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TUTORIAL • February 20, 2001

Painting in 3D with BodyPaint 3D

by Doug Sahlin

Maxon Computer BodyPaint 3D allows artists to paint directly on a 3D model with one or more preset brushes (you can also create custom brushes). At the same time, it can apply texture maps to selected parts of a model, which is what I'll be showing you today. In this tutorial it helps to know that the program has multiple channels (color, diffusion, luminance, transparency, reflection, environment, bump, alpha, specular color, and displacement) and that each channel supports multiple layers. These enable you to segregate artwork and brush strokes you apply to each channel.

The best way to show this is by explaining how to use BodyPaint to texture a wine bottle that was created in Maxon Cinema 4D XL v6. To begin the tutorial, download the winebottle.c4d file from 3Dgate (Zip version, Stuffit version). If you don't own a copy of BodyPaint 3D, but would like to try out this tutorial, download a demo version.

Creating the base texture

Before beginning the tutorial, take a minute or so to become familiar with the BodyPaint 3D workspace shown in Figure 1. Your version may have different windows. Move things around until you feel comfortable with the placement of all of your tools.

Figure 1

We'll begin texturing the wine bottle by applying a base texture to the model.

  • Locate and open the winebottle.c4d file you downloaded from 3Dgate.
  • In the Materials window choose File>New Material. An untitled new material should appear.
  • Double click the new material icon. In the field to the right of the thumbtack, enter a name for the material. Wine Bottle is a good choice. You can close the Material dialog box for now.
  • In the Materials window, select the material you just created, drag it to the main window, and drop it on the wine bottle model to apply it. Click OK.
  • In the tabbed Layers option, click Channels and then choose Color from the drop-down menu. The New Texture dialog box appears.
  • Accept the default size and resolution. Click the Color Swatch at the lower right-hand corner of the dialog box to open the Color Picker. Try to get a nice, dark burgundy color that matches the border of a label you'll apply to the bottle shortly. I used values of Red, 143; Green, 50; Blue, 57. On a Macintosh, you'll have to choose by hues and percentages (or HTML code). Close the Color Picker after you're happy with the shade.
  • Click OK to close the New Texture dialog box. The Color Channel is added to the material and the wine bottle starts looking like an actual wine bottle, as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2

Detailing the bottle

To detail the bottle, you need to select certain areas of the texture map and apply a texture. You will work directly with the bitmap texture map to define the selections and use the Paint Bucket tool to apply the texture.

  • Double click the burgundy square in the Layers tab, otherwise known as the Texture Map icon, to the right of the Color Channel to view the map in the Texture View window.
  • Click the Object tool (the third button on the vertical toolbar) and then click the wine bottle to select it.
  • In the Texture View window, choose Show UV Mesh from the Tools menu.
  • From the View menu, choose Set Zoom to open the Set Zoom dialog box. Enter a value of 30 and click OK. Your texture map should resemble Figure 3.

Figure 3

  • To isolate the area where a braided pattern will be applied, choose Select Rectangle from the Bitmap Selection menu, which is a submenu of the Painter menu at the top of your screen.
  • In the Texture View window, drag a rectangle over the first column going down on the texture map so it resembles Figure 4. Make sure you drag the tool beyond the top and bottom of the texture map to create a selection that goes completely around the bottle. Notice that the selected area is also highlighted on the model in the View Window. If you didn't create the selection in the right area, you can move it by clicking and dragging the selection in the Texture View window. The selection, however, cannot be resized.

Figure 4

  • In the Colors manager, scroll down to the textures at the bottom of the window. Double click any texture to open the Color Settings dialog shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5

  • Click the triangle to the left of the pattern's name and choose Load from Disc.
  • Find the braid_pattern.TIF file that you downloaded from 3Dgate with the wine bottle and open it.
  • BodyPaint 3D opens a dialog box asking you if you want to copy the pattern to the BodyPaint 3D's Pattern directory. Click Yes.
  • To apply the pattern to the bottle, click the Paint Bucket button on the top toolbar and fill in the selected area in the Texture View window as shown in Figure 6.

Figure 6

  • Close the Color Settings window.
  • In the Layers manager, choose Bump from the Channels menu. Accept the default settings and then click OK.
  • In the Layers manager, double click the bump map texture icon to open it in the Texture View window.
  • Repeat the steps for the braid pattern, only this time use the braid_patterngray.TIF texture supplied with this tutorial.
  • Click the Paint Bucket button and click the selected area in the Texture View window to apply the pattern. Applying the grayscale image in the Bump Channel raises the surface of the pattern you applied in the Color Channel.
  • Close the Color Settings window.
  • Choose Deselect All from the Bitmap Selection menu, which is a submenu of the Painter Menu.
  • Choose Select Rectangle again from the Bitmap Selection menu.
  • In the Texture View window, drag a rectangle to create a small narrow band at the neck of the bottle. Again, be sure to drag the tool beyond the upper and lower boundaries of the texture map to encompass the bottle's circumference.
  • Select one of the bright yellow colors in the Colors manager.
  • Click the Paint Bucket button and then apply the color to the selected area in the Texture View window, as shown in Figure 7.

