Cinema new user & Demo user FAQ

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  09 September 2004
Cinema new user & Demo user FAQ

Here's a link to a Wiki version of this article with some more up to date information -

It seems there are quite a few people who want to try out Cinema 4D, who have come from other apps. Now this is well and good, but often these poor souls get put off before they even start because they've simply not been given a few basic pointers to set them on their way to enjoying the demo, and possibly even adding Cinema to their arsenal.

So my idea with this thread is to have us answer those teething questions about Cinema, it's demo and the equivalent functions between various applications and Cinema 4D. Any questions should go to other threads so as not to gunk up the goodness here, but any answers can be added to this thread to make a nice resource for potential C4D'ers.

So here’s a list of the Answer to common questions in this part of the thread:

1) How do I navigate in the viewports?
2) Why is this viewport rotation reversed? (and/or if you're using a tablet "Why the hell is this flipping all over the place?) and how to change that.
3) Man the interface is U-G-L-Y !!! (and how to fix that).
a. Changing schemes
b. Changing colors
c. Changing color picker
4) What about the viewport look and feel? Can I change/get rid of the axis?
5) I HATE icons, I want a text interface!
6) How do I move stuff around? Rotate a palette? Configure the interface and shortcuts? Change the menus?
7) I have two or more monitors, can cinema use the other one/s?
8) OK so I made it how I want, but now I want it to remain that way.
9) I heard Cinema has this great modeler, so how come I can’t model anything?
10) Is there a tweak mode in Cinema?
11) Where’s BodyPaint?
12) I want to test out Cloth!
13) Where’s SDS/Subd and Isoline Editing?
14) I don’t get the Cinema parent/child procedural modeling thing?
15) I use this viewport mode in my app, does cinema have it?

The first rule for everyone trying Cinema out for the first time is DON’T PANIC!, and know that VIRTUALLY EVERY THING IN THE INTERFACE CAN BE CHANGED TO WORK THE WAY YOU WANT VERY EASILY!!! Sorry to shout, but it’s important that you realize this, and also realize you don’t have to change anything, but hopefully this thread will give you a few answers and disspell a few myths.

The current version of the Demo as I write this is 9.012. You can find and download this at you can also find the quickstart guides there which can be of tremendous help once you get going. But first off you’ll want some quick anwers.

So to start off with, what are the first things you’re going to want to know?

1) How do I navigate in the viewports?

Cinema by default uses the same Keyboard shortcuts as Maya, i.e.
ALT+Left Mouse Button = Rotate
ALT+Middle Mouse Button = Pan
ALT+Right Mouse Button = Dolly (zoom)

You can of course configure this however you want to whatever keys you want including 5 of your mouse keys!

But wait! That's not all. What if you don't have a multi-button mouse?

Cinema has the option of two shortcuts for every operation. In this case the defaults set up are
1 + Drag = Pan
2 + Drag = Zoom
3 + Drag = Rotate

And even then we're not finished yet! In the top right corner of every viewport you will see four icons. They are from left to right Pan, Zoom, Rotate and toggle 4 way/1way views (this last one is the same as Middle Mouse Button clicking in the viewport of yoru choice to toggle 4 way/1way full view).
What if you don’t like the behaviour still? Well when rotating you can use keyboard modifiers, Shift to use a Flexcam style navigation (rather like the behaviour in Maya & XSI), or Control (CTRL) to rotate around the camera you’re currently using.

Now almost immediately you've found out these keys you'll come to question number 2

2) WTF? Why is this viewport rotation reversed? (or if you're using a tablet "Why the hell is this flipping all over the place?).

Ok, first remember DON’T PANIC!

The first part is because by default Cinema 4D has a reversed orbit compared to every other application out there! But of course you can change it.

How do you change this? Simple go to Edit->Preferences and on the first page you should see an option towards the bottom “Reverse Orbit”. Check this, and suddenly things should feel much friendlier!

Now for the Tablet users. Those who followed along in the previous step and opened up the Preferences (Edit->Preferences) might have noticed on that first page “Common” a little checkbox marked “Graphic Tablet”. Check this, and now your viewport manipulation should no longer be the scary thing that it once was. If you have any other problems with the tablet, try un-checking the “Use Hi-Res Co-ordinates” option.

3) Man the interface is U-G-L-Y !!!

So you don’t like the look interface? GET HIM LADS!!! Only kidding. Of course as with nearly everything else you can change it.

