Modeling a car using blueprints

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In this massive tutorial you will learn how to model a car using blueprints, points and the bridge tool.

Basic Cinema 4D knowledge is required for this tutorial!

Please note I will be working in Cinema 4D Release 10. If you wish to use this method please just try and adapt it for your package, be it in a previous version of C4D or an alternate package.
This tutorial does assume you have some basic 3D modeling knowledge as well as some basic knowledge of C4D.

Modeling a car using blueprints

OK let’s get started, first a bit of terminology, C4D uses Points, Edge & Polygons
These are the different modes that you can edit an object in and these are the modes we will use to adjust and edit & create our model.

Step 1: Finding Blueprints

First things first, What do we want to model, I am going to choose a car from the-blueprints.com It’s a really awesome site that has blueprints for ships, cars, bikes etc…
I am going to choose the new VW Beetle

Modeling a car using blueprints

When you download these blueprints look on the site for prints that have the all views Top, Front, Rear & Sides, having all these views makes your life a lot easier, also the larger the file size the better

Bring your blueprint into your favorite Image editor, I will be using Paint Shop Pro.

Now separate all the different views into new images (save as .jpeg) , if you decrease the size of your pictures make sure you keep the aspect ratio between the different pictures the same, else things wont fit when we start the modeling process!

Step 2: Setting up the view ports

Once you have broken your image up, we set it up in C4D as backgrounds for the viewports (the place where you view and edit your models)
In a New Cinema 4D file, Press F5, This will open up all view ports for you to see.

Click Edit > Configure this function can be found on top of any of the view ports. This will open up a configuration box in the attributes manager (#2) on the bottom right. You will see here I already have the tab BACK selected (highlighted in blue)
For each viewport, Top + Right + Front, select the browsing button to the right of the IMAGE property (#3) and select the appropriate image from our dissected blueprints.

If you click on the viewport to select it, this will change the attributes manager so you can edit the viewport settings.
It should look something like this:

Modeling a car using blueprints

BUT!!! We have 2 problems we need to address before we can start modeling
• Are our blueprints aligned?
• Is the top view facing the right way?

Step 3: Facing and Aligning

First we will make sure that our 3 images face in the right direction together.

In our attributes manager we have a few options we can set, in this step use Rotation (#2) to rotate your blueprints. In the top view, I rotated my image -90 degrees.

It depends on your blueprints how you need to rotate them, refer to the next screen shot to see what it should look like.

Modeling a car using blueprints

Now our blueprints are facing in the same direction, now we only need to make sure the are aligned correctly.
For this we will use the Offset of the picture (#1) where we move it up and down (we will use this for the alignment)

In order to align the images first add a null object to the scene.
Set the position of the null object to the very front of the vehicle/object (You can see in the above screenshot where I have placed mine). The idea is to get the location of the object pointing at the same spot on all 3 views, so make sure you place the null object somewhere that is easily recognizable in all view ports.

Now adjust the offset of the background images in each view (or just the ones needed) in order to align the images with the null object you placed in there.
Do the same for the sides of the vehicle or object too, you may need to adjust the X&Y size of the image too, but uncheck the keep aspect ratio button first to make sure that while changing one size it does not throw the other alignments out. Play around…you’ll get it.

Step 4: Time to start modeling

When modeling anything like a vehicle we can use a few tools in C4D to help us cheat a bit

We are going to use SYMMETRY to model this, this allows us to model one half of the car (the right hand side when look at it from the front) and C4D mirrors/copies it to the other side for us. Not only does this save time but also helps keep things equal e.g. making one headlight bigger than the other
SO…delete the null object you have (we don’t need it anymore) and add the symmetry object (#1) and add a polygon object (#2) as a child of the symmetry. Drag and drop the polygon object onto the symmetry object (#3) , refer to the next few screen shots for help.

