Constraining Objects to a Surface in Cinema 4D

This tip shows a quick, repeatable, and simple technique for placing objects (trees in this case) along an uneven surface in Cinema 4D. Make sure to watch until the end for the caveats involved.

In this video, we look at the challenge ahead of us, and then see how we can solve it with the Cloner object. I don’t go into that approach in detail, but after we see the Cloner’s solution we take a closer look at how we can place the trees with pinpoint precision, making sure they stay on the surface of the terrain.

A Note About Alignment and Normals

I neglected to mention that once the object is being constrained to the surface of the landscape, you can set the “Align” option as “Normals” to have each object use the surface normal (or the Phong normal for smoother transitions) as it’s axis alignment. This is not particularly useful for trees (as they all reach for the sky), but it’s very useful for placing rivets or bolts on the curved surface of a vehicle.


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  1. Great tip! Question, is there any way to have it map to an alpha or UV of the surface? I’m trying to randomize something along the surface, but only in specific areas.

  2. Thanks. Any chances to align on the geo normals ?

  3. Perceptive Monkey

    October 8, 2015 — 8:14 am

    Perfect – thank you!

  4. Thanks for this insight. Do you think it would be possible to use this
    technique to place a label on a bottle and move it around the outre glass
    surface? Naturally, I’m going to try it, but wondered if you knew or had
    suggestions. The bottle inquestion has complex curves, rather than just
    cylindrical sides.. Many thanks

  5. That is awesome Jamie! I had no idea how to do that. Thanks for the
    powerful simple tip!

  6. That is very neat, however, couldn’t you also use your tree in the hair
    mode as well? Using the instance tab in the Hairs options, it should allow
    you to use this. From there you would have access to scale, density, and
    even have dynamics built in for a cool effect.

  7. I’m trying to map icons to the faces of dice. Whats the easiest way to have the icons snap to each face of each die, rotation and all? Thanks!

  8. Thanks Jamie! Great tip! Especially the locking checkbox.

  9. GREAT!!! Please do more on the others specially Spring and mirror

  10. You just saved my life! had to place gems on jewelry and it worked soooo fine!

  11. Amazing – this is a fantastically useful tip.
    I just wish I had known about it a while ago, when I had to model the sesame seeds on a burger bun – took me days!
    Thanks, Jamie!

    • That’s actually a great use-case. I’m glad you liked the technique and I truly hope you get to use it in the future. You may have even been able to use some MoGraph stuff for the sesame seeds. Maybe I will look into that as another tutorial in the future. Thanks for watching/reading!

  12. One of the best explained tutorials I’ve seen so far.
    You talk like an angel, all tutorials should have your voice! 🙂

  13. Sorry about the irrelevance i just saw that you where good at c4d and would have helped me. and love the videos keep em coming i really needed some of them.

  14. Another useful one – thanks for sharing!

  15. I must say you are by far the best explainer (if that’s a real term) on the net! with Chris Schmidt from GSG he’s also realy good! Keep it up please love your help!

  16. great tutorial,thank you very much for share my friend 🙂

  17. Is there any way to delete the isides of a model? lets say I have a box half way into another larger box is there any way to delete the parts in the middle. only reason I ask is when I put the model into blender to make a proper UV map I need, I get all that stupid stuff in the middle witch i don’t want.

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