Back to Blog
The Top New Features in Cinema 4D S22
Crank Your UV Workflow to 11! We're Looking at the Top New Features of Cinema 4D S22 from Maxon
Just seven months after the release of Cinema 4D version R21, Maxon surprised the 3D world with an unexpected treat. S22 adds a number of highly anticipated features aimed at enhancing your UV workflow. We were so excited, we sent a highly-trained team of seven EJ Hassenfratzes undercover to steal us a copy.
This is the first drop outside of the typical annual Fall release window, so think of S22 (S standing for subscription) as an early access gift...but only for MAXON subscribers. Don't be jealous; there will be another release later in the year that will have all the S22 features—and many more enhancements—with the perpetual license upgrade option. If you want to have an edge with frequent updates, you oughta subscribe to Maxon!
Now grab some popcorn, wrap yourself up in a blanket with EJ's face on it (we know you own one) and check out the top new features in Cinema 4D S22!
First Look at the Top New Features in Cinema 4D S22
Download the Project Files
Take a look at the project files and follow along with EJ!
Download the Project FilesDownload Now
UV Workflow Improvements
Let's get down to business. S22 is headlined by UV workflow improvements, and rightly so. It's not only one of the most commonly requested features, but it's also been one of the most difficult areas in an app that prides itself on ease of use. I'm sure I'm not alone when I say that, up until now, I’ve avoided UVs in C4D altogether.
What are UVs?
For those that may not be familiar, let's begin by answering the question...what is a UV? UV's are the names of the axes of a plane, since XYZ are already used for coordinates in 3D space. UV Unwrapping is the process of flattening out a 3D model into a 2D representation for texture mapping.
Think of a stuffed animal: It's made by sewing together separate pieces of flat fabric based on a sewing pattern.
Basically UV'ing is the process of defining seams and then unsewing or unwrapping a model at its seams to flatten it out to easily texture.
S22 greatly improves this entire UV unwrapping process—especially for newbies—by allowing users to easily understand and visualize the UV process. It simplifies how 2D UVs relate to your 3D model. So here's Uvee the Whale who we are going to unwrap like a stuffed animal whale so I can show the similarities to that sewing process.
To start editing the UVs, we'll head into the aptly named UV Edit Layout (Layout > BP - UV Edit). You'll notice that once we're in the interface the layout doesn't totally change once you go into the Bodypaint layout like it did in previous versions. Menus were in different places and things were pretty confusing...to say the least. With S22, it's extremely easy to see your UVs. With new view modes like UV Seams, you can now see seams (which are the borders of what your UV islands are called) in both the 2D UV Editor as well as the 3D view, along with other new visualization modes like multi-color islands mode (View > Multi-Color Islands) that allow you to see the UVs on all the separate islands, and UV Connectivity to see seam relationships.
Another long awaited update is the abilty to use UV maps (or load your own) to see map distortion (Attributes Manager > Back > Texture > UV Map)
(Reset by going to Texture > Empty Canvas)
Another useful new visualization mode shows UV distortion via a heat map so you can see which polygons are squashed or stretched in relation to the 3D mesh (with blue being stretched and red being squashed), as well as easily being able to view overlapping polygons. All these visualization modes help you better see and understand the relationship between your 3D mesh and 2D UV view.
New Automatic Unwrapping Algorithms
So now that you have a better idea of what a UV is and a little bit about what unwrapping means, let's cover the new unwrapping workflows. With S22, there's a new automatic unwrapping algorithm that's implemented in Set UVW from Projection that automatically generates a UV map from the chosen projection type. From here you can use Automatic UV and choose the new Packed option and BAM! We have a useable UV map with a single click of a button.
This auto unwrapping map is great for beginner users who just need a good UV map. All this to say we can probably go beyond my old go-to method of UV Mapping called "Let's try Cubic and cross our fingers."
I'll talk a bit more about how useful this automatic UV algorithm is and how it's great for exporting to game engines and AR apps later on.
Iterative UV Unwrapping
For those of you who want to get your hands dirty with unwrapping your own UVs, S22's got you. Now there's a way easier workflow for UV unwrapping.
To UV unwrap, first set your base UVW from a projection type. Next, you'll define pins or just jump into defining seams. Seams are basically like making cuts...it's the reverse of sewing, where instead of stitching those sewing patterns together, you're trying to figure out where to cut to be able to flatten out your 3D model into a sewing pattern, or UV Map.
One thing that speeds this process up immensely is the unified selection workflow that allows you to select points, edges, or polygons in either view, and it’ll select in both 2D UV View and 3D Viewport. Pretty awesome right? This was a huge pain point before, where there were separate selection tools for each view and you had to keep remember which mode to be in. It was...confusing to say the least.
There's also new shortcut keys and selection tool enhancements to help with the UV unwrap process, like being able to double-click an island to select that island. Defining seams is much easier too, utilizing:
- Shift double-click in edge mode to do loop selection
- Speaking of Loop Selection, the Loop Selection Tool automatically stops at boundary edges now
- And the Path Selection tool has been improved
So once you have a seam selected, click UV Unwrap to unwrap that seam. You can then add another seam to your selection in either view and click 'UV Unwrap,' and keep going through the process interactively to get to your desired end result.
