The basics: #2 Primitives

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The basics: #2 Primitives

Post by evergreen on Tue May 15, 2012 6:05 am

The basics: #2 Primitives

Welcome to the second tutorial in the “the basics” series. In the previous tutorial you have learned the basics of the Cinema 4D interface.

In this tutorial you will learn how to add primitives to your scene,
how to move your primitive around and how to change the size.

You will also learn how to use the different views and the coordinate manager.


Primitives are the basic building blocks in Cinema 4D that will allow you to create absolutly everything you can think of.

Everything can be made from the basics building blocks you see above,
thats why you will use them a lot and thats also the reason they are so

In the first part of the tutorial you will learn how to place and
move primitives into your scene, in the second part you will also learn
how to edit them.

Before we start here is a quick exersise for you, take a random
object (for example a pen, bottle, mouse) and think of which primitives
you would use and how to create this object!

A pen for example, can be made from a cylinder and a cone for the top part.

Adding your first Primitive

Click and hold the primitives button on your quick access toolbar, select the cube primitive and let go of your mouse.

You will see that C4D has now added a cube primitive into your scene,
check your coordinate manager and note the (x,y,z) location of the
center and the x,y,z size of your cube.

As you can see Cinema4D placed the center (the center is the tiny
white cube with the arrows coming out of it) of our cube on the
coordinates (0,0,0).

Moving our cube

Now half of the cube is beneath the (x,z) plane, not that it really
matters but lets move the cube so it is entirely on the (x,z) plane.
Since the cube is 200m high, we will need to move the cube up by 100m.
The new coordinates will be (x=0, y=100, z=0).

There are multiple ways to move your cube, I will show the 2 easiest and quickest ones:

  1. Take a close look at your cube, inside of the cube you can see 3
    arrows; a green, red and blue one. Click and hold (left mouse button)
    the green arrow. Now simply move your mouse up untill you can see in
    your coordinate manager that you have moved your cube onto the right
    spot. This technique is very fast, but less precise than the next
  2. You can also enter the desired coordinates directly into your
    coordinate manager. First make sure that you have still selected your
    cube object. Now go to the coordinate manager, enter the new postition
    and click apply:

Your cube should be in the right spot now, but just to make sure lets check it using one of the different views in the editor.

If you have a scroll wheel which you can press down, do this and your editor will load all the 4 views, these are:

  • The 3D (x,y,z) plane,
  • The 2D (x,y) plane
  • The 2D (y,z) plane
  • and of course the 2D (x,z) plane

You can use the right and front view to see that your cube is indeed located in the right place:

So now we know how to add primitives and how to move them around, so
what else can we do with our cube primitive? Of course lets change the

Changing the size of the cube primitive

If you could easily follow the last few steps, changing the size
will be easy. With Cinema4D we can minipulate our cube in every way
possible, you can take one corner and move it up, increase the hight,
width etc. In this tutorial we will just cover the basics which is
changing the basic dimensions of our cube (width, height and lenght).

Changing the size of the cube can be done, like almost anything, in
multiple ways. I will here explain the 2 most used techniques:

  1. Remmeber the 3 arrows inside the cube pointing away in the x,y,z
    directions from the center of our cube? In the last step we used them to
    move our cube, but they have another purpose. We can also use them to
    change the size of our cube!Notice the 3 yellow tiny dots, located where
    the arrow meets the cube surface? Click on one with your mouse and move
    it around and you will see it changes the size of our cube in that
  2. The second way to change the size of our cube is to use the
    coordinates manager again, simply enter your wanted size and click
    apply. The second technique again gives you a more precize control, but
    seeing your cube change in real time using the first technique is way
    more fun!

What you learned

You should now be able to add, move and change the size of our cube. Now practice your just learned skills!

I would suggest to try adding some other primitives to your scene and
just play around with them. For example try placing a pyramid on your
cube, and on top of the pyramid add a cone, and on top of the cone a

(hint: take a good look at your coordinate manager when you want to flip your cone)

In the next tutorial I will explain how to add materials to your scene, making your scene look realistic!


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