First step to making it more amenable is the Skin or as it’s called in Cinema the “Scheme”. To change this go to Edit->Preferences, on the first page of the preferences “Common” the second option down is marked “Scheme”. From here you will see a list of installed Schemes in the dropdown menu. Simply select a different Scheme and find one that fits or is close to what you want.

You can download additional schemes and install them by simply placing their folders in the Cinema folders resource/schemes folder. When you next start Cinema they will appear there. You can even find some interface plugins like XStacy::Elements that add in new Sliders and tools and can even completely change the look of cinema and how things work.

So, that’s not all. You might find a scheme that’s nice in parts but some of the colors aren’t right. Well, certain parts of the scheme are in a Photoshop .PSD file this is easy to edit, but you can also do a lot of changes direct from the Preferences window. Select the second option down marked “Interface”, from here you can choose some basic settings like fonts, whether to show icons in menus and so on. If you click the little “+” sign to the left of the word “Interface” it will open up to reveal a page you can select called “Colors”. Select this, and you can now play around changing and setting colors throughout the interface to whatever you want. You can even use bitmaps if you want to color things.

The viewport has similar controls unfolded from the “Viewport” options in the Preferences.

There are still a couple of other things you can do for specific elements in the interface

For instance the color picker can be changed through the various types. Most likely you will want to change the color pickers used throughout to the one used in Bodypaint. You can do this from Edit->Preferences, then go to the window called “Units”. In here you can change the Color Chooser. The bodypain one is called “Enhanced Color Table” you can choose to have this too throughout the rest of cinema by choosing it from the “Color System” option underneath “CINEMA 4D”. You can also add in the Quick Storage and Mixing panel, as well as modify specific ranges used in color sliders.

4) What about the viewport look and feel? Can I change/get rid of the axis?

Absolutely! Not just the viewport colors as mentioned in the previous question, but much more!

First how to quickly hide/show the axis (without going into any menus) Simply press Alt+D to make the axis hide/show. You can also change this in the Filter options if you configure your viewports.

Now, in viewport you might have come from an app like XSI and you’re thinking “Hmm that axis isn’t too pretty. I want it flat shaded.” And of course this is perfectly possible.

While viewport colors are chosen from Edit->Preferences, most other viewport controls are managed from the menus in the viewports themselves. So go to the viewports own menu and choose Edit->Configure… or Edit->Configure All…

The options will appear in the Attributes Manager window.

To make your axis flat shaded on the first page choose the option marked “Shaded Axis”. And now you will have your familiar flat shaded axis.

I come from Max, can I have axis bands for the planes? Yes in the configure viewports window go to the Filter tab, and choose Axis Bands.

What about other axis options? Size and so on? Go to the View tab in the viewport configuration options, and you’ll see options for scaling various bits and pieces.

You’ll also find many other options in the viewport configuration options, including controls to turn on/off shaded wire for children of selected objects, tint polygon normals, and turn on/off SDS/Isoline and Deformed editing, and Edge points. There are also the HUD options, and controls for putting an image in the background of the viewport.

5) I HATE icons, I want a text interface!

Take it easy! Of course you can have a text interface. Here’s how. With your mouse over any icon palette and Right Click (for Mac users with one button mice I believe this is Alt or Apple click) to bring up the Contextual menu. Towards the bottom you should see three entries “Icons”, “Text” and “Vertical”. These might give you a clue, but just in case it’s not obvious. Select “Text” and the first thing you’ll notice is the icons are still there next to the Text, so bring up the contextual menu again and click on “Icons” to uncheck it. Now you will have text only in that palette.

Now chances are you’ll change that top palette to text, and find that damn, it’s too long now and you need to scroll (that’s simply a matter of grabbing the palette in any blank space/handles and dragging the contents left or right/up or down).

So you want to change that to a vertical list, and move it somewhere in your interface check the next secion.

6) How do I move stuff around? Rotate a palette? Configure the interface and shortcuts? Change the menus?

So, how to move stuff around?

On the top/left of every palette and manager you will see either a little “Pin” icon or a double line (TIP : if it’s on a Menu, you can tear off the menu by clicking this, and it will turn into an icon pallete). Grab this, and move the element around, you’ll see a line appearing showing where the element will fit in, if you drag it over another window/elements Pin/Double line or Tab it will be added to the Tab List for that area. If you let go of the mouse button it will fit right in snuggly.

It’s docked but it’s all scrunched up! Simple move the mouse over the edges between elements, the cursor should change to a double arrow in the direction you can click drag, so signify you can drag the border, and click drag!