Figure 7

Putting a label on the bottle

Any self-respecting bottle of wine–even a virtual one–needs a proper label. Now it's time to apply a label, size, and position it on the wine bottle. You can take advantage of Cinema 4D's multiple material handling capability by creating a new material and applying it to the wine bottle.

  • In the Materials manager, choose New Material from the File menu.
  • Double click the New Material icon to open the Material dialog box. Name the new material Label.
  • Click the Image button and locate the winelabel.TIF file and open it as shown in Figure 8.

Figure 8

  • Drag the Blur Strength slider to -100.
  • Close the Material dialog box.
  • Click the Objects tab in the lower right hand window to open the Objects manager.
  • In the Materials manager, click the Label material and then drag it to the triangular icon to the right of the name Wine bottle in the Object manager. When you release the mouse button, the Texture dialog box will open as shown in Figure 9.

Figure 9

  • Click the triangle to the right of the Projection field and choose Flat from the drop-down menu.
  • Click the triangle to the right of the Side field and choose Front from the drop-down menu.
  • Deselect the tile option and click OK. The label is applied to the bottle, but needs to be sized and positioned.

Positioning the label

To position the label, you'll use tools in BodyPaint's Main section. This section of the workspace gives you most of the Cinema 4D tools, which you use to move, rotate, and scale the model, as well as position textures you apply to the model.

  • Click the Main tab in the upper left corner of the workspace.
  • In the Objects manager, click the icon for the Label material found at the end of the Wine Bottle row.
  • Click the Texture Tool button, the first checkered flag on the left side of your screen. Notice the flat wire mesh that appears in front of the model. This is a visual representation of the label's size and position.
  • Click the Scale Active Element button (it's the second button after the magnifying glass on the top toolbar).
  • In the View window, locate the small square in the middle of the Label texture's wire mesh.
  • Click the square and drag left to reduce the size of the texture.
  • Click the Move Active Element button next to the magnifying glass button on the top row.
  • In the View window, drag the label into position, as shown in Figure 10. Notice that the other texture is not visible in this figure. To view both textures, you need to render the scene.

Figure 10

Note: If you are using the demo version, the image will not render with the label. You can still render the object to test our Cinema 4D's functionality, but a watermark will appear instead of the label.

  • To perform a test render, choose Render to Picture Viewer from the Render menu. The test render gives you an idea of the positioning of the label in relation to the other texture. Resize and reposition the label as needed until it's just the way you want it.

Rendering the scene

BodyPaint 3D uses the same rendering engine as Cinema 4D. The rendering engine is fast and is capable of producing stunning detail. To render the textured wine bottle, perform the following steps.

  • Open the Render Settings dialog box by choosing it from the Render menu.
  • Click the triangle to the right of the Antialiasing field and choose Always from the drop-down menu. BodyPaint 3D assigns the 3x3 oversampling by default. To accept the default option, skip the next step. Otherwise, to render a higher quality image, continue on.
  • Click the triangle to the right of the Oversampling field and choose one of the options from the drop-down menu. Choosing a higher oversampling value creates a better quality image, but takes longer to render.
  • Click the Output tab at the top of the window.
  • Click the triangle to the right of the Resolution field and choose an option from the drop-down menu. Alternately, you can enter your own values for Resolution. These values determine the size of the rendered image.
  • Click OK to save the render settings.
  • Choose Render to Picture Viewer from the Render Menu.
  • After the scene renders, choose Export from the File menu and then choose the desired image format you want to save the rendered image in.
  • To save the scene and associated textures as BodyPaint files, choose Save from the File menu.

Final image.

System requirements

Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000 or
Macintosh OS 7.61+
Any Pentium or PowerPC
CD-ROM drive/hard drive
Internet connection for updates

Doug Sahlin is a digital artist, Web site designer, and writer living in Central Florida. He is the author of Carrara 1 Bible (Hungry Minds, Inc.), Carrara 1 for Dummies (Hungry Minds, Inc.), Flash 5 Virtual Classroom (Osborne/McGraw-Hill) and the soon to be released, Fireworks 4 for Dummies (Hungry Minds, Inc.).