Cinema 4D Prime Configuration Preferences Import/Export Vectorworks
Function available in CINEMA 4D Prime, Visualize, Broadcast, Studio & BodyPaint 3D

Export / Import

The goal of the plugins is to transfer the Vectorworks geometry, lights and material assignments to Cinema 4D for rendering.

When preparing a Vectorworks file for exporting to Cinema 4D, there are no specific rules to follow when modeling in Vectorworks; the important thing is the way in which you group Vectorworks elements for material assignment in Cinema 4D.

You can choose these options when you select the Cinema 4D export command. All objects with the same criteria for the selected mode will be grouped in Cinema 4D and will receive the same material. For example, if you choose Class as the criteria, all objects having the same class in Vectorworks will be given the same material in Cinema 4D. If you choose Fill background color, all objects having the same color in Vectorworks (the color assigned to the fill part in the attribute palette) will be given the same material in Cinema 4D.

Color Mode

Color mode allows you to choose how colors in Vectorworks will be matched to materials in Cinema 4D.

When one of the four color modes is selected, the Edit Colors button is visible in the Preferences dialog. Clicking this button opens a dialog in which you can assign a name to each of the colors used in the file. Each color used has a default name of Colornnn where nnn is the internal number of the color.

In Color mode, each color in Vectorworks is given a name, and it is this name which links between the colors in Vectorworks and materials in Cinema 4D.

To change a name, double click on the name in the list and enter a new name. Names must be unique. Names will appear in Cinema 4D, and will be the link between the Vectorworks color and the material assigned in Cinema 4D. Thus it is important not to change these names when updating the file later, or the new name will be considered a new material.

Export All Colors

When active (only visible if one of the four color options has been activated) all objects will be exported regardless of whether or not they have been given color names. Cinema 4D will place objects not containing an explicit color name grouped under a Null Object with the name Colornnn (nnn represents the internal color number).

Export Lights

If this option is enabled, the lights defined in Vectorworks will be exported. Otherwise set up new lighting directly in Cinema 4D.

Create Symbols in Cinema 4D

The Vectorworks equivalent to symbols are instances in Cinema 4D. If the Create Symbols in Cinema 4D option is activated the symbols used in your Vectorworks file will be imported into Cinema 4D as instances.

Example: The three glass instances (Vectorworks symbols) reference the original from the (invisible) Symbols folder.

The new Vectorworks plugin will import all defined symbols (even those not used in the Vectorworks scene) into the Cinema 4D scene (coordinates 0,0,0). However, these symbols will not be visible either in the editor view or in the renderer. Subsequently each Vectorworks instance will be exported as an instance to Cinema 4D.

Export Cameras

Activating this option will export any cameras you have set in Vectorworks to Cinema 4D. This means that the same views that were set in Vectorworks can also be used in Cinema 4D. Simply activate the corresponding camera in the Camera menu under Cameras / Use Camera:

Class Mode

In Class mode, additional options become available for Vectorworks Plugin Objects and objects in the None class.

When the Class mode is selected, some additional options are available.

Objects in None Class

It is possible to ignore all objects in the None class by selecting are not exported from the Objects in None Class pane.

Components in Plugin Objects

A Plugin Object (PIO) is basically a group of objects, known as components, that can have its own class depending on how the PIO is defined. PIOs can behave in two different ways.

Retain Their Own Class (if any):

The class component will determine the material assigned to the component. Select this option when the PIO comes with different classes assigned automatically to its components and when this assignment reflects the material use.

Take On Plugin Object‘s Class

All the components will have the material assigned to the PIO group. The class of the PIO, visible in the Info palette, will be used when this option is selected.

Names of Textures Mode

This option is only available when the RenderWorks module has been installed. Materials can be assigned in RenderWorks and the name entered here will be used to group objects in Cinema 4D according to the textures assigned to them.

The Cinema 4D materials will be named accordingly. This lets you easily replace materials that use the same name with higher quality Cinema 4D textures.

Exporting From Vectorworks

When you click OK in the Cinema 4D Export Preferences dialog, the standard save dialog will open. You can place the exported VW4D file anywhere you choose.

Opening a file in Cinema 4D

Open the exported *.vw4d Vectorworks file using the normal Cinema 4D Open command. When the file is subsequently saved, its suffix will be changed to *.c4d. The file is then no longer a Vectorworks file but can still be updated using Vectorworks.

File Structure

When an exported Vectorworks file is opened in Cinema 4D, it is imported as a group into Cinema 4D. Within this group, all objects that use the same material are further grouped and cannot be ungrouped.

Once the file is opened in Cinema 4D, a structure similar to that illustrated in the example above will be found in the Object Manager. The imported Vectorworks file is contained in a hierarchy that has the Vectorworks logo associated. If imported separately using the Merge command, there could be several Vectorworks files in one Cinema 4D scene (see Updating an existing Cinema 4D file below).

Each Vectorworks file contains sub-groups. One of them contains the camera(s), with at least the Vectorworks point of view when the file was exported. The second one contains the lights exported, and then there will be one group for each material. If defined in the export settings, instances will also be output as symbols.

It is not possible to find and access to the original Vectorworks geometry. All objects within the same material are grouped and cannot be ungrouped.

You can add new objects using Cinema 4D’s modeling tools; these objects should be placed outside the Vectorworks container if you want them to stay in place when you update the Vectorworks part of the file.

Updating An Existing Cinema 4D File

The process is similar to the exporting and importing processes described above. After you have worked on a file in Cinema 4D — perhaps you have assigned materials and created animations — you have the original Vectorworks model and a Cinema 4D file.

You can still modify the Vectorworks model, both the geometry and the material assignment by modifying the class / color assignment. If you want to transfer these changes to the existing C4D file, follow these steps:

Changes made in Vectorworks will be assumed in existing Cinema 4D scenes.

When you update a folder, all objects in the Vectorworks container that you have chosen are deleted and replaced by the imported file. Material properties are left untouched and all objects outside the Vectorworks container remain in place.


The Vectorworks import preferences are located in the Cinema 4D preferences menu (main menu: Edit / Preferences) under Import / Export.