Final Product What You'll Be Creating
3D graphics are often created using several applications. Today, we will use Photoshop, Illustrator, and Cinema 4D to create a stunning nightclub themed 3D composite. Let’s get started!
Our first step is to create our text in Illustrator. To do this, just open up Illustrator and type out some words as shown. I used the Clarendon Typeface.Now simply expand the type. Ungroup the Letters, select each word and group using pathfinder tool. Once this is done, lets save out our file as an Illustrator 8 file. This way, Cinema 4D can interpret the illustrator data and convert the text into splines with no work at all.
Now import your splines (text) into Cinema 4D. Use the image below as a guide.
Now, select the first word using either the selection tool, or via the objects panel. Right click in order to highlight and select Connect + Delete. This will make for easier extrusions so that we can extrude each word (i.e. lights) as apposed to each letter. Do this for every word.
Note: It is always good to rename your hierarchies, because once you have a lot of objects in the scene it makes for easier selection of objects and deformers.
Lets Extrude now. Highlight a letter that you want (in this case lights) and then while holding alt click Extrude NURBS found in the NURBS modifiers. Now we will hover to the caps section of the attributes panel and give it a depth of 33, with fillet caps on the back and front, with 3 steps and 3 meters. And for the fillet type, lets change it from convex to half circle. Repeat this for all 3 words.
Now let’s finish our text and position it for our final preview. We will now use the Mograph Module to create 3 copies of the text. To do this, click and highlight the extruded text you want, (example: lights) and click the Mograph tab and select Cloner object. Apply this method to all three words. If you only have one, then you are all set.
Lets take this opportunity to light and set up our camera in the scene. Use the panning, rotating and zooming tools to get a view you are satisfied with. For this example, I will place it slightly above at an angle, so that we are looking down at the text, for a more dramatic feel. Now you will go to the layers panel, and once you have a position you like, click the target icon right next to the camera. See the picture for reference. This will essentially activate the camera.
Note: Once your camera is active, any zooming, panning or rotating of the viewport will affect the camera’s position. So if you want to rotate the text, simply click the target icon once more to deactivate. And once you want to go back to your final view, activate the camera.
Now we will light the scene! Lets go back up to the panel where we found the camera, and lets take 2 lights. Place one right above the text, and under shadow options choose soft. Now press Cmd/Ctrl + C to copy, then Cmd/Ctrl + V to paste. Now take this light copy and keep it on the same height as the first light and then move it forward on the Z-axis. Turn off shadows for this frontal light.
Let’s create a sky object as well as a plane for reflections. We do not, I repeat do not want the sky object to be seen by our camera, so we will right click, the sky object, go to Cinema 4D tags, and click on compositing. Now move down to the attributes panel, and deselect Seen By Camera
Click on the Primitives panel to create a plane, make it real big by dragging the handles or by hovering to the attributes panel and scaling it via the scale parameters. Now place the plane up above the lights. Create a new material for the Panel, and click on the Luminance channel. This will make it 100% white as we will use it like a white card in a studio setup. Just like we did for the Sky object, we will also add a compositing tag to the plane so that the camera will not see it on the final render.
Lets now add a new material to the Sky object so that it can provide reflections for our scene. We will use an HDRI Map on the color channel so that it wraps around the scene once we add it to the sky object. To do so, we will have to take a material and drag it on to the object it corresponds to until we see a downward arrow (this is an indication that the material is being added).
Its actually a good idea for us to check out how our scene looks.
I must admit, the picture above does not look anywhere descent at all. But its a start. Let’s begin to make things pretty by applying materials to the scene. Just follow the pictures below. It’s best to just show what is being done.
We can now map the materials to the text. Its very important to follow the order presented below. For the Glow material, we need to click it, and under the attribute panel, we need to hover over to selection and type in R1 which will allow the material to ONLY be mapped to the beveled part of the text. For the black/face material, we will do the same but this time type in C1 to map the material to only the face.
Lets do a test render and see what we have so far.
You will notice two things: The picture looks A LOT nicer than before, and of course, the render time has increased, but not by much, maybe a 20 second difference. So we are still good to go.
Now let’s add some Pizzazz to the scene. Rather than creating something from scratch, why not use our resources to our advantage. What is neat about Cinema 4D is that it comes with an extensive amount of free content. In this case, we want to import disco balls. To access them, we need to go to Window > Content Browser (or press Shift + F8). Under the preset folder, we will choose Advanced Renderer, then to caustics and open the volume caustic scene. Open it, and click on the disco ball and hit copy. Now File > Close, to bring up our lights out scene again, and past into the scene. Now we will place the disco balls onto a MoGraph Cloner Object as we did with the text. This time we will choose grid array in order to create multiple copies.
