to the measurements of the side view of the head. The sketch should be placed in its original size on the plane. Therefore, the sizes should correspond. If you cannot recall the measurements of a picture, you can always read them off the Edit Material window. The size is indicated underneath the preview picture of the loaded picture (see the notations on Figure 4.19).

Figure 4.20. Arranging pictures on objects

Assigning and Placing the Sketches

Now you can close the plane dialog box and drag the material with the side-view directly out of the Materials window onto the plane object in the Objects window (drag & drop). You should see a Texture dialog box like the one in Figure 4.20, which you can close right away using the OK button. The default selection UVW Mapping ensures that the material lands on the upper surfaces. It often happens that the material appears reversed or upside down. You can correct this using the Texture menu in the objects window via horizontal or vertical mirroring.

In our case it is sufficient to enter the settings from Figure 4.21 for the plane. These ensure the necessary turns and a sideways movement of 400 units. The sketch should, at last, stand not in the middle of the scene, but somewhat off to the side; this will ease our later work.

Figure 4.21. Arranging both sketches in the space

The Frontal Sketch

Now we need a second plane for the frontal model. This should also correspond to the measurements of the sketch. As Figure 4.22 shows, the plane must be 650 × 650 units. Be careful with the directions of the planes. Using the Coordinate Manager, move the planes to a Z-position of +400 units and pull the appropriate material onto this plane, that is, the material with the frontal view. You can confirm the Texture dialog box again without changing the values.

Figure 4.22. Arranging the frontal sketch

The result of these actions is a scene like the one in Figure 4.23. The planes show the sketches and stand at precisely a right angle to one another. In the space in between them, you'll create the head. If you cannot see the sketches in all windows, make sure that at least Quick Shading and the representation of textures in the appropriate view windows are activated. You can control both of these using the View menu in each view window. All views that lie vertically with respect to the planes cannot show you any sketches, however (see the upper left of Figure 4.23).

Figure 4.23. Both sketches in space

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