Software Review: CINEMA 4D R14
Animator and Character TD Bret Bays put the new Maxon CINEMA 4D Release 14, released this past September, through its paces. Below is his review.
When you first begin working with Maxon's CINEMA 4D Release 14, you will notice that your viewport is giving off a lot more highlights. This is because there is a new object outline that helps you know what your mouse is over, and to know what you will select. This new outline gives a white outline around the object with a slightly opaque fill to match. Once you've clicked on the object, instead of the old bounding box and selected wireframe, you will now see an orange outline. This gives a sleeker look and feel to R14. You have the ability to customize the size of the outlines for both the selected outline, and the highlight outline, and you also have the ability to change the color as well. If this new feature is a little too distracting for you, or maybe you miss the bounding box and wireframe, you can disable the highlighting from the Filter list and switch back to the old method.
Sticking with the idea of selecting objects in the viewport, there have been some changes made to the Live Selection tool's behavior. In past versions, if you were in a component mode (i.e. points, edges, or polygons), you could click and drag to paint a selection. However, in any other mode, this was not the case. This always seemed like an inconsistency to me, one that now has been remedied. In R14, clicking and dragging in object or model modes will behave like a brush, allowing you to quickly and easily click and drag to select multiple objects. In addition to this new feature, a similar feature exists for when you are in the Move, Scale, or Rotate tools. When in one of those tools, you can right click and drag to use Raycast Selection, which allows you to easily paint a selection (which was never possible before in those tools) and then return to your previous tool. Selecting objects to manipulate has never been this easy.
Another seemingly small, but extremely handy new feature is called Commander. Commander allows you to quickly and easily search for a command. Because creating objects and/or tags are technically commands, this means creating objects and tags are a lot easier. To use it, simply press SHIFT+C in the program and a text field will pop up. Then just type the name of your command, and it will show up. This means finding a command without going through menus is even easier. Now you don't need to go into the Command Manager and do a search. Finding the command is right at your mouse pointer.
Having delayed it long enough, it's time to begin talking about Sculpting in CINEMA 4D. While the sculpting is not on par with dedicated sculpting programs in terms of poly count, it is on par with them in terms of polish and usability. MAXON has done a great job taking something like Sculpting and making it straight forward and intuitive for either people new to sculpting, or people coming from other sculpting apps. Sculpting is handled through a Sculpt Tag, though you cannot create this tag yourself from the usual right-click menus. To get started, take any mesh, and choose Sculpt>Subdivide. This command is different from the normal subdivide which will divide a poly face into 4 faces. This command will prepare your object to be sculptable. Upon choosing Subdivide, you will see a purple sculpt tag applied to your object, and its display in the viewport may look like the phong shading has gone awry. After clicking on Subdivide a few more times you will see your object becoming smoother and smoother as more and more faces are available to sculpt.
The sculpting system includes a Sculpt Layers Manager very similar in theory to layers in Photoshop. This is a very powerful system that allows you to store tests or ideas in layers, and be able to easily choose how much influence a layer can have. When you make a layer, it gets locked to the specific Subdivision level you are on, and can only be edited when you are on this level. This means you could create a layer on level 3 to help rough in some shapes for your sculpt, a layer on level 5 to get more refined detail, and a layer on level 8 for the final details. Then at any point you can return to one of those levels, and either add more to the layer, or lower its strength values to remove some of your sculpt back to the base layer. This offers the ability to really test and explore in an almost non-destructive way.
In order to sculpt you need to have some good tools to make the process easier. R14 ships with a lot of brushes, and a lot of settings for those brushes to help make your sculpt come to life. Clicking and dragging will paint, SHIFT+drag will smooth, and CTRL+drag will do the inverse of your current brush. All of the brushes share most of the same settings. There are settings to control the radius of the brush, the pressure, spacing, symmetry painting, and more. On account of this, there are options to link some of these settings to all the brushes, so you do not have to deal with them on each and every brush. The most useful of all of these has to be the Link Symmetry option. This allows you to simply set your symmetry once, and not have to worry about it anymore.
Speaking of symmetry options, Release 14 has a unique set of symmetry options. It of course has the ability to specify a plane to mirror across using either local or global coordinates. But, it also has radial symmetry. What radial symmetry does is work around your object. This allows you to set a number of strokes that will go around the object and paint. A good example is if you were sculpting a spaceship, and the ship is supposed to have 5 lights evenly spaced around the body of the ship. Rather than trying to do that manually, you could enable radial symmetry with 5 strokes, and just paint one light. The other four would be drawn automatically for you.