Modeling a car using blueprints

Modeling a car using blueprints

Modeling a car using blueprints

Now remember the points mode from earlier, click on the polygon object itself to select it.
On the left hand side now select Point Mode, Click Structure > Add Point
Now we are ready to add our first point, pick something on the car you want to start modeling, I am going to do the bonnet.

Hold down the CTRL key and click with the mouse (left click) to add a point, Select the point and position your point down in the middle of the bonnet, close to the front of the vehicle
IMPORTANT!!! You need to make sure your X position of your point is at Zero (so on the Z axis). Anything in the negative X range will be part of the symmetry, the part that C4D does for you, anything in the positive range will be what you do.
In the next screenshot you will see how I have done it, you can space your points out in what ever way suits you and how ever many you need, read through the next few pieces to get an idea of what’s happening then you can see what will be best for you. NOTE all my starting points below are X=0

As you add your points (I was adding mine to the TOP view), you can move them around to follow to shape of the vehicle as you can see here.

Modeling a car using blueprints

What we do now is clone this line of points and move them to the right, so with all your points selected (CTRL-A) right click somewhere in one of the views and select Clone.
I am going to select 1 clone, APPLY it and then move this line of points to the right (In the TOP view). Now adjust individual points on this line to match the blueprints.

Keep cloning and adjusting your points in all views to make a rough outline of the bonnet.

Modeling a car using blueprints

Step 5: Create Polygons

You’ll see I have tried to follow the contours and as I placed my points (or cloned them) in the top view I made sure the where pointing to the same spot in all views (just like we did in the alignment)

NOW…Time for the bridge tool, the bridge tool creates bridges or polygons between points
Click Structure > Bridge
Bridge works by click and dragging the mouse (left click) from one point to another.

Modeling a car using blueprints

Click and drag point #1 towards #2, then click and drag point #3 towards #4
Bravo, you made your first Polygon, see how C4D filled in the other side for you

When working in C4D if you press the spacebar it flips from what ever tool you have currently active to the Live selection pointer for you to select things, by pressing space again to flips you back to the tool you were working with

Kind of a quick change, now while bridging, after you have made a poly, tap the space bar twice, this will reset the bridge tool so you can make another poly, this will help it so that you don’t create some really odd shapes, try it. You’ll see what I mean.

Keep moving up and through you points bridging them together and you will see our bonnet start to take shape. I have used fewer points in the sample below so you can get an idea of what it should start to look like.

In your objects manager, right click on the polygon object, select the Cinema 4D tags and in the menu select the Phong Tag, this will make you bonnet look nice and smooth.

Modeling a car using blueprints

This method is what I have used to construct many objects, from here you use things like the extrude tools, size & scale, move points around etc, so that you can fine tune your mesh to get it looking the way you want or need, this method helps you to get the basic shape of what you are after.

Now this part of our car is done, so repeat these steps for the next part of the car:

Modeling a car using blueprints

Above you can see I have added points around the front fender and grill, it’s not quite to the blueprint but I want a slightly different look, wider nose, slightly angled headlights etc..
Bridge the points, and you will have another basic mesh for playing with.

If you haven’t already noticed you may come across a small problem, the normals(faces of the polys) might look a bit strange, some different colours.
Select the Polygon Object, then select Polygon mode (remember that??)

With the live selection tool active, click in your perspective view and then press CTRL-A
You might see how some polys are blue and others yellow/orange, this means we have a problem with our normals. This is easy to fix. Click Functions > Align Normals and you’re done.

Again use the bridge tool to finish this part of our car, here is my result so far (I quickly rendered it with some basic materials in a basic scene):

Modeling a car using blueprints

Step 6: Finishing the outer body

From here I am going to do the rest of the main body or the outer shell of the vehicle

You can start adding some detail if you want to, but I want to leave that till last.
On the roof I have left space between the main roof section and the rest of the body shell for some beading to go around it later.

Move around your vehicle piecing it all together like a great big puzzle, and you get to make the pieces. Practice and you will get the hang of it and it will start to go quicker and quicker. You will also find methods for bridging that work for you, the amount of points to add and such.
Remember the better the blueprints, the easier it will be for you to add detail to your model and to perfect it.

