Cinema 4D / BodyPaint 3D Program Documentation Tutorials Sculpting Tutorial
Function available in CINEMA 4D Studio & BodyPaint 3D

Preparing the Object to be Sculpted

The man in the moon with a rocket stuck in his eye is a classic image from the early days of film. Artist Dimitris Katsafouros used this motif as a reference for his own image, which we will re-create in this tutorial. At the end of this tutorial, our object will look very similar to Dimitris’ image and you will get to know all relevant aspects with regard to sculpting in the course of its creation.

This is the image that we will use as a reference for this tutorial.

Just like real-world sculpting, volume can be added or removed in virtual sculpting. The Sculpt tools simulate the processes of modeling clay or sculpting stone and offer additional tools such as Smooth, Move or Pinch. Sculpting in 3D also bears additional advantages: Stamps and Stencils can be applied; layers can be used to sculpt more efficiently and can be overlain or combined; symmetry tools help to create a mirrored half of the object while you work only on the original half.

In addition to the types of tools used, the material that is sculpted also plays an important role. In real-world sculpting one wants to have a kneadable material that is soft but with a stable consistency. In virtual sculpting, the mesh is the kneadable mass is the mesh and its subdivision represents its elasticity: the more polygons per virtual square centimeter, the finer and more detailed the mesh can be sculpted.


What the kneadable mass is to real-world sculpting is the base mesh in a virtual 3D environment. The base mesh is a highly simplified version of the final object, which ideally should meet the following criteria:

We will use a sphere primitive for our project, with its Type set to Hexahedron. This type consists only of large, four-sided polygons that are relatively equal in size. Furthermore, the Normals are also oriented correctly. It’s also easy to create UV coordinates for this mesh. This might initially sound a little out of place at first. After all, what does sculpting have to do with UV coordinates? When an object with several million polygons has been created and you want to use it in other Projects, for example, its topology must be baked in Normal and Displacement maps. These maps, which are essentially textures, are automatically created by the Bake Sculpt Objects function, which also applies UV coordinates to them. However, if you include UV coordinates in the planning of your object and create these manually, you can do so more accurately than the automated process can. The better the UV coordinates are, the better the rendered result will be.

After the Hexahedron sphere has been created it must be made editable using the Make Editable command or by pressing the C key on your keyboard.

Sculpting Layout

After the sphere has been set up accordingly, switch to the Sculpting layout by selecting it from the Layout menu at the top right of your interface or from the Window | Customization | Layouts menu. The Sculpting layout consists of a Perspective Viewport, the Sculpt Layers... manager at the top right, Attribute Manager at the bottom right and in-between a palette containing the various Sculpt functions.

After a tool (these are referred to as brushes in the normal documentation) has been selected, its attributes will be displayed in the Attribute Manager. The first tool that will be made available is the Subdivide tool. When this button is clicked, the selected object will be subdivided and assigned a Sculpt tag, which will appear in the Object Manager. Now all other Sculpt tools will be made available for use with the exception of Increase, Decrease, Invert Mask and Clear Mask.

Layer and Subdivision Levels

Everything in Sculpting revolves around the Base Object, which is the object from which the sculpted model is created. The higher the Base Object’s Subdivision, the more detailed the sculpted features can be made. To get a better impression of the subdivision process, switch your Viewport to Gouraud Shading (Lines) (in the Viewport’s Display menu) and click on the Subdivide button 4 times. This will create five subdivisions, which is shown in the image below.

The Base Object with 5 subdivisions

You can switch between the various subdivision levels bei either using the slider in the Sculpting Layer Manager or by clicking on the Increase or Decrease buttons, respectively. Switch the Viewport’s display mode back to Gouraud Shading (Lines). This will slow the display for higher resolutions and details will barely be visible.

Next to the subdivision levels, the Layers that we just created are one of the most important elements in the entire sculpting process - as well as a safety net that allows you to correct many mistakes if you organized your workflow accordingly. To help clarify this concept we will begin to shape our Base Object.

Decrease the subdivision to the lowest level and create a new Layer either by selecting Add Layer from the Sculpt Manager’s Layers menu or by clicking on the corresponding Add Layer icon at the bottom left of the Sculpt Manager. A new layer named Layer 1 will be created. Double-click on the name and rename it Sculpting_Base. You will see that the Layer is Visible and has a subdivision of 0. It is unmasked, unlocked and has a Strength of 100%.

Select the Sculpting_Base layer. Click on the Grab tool in the Sculpt icon palette and enable the Local and X (YZ) options in the Attribute Manager’s Symmetry tab.

The tool’s cursor will appear on both sides of the object when positioned over the object, which means the modeling process will be mirrored onto the other side. Make sure that the model is oriented to the Z axis so the front is really the front of the face. In this low resolution yo can set your Viewport’s display mode to Gouraud Shading (Lines), which is a more optimal display mode when working on the Base Object.

Raise the regions for the nose and chin and accentuate the cheeks and the regions in which the eyes will be. Place your cursor over the object and click on an area that you want to sculpt. As long as the left mouse button is pressed, the regions beneath it will be deformed. In the case of the Grab tool simply move the selected region in the desired direction. You can use the Size setting in the Settings tab to define the size of the region that will be affected by the tool. The size of the cursor will increase or decrease accordingly in the Viewport. Below is an example of the rough shape created with the Grab tool:

Take a look at the Sculpt Manager in which the Sculpting_Base object is selected. Above the layer list is the Strength slider, which affects the selected layer. If set to 0%, none of the sculpting modifications will be visible. This can also be achieved by deselecting the respective layer’s Visible option. This is demonstrated in the following film: