3D Artist

Create cloth sculptures with Cinema 4D

Tips & Tutorials
Andreas Barden

Learn how to simulate textiles for sculptures

Create cloth sculptures with Cinema 4D

This tutorial was written by the amazing Andreas Barden and appeared in issue 114 of 3D Artist. Subscribe today and never miss an issue!

Tools used

Cinema 4D

Cloth simulation interested me as soon as I started working in Cinema 4D. Then while I was working on an editorial for an online magazine, I came up with the idea of creating textile sculptures. In the upcoming tutorial I will share my process for how I create the textile sculptures. The goal will be to create an abstract animation with cloth simulation. With each step, we’ll take a look at the various processes involved to give you the foundation you need to create your own textile sculptures.

The creation process will start with some research to figure out what the textile sculptures will look like. This step is important to get a feeling for how the simulation has to behave. Then we will continue with simple forms that are constructed by the cloth simulation in Cinema 4D.

Step 01 – Time to research

Create cloth sculptures with Cinema 4D

Pretty much every project should start with doing some research. For me this step is really important to get a more finished vision of how the idea in my mind will look once in 3D. I try to find references of how the simulation will behave in real life. Once I am done with the research, I then start setting up the scene in Cinema 4D.


Step 02 – Base geometry

Create cloth sculptures with Cinema 4D

The first step is to create base geometry. In this case we start by creating a platonic. But you can go with any kind of simple object, for example, a cylinder. In order to run a smooth cloth simulation, it is important to shrink up the segments. In this case I used 30 segments for the platonic.

Step 03 – Prepare the scene

Create cloth sculptures with Cinema 4D

Before we add the cloth simulation tags, we have to add an object that will act as the ground object, for example a simple plane. This is a necessary process, because otherwise the cloth driven object would fall down. Now we have to move the platonic up, so the whole object is over null in the y-axis. The cloth simulation tags only work with converted objects, so we have to convert the platonic in a polygon object. The problem here is that after we have converted the platonic, there isn’t an easy way to change the polycount. However, to experiment with other polycounts, I duplicate the unconverted platonic and put it in a null object. To avoid disturbing my rendering or my simulations, the null will be hidden in the viewport and also for rendering.

Step 04 – Use simulation tags

Create cloth sculptures with Cinema 4D

Once finished with preparing the scene, we can add the Cloth Simulation tag to the platonic. For the ground object we add a Cloth Collider tag. Now run the simulation for the first time by hitting Play. The platonic should fall down and hit the ground plane. After we converted the platonic in the previous step, it didn’t have a Phong tag. But we have to add a Phong, otherwise we would see the edges of each polygon. So add a Phong tag to the platonic object and change the Phong angle to something like 40°.

Step 05 – Add collider

Create cloth sculptures with Cinema 4D

To create a sculptural shape, we will have to add a collider. In this case I will add a sphere. To turn the sphere into a cloth collider, it is simply a case of adding a Cloth Collider tag in the same way as we did with the ground plane.

Step 06 – Tweak the cloth simulation

Create cloth sculptures with Cinema 4D

If we run the simulation now, it will behave strangely and look a little odd. The faces are intersecting with each other and the simulation doesn’t look anything like the image I had in mind. I want the sculpture to feel as though it is rigid. To achieve this, we have to increase the iterations. This parameter basically controls the overall elasticity of a fabric. I used a value of 12, but you can try some different values. Another thing we need to fix is the self collision. To avoid intersecting of the polygons, we have to turn on the Self Collision option of the Cloth tag. This will enable the cloth object to collide against its own points.

Step 07 – Add modifier

Create cloth sculptures with Cinema 4D

Another nice feature of the cloth simulation is that we can add a Particle modifier. In this case I am using the Turbulence modifier. Add the modifier under the Expert option and drop it into the Include option of the Cloth tag. Now you can play around with the values of the Turbulence until you are satisfied with the simulation and you achieve a nice movement.

Step 08 – Smooth the geometry

Create cloth sculptures with Cinema 4D

It is time to smooth the geometry. This step is not really difficult, but it is an important one. I tried a lot of different options for how to combine the Cloth Surface modifier with the Subdivision Surface modifier. For me, the best way is to first put the cloth object into the Cloth Surface modifier and then into the Subdivision Surface modifier.

Step 09 – Cache the simulation

Create cloth sculptures with Cinema 4D

After we are finished with all the settings, we have to cache the simulation. For this you need to hit the Calculate Cache button. The cache function will create the stored calculations for the cloth engine to read. When the cache calculation is finished, you can play the cloth simulation in real-time.

  • Mathias Chacón Chiodi

    Vaya, Genial tutorial !! Gran trabajo