Let’s render what we have so far and see how it looks:

Modeling a car using blueprints

Admit it, it looks good, basic…but good. If you look carefully on the roof you will see the gap I left for the beading. Don’t stop now…still got lots to do.

Step 7: Finishing our model

Now its time to add lights, wheels, the interior and other minor parts to our model.

Lets start by adding some Wheel Arches
This is nothing more than tracing the outline with a spline and extruding it.
The lip in front is to fit underneath the main shell

Modeling a car using blueprints

OK, moving onto the door, again I am just going tracing it with a few points and bridging them together.

Modeling a car using blueprints

The Interior

As the interior is not easily seen it does not have to be that detailed, it can just be a basic representation of it, have fun, make it your own, design it as you would like to see it.
Problem is, we don’t have it in our blueprints so you have to guess what’s happening.
Start with some basics that all cars have, Backboard (where your speakers usually are), the foot wells, centre column, firewall (the piece that separates the main cabin from the engine), dashboard etc.

For the seats you can find blueprints on the site described in the first steps, repeat the modeling process like explained in the first few steps to create your own seats, this is what I got:

Modeling a car using blueprints

The Weels

The creation of the wheels was quit a massive job, expect a new tutorial soon explaining how I made my rims and tires.

Trace the outline of the various bits like the bonnet, doors, roof etc… Extrude this, sweep nurb it, whatever tickles your fancy to make your beading this will help fill in a few blanks
Something else I have added here is a small strip around the window areas for framing.
The inner front grill was also added. Most of this additions/modifications are small and easy to implement if you have managed to come this far.

A quick tip for you, see the connect object button below:

Modeling a car using blueprints

This allows you to take multiple object and make them into one, just set all the polygons you want to compact into child objects of a Connect Object, once done, select the Connect Object in the Object Manager, and press ‘C’. This makes it editable and will merge everything into 1 polygon for you.

Step 8: Materials and rendering

Now its time for you to add materials to your model, i’m not going to help you with this step because you can find plenty of other tutorials on this step. Just create a new material for different parts of the car and apply it to the object by dragging it into the object browser.

If you don’t want to create materials yourself (like for example glass), check out c4dtextures.com.

Once you have added your materials you can add your model in a scene and add light sources to your scene.

Here is my final render:

Modeling a car using blueprints

This tutorial is written by Tony Ekron aka Omnieus and published on cinema4dtutorials.com with his permission.

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87 Comments

  1. Almog

    Hey…
    i love your work keep doing it

  2. Will Pena

    Thanks a lot for the tut. It´s very very helpful for me to understand a lot of things.

    From Mexico City. Thank you again!

  3. Jumpstyler

    Thanks a lot. With this very cool tutorial, ive made a audi r8. its really cool. thanks.
    Keep doing it. Perfect.

  4. Nikola

    Good tutorial, poeple who work with C4D need more like this advanced tutorials!!!

  5. DrewPx

    hey guys,

    im new to cinema 4d here and 3d modeling in general..im sure you hear that alot. Either way, I’m having problems setting up my scene with the schematics. I understand it in theory but for whatever reason i cannot get it to line up the way that it needs to be. Any suggestions or does anybody know of a link that i can look into that goes into further detail on setting this up.

    Thanks!

  6. ashton farton

    WHAT????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

  7. andy

    @DrewPx
    Your problem might be with the blueprints themselves. Im working on a 2002 wrx and the blueprints I found all had small errors in them so use the perspective window and go with your eye.

  8. DrewPx

    @andy thanks Man…that actually worked perfectly!

  9. pedro_cesar

    Hi all, I’m having trouble with the bonnet, when I click on the polygon tool (which already is a child of symmetry) and then click on the points mode, the “add point” under “structure” is not selectable, for it to be selectable I have to make my polygon editable.