With the Cloner Object selected in the Objects Menu (Layers Panel), we will add a Random Effector to the Cloner Object. This will randomize our disco objects around the scene. The Random Effector can be found under the MoGraph Menu. Look at the Settings below in order to randomize the scene.
Let’s perform a test render to see where we are now.
This looks good! Now lets add some Light Rods to the scene. Use the same process that you used while adding Disco balls through the content browser. We will go to our content browser then Presets > Advanced Render > Global Illumination > Quiet Room.c4d
Copy a light rod, and paste it into your scene.
Using the scaling and rotating tools, make multiple copies of the rod and position them around the text as desired. Stay away from the Cloner objects for this one.
We are all set with the scene. Now we will texture all the lights, group them, add them to an object buffer, as well as the text and the disco balls, and we will be all set to render and import to Photoshop, where we will do some extensive touch ups to make our final design standout. Follow the Texture channels presented below. Don’t hesitate, to mess around with color variations that appeal most to your eye. With that said, all that needs to be tweaked is the color of the Luminance channel since the lights are self-lit and give off lights.
Experiment with different colors and render.
Now we are ready to render, and make things look pretty in Photoshop. Select all the light rods, and press Alt + G to group them together. Now, add a compositing tag to the group and enable object buffer for alpha channel precision. Do the same for the disco balls and the text. Look at the picture below for reference.
We are finally ready to render our image. Follow the settings below and render out. Since everything is pretty simple, the render should not take longer than 5 minutes, depending on your video card and ram equipment of course.
Your final image should look like this.
Fire up Photoshop and let’s get it going. To start off, we need to isolate our elements. Let’s hover over to our channels panel next to the layers to select each alpha channel. You want to select each individual one and extract each elements accordingly.
Once we have everything isolated, we can rid ourselves from the black background, and add a dark purple one.
The piece is missing one quintessential effect; it lacks glossiness and glow. We must select all isolated elements (i.e. the disco balls, text and light rods) and duplicate them. Once this is done, you will need to merge them, desaturate the image by using the Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + U. Now we must go to Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast, to suppress the darks and bring out the highlights.
Now we will apply a Gaussian blur with a diameter of 5.3. Once finished, blending mode needs to be set to screen and 75% opacity.
Let’s add some lens Flares. In the source folder accompanied by this tutorial you will see not 1, but 6 lens flares I have rendered out for your use. These are stock photos, and you can use them as you please. For the purpose of this tutorial, lets use the chroma lens.tiff. Import it and lets give the lens and S curve in the curve editor and set its correspondent blending more to screen in order to make the black transparent.
Now lets add more lens flares. Choose which ever ones you see fit and place them on light rods and text edges.
Lets add some nebula stocks to spiff the image up a bit more. A good place to look would be Moonchilde Stock whom has great collection of nebula stocks, pre-made in apothesis. Make sure you read and follow her policies and you should be good to go. Your image should look something like this now.
Before we finish up, lets add some reflections to the face of our text and add some light streaks. With the magic wand, and with the text layer selected, select the black face of the text (the front). With the keyboard, let’s press Cmd/Ctrl + J to duplicate the selection. Now you have a layer with just the face of the text. Use this layer and a clipping mask for other images to stack on. This way, it looks as if the front of the text is reflecting some objects.
Now we will add light streaks.
Using the polygon selection tool, we will select the outside of the rectangle and feather the selection by 65%.
Now use a soft brush with 45% strength, and erase away any hard edges.
Let’s duplicate our light streak multiple times and then place them accordingly to create a light array.
Cmd/Ctrl + U to colorize the light streaks to an ominous Green, or what ever color you like.
Duplicate your light streak once it’s merged into one, and colorize the duplicate a different shade of purple.
Save your file to what ever format you desire it to be. I will export to a tiff. Then I will bring the tiff file into Photoshop and add a gradient map adjustment layer. Use your own color choice, or follow the one below. What ever the color you choose, make sure the blending mode of the gradient map is set to soft light.
Now lets add a photo filter adjustment layer with a density of 35%. Set the Opacity to 80%
Lastly, we will add a color balance adjustment layer. Use the settings below, or the ones desired by you.
Select all the layers and duplicate them. Now merge the duplicates. Filter > Noise > Add Noise. Set this new layer’s opacity to 35%.
Select the border of the image, feather the selection by 75% and apply a Gaussian blur of 45.0.
That’s it! We are finally done with the project. Enjoy the outcome and make sure to play around with your own custom setting to give it more of a personal feel.