May 20, 2024


Entertain Reaching Stars

Cinema 4D – Splines, Bezier, Bspline and More

4 min read

Cinema 4D is generous with the tools and controls provided for your spline shapes. Let’s use them!

A good starting place for your introduction to spline tools is drawing a Bezier spline, something like an ‘S curve’ using the front view so we see a profile display. It could actually be helpful here to draw a shape that is a bit goofy as you enter your first point then enter the second dragging your mouse to create curvature. As you go about the first curve heading down to create the second section of your ‘S’ it is fairly easy to control the shape you are creating.

As you begin to round out the second curve you might see some surprising effect. A curious Bezier technique is to place a curved point beyond what you expect to be the next point on your curve. Because of the way the Bezier handles are presented and the way they allow you to position the vertex of your curve, it often helps to ‘overshoot’, to place your next point a little beyond where you want it to be, then use the handles to adjust the size and center of your curve.

It does require practice and is not a precise science but fortunately Cinema 4D does provide controls that help you fine tune your work, adjust your curvature, shift the position of your defining points, and even add and remove them! Once you are satisfied with your basic shape, enter ‘return’ to save it. Click on the stage or some other object then click on your new spline again. You can create your spline in different modeling modes but to see the defining points and be able to modify it you must use the point modeling tool.

Choose the point modeling tool to set point mode then click on your new spline and you immediately see all the defining points highlighted! Using the ‘Live Selection’ tool at the top left of the main selections tools above the stage, click on any one of the points and you see it highlighted with Bezier handles displayed. You can drag the point about, adjusting curvature, length. You can really place it anywhere you like. You see the Bezier handles but it is a bit deceptive. Only if you choose the ‘Move Tool’ to the immediate right of the ‘Live Selection’ tool can you access the Bezier handles but once you do, you can use these handles to adjust curvature and radius of your curve.

Enter the ‘shift’ key while you are adjusting the Bezier handles and you can adjust one at a time. This provides a great deal of adjustment and much greater control over your curve shape. Finally you can add and delete points from your Bezier shape. Right click on the stage, then from the set of commands presented to you, choose ‘Add Point’. You will see a little icon like the point mode tool with a additional ‘plus sign’ indicating you will be adding a point. Click on your spline shape anywhere and you have a new point.

Of course if you click on an existing point and enter the delete key, you will delete this point. Letting you adjust any single point, add new or delete existing provides a healthy toolbox, simply for ‘spline tuning’.

A ‘Bspline’ is quite similar to a Bezier. A Bspline however, has a built in curvature feature. If you click successive points without dragging your mouse, curvature will be applied to your Bspline. You actually won’t see your Bspline until you give at least three points to configure its shape and curvature. You might think of the second point as the vertex of the curve, the center of the would be circle, and the third point defining both size and radius of your curve.

Like Bezier, once you draw your Bspline, if you choose point mode, then ‘Move’ or ‘Live Selection’, you can move and adjust the points, even add new points to your Bspline. Remember that you won’t see Bezier handles, because its not a Bezier curve but it will ‘adjust’ your new point in the same way it computed the curvature and location of your original Bspline.

There are so many applications for splines from animation paths to character rigging joints and limbs, you can’t get too much practice when it comes to the spline shapes and modeling tools. Fortunately, the learning path is pretty much fun too and provides creations that are worthy of your showplace along the way.

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