    The other thing is that when I select “clone” nothing happens except that my mouse changes icon into a little red circle with a diagonal line inside. I can hit Enter and the mouse goes back to the pointer, but the polygon (nor the points) are cloned.

  10. america Man

    Maya is best for car modeling, it’s fast, less tweaking, more fun. I use both Cinema 4D & Maya, Cinema is great to some degree but for complexity such as cars, Maya suits the production of cars.

  11. Sopheris

    Thanks a lot. I did audi roadster with this tutorial and it looks great

  12. abhisek

    Awesome! Love this site! Keep up the good work.

  13. Berkay

    I would appreciate if you made a tutorial how to model a gun using blueprints.
    That would be awesome.

    You know ?

  14. k3d

    Everyone who knows anything about hypernurbs would not model a car with point to point method anymore.
    If you want to but that´s so slow method. This is old method but the tutorial was good.

  15. Jasper

    Berkay: you can use the basic techniques learned in this tutorial with any blueprint, the steps remain the same.

    k3d: I’m still learning C4D myself so I will look into hypernurbs and write a tutorial on that subject

  16. Realistic

    k3d: unless you use point modeling with hypernurbs – the way I like to model some cars! You can use box modeling if you like, but the concepts are the same, aligning the points of your hypernurb to the contour of a blueprint.

  17. derek

    wtf when i add the phong to my design it becomes smother but also get a bunch of missing sides to the hood

  18. Realistic

    Hi Derek,

    If you want a specific phong setting or if you want to use hypernurbs, you need to configure before you start modeling.

  19. Dima

    Hi!
    Does somebody know why Align Normals isn’t active in Menu?

  20. Realistic

    Dima: not sure what you mean… Can you post in the forum and attach a screen shot or scene. Thanks.

  21. Pilar Abreu e Lima

    Hi! Congratulations for this tutorial. However I didn’t discover yet why is not working the selected “clone”. I have the same sinal of impossible tool on the top (or another) window.
    Can anyone help me please?

    By the way, happy new year:)

  22. ionut

    hye! wow ,first i want to thank you,second good job sir and third :d i am ready for the war ,lol,i have created a Thank,even it taked me much time.but now looks great.thank you sir again,bye.by the way,isn’t easier to make video tutorials ?! (and like that you help the people TO understand reaally easssssyer. (ok,sorry for mistakes,i don’t know to speak english)pa-pa

  23. Szymon

    blueprints simplify my graphics semester project! Thanks to you I’ve got more time for myself! :)

  24. Mad Dog McCray

    @pedro_cesar – Pedro, I had the same problem and worked it out after a cuppa. There’s the polygon option in the “add cube object pallete”, but then there’s a slightly different one under the menu. Use this one. Objects > Polygon, Not the shortcut pallete. It’s got a slightly different icon with dots on the polygon for points.

    I found the tutorial really showed me a few things. I struggled a bit with a blocky look, after I added the phong tag and changed the angle limit. I think I simply need to take more care in positioning and add extra polygons for a smoother surface. And I’ll try the hyper nurbs way that someone mentioned. Time is key.

    Thanks.

  25. XOPHERofAEO

    i
    CAN’T GET ANY OF MY JPEG IMAGES TO LOAD…. WHAT’S THE DEAL, REALLY?? ANY HELP PLEASE

  26. sneakranger65

    How do you turn down the brightness on the backgrounds? I noticed on your tutorial you had yours grayed out so you could actually see the point selections as opposed to a bright white on white configuration. Thanks.

  27. sneakranger65

    Nevermind… found it. Viewport>Back>Transparency.

  28. Matt

    hey good tutorial however i gave up after struggling on the bonnet

    Im not sure if my images were aligned correctly.. I also had trouble with the clone tool at first.. I hit clone, then apply and nothing would happen and my mouse frooze unit i hit space bar and then i had a duplicate of my point and had to move them.. I also found it near impossible to create a smooth polygon of my horrible point structure after spending a few hours moulding the bonnet..

    is there a better tutorial on car moddeling for C4D

  29. Alfonso

    Great!!

