If you are interested in having your lighting look realistic, then you’ll want to start using PBR materials
In this tutorial we will cover how to setup Physically Based or PBR materials in Cinema 4D using Physical Renderer. This workflow is relevant to Cinema 4D R17 and higher and uses the Material -> Reflectance channel.
If you are a Set Designer Subscriber then you’ll want to follow this tutorial to learn how to use our PBR Materials. We also include a .c4d file with the material all setup, so you can skip this whole process. But it’s still good to understand how to set it up manually from the material files.
1. The Material Files
Most likely you have downloaded a Physically Based Material from some where online and you want to use the files inside of Cinema 4D. Included will be a few files with a bunch of different names like: texture-color.jpg, texture-normal.jpg, texture-specular.jpg, texture-gloss.jpg, texture-height.jpg.
Save these files some where safe. Create a folder like “PBRMaterials->Concrete-01” and start your material database.
2. Cinema 4D Setup
Next open Cinema 4D and Open Render Settings and change your Renderer to Physical.
Double click in the Materials Panel to create a new material.
Go to the “Color” tab of the material and enable the check box. Find the “Texture” field and click the button next to it and select the “color” file. This may be called “texture-albedo.jpg”, “texture-color.jpg”, “texture-basecolor.jpg”, or “texture-diffuse.jpg” or some version of these. This is simply the color of the material.
4. Reflectance Pt 1
Navigate to the Reflectance tab of the material and enable the check box.
– “Remove” the “Default” Specular Channel.
– “Add..” a new GGX Layer.”
– Set the “Specular Strength” to 0%. In the graphic it’s set to 20%, but specular is not Physically Based, so set it to 0%.
Find the “Layer Color” section and then find the “Texture” button. Click it and load the “specular” file. This may be named “texture-specular.jpg”, “texture-spec.jpg”, or “texture-metallic.jpg”.
This defines if the material is reflective in combination with the “Roughness” attribute that we’ll cover next.
5. Reflectance Pt 2
In the Reflectance Tab, find the “Roughness” slider and set it to 100%. Then hit the triangle next to it. Then click the Triangle Button and add a “Colorizer”.
Click the Colorizer button and then make the gradient look like the graphic. We are essentially inverting the “typical” roughness/gloss map that most program generate.
Finally click the “texture” button and load the “glossiness” map. This may be called “texture-gloss.jpg”, “texture-glossiness.jpg”, “texture-rougness.jpg”.
This defines how “rough” the surface is. A white map or 100% roughiness means the materials is 100% diffuse (Lamberts Law) and all light is equally diffused. A black map or 0% roughness means the materials is 100% reflective like a mirror or chrome.
Finally, navigate to the “Layer Fresnel” and set the “Fresnel” to Dielectric for plastic and most materials. Set it to “Conductor” for metal objects. There is MUCH more to this subject but it’s beyond the scope of this tutorial to cover it well. If in doubt, just leave it on “Dielectric” and the default settings.
Navigate to the “Normal” tab and enable the check mark next to it. Find the “Texture” field and click the wide button to load the normal map. This may be called “texture-normal.jpg” or something with the word normal. It should be a purple and green image.
Navigate to the “Displacement” tab and enable the check box next to it. Find the “Texture” field and click the wide button to load the “displacement” map. This may be called “texture-height.jpg”, “texture-bump.jpg”, or “texture-displacement.jpg”.
This will alter the actual shape of your geometry. If you model lacks the resolution (low poly) then enable the “Sub Polygon Displacement” and set the Subdvision Level to somewhere between 4 and 8. This topic require more explanation but is beyond the scope of this tutorial.
Note that Displacement will add a considerable amount of render time to your scene. So consider disabling it until the final render or not using it at all for quicker renders.
Physically Based Materials add incredible realism to your scene , but they take a bit to setup. Hopefully, this has helped you setup a PBR material in Cinema 4D for your scene. Take the time to play with the settings to see what they do. We only illustrated a generic PBR setup, each materials needs it’s own “tweaking.”
When your Material is setup and you are happy, open the “Content Browser” and create a new “Preset” and call it “PBR Materials.” Drag your new Material into the “Preset Folder” and now you don’t have to set this up again. You can just open up the Content Browser and drag it into your scene.
If you are looking for a place to get some PB Materials check out the Materials section of the Set Designer Database and consider joining for access to the entire database.