Reference Cinema 4D Cinema 4D Prime Material Manager Material Properties / Material Editor
Function available in CINEMA 4D Prime, Visualize, Broadcast, Studio & BodyPaint 3D

Basic Color Diffusion Luminance Transparency Reflectance Environment Fog Bump Normal Alpha Glow Displacement Illumination Editor Assign


Animate Preview

When active, animated textures, shaders or videos will be displayed when the animation is played. Note that this can require quite a bit of memory for very complex shaders. Adjusting the Redraw Limit (ms) setting can help.

Texture Preview Size

Here you will find a range of entries, relative to the graphics card being used. The value controls the internal resolution of the texture (for the unrendered Viewport display) — the higher you set this value, the more detailed the texture will be in the viewport. The value has no effect on the rendered result.

Proceed with caution when increasing the Texture Preview Size. Higher settings require more RAM and increase the file size of the Cinema 4D scene. Hardware OpenGL is also affected because the texture previews must be loaded into the graphics card’s memory.

Editor Display

This menu is only available in conjunction with Enhanced OpenGL. A series of material channels will be made available that display the loaded texture or shader in the form of a projected RGB texture, however without any channel-specific effects. This does not have an effect on the final rendered result. The default Combined option reflects the normal viewport display (material channels will be combined for display).


All material channels are listed above that can also be displayed by Enhanced OpenGL. Each of these channels can be turned on and off as desired.

Function available in CINEMA 4D Prime, Visualize, Broadcast, Studio & BodyPaint 3D


Reflectance preview

The Reflectance preview makes it possible to display the Reflectance channel’s approximate effects directly in the Viewport, without having to render the secne. Metallic objects in particular can be displayed faster and in better quality:

Left the Viewport view in Cinema 4D R17 (basically only the specular highlights are visible), right with "reflections" in Cinema 4D R18.

Note that only the Sky object (incl. HDRI texture) and the Physical Sky object can be "reflected" in an object. If neither of these objects is present in the scene, an internal dummy object (which will not be rendered) will be used to simulate a reflection.

The Reflectance preview hast the following limitations:

  • Other objects will not appear in the reflexion
  • The reflexion is not a real reflection but a simplified so-called Matcap implementation (you might be familiar with this from the Art shader).

The reflectance display suports most of the Reflectance channel’s settings, incl. multiple layers, masks, Fresnel, etc. Textures used to disperse the settings accross a surface will for the most part be supported. A few will not work (roughness, bump strength, refraction index).

Reflectance types (e.g., Beckmann, GGX, Phong, etc.) can be defined in the Reflectance channel. Of these, the following are supported:

  • Beckmann
  • GGX
  • Phong
  • Ward
  • Oren-Nayar (Diffus)
  • Lambertian (Diffus)

Anisotropic, Irwan and Reflection (Legacy) will be displayed in a reduced fashion (no sky reflections will be shown).

In the Viewport preferences (or in the Viewport’s Options | Reflectance menu) you can enable or disable the Reflectance Preview per view: Reflections.

 Reflectance Preview

Several parameters can be modified to adjust the quality of the reflectance shown in the Viewport.

Size [1..2048]

From left to right: small, medium and large values for the respective parameters.

The Size setting defines the resolution of the texture that is "reflected" in the object. The higher the value, the better the quality and the longer it will take to calculate.

Samples [1..1024]

This setting is used to define the quaity in matte regions (those regions for which a Roughness was defined in the Reflectance channel). Smaller values will produce a correspondingly grainy result and larger values will produce a correspondingly homogenous and smooth result. Larger values will take correspondingly longer to calculate.

Environment Override

If you don’t want to use the Sky object or the Physical Sky in the scene for the "reflections" you can load your own texture here, which will then only apply for this material.


Viewport tessellation

The Grand Canyon created using a Displacement texture displayed unrendered in the Viewport thanks to Viewport Tessellation.

With the help of the graphics card, Cinema 4D can tesselate object for the Viewport (only!). Polygons will be broken down into small triangles.

The tessellation cannot be rendered (unless you enable Hardware OpenGL as the Renderer).

The tessellation is used to show displacement directly in the Viewport as a preview (which can, however, differ from the rendered result (see below)) for the actual displacement. This means you don’t have to use a Displacement Deformer.

The Viewport Tessellation is, for example, helpful when animating with displacement effects (it would be very useful if you animated a camera motion around the canyon in the image above).

Make sure that the Displacement channel is enabled, otherwise Viewport Tessellation cannot be defined for the material.

In the Viewport’s preferences menu (or in the Options | Tessellation menu) you can enable the Reflectance Preview per view: Tessellation.

Most noise types in the Noise shaders can be calculated natively on the graphics card if the respective option is enabled (Viewport: Options | Noises menu). This helps lets you achieve high-quality results.

Artefacting can occur if Texture Preview Size (at the top of the menu) is too small.


  • Note that the quality of the displacement shown can deviate from the rendered result. For example, faulty shading or holes in meshes, etc. can occur.
  • Viewport Tessellation cannot be used in conjunction with several Subpolygon Displacement features such as Round Geometry.
  • Stacked displacement materials on a single object will not be displayed correctly (both displacement effects will be visible).
  • 32-bit textures are converted internally to 8-bit, which means that stepping may be visible.

 Viewport Tessellation


Select here if and how the Viewport Tessellation should be enabled for the selected texture. The following options are available:


Viewport Tessellation is disabled.


Uniform Level [1..+∞]

From left to right: 1, 12 and 64 for Uniform Level.

The object to which the material is applied will be tesselated uniformly - i.e., independent of the camera’s distance from the object. Uniform Level is the measure for the number of subdivisions.

Note that the value that can be defined here depends on the graphics card used (a common value is 64. This value is not enough if your object is made up of just a few polygons (e.g., a cube with 1x1x1 segments). Therefore, it can be necessary to subdivide such objects in advance.


Projective Level [1..+∞]

The closer the camera is to the object, the finer the subdivision will be.

In this mode you define a maximum number of subdivisions (Projective Level) that should be calculated when the camera is nearest to the object. The farther the camera moves away from the object, the less that will be subdivided. This will take place dynamically and steplessly.

This is a very practical function: If an object lies far away from the camera, a high subdivision would be useless because these details cannot be seen at such a distance anyway. Therefore, this function speeds up display speed.

GPU Max. Level:

Here the level value is displayed that your graphics card can calculate. If GPU Max. Level: 0 (no GPU support available) is displayed, check if the Hardware OpenGL option is disabled in the Preferences menu.