Shadows, Swords & Snow

This set of quick-turnaround graphics all have a similar look and feel and were created using  Cinema 4D,  After Effects  and plug-ins from  GenArts, Video Copilot and Boris FX. Although Dark Shadows is the most simple, it took by far the longest (2 days) because I used it as an opportunity to learn how to model the letters.


For Dark  Shadows I used the font Goldenbook. Extra paths were added in Illustrator for use in Cinema 4D with Loft Nurbs to create the chiseled look.


This preparation in Illustrator is labourious but worthwhile for the time it saves you in Cinema 4D. The key to success is ensuring the inner path points correspond with the points on the outer path Check out this  tutorial for Cars 2 on AETuts  which demonstrates the Loft Nurb technique I used for chiseled text.


The scratched look on the letters was created using a Scratch texture from Texture Kit Pro. These scratch textures by Rob Redman have alpha and bump channels and are great for adding some quick grunge to letters and objects.


For  Swords and Sandals I used Trajan, and although somewhat of a cliché these days, it was perfect for a promo about epic Roman movies! I created the logo in Illustrator, extending the foot of the ampersand to give it a more interest. The logo was imported into Cinema 4D where I extruded the ampersand with a single step fillet cap for a nice sharp bevel.

The rest of the splines were used as guides to line up letters  borrowed from the Trajan4D set of letters. Trajan4D  is the alphabet modelled in Cinema 4D by Hakan Acarel and provided free-of-charge, along with a useful tutorial on the technique he used to create these great looking rounded letters. The spears were modelled using Sweep Nurbs converted to polygons.


The material is a simple chrome with some noise bump and scratches from Texture Kit Pro. No lights were used in the scene,  with an environment texture borrowed from the  Element 3D  install. The environments that ship with Element 3D come in really handy for use in Cinema 4D.

The lighting effect is a combination of Optical Flares in the background and  Sapphire Rays on the logo. Sapphire Rays has a great looking Environment setting that gives a smokiness to the rays adding depth and intrigue. BCC Light Wrap was used to help comp the logo into the scene.


For  Snow White & The Huntsman I used Illustrator to trace the original logo. In Cinema 4D I extruded the text and added a glass material from Texture Kit Pro. This was modified by turning off the blurriness in the reflection (which dramatically speeded up the render) and adding some noise to the bump channel.


The animation was created using a Cinema 4D MoGraph Fracture Object and Random Effector. The O was split out from the main group of splines and animated individually so I could control it’s starting position in the frame. Whilst using the Fracture Object and Random Effector I noticed that wherever the splines were overlapping, the geometry would act as a single object, so I had to tweak the splines to remove any overlaps. If anyone knows why this happens or a solution please leave a comment.


The background is a combination of Optical Flares and  BCC Stage Light. BCC Stage light has a Smoke setting which is somewhat similar to the Environment setting in Sapphire Rays, and adds depth and moodiness to the look. One thing I probably could have done is add a Light Wrap effect to help comp the text into the scene.

  1. James Zwadlo

    Great work John!

    • John Dickinson

      Thanks JZ.

  2. Jack

    Thanks for the tips, they are greatly appreciated.

    • John Dickinson

      You’re welcome Jack.

  3. Chris

    Something to note. If anyone is getting funky, weird results when combining splines with the loft nurbs for the chiseled text look. Make sure that both splines in your loft nurbs are editable and that the first point of each spline match up with one another. For example if you’re doing the letter “T”. While in point mode, select the top left point of the base spline, right click and hit “set first point” then select the top left point of the outline spline and hit “set first point”.

    That way both splines will loft properly. I was frustrated for hours and HOURS trying to figure out why it wasn’t working initially.

    • John Dickinson

      Thanks Chris, that one got me at first too. Another thing to remember in order to save trouble with the loft is matching the positions of points on the inner and outer splines, which prevents stretching geometry between corresponding points. Best, John.

  4. wisdom tetteh

    thanks very much for your knowledge shared. CAN YOU PLEASE BE MY MENTOR. I am new to cinema 4d and after effects. I am ready to learn. I need your advice and experience. thanks

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