Cinema 4D / BodyPaint 3D Program Documentation Tutorials Character Modeling Tutorial
Function available in CINEMA 4D Prime, Visualize, Broadcast, Studio & BodyPaint 3D


So much for The oretical part. Let’s get started with our project. To correctly model a character you need a reference from which to work. You aren’t required to create and use a reference but it does help because it lets you concentrate more on creating the actual structure of the model instead of the design itself. The image below shows a reference sketch of the character we will build in this tutorial.

The reference image needs to be positioned correctly in the respective views (hence the red guidelines) and the arms and leges should be spread so the joints can be added more easily. Make sure the limbs are not spread too far in order to avoid creating an exaggerated pose. You will notice that the arms were omitted in the side view sketch. This is because they would only be in the way during modeling. We will now load this image into Cinema 4D to use as a reference. This can be done in one of two ways: via the Viewport’s Display menu or by creating a material with this image as a texture assigned to different Layer object.

To load an image into a Viewport as a background (in this case the front view), select Configure... command from the Viewport’s Options menu and then click on the Back tab’s Image selection path button to select the reference image. For our tutorial, select the "reference.psd" file from the "tex\tutorials" folder in your Cinema 4D installation directory.

Repeat these steps for the side view and subsequently align both images, if necessary.

Working with the texture/layer option bears the advantage that layers can quickly be turned on or off and the reference file can be easily replaced. For this method you will need a material with the reference image as a texture in the Color channel and you must make sure that the texture size is correct. Create a Plane with only 1 segment in each direction and enter the Layer object’s Height and Width values.

We now have a reference image as a texture on a Plane in the Viewport. Next we will align the image in the Viewport and modify its resolution accordingly. Increase the material’s Texture Preview Size in the Viewport’s settings until it is approximately the size of your reference image. This will make the preview in the Viewport more precise.

Assign a Display tag to the Plane and enable the texture’s Enh. OpenGL option (if OpenGL is supported by your graphics card). This will give you a very exact preview of the texture. Enable the Display tag’s Constant Shading option in the Tag tab’s Shading Mode menu. This will let you see the reference image through the wireframe model even if your Viewport’s display is set to Lines.

Position your Plane so you view it from the front in the front Viewport. In order to display the image as accurately as possible at the global coordinate system’s origin, move the Plane in the Y direction so the image’s feet are positioned at exactly 0. The Plane can be made transparent via the X-Ray option, which lets us see the axes behind it. This lets you align the Plane to the global axes, as shown in the image below:

The red guidelines we mentioned earlier will now be helpful for aligning the image along the baseline (this is the X axis in the front Viewport).

After creating the original sketch, draw these guidelines on a separate layer. This will let you turn the guidelines on and off as needed via the Layerset option.

Once the image has been aligned, copy the Plane and align this copy in the side Viewport.

Now crop the views to remove any unnecessary parts. Make your Plane objects editable and use the Loop/Path Cut tool in Loop mode and cut away the outer parts of each Plane in each Viewport. Feel free to move the Plane objects away from the global coordinate’s center along the corresponding axes in order to make room for the actual model. When finished your scene should look as follows:

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