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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Low-Poly
Design

How to Create a 3D Low Poly Mini Planet in Cinema 4D

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Difficulty:IntermediateLength:MediumLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Looking to learn Cinema 4D quickly and easily by creating a 3D Mini Planet? You can do it in this simple and fun tutorial, where we will go through how to create it step by step. Use it for your video games, graphic design and illustration projects!

We will use the popular low poly style for this project. Some of the skills you will learn will include creating basic 3D shapes, manipulating them, and using basic lighting and rendering. Let's begin!

1. How to Create a Sphere

Step 1

Open your Cinema 4D and take a look at the top menu bar of the screen. Here you will find almost all the tools that we will need to create the 3D mini planet. Left Click and Hold on the blue Add Cube Object button. This will reveal a sub menu where you can click to create more objects. Select the Sphere tool by clicking on it.

Cinema 4D create objects sub menu

Step 2

Once the sphere has been created, you can then change the properties of the sphere in the lower right-hand corner of the screen. Under the Object tab, we can scale the sphere up from 100cm to 250cm. For this tutorial, I have changed the Segments to 15, but feel free to experiment with these options.

Cinema 4D sphere properties

Step 3

Now untick Render Perfect and remove the Phong Tag. You can do this by clicking on it to select it and then hitting delete or Backspace on your keyboard. This will enable us to render the sphere in the low poly style (otherwise it will appear smooth when we render).

image showing how to delete phong tag

Step 4

In order for you to see the polygon lines, click on the Display button, which can be found underneath the main toolbar. From there, choose Gouraud Shading (Lines)

How to display Gouraud shading lines in Cinema 4D

Step 5

Select the sphere again by clicking on it. The sphere options should appear again in the bottom right of the screen. Here we can select the type of sphere we would like to use. In the drop-down menu, choose Icosahedron. Now we have the basic shape for our 3D Mini Planet.

Choosing icosahedron in sphere object menu

2. How to Duplicate the Sphere

Step 1

In order to make any further changes to our sphere, we will need to make it editable. To do this, make sure your sphere is selected and simply click on the Make Editable button in the top right of your screen. Once you do this, you will not have access to the previous options (radius, segments, type, render perfect), so make sure you are happy with your sphere setup before moving on to this step.

Image showing how to make object editable

Step 2

Next you will want to duplicate our sphere. To do this, Control-Click-Drag on your sphere object on the right of the screen. You should see a small 'plus' symbol appear near your cursor. Drag the cursor down and release to create a duplicate sphere.

Image showing how to duplicate object

3. How to Add Colour

Step 1

Now let's add some colour to the spheres, which will help to distinguish between the two easily. To do this, click on the Create button at the bottom left of the screen. Then select New Material

Image showing how to create new material in Cinema 4D

Step 2

Double click on the small sphere icon that appears. In the material editor, you will have access to a variety of options that will change the appearance and properties of the shapes that you create. Untick Reflectance.

Material options editor in Cinema 4D

Step 3

Now click on Color. Choose the colour you want for your planet (you can see the colour I have used below). Once you've chosen the colour, close the material editor. 

Adding green colour in material options

Step 4

Now Click-Drag the material onto your sphere to apply the material colour.

Dragging the green material onto a sphere object

Step 5

Choose the second sphere from the menu on the right and repeat step 2. 

Image showing two sphere objects

Step 6

Now repeat step 3. This time we want to choose a different colour for the river (you can see the colour I have used below). Once you've chosen the colour, close the material editor.

Choosing a blue colour in the material editor

Step 7

Now Click-Drag the material onto your sphere to apply the colour (as we did in step 4).

Dragging the blue material onto the sphere object

4. How to Create the River

Step 1

Before you start drawing out the shape of the river, you need to shrink one of the spheres (the one with the colour of the river). To make things easier, click on the Middle Mouse Button to bring up four different views.

Four different views in Cinema 4D

Step 2

Select the 'river' sphere and then select the Scale Tool in the top main menu bar. 

Cinema 4D scale tool

Step 3

By clicking and dragging the coloured points that appear on the sphere, you will scale according to that particular axis (x, y, z). However, you will want to scale the whole sphere. To do this, click and drag outside the sphere and scale it down so that it is slightly smaller than the 'land' sphere. I've scaled it down by 95%.

Four different views in Cinema 4D

Step 4

To return to our perspective view, simply point the mouse to the correct window and press the middle mouse button. This can be used to select the other views as well.

Image showing how to return to perspective view

Step 5

Click on the Live Selection Tool in the top menu bar. 

Live selection tool in Cinema 4D

Step 6

Then select Polygons from the left side menu bar.

Polygon tool in Cinema 4D

Step 7

With the ‘land’ sphere selected, you will see that moving the cursor over the polygons will highlight them. Click-Drag the polygons you want for the river path. If you release the mouse button, you can continue you selection by holding Shift and then dragging the mouse cursor across the sphere again. 

Image showing how to select polygons in Cinema 4D

Step 8

If you need to remove part of your selection, simply Control-Click-Drag over the unwanted polygons.

Image showing how to remove polygons in Cinema 4D

Step 9

You can use the navigation tools on the top right to move your view around your sphere.

Location of navigation tools in Cinema 4D

Step 10

Once you are happy with your selection, right click on it to bring up the menu and select Extrude.

