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A Guide to Cinema 4D Menus - Extensions

By Luis Miranda
Cinema 4D

Cinema 4D is an essential tool for any Motion Designer, but how well do you really know it?

How often do you use the top menu tabs in Cinema 4D? Chances are, you probably have a handful of tools you use, but what about those random features you haven’t tried yet? We're taking a look at the hidden gems in the top menus, and we're just getting started.
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In this tutorial, we’ll be doing a deep dive on the Extensions tab. This menu will go through a lot of changes and will not look the same for every artist. Anytime you add a fancy new plugin, a lot of them will appear here. So, we’ll be focusing on the ones already built in. 
Take the tension out of your extensions!
Here are the 3 main things you should use in the Cinema 4D Extensions menu:
  • ZBrush integration
  • Substance Engine
  • Script Manager

ZBrush and the Cinema 4D Extensions Menu

Modeling in Cinema 4D can take a bit of practice, which is why it's great to see ZBrush added to lineup in the Extensions Menu.
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If you're unfamiliar, ZBrush is a digital sculpting tool. In ZBrush, form is controlled by pushing and pulling on a surface rather than moving individual points around in 3D space. The beauty of ZBrush is that it takes a fairly mechanical task and transforms it into a much more artist friendly experience.
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Similar to Substance integration, ZBrush in Cinema 4D exists as a bridge between the two programs, allowing you to quickly bring in assets and start working. 
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Substance Engine in the Cinema 4D Extensions Menu

By default, Cinema 4D comes preloaded with the Substance Engine plugin. This allows you to use Substance Designer (.SDS and .SBAR) files inside of Cinema 4D natively. Without this tool, you would need to turn your Substances into texture files and rebuild the shader.
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What’s especially great about Substance is that the materials are always procedural. This means that you can scale from 512 pixels to 2K without losing any resolution. 
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A vast majority of Substances also allow for adjustments to parameters such as the Roughness, Metallic, and Color properties. But there are those that have material-specific properties such as controlling the amount of rust or the shapes that make up the patterns.
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 So if you happen to have a subscription to the Substance suite, you can use the thousands of materials available to you inside of your C4D project. The ultimate material pack!
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Script Manager in the Cinema 4D Extensions Menu

This one is for all the coders. Cinema 4D supports running scripts written in Python.
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What’s great about this tool is that once you have a script written (or have existing scripts), you can assign them to buttons that can be slotted into your user interface for future use. 
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You can even set your own Icons for those script buttons for further customization by either loading your own icon image, or by hitting “Render Icon” in the file menu. This will take a photo of your scene and set it as your Icon.
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You can also look at the code for any existing scripts by opening them using the drop down menu. This is a great way to learn from other coders!
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Look at you!

Hopefully this motivates you to look inside this folder. Most cases, you’ll be using it for your plugins, but it is recommended to take a moment to explore it. Who knows when you may need it!
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Cinema 4D Basecamp

If you're looking to get the most out of Cinema 4D, maybe it's time to take a more proactive step in your professional development. That's why we put together Cinema 4D Basecamp, a course designed to get you from zero to hero in 12 weeks.
And if you think you're ready for the next level in 3D development, check out our all new course, Cinema 4D Ascent!