Michele Learns CINEMA 4D, Ep. 4 – Working with Illustrator Files

In this episode, Michele from Toolfarm talks about getting back into CINEMA 4D and extruding a logo from Illustrator.

Transcript from video:

Hi, this is Michele from Toolfarm. You may remember a series that I worked on a year or so ago called Michele Learns CINEMA 4D and it was abruptly stopped. Well, the reason is that I was so busy with day to day stuff that I didn’t have time to focus, and the number one thing with any software, especially with a complex program such as CINEMA 4D is that you really need time to learn it. Things have been shuffled around and now I have a lot more time to learn the program so I decided that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to dive in and focus.

So, I needed to really get myself back up to speed and I decided to take a little different approach. I went to the Greyscalegorilla website because I had seen some of their stuff and it looked really interesting. Chris Schmidt has a series that is a beginners guide, or getting you up to speed with CINEMA 4D and I have been through about half of it now, and I built some fun little things. I’m just going to show you a few things that I learned. I’ll be showing you how to bring in an illustrator file, a logo or whatever, into CINEMA 4D and extrude it, and I’m not sure what else I’ll get to. The project that I worked on involved putting the Toolfarm Logo into a sand dune with sky around it and I rotated the camera a bit. I will kind of walk you through basically what I did. We’ll just go from scratch and see where it goes.

So, one of the things I did was brought in an Illustrator file of the Toolfarm logo. This took a bit of trial and error to get it right. Chris Schmidt didn’t go over this in his video, at least not to the point that I had watched it yet, maybe he does later on. But, I watched another video on YouTube that explained the process.

There are a couple of things you need to do. In Illustrator, you need to make sure that all of your text is outlines and when you save it as an Illustrator file, but instead of saving it as an Illustrator CC or CS3 or whatever, save it as Illustrator 8, and then click okay. If you see an error message, just click through it. Click okay.

Then, when you get into CINEMA 4D, go to File, Open and find your Illustrator 8 file. Click open, and then you’ll see an Illustrator Import box. It’ll ask you to scale it. You can leave it at 1 if you like. You can change that later on. But Connect Splines and Group Splines – leave those checked. If you have the letter O, for example, the hole will stay connected with the letter O. When you’re ready with that, click okay. And you’ll see your logo imported, and it will just be the splines, the outlines of it. You won’t have any sort of extrusion yet. With this Toolfarm logo that I imported, I already had an extrusion look to it and I decided to go in and edit that, so I edited the file quite a bit and I also edited the curve around the F and the T and I just smoothed everything out, removed points and just made it a lot neater. There was quite a bit of trial and error, so I know this process really, really well now.

When your logo comes into CINEMA 4D it’s just the splines and it’s not extruded, but you’ll notice that it is inside a null – each of your characters – so it’ll just say, Path 1, Path 2, Path 3 and so on. If you apply an Extrude and drag that whole null into it, you’ll notice that nothing happens. Why is that? I’m not sure exactly why it is, but if you select all of your paths and drag them into extrude, you’ll see an extrusion. Only one of the characters will extrude and that will be the top item on the list. There is a checkbox that says Hierarchal. You need to check that. As soon as you check Hierarchal box, everything else will extrude as well. I’m going to go through and name all my layers in case I want to animate them separately and I need to know what’s going on with them. I’ll call the last one TF.

A little problem that I have with this is that the anchor point is WAY off. It’s way north of the logo. What I need to do is choose Extrude, and then select the Enable Axis tool, and then I can move the point around. It’s nice to have it in the quad view/the four view so that I can find the exact middle or the bottom or wherever I want to move this.

After I have that moved, then I can go under coordinates and zero everything out and that will move my logo up into the right place.

That wraps up episode 4 of Michele Learns CINEMA 4D, and in the next episode, I plan to go over how I made the sand dunes, the grass and maybe even the sky. Until then, have a great week. Thanks!