Products, logos, blog headers or any other purpose, curved studio floors make for a nice background. They catch shadows nicely and help with Global Illumination (or Indirect Illumination), which in turn makes everything look cleaner and awesomer.
In this tutorial, we'll be looking at how to create a nice Studio Floor that's easily editable and re-usable.
Okay, let's get started.
STEP 1: THE SPLINE
We'll start by drawing the cross-section of the floor.
Head into the spline menu and select "Linear".
Next, switch over to the Right view. We're going to draw a letter L, but backwards so that the bottom part is facing the -Z direction. It's good to have the grid on and grid snapping. To get that, you can press P and tear off the new menu. Then select "3D Snapping" and "Grid Snapping"
Nice, we now have a perfect right-angle, so we can switch off snapping by clicking "No Snapping".
Next, we need to add the curve. Select the point at the corner then right-click and select "Chamfer". Now, click and drag anywhere in the viewport and watch the point turn into two beziers, creating a nice curve:
You can then use the Attributes Manager to tweak the curve (via the Radius control). You should really set a value that you're comfortable with.
Okay, the spline is set, now to turn it into polygons.
STEP 2: CREATE POLYS
Select the spline and return to Object mode:
You may also notice that your spline is either too small or too big. If you're okay with the size, good stuff. Unfortunately, mine looks small, BUT I'll change it later.
So for this part, we're going to use a Loft NURBS. One thing I found when creating my floor is that I wanted it to be easy to edit the points of the spline, but Loft requires at least 2 splines to work properly? Which would mean I'd have to edit two splines at any point in time.
We can solve this problem by using the very handy and often unused Instance Object.
The Instance creates an exact copy of an object. You change it's reference object, it changes to match. This keeps our ability to quickly edit the spline. Instance can be found within the icon with the Array object (next to hyperNURBS) or by going Objects > Modelling > Instance (R12).
If you did it right, you should have a new object named "Spline Instance". If it's just "Instance", make sure you have the spline selected when you create the instance object.
Okay, so select the spline and move them in the X axis away from one another. I've switched grid snapping back on so I can have them at equal distances:
Next, add a Loft NURBS (Object > NURBS > Loft Nurbs), then make the two objects children of the Loft. This will fill them in with polys:
We're almost done, we just need to:
STEP 3: TEST IT!
Add some test subjects! This would be the point where you'd realize whether your floor is too big or too small. If you find any of the two, feel free to scale the loft nurbs.
So I've created a bunch of objects and added two area lights. I threw in a dark-reflective material (my favorite) and set AA to Best, but that's not important (project file available below):
Okay, from this angle, we can see the end of the floor, which is not good. In order to fix this, select the respective object in the Loft Nurbs (one of the splines), then move it out of sight. You can use the movement contraints then click and drag to ensure you're only moving it in X-axis (so you don't have to move the camera):
This is handy because we only have to extend the floor on one side, not both. This keeps things nice and clean in the viewport.
But that only seems to solve one problem.
To resolve the bottom right corner, I just have to go to the spline object, then click and drag the end point out. We could also scale it, but that would scale the curve of the floor, which I think is perfect.
Luckily, the Spline Instance will instantly update as well :-D
One more problem that you probably won't notice until we get into a single-light scenario.
I'm going to switch off one light (the blue fill light) and let's see what happens:
See the dark-strips to the far right? Of course you do! That's because the studio floor is actually casting a shadow on itself, which is BAD!
This one is a quick fix, simply add a compositing tag to the loft nurbs, but right-clicking it and going Cinema 4D Tags > Compositing.
This is a handy tag for compositing purposes. It lets you switch various functions on and off from the object it's applied to, such as "Seen by Camera" or "Seen by Transparency".
For us, we're going to switch off Cast Shadows. (for some reason, switching off "Self-Shadowing" doesn't resolve it).
Now I can render again:
STEP 4: FINALIZE
To finish off the studio floor, which we're going to save as an object preset, we need to be sure that everything's in order. First, we need to rename the object appropriately. I called the Loft "Studio Floor". The splines can remain with their names.
Next, I'll create the material. I find that the lighting really affects my choice of how bright/dark the white will be. However, a value of about 70% in the color channel should be good. Lastly, I'll switch off Specular. It causes some funny effects especially in single-light setups. This is entirely up to you!
The material will also be saved when we save the object, so it's best to rename it to "Studio Floor" so we don't face any confusions. (You can also add it to a layer if you feel so inclined, but I'll pass).
Render one last time, just to be sure everything's okay..... Cool!
STEP 4: SAVE IT!
Select the object and in the Object Manager click File > Save Object Preset. Give it a name and click OK.
Now our preset is saved. It can be found by going to File > Load Object Preset > User > Objects > Studio Floor.
It's also accessible via the Content Browser in the same folders.
FINAL PROJECT FILE
As always, you can grab the final project file (used to create the header above) for dissection and such. Version R12 and above.