Not happy with a result? You can undo and choose another seam. The new Mirror UV selection command will streamline your UV workflow by allowing you to make mirrored selections quicker. This powerful and iterative way of UV unwrapping is very forgiving and allows for more experimentation as far as testing which seams unwrap to the best end result.
UV Weld & Relax Command
Which allows you to easily weld two UV vertices based on edge selections. Do do this, make an edge selection in either the 2D view or 3D viewport, then select in the UV Edit layout UV Edit > UV Weld & Relax. Along with the new iterative UV unwrapping commands, it drastically speeds up your UV workflow.
New UV Packing Algorithms
Then you can realign your UV islands to optimize and fill your UV space by utilizing the new UV Packing algorithms. Inside the UV Packing tab, there is a new Geometric option that optimizes packing while making sure to keep your islands intact. You must select all islands or none. You can’t select a single island to repack a single island.
All of these new UV features dramatically improve and speed up the UV unwrapping workflow, and MAXON announced that they're going to continue working on improving these UV workflows and much more for a release later this year!
New Future Viewport
The viewport has been progressively updated to look more visually pleasing. In S22, MAXON has removed the strong dependency on OpenGL, and on Mac moved to support Apple Metal. So what are the benefits of this new viewport?
For one, the new viewport calculates Multi Instances much faster. It's crazy fast to navigate your scene vs R21. (Using Calculate FPS, you can see the difference between scenes in the old viewport vs the new one.)
Hair also looks much better in the new viewport using Hair Object Hair Lines display with Accurate CPU Material and Enhanced Shading activated. It does not cure baldness unfortunately...
Viewport Filter options have been reorganized and can now be saved as presets, so you can save different presets for different workflows. And there's also the new Geometry Only mode. You can check out your scene without any clutter, and render a quick play blast with only your geometry visible using Viewport Render. There's also a new Viewport downrez so you can tame heavier scenes.
All Modeling Tools Optimized Under Modeling Core
Over the past couple releases, the modeling commands have been migrated to the new modeling core. With S22, this migration is basically complete. This means you have better selection tools with more reliable results, better vertex maps, and bevels have been given a speed boost. Bevels now allow for better preserved UVs, to name a few benefits.
Magnet Tool and Brush Tool share a lot of the same features now.
And one of my favorite tools (that helps cover my horrible modeling skills), the Iron Tool, now respects boundary edges so you can iron with more control.
Auto Extrude Direction
Extrudes work in the direction of the spline shape. 'Nuff said.
Animation Workflow Improvements
- Restriction Tag Improvements: Now you can use up to 12 inputs. In the past, it was only 6 per tag.
- Constraint Tag Improvements: Added Initial State for Constraint Tag: there's an added initial state. If activated, the constraint object will reset to its initial state when rewinding the time to the first frame of the project.
- Object Selection Improvements: Spline Objects Selecting spline in viewport was always something a bit tricky, especially when using the Character Object. Now it should select properly.
- Timeline improvements: In the timeline, you can now copy-paste multiple object tracks at once if the hierarchy matches. So you can copy animation tracks from one character rig hierarchy and paste it to the same hierarchy of another character.
Now this next feature is for folks who work with game engines or AR & VR. With Cinema 4D S22, there's a new glTF exporter. If you're not familiar, glTF is a common 3D file format compatible game with engines and AR and VR apps such as Adobe Aero. It’s called the JPEG of 3D because of its efficiency.
- It was previously available via MAXON Labs but is now built-in
- Great for 3D product visualizations for websites
- Supports PSR and Joint/Skin animation - does not support PLA
- Vertices can only have 4 weights assigned by 4 joints
- Material wise, C4D's Reflectance Channel translates really well and supports Base Color/Metallic Value and Roughness Value) and Texture Maps
- Doesn't support multi-layer Reflectance Channels though
For textures, it's a little more complicated. If you're using shaders like noise or tiles, you need to bake out those shaders. In previous version of C4D this would be a pain.
This is where the new bake UVs function—that utilizes the new auto UV algorithm I talked about earlier—comes in handy. This baking method is perfect for situations where you just need to quickly export models with textures intact to game engines or AR/VR applications, or to quickly generate a UV map to start painting onto. Say I have an object with multiple materials mapped onto it using various projection methods (a.k.a. the janky old way to do this, Cubic, Flat, etc...). With S22, you're now able to bake those textures into a single image texture using the Bake Object command that then runs that new the automatic UV's algorithm. (Object > Bake Object > Check on Single Texture/Turn off Keep UVs)
Once you have textures baked, you can export out to glTF format and utilize it in Adobe Aero, or view it quickly on the web by dragging and dropping your file into the browser window on the Babylon Sandbox site!
Simply put, Cinema 4D S22 offers a huge number of improvements to your UV Workflow. If you were having trouble in the past, or avoided UVs in C4D like me, this is the upgrade you were waiting for. Congratulations to Maxon for the great work!
Want to Learn More About Cinema 4D?
We get it. You're watching EJ tear into Cinema 4D and you want to know how to step up your game too. That's why we put together Cinema 4D Basecamp!
Learn Cinema 4D, from the ground up, in this intro to Cinema 4D course from EJ Hassenfratz. This course will get you comfortable with basics of modeling, lighting, animation and many other important topics for 3D Motion Design. You’ll learn basic 3D principles and best-practices, laying the foundation to tackle more advanced subjects in the future.