Cinema 4D: Creating Cloth

Updated: Sep 26, 2020

If cloth is to be convincing it should be a floppy object that drapes across what it lands on. So the first thing to do in Cinema 4D is to give it some gravity, so that it falls.

a cinema 4d image showing cloth draped over a cube.

Create a plane and a sphere. Drag the plane up so it's directly above the sphere. The sphere has to be told to be a solid object, otherwise the cloth will just fall straight through it as if it wasn’t there.

a smaller image showing some cloth hovering above a sphere

This is done with a ‘Simulation Tag'. To assign it, right-click on the sphere in the Object Manager and choose ‘simulation tags > collider body’. Now it’s something that other objects can collide with. The tag gives it solidity.

the first step in telling something to behave like cloth - adding a 'colllider body' simulation tag

Then right-click on the plane and choose ‘simulation tags > rigid body’. That allows it to become subject to gravity. The sphere isn’t, by the way. That's why it just sits there.

and the next step, adding the rigid body tag which allows gravity to affect it.

If you press the ‘play’ button, you’ll see the plane fall and land on top of the sphere. It doesn’t bend around it at all, so it's clearly not much like cloth yet, but it will be soon.

Both objects now have a small square tag to the right of their names in the Object Manager.

Select the plane's ‘Rigid Body’ tag in the Object Manager, and in the Attributes Manager click on the Collision tab. Down near the bottom you’ll see Bounce, Friction and Collision Noise. Set the Bounce very low, as cloth doesn’t usually need to bounce very much – maybe something between 1 and 5%. Then set Friction to 85%. Cloth has friction, but not as much as many other things, so it doesn’t need to be 100%. Don’t change Collision Noise at all.

this image shows some of settings which affect how the cloth will behave

Then select the ‘Soft Body’ tag in the AM. At the top, change the 'Soft Body' setting from ‘Off’ to ‘Made of Polygons / Lines’. Here’s an image with some reasonable numbers to start with for the settings below that.

and this image shows many more settings

Imagine that the plane is originally a fairly hard object, like plastic. The ‘Structural’ setting is similar to its strength. ‘Damping’ sort of muffles the effect of the setting above it, wherever you see it. And a low Flexion setting allows the object to fall and fold much more like cloth.

Press the play button again. It will be slower this time, because it’s trying to process all the new settings, but once it’s run through the whole thing it should speed up. And now the plane behaves more like cloth. And a bit like a mutant jellyfish.

Here's the result of applying some settings. It needs a bit more adjustment!

Of course, experimentation is the key to getting exactly the result you want. Change a setting, and press ‘play’ again. Change something else, and press ‘play’ and watch for what’s different. And the main thing is...have fun! Cinema 4D is an amazing programme, and if you don’t enjoy it, there’s something seriously wrong.

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