I dragged a menu/icon palette, but it’s oriented the wrong way! I want it horizontal not vertical/vertical not horizontal! Right click on the menu/icon palette and choose Transpose.

I want two rows if icons/text rather than just one. Right click on the icon palette, and choose Rows/Columns and pick the number you want.

I like icons but they’re too big! Right click on the icon palette, and choose Icon Size, then pick the size you want.

Ok, so what about if I want it all floating?

Right click on that pin/double line/menu bar/tab and choose Undock.

What if I want to have Tabs? Right click on the menu bar/pin/double line and choose “Make Tab”.

How do I edit palettes and menus?

Palettes you can edit a couple of ways to add in/remove elements Right click and choose “Edit Palettes”. Cinema will open the Commands Manager, and you’ll notice blue lines appear around all the icons in the interface. This means you can now edit them, drag them around, unfold commands, fold palettes down to add new elements in there (e.g. if they were icons but you want them to be text unfold, change to text, then refold and drag back onto the original palette) you can add in commands from the Commands manager, and you can configure the shortcut keys. Even using multiple keys or the mouse keys (TIP: The viewport controls and some other special controls are in the Commands Manager under “HotKeys” in the top dropdown).

To Stop editing, simple close the commands manager, or uncheck the “Edit Palettes” option in the top of the Commands Manager.

To edit menus go to Window->Layout->Menu Manager, from here you can modify nearly every menu in cinema, even the contextual ones! You may wish to have the command manager open at the same time so you can drag and drop things between them (you can also drag icons from palettes into there with edit palettes enabled).

7) I have two or more monitors, can cinema use the other one/s?

Yes it can. Several people have shared their layouts for dual monitors, but in case you want to set up your own, you should check out the “Window” menu. Here you can open up extra windows for many things throughout Cinema and place these wherever you want on your monitors, you can also undock existing elements and you can also from the Window->Layout menu and from right clicking on various palettes create new group windows, these allow you to dock many items together in a single window. Interestingly in cinema you can make multiple Viewports, Texture views, and most importantly Attributes Managers.

Why is this useful? Well you could create several tabs of group windows (yup you can group group windows too!) for viewport and texturing. E.g. one tab that’s just the standard views, Another that’s Split view Textures to one side, View to the other, another that’s Texture view only, another that’s set up with views in a specific configuration that’s not available from the viewports own View menu. Or different views for each light/camera in a scene. It’s all possible easily in Cinema.

On top of this with the attributes manager, you might want to have an attributes manager that’s specifically set up for tools. You can do this by having two attributes managers open, in one go to it’s “Mode” menu and choose “Configure Modes” a window will open allowing you to filter out modes, so you can select only “Tool” for one attributes manager, and for the other select everything apart from “Tool”. Now you have a Tool Specific attributes manager that you can dock in your layout wherever you want. Or just keep floating.

8) OK so I made it how I want, but now I want it to remain that way.

Two ways, go to Edit->Preferences and choose Save Layout at program end. This will save the current layout of palettes and so on when you leave the app. Or you can save the layout by going Window->Save Layout as or Save as Startup Layout.

9) I heard Cinema has this great modeler, so how come I can’t model anything?

Probably the second thing after trying to navigate in viewport (or sometimes the first) you want to check out the modeling toolset. So you make an object (either from the icons or from Object menu) and try to modify it, but you only get some lousy controls in the Attributes Manager, and you can move/scale/rotate it around… so how do you *really* edit it?

First off you need to make it editable. To do this you can either press the Second Button down in the left most palette that looks like two jars with an arrow between them, or press the “c” key, or go to Functions->Make Editable or right click on the object in the Objects Manager, (the window titles “Objects” or in viewport and choose “Make Editable”.

Now the object will convert to a Polygon or Spline objet (depending on the type of object you made to start off with). This means that you can now use the polygon and spline modeling tools on it. But wait before you do, you need to switch into the appropriate mode, because right now you’re in “Use Model Tool” mode. Which is only good for moving/scaling and rotating whole objects around. You need to be in Points/Edges/Polys mode first.

There are a couple of ways of getting there. First you can use the 5th, 6th and 7th icons down on the left icon palette. These are “Use Point Tool”, “Use Edge Tool” and “Use Polygon Tool”. You can also find these under the “Tools” menu as “Points”, “Edges” and “Polygons”. On top of this you can quickly switch between these modes by using the Return or Enter key.

Now you’re ready to model!

10) Is there a tweak mode in Cinema?