Extrude tool in Cinema 4D

Step 11

You can then Click-Drag (Left or Right) the selection up or down. For this tutorial, we want the selected polygons to move below the second sphere. This will reveal our river!

Image showing how to create the river

5. How to Create the Mountains

Step 1

To create the mountains, you’ll be using the same tools and techniques that you used to create the river. Click on the Live Selection Tool in the top menu bar. Then select Polygons from the left side menu bar.

Live selection tool and polygon tool

Step 2

Highlight the polygons that you want to use to create your mountain.

Highlighting the mountain space

Step 3

Once you are happy with your selection, right click on it to bring up the menu and select Bevel.

Using the bevel tool

Step 4

You can then Click-Drag (Left or Right) the selection up or down. For this stage of the tutorial, we want the selected polygons to extrude up.

Using the extrude tool to create Lowpoly mountains

Step 5

Use Bevel on the selection around three times for the best result. This gives it a natural look and also gives us further options for colour at a later stage.

Image showing a mountain

Step 6

Use the same techniques to create more mountains to fill up your landscape. Try out different shapes and sizes to make your planet look as interesting as possible!

Image showing several mountains

6. How to Add Selective Colouring

Step 1

Now it’s time to add some detail to our planet by doing a bit of selective colouring. The process is very similar to what you have done previously. First you must decide what other colours you would like to use. I have chosen three more colours (yellow, red, and white). Create three new coloured materials using the same steps as before (see 3. Adding Colour).

Image showing different coloured materials

 Step 2

Click on the Live Selection Tool in the top menu bar. Then select Polygons from the left side menu bar. 

Live selection and polygon tool in Cinema 4D

Step 3

Select each area you would like to colour—for example, the mountains.

Select areas for colour

Step 4

Now Drag-Drop your chosen material into the highlighted area.

Dragging and dropping materials in selected areas

Step 5

Repeat this process for the other colours.

Image of the final planet with all the colours

7. How to Create Trees

Step 1

To create the small trees that populate the planet, we’ll need to go back to the blue Add Cube Object button again. Left Click-Hold and then select the Pyramid tool from the menu.

Pyramid tool in Cinema 4D

Step 2

Once we’ve done that, we can then colour the pyramid by dragging one of our materials to the object. 

Pyramid object in Cinema 4D

Step 3

Make sure the pyramid is selected and click the Make Editable button.

Make editable button in Cinema 4D

Step 4

Now select the Scale Tool on the top menu bar (again make sure that the pyramid is selected).

Scale tool in Cinema 4D

Step 5

With the Scale Tool selected, squash the pyramid by clicking the top point (the Y axis) and dragging it down.

Image of how to scaling the pyramid

Step 6

Next, you will want to duplicate the pyramid. Control-Click-Drag on your object on the right of the screen. You should see a small 'plus' symbol appear near your cursor. Drag the cursor down and release to create a duplicate. 

Image of how to duplicate the pyramid in Cinema 4D

Step 7

Then use the Move Tool to move it below the first pyramid.

Image of pyramid tree

Step 8

For the tree trunk, we'll need to create a cube. Click on the Cube button.

Image of the cube button

Step 9

Following the same steps as before, add a colour to the cube. Then scale it down and position it below the two pyramids to create a tree.

Image of the final tree

Step 10

Then select all the objects for the tree (the two pyramids and the cube) and press Alt-G to make a group. Now you can rename the group from 'Null' to 'Tree' and duplicate the group to create more trees.

Image of tree group

Step 11

Now you can place the tree onto your planet using the Move and Rotate tools. Duplicate the group the same way as you would duplicate an object (Control-Click-Drag) and place trees around your planet (select the 'tree' group and use the Move and Rotate tools to do this).

Image of the planet with added mini trees

8. How to Render the Scene

Step 1

To set up our basic lighting, you’ll want to go to the Floor button located in the top menu bar. Left Click-Hold and then select Physical Sky from the menu.

Physical sky button in Cinema 4D

Step 2

Making sure that ‘Physical Sky’ is selected in the menu on the right, a new menu will appear on the bottom right of the screen. Select the Time and Location tab and choose a time using the left and right arrow keys. This will change the lighting.

Time and location options for physical sky

Step 3

Now click on the Render Settings button on the top menu bar.

Edit render settings button in Cinema 4D

Step 4

Here you can choose the resolution, height and width of your image. For this tutorial I have chosen 1920x1200 72DPI.

Render settings in Cinema 4D

Step 5

Choose where you would like to save your file and your file name. Also you may want to tick Alpha Channel on, if you want.

Save settings in Cinema 4D

Step 6

Click on the Effect button and choose both Global Illumination and Ambient Occlusion and exit the menu.

Adding global illumination and ambient occlusion in Cinema 4D

Step 7

Using the controls on the top right of the screen, choose a view that you would like to render. You can also create a camera out of your view if you want to by clicking on the Create Camera icon.

Camera button in Cinema 4D

Step 8

Click the Render button and wait for your render to finish!

Render to picture viewer button in Cinema 4D

Awesome Work, You're Done!

And with that, your 3D Mini Planet is complete! Feel free to share your own creations below! You can also export your image into Adobe Photoshop to enhance it further or to use it as part of a larger image. I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial, and I’ll see you next time!

Image of the final 3D Lowpoly mini planet
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