  30. BICHHOO2K

    Kiya Banya hai?

  31. madhu

    I got to no the other type of modeling

  32. Goni

    Sorry but i can’t understand how can I put the image of the car for example in cinema 4d?? I don’t know that…

  33. ayo greenwich

    it cool using the maxon 4d modelling

  34. deepak

    wonderful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  35. Vin J Palathink

    Hi
    Don’t get the part about cutting out the views, my blueprints never seem to get aligned! And also, the cloning system seems a bit alien. How do you manage to clone it to the other side?, nothing appears for me.
    Pls help!

  36. benny

    its really really awesome tut
    i can see you are pro in c4d
    thanks for the tut it helped me alot

  37. srinivasulu

    i can see you are pro in c4d
    thanks for the tut it helped me alot

  38. Nii Armar

    Thanks. We need more tutorials like this. This is my first attempt at modelling and within an hour I have a fantastic looking car. I am hooked.

    Thanks a million

  39. msehsan

    it is very nice but , some problem in it include more tutarial about human body and animal chracters thanks

  40. aram

    is there any way to show the units in the viewports? im talking about seeing how many cm/m you have in front of you, pretty much like adobe illustrator and 3ds max. sometimes cinemas grid is very frustrating.

  41. KrisBelucci

    Great post! Just wanted to let you know you have a new subscriber- me!

  42. Kalvis

    OK! I read all comments and only one guy had the same problem. That was Derek. I`m sorry if I`m bothering someone, but why I have holes in my hood. And the answer was “you have to configure”. So my question is. What do I need to configure???
    That`s the only problem I have. please help. I really like to learn all about c4d.

  43. Ali

    Great tutorial, but i cannot put my blueprints onto the viewport. I go to Edit – Configure – Back – Browse – choose my image, but i cannot see it nowhere? I tried it with different file types, none works. What im i doing wrong?

  44. Mark

    Nice information

    Ive found the amount of points used in this though is a bit of an overkill. You dont need half that many to model a car bonet. But nice info for new users. Ill probably be doing a BASIC car model tutorial soon (well about 50% of the car to show my methods.

  45. Reigh Casimir

    I was wondering if this tutorial is meant for advanced users? I am a beginner and plotting the points does not seem to be working out for me very well.

    Also how did someone complete this in 1 hour. I have been working on this for days and still cant figure it out.

    Very frustrating someone help me please.

  46. Reigh Casimir

    Is this tutorial for advanced users. I am a beginner and the plot thing started working for me when I was working on the hood but once I got to the front of the car the points looked like they were in the right place but then it would look like it was backwards or not match the other views and then not come out the way it was supposed to.

    I don’t know why I am having trouble doing this.

    Help

  47. sero

    I cant get the first cloning step to work i right click and choose clone but it doesn’t work i get a circle with a line across. any ideas why its doing this??

  48. sero

    Did u ever find out about the cloning problem you were having? @pedro_cesar -

  49. hsmbalas

    i can’t see the blueprint in the back all i can see is white sheet what’s wrong? help me

  50. majid

    ma ham mitonim……………..

  51. damn

    It’s unfortunate no one ever explained how to get the cloning to work…and the guy who made the tutorial apparently abandoned those of us who couldn’t figure out how to get it to work without his missed step…I guess I’ll have to look elsewhere.

  52. arnel555

    i wish there was a maya tutorial on how to do this

  53. Abadeu

    This is well writtern, in depth tutorial, and i learned alot in this one post. I mean alot. Is there a place to get blue prints?

  54. septentrio

    @Abadeu

    Here it’s…thousands of blueprints

    http://www.the-blueprints.com

  55. Kratos

    @srinivasulu – ….Awsome

  56. Konika Sexy girl

    Hey guys,
    nice job
    if you have any video or any c4d video tuts link so please send me on my email

    thanks
    mmmhaa

  57. Anjoe

    wowww…..this is great…thanks

  58. riyas a

    i want to know more about the back modelling of a car.reply to my mail

  59. Manuel Ulises Solis

    Where i can buy the program and what kind of cpu do i need to run the program.