Yes, go to Tools->Tweak mode, you’ll see there are two other modes too, AutoSwitch and Default, you can try this for comfort at the same time. If you’re using tweak mode you can do more than just Move/Scale/Rotate, though many tools wont work in tweak mode, there are a few that will, for instance Extrude (key D). Also if you have enabled Soft Selection in the Select tool “Mode” you can tweak with soft selection like putty (switch to the select tool either through menus Selection->Live Selection, or icons, or pressing the Space Bar once to toggle between select tool and the current tool, then from the Attributes Manager choose Mode->Soft Selection).

11) Where’s BodyPaint?

At first (if you’ve not configured cinema) Bodypaint is a bit hidden especially in the demo. To make it come forward, pick the First icon down from the left hand palette or go to Window->Layout and choose “BP 3D Paint” or “BP UV Edit”. The whole interface will change (disappear for a moment, but don’t worry it’ll come back real soon), including the menu. Of course you can configure the interface just how you want just like with the rest of Cinema, Bodypaint is totally integrated.

12) I want to test out Cloth!

Very simply, to get you going, but then you should make menus

a) Make a plane object (Object->Primitive->Plane) and make it editable (“c” key).
b) Make Cube Object (Object->Primitive->Cube) movie it down below the plane, and make it editable
c) Right click on the plane in the Objects window, and choose Clothilde Tags->Cloth
d) Right click on the cube in the Objects window and choose Clothilde Tags->Collider
e) Press play and enjoy (even move the cube around in realtime.

How can I smooth the cloth out/sds it?

With the plane selected and the ALT key pressed Choose Plugins->Clothilde->Cloth Nurbs, this will create a new Cloth Nurbs object in the Objects manager and parent it to the Plane, this is better than standard SDS/Hypernurbs for Cloth because it allows you to add thickness, enable tearing, as well as it smoothes without shrinking, so it doesn’t allow objects to poke through the cloth. If you didn’t press alt, or have the plane selected, then in the Objects window click and drag the plane onto the new Cloth Nurbs object so that the plane becomes the child. You can select the Cloth Nurbs object and it’s attributes for thigns like subdivisions etc will appear in the attributes manager.

13) Where’s SDS/Subd and Isoline Editing?

In Cinema it’s called HyperNURBS. You can find it in the Top icon palette and in Objects->NURBS->HyperNURBS. This makes a new object. To turn your object into a SubD object you can create the new HyperNURBS object with the ALT key pressed while you have your object selected, this will parent the HyperNURBS object to the current current object.

I come from Lightwave, I like to be able to turn SDS on/off quickly with the tab key. In cinema the default for turning on/off sds (“Toggle Parent Generator”) is the “Q” key.

Isoline editing can be turned on/off from the viewport Edit->Configure options and also from Tools->Use Isoline Editing.

14) I don’t get the Cinema parent/child procedural modeling thing?

This at first seems quite complex in Cinema, how some objects are put as parents and some as children to modify an object, then there are these strange Tag things. So, how, and why is this and how can it be made understandable?

Well, firs step is in understanding how things tend to work. For the most part (although some plugins go against this). Objects are split into two types. Generators and Deformers. Generators as their name suggests make new geometry, most objects are generators, even Polygon Objects are generators. Sometimes a Generator needs some other objects to generate new geometry from, in this case you put the Objects underneath/as a child, for instance LoftNURBS requires spline objects to be put as children.

The quick way to see if an object is a generator in Cinema is it’s icon color. If it’s red/blue/blue&green/yellow it’s a generator, but what type?

Well Blue objects are generally polygon generators that don’t require anything else, like Cube/Cone etc, Slightly darker blue and blue & green generators like the Mirror or Metaballs objects generally require a children to generate. Yellow are Spline generators, and Red are generators that mostly need one or more children objects to generate, they’re generally Nurbs objects.

Deformers tend to modify objects by shaping them, like bending, melting and even exploding them! They go as children of the object to be deformed or grouped with the objects you want to deform on the same level.

Deformers can be easily identified by their Orange color.

Tags – Tags are ways for Cinema to add information certain controls and Expressions to objects. Expressions can modify geometry like deformers, like Cloth, or Dynamics. They can also store data about an object, like Selection Tags, or Vertexmap (weightmap) tags. Tags are able to do many interesting things and as a result aren’t as easily categorized as deformers and generators. Thus it’s easiest to just read the manual onwhat each tag does.

15) I use this viewport mode in my app, does cinema have it?

