School of Motion

A Quick Guide to Extruding in Cinema 4D

  • By Ben Carmeli
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Learn how to extrude in Cinema 4D with these helpful tips and tricks.

Extruding is one of the fastest ways to transform 2D vector artwork into 3D geometry. It’s also an essential aspect of polygon modeling. This article will cover some of the basic methods for extruding splines and polygons in Cinema4D.

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What does Extruding in Cinema 4D do exactly?

Extruding in Cinema 4D can be pretty contextual, meaning how it works and what it makes can vary a lot depending on the situation you are using it in. However, one thing remains constant, extruding always creates new geometry out of existing splines or polygons.

Extruding 101: Extruding Splines with the Extrude Object

Let's say a client sends you their fancy logo as an Illustrator file. This is no problem in Cinema 4D, because vector files can be brought in as splines which can then be extruded faster than you can say, “No a screenshot is not the same as the actual .ai, could you send that instead?”

Speaking of which, there are a few options for getting Illustrator files into Cinema4D. You can save out an Illustrator 8 file as demonstrated in this video. The excellent CV-ArtSmart plugin from Cineversity (which has a ton of other great tools that are free with an MSA) is also a very robust option, bringing in colors with ease.

The Extrude Object

The Extrude Object is a generator that works on any kind of spline in Cinema4D. Like other generator objects, the effect of the Extrude is only apparent once you give it a child object to operate on, in this case a spline. 

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It's almost too easy

Extrude Object Parameters in Cinema 4D

Let's take a look at some of the different Extrude Object Parameters in the menu.

Movement

Movement specifies the direction and length of the extrusion relative to the orientation of the Extrude Object itself. This is why it’s a good idea to make sure any spline you wish to extrude is oriented to one of the three main planes (XY, XZ, or ZY).

Once you have it extruded the way you like, you can control rotation of the newly formed object from the Coordinates tab of the Extrude Object. 

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The three movement boxes correspond to the XYZ directions relative to the Extrude object, regardless of how the spline is oriented

Subdivision

Subdivision controls the number of loops created along the extrusion edge. This is useful if you intend to perform any kind of deformation on the geometry. 

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Subdivisions remain evenly spaced according to the total length of the extrusion

Hierarchical

Hierarchical will force the Extrude Object to look at all child splines. This is helpful when you have many disconnected splines you want to extrude. Keep in mind, this will apply the same extrusion settings to all splines. 

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Imported vector art often comes in as a series of many separate splines. Being able to use one extrude object for all of them is much more efficient and quick,

Caps and Rounding

By default, closed splines will extrude with caps enabled. These give the appearance of closed meshes. The rounding controls refer to the fillets or chamfers that will form between the caps and the extruded sides.

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Fillets might as well be called the "make s#!* awesome" button

Pro-Tip: Most seasoned 3D artists will tell you that even a small fillet can go a long way in enhancing the realism and appeal of your object. These roundings will catch highlights and naturally define the form of your object. Go ahead, enable those fillet caps. 

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Fillets, the reason you learned 3D

By default, fillets expand the radius of your spline. This can create problems in situations where acute angles in the spline may intersect once expanded. Constrain will force all the fillets to occur within the bounds of the spline by offsetting the cap inwards.

Remember to check out the Cinema4D documentation for more information on any of the parameters in the Extrude Object, or any other Generator.

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Weird self-intersection happening with your extrudes? Try Constrain! If that doesn't work, setting the computer on fire has been known to help

Extruding Polygons

When modeling, extrusions are performed hundreds or thousands of times to spontaneously create new geometry that can be pushed and pulled to form your model. This is not a procedural process, so each extrusion is recorded as a step, Control+Z to undo and try again.


 

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"Mommy, where do new polys come from?" "Well when a modeler hits the D-key on their keyboard..."

The Extrude Tool in Cinema 4D

To extrude geometry, you’re going to need to remember just a few things: 

  • You need editable geometry. Modeling tools don’t work on parametric objects.
  • You need to select the polygons or edges you plan on extruding.
  • You need to activate the extrude tool.

We’re going to assume you know about making geometry editable (select it in your object manager and hit the C-key). Now you are free to make any kind of selection you want. By default, the extrude tool will keep adjacent polygons connected when they are extruded if Preserve Groups is checked in the extrude tool settings. You can turn this off it that’s not your desired behavior.

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Preserve groups will keep adjacent extruded polygons together if their shared edge is below the Maximum Angle threshold. Now just throw in a Subdivision Surface and your 50% of the way to a tentacle monster

Extrude Tool Tips

Using the Variance option in the tool can let you quickly create greebled looks on any kind of geometry in your scene, adding a secondary layer of detail and complexity. Just remember, the extrude tool is not parametric, so if you decide much later down the line you want to change the look of the extrusions, it could be pretty difficult to get back to the original state.
 

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Forget Lego bricks, imagine stepping on one of those guys...

For the quick-paced extrusion operations you need to perform hundreds of times while modeling an object, you can select polygons and use the movement axis handles while holding Control to make extrusions in a more free form way. This brings polygon modeling closer to the fluid and free form process of sculpting. And by the way, this works for edge selections too!

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For those times when you just don't have the patience to figure out which way the Bend deformer needs to be rotated.

Congrats! You're extruding like a pro. Start digging through those old Illustrator files and see what you can do to make them look even better in 3D. Or, ya know, just do some good old fashioned IRL extruding, up to you.

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Wow C4D R20 is adding some weird new features
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