  60. Gravy

    Same problem as others clone tool will not work r10.1, when attempting to use it on the bottom menu bar it says no mouse input.

  61. MattB

    So I noticed lots of questions about the “CLONING ISSUE.” So here is my attempt at solving it, and I apologize if it isn’t good but I struggled with it at first.

    Okay, so my first problem was I just simply ctrl + c to copy then ctrl + v to paste.. seemed like it works, except it creates a second polygon… instead of just adding the points to your old one. So DO NOT JUST COPY N PASTE.

    VERY SIMPLE Step by step…

    1. Click on the button at the top that looks like a mouse arrow with a circle around it (the selector tool)

    2. Go to any of your viewports (perspective, front, top etc. ) and highlight the points that you had made. You can just click and drag across all the points that you want, and if you notice that it keeps selecting points that are really close together, a way to avoid this is to use the tool that looks like two arrows intersecting eachother forming a cross… the one immediatly to the right of the Selector tool, then zoom in click your point, then hold shift and individually click on all the points that you want to clone.

    3. Once you have your points selected, Right click in the viewport bringing up a menu with tons of options, click the Clone one near the bottom.

    4. Then an attributes menu should appear to the far right under the list of your polygons and what not, if it doesnt, you’ll have to find it in preferences or the Window button at the top. If u notice a change and are unsure what the menu looks like, it shows the clone tool icon, has two tabs options and Tool.
    At the bottom of this menu it has APPLY. You should be able to just push this button right now. *** Keep in mind if u change any of the settings ie. Clones it will obviously affect the amount of clones you get. Default is 1. It might show 0 and that might be the reason it isnt doing anything.

    5. After pushing APPLY, your mouse changes from the Clone tool, into something else? My computer shows an error symbol for the mouse, it might be diff on other computers but im taking a guess that your mouse icon changes somehow. After clicking apply, mouse icon changes, now with the points STILL selected, click on the Move tool (2 Arrows intersecting as mentioned earlier) and use one of the AXIS arrows *blue *green or *red to simply move the NEW cloned points away from the original points, to the new location.

    I KNOW it was very in depth and people will probably ask how I made cloning seem so complicated… but I tried to troubleshoot any possible things, such as clicking the wrong icon, or not understanding how to properly move the points? Sorry guys, just trying to make sure everyone gets it cuz sometimes I wish someone could hold my hand n guide me through some parts of this program ahaha.

    Any questions email me, swarmed56@hotmail.com and I’ll see if I can help you.

  62. Jords

    OK, if any of you still have problems, i figured this out, through trial and error, i have the answer to pretty much every problem on this page, as im just installing my new version of C4D 11.5 – id be happy to answer any questions you have. hit me up at iJords@hotmail.co.uk and ill answer anything. Jords

    P.S the clone problem is really EXTREMELY simple,

    1) highlight the points you want to clone and right click
    2) click ‘CLONE’
    3) then in the bottom right corner under ‘attributes’ you might have to scroll down
    is a button with ‘APPLY’ on it, click that.
    4) click back on your selection tool and move your cloned points.

    its very very easy

  63. murali

    very good tutorial…………………(3D Modelling Car)
    anything for video tutorials links is C4D………………
    please send ………………….my email id……………….
    ………………….thanksfor you………………….

  64. Rico

    I am looking for an advertising opportunity in http://cinema4dtutorials.com/modeling/modeling-a-car/

    Please contact me at my email.

    I’m looking forward to hear from you soon

  65. prathamesh apte

    plz.
    send me various types of blueprints photos ob bus

  66. Indika

    wow. it’s grate job. send more………………..and ……more………

  67. Nikolay

    Thank’s a lot for the great tutorial :} It’s very useful and also it’s an essential technique :}

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