Equivalent display modes between apps, if there are any innacuracies in this list, or modes missing then please let me know by pm (all the apps have more options and modes in them that aren't mentioned, like Layered Texture view in cinema, child options, X-Ray which only apepars in Cinema & Maya as far as I can see, and of course things like Backace culling options, and i'm pretty certain a couple are missing from the direct comparisums here, but i couldn't find/remember how to activate them in the apps, e.g. realtime shaders in max, and weight shaded mode in maya, but overall i figured this would be the most useful list).

Enjoy, and I hope this has answered a few common questions for newer users or those interested in Cinema, but not quite ready to download the demo/dive in.
The Third Party | Homepage | My Reel
"You need to know what you're doing before you start, and to start because you need what you're doing."

Last edited by Per-Anders : 08 August 2008 at 02:17 AM.
  09 September 2004
Wow, this represents alot of work on your part, I'm sure. Thanks!
  09 September 2004
great post Per, i'll see if i can make it become sticky or something, gimme some time to think about it
__________________ | architect & graphic designer
  09 September 2004

C4D 8 did not have what LW calls "wireframe shade"
If C4D 9 don't have it either people might look for it.


Last edited by RorrKonn : 09 September 2004 at 12:08 PM.
  09 September 2004
Originally Posted by ThirdEye: great post Per, i'll see if i can make it become sticky or something, gimme some time to think about it
With all respect ThirdEye but do I read that you have to think about it first to make this a sticky? (Elysian is rubbing his eyes again for the second time).
This is what this board should all be about; people sharing what they know about Cinema 4D.
Instead of trying to make this some elite club, it's good to have people who help those who really need it (read: "beginners"). The same people will play an important part in the future of Cinema 4D and those who have the experience should try to help them on their way. Don't forget; we were or still are beginners.

Mdme_sadie is finally showing some of the whiners (sorry, there I go again) on this board what this board should really be about; about sharing and having fun. It's a serious effort of him which also took a long time to prepare and do we really want this to appear on page #17 in a few weeks? (confused...confused...confused...)

Way to go Mdme_sadie, you're the man!
  09 September 2004
No, i'm not hesitant to make this sticky or not, i'm hesitant about the way to make it sticky. I want this thread to be free of replies (just to make it clearer) and easily updatable whenever Per (or someone else) finds something else that can be added. I'll discuss with Per personally and then we'll do the best we can to make this become a roadmap for the noobs.
__________________ | architect & graphic designer
  09 September 2004
nooooo... don't... give... away.... our.... precioussss (must... get... back... precioussss...)

Nice work Per. Btw, it really helps visual leaners to screendump the Cinema main screen and just label the important icons in photoshop with little arrows and some explanatory text in little white boxes. I actually did this not too long ago too see how hard it would be to create a visual quickstart thingy for online use, but I can't find the damn jpgs anywhere...

Why doesn't Maxon just create a 'C4D GUI quickstart' section on their main site, next to the demo download link? Kind of like a powerpoint slideshow, with a 'important hotkeys' map that shows people who haven't been around since R5/Instant Space the basics of navigating cinema?
  09 September 2004
edited down and compiled into original post
The Third Party | Homepage | My Reel
"You need to know what you're doing before you start, and to start because you need what you're doing."

Last edited by mdme_sadie : 09 September 2004 at 11:07 PM.
  09 September 2004
good work per...give yourself a virtual medal from me bud..
One never knows what each day is going to bring. The important thing is to be open and ready for it.

Henry Moore
  09 September 2004
textured decal in XSI = constant + textures in C4D
__________________ | architect & graphic designer
  09 September 2004
ok it's sticky, feel free to add your suggestions to this thread
__________________ | architect & graphic designer
  09 September 2004
For Mac user that still use a one button mouse, Right Click is Control-Click (ctrl key).
ESSANIA design
3D - Web design - Music
  09 September 2004
UV Mapping...Bodypaint is integrated in the demo and is the method c4d users use for UV Mapping, so its best to have this module. If you have an alternative or prefer not to buy this module...then the alternatives are as follows:

UV2BMP plugin download from plugincafe...
which is pretty useful.

other alternative options include:

lite old version

does not work under xp afaik
hope this helps.

at the end of the day...BP2 is the preferred method for obvious reasons as its one of the best pieces of software for this in the industry and its workflow is part of C4D's
One never knows what each day is going to bring. The important thing is to be open and ready for it.

Henry Moore
  09 September 2004
I've just started using Cinema 4D so this is most useful! Thank you!
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