Cinema 4D Basics: Texture, Light & Render | Aaron Bartlett | Skillshare

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Cinema 4D Basics: Texture, Light & Render

teacher avatar Aaron Bartlett, Motion/Graphic Designer

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

8 Lessons (39m)
    • 1. Intro

    • 2. Texturing

    • 3. Lighting

    • 4. Model Your Scene

    • 5. Add Some Texture

    • 6. Light It Up

    • 7. Add Effects & Render

    • 8. Sky’s the Limit!

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About This Class

Learning how to texture, light and render your 3D scene can make a huge difference between having flat digital images and eye-popping cg art! In this class we’ll learn how to use the surfacing tools to create a variety of textures, then we’ll learn how to work with lights and render settings to make everything look cooler. You’ll be able to do this class in C4D or C4D Lite (included with After Effects CC or later).

Meet Your Teacher

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Aaron Bartlett

Motion/Graphic Designer


I'm designer who works in LA and I've spent much of my career in entertainment marketing creating promos and ads for TV, movies and video games. I've got a fairly broad background in a variety of media. I love cartoons and comics books.

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1. Intro: past lessons I've gotten you started in Cinema four D and taught you some things about modeling and animating is time to cover the rest of the bases. Specifically, text during lighting and rendering. We're going to build a trophy from scratch and then turn it into a final. Render will be working in Cinema four D or cinema 40. Light, which is available through after effects, CC, texture and lighting, will have a drastic impact on the quality of your work. You can make all the difference between creating a flat computer generated image in a beautiful piece with strong visuals, so let's get to it. 2. Texturing: So here we are in after effects. The first thing we need to do is create a new cinema four d file. Go to file new max on cinema four D file. Choose a location. Gonna name a trophy. It's save. Now we're in cinema four D to begin, we'll just go over some different texture properties to see what they all are. Bear in mind. I'm just covering the basics. I'm not trying to get into every single detail of the entire text oring process. To do this first will create a new material double click in this area and then double click this watch. Now, here we have a new material. You can see in this list that we have different properties. Each one of these effects, how the texture looks in a different way. You'll notice that a lot of the items in this list have similar properties in this window. We'll see that as we go along beginning here, we can select the color much the same as we wouldn't photo shop illustrator or other software like that. I can move the sliders to change the properties of the RGB values or I can click this watch and choose it from here. There's a brightness setting that does just what it sounds like, or I could add a texture. This is something you're gonna want to explore. There's a lot of choices in these sub menus to do a lot of different things. You should look around at them when you might use a lot of noise. As you can see that added noise, which goes in place of the color. If I worked to change the mix mode from normal to say Multiplied, it has a similar effect. What you would see in photo shop when you choose, multiply Same with that. I'm gonna clear this out and just stick with a blue color our next properties. Diffusion diffusion has to do with how light gets spread out across something. Ah, higher setting would be on something really shiny, like hard plastic or glass, and a lower setting would be for something like rock or carpet. Where the light doesn't distribute across the surfaces much. It basically has the effect of making it look darker. It's a property that could be more important for photo realism and not as big of a deal. When you're doing things like motion graphics. You'll notice it also has its own texture. Property luminess has to do with how bright a texture is. You can see that by default. It makes it totally bright. If I lower that brightness down, you can see how it washes the color out until it gets up to the top brightness. You can pick a different color, and that's what will be used. But you can also see that it blends onto the existing color. If you turn color off. This can actually be a great way to have a cartoony look where everything is filled in with solid colors and doesn't have any shading. Transparency is just what it sounds like. As you can see by default. At 100% it's completely transparent. If I knock that down to 50 you can see that it's partially transparent. I'm gonna move that all the way back up. Then you'll see this refraction setting that has to do with how light bends. When it goes through things like glass, I'm gonna set it to 1.4, which is sort of a default setting for that exact property. Now it looks like it's made out of glass. I'm going to right click on this and reset to default. This would be a great place to show how texture affects other properties. If I were to go in here and choose noise again, you can see how the noise affects the transparency. If I click on this watch to open up the noise, I could change things like the global scale, and that change applies over here. I'm gonna click the up arrow to go one level higher and then I'll turn the transparency off . Reflect. Ince's a very important property. It's a way for you to control Reflections by default is a property called speculator Speculator. Ity is a digital property that fakes the way that surfaces reflect light. So rather than truly reflecting it, it just simulates that if I turn the reflecting son, you can see there's, ah highlight there. Now if I were to tighten up the width, that would be a little bit more like a hard plastic. If I draw it out, that would be more like a surface that was rough. I can also do things like affect the strength or change the color. This property can be fine for motion graphics, but it doesn't look very realistic. I'll click remove to get rid of the speculator and then add to show you another. Generally speaking, you want to use one of these top four properties. As you can see, that's created a miracle. Look 100% pure reflection. You can do things like add roughness. This tends to slow renders down, but it frequently makes reflections look more realistic. You can also affect the strength, and there's another property you can add that frequently makes things look very realistic under the color. If you select texture and then choose friend L, you'll notice it does something interesting By using this Grady int. It creates a fall off based on the incidence angle, which is to say, the parts of it that you're looking at it a very direct angle. Don't reflect very much in the center. It doesn't reflect it all on the edges. Where there's a very strong angle, there's very strong reflections. You'll notice the surface is already looking a lot more like car paint or something similar to that. Next is the environment. This is a way for you to fake reflections if you don't want to spend the render time that real ones would take. If we turn this on and then at a texture into it, we can go into the texture and click uses environment. Then he uses this image sort of like a reflection. Map fog is pretty straightforward and does just what it sounds like. It makes it look like the object is full of fog. If you play with the brightness, you can affect the density, and the distance also alters how dense it looks. Bump is a unique property. Sometimes you want detail at a level that's smaller than the polygons you're using. A bump map is a way to fake that detail. If I add noise to this property, you can see this cool texture that's been added. But the thing you'll notice is that the Contour hasn't changed. It's still a perfect circle that's not actually altering. The geometry is just creating the illusion that it is. You can alter the strength to make the ridges deeper, and this property goes to the negative so it could be reversed. Normals are like bump maps, but they're more complex. They require some extra know how to be able to deal with. So we're just gonna skip over them. The alphas. Just what it sounds like. It's similar to the transparency, except that instead of using it for things like glass, you should use it for image layers that you actually want to see through much like a layer you'd have in Photoshopped that wasn't totally opaque. If I apply noise to this one, you can see it's very similar to the transparency you saw before. Glo does exactly that. It adds a glow around the surface. You can control how strong it is by playing with these settings, like a larger radius or more intensity. One thing that's unique about this property is that if you open up your render settings by hitting commander control, be you'll see that object low was added. When you turn it on, If this setting isn't on, it won't render. I'm gonna go ahead and delete that close this turn glow off the last property I'm going to show you is displacement. This is like the bump, except instead of faking distortion, it actually is distorting geometry. I'll turn that on, add noise and you can see how it's physically distorting the shape. If you change the strength, it alters how much it gets distorted. I've been using noises an example, because it was easy, but you can look at the other things that exist in these menus and try them out as well. Or you can just load images in most normal formats, like tiffs, targets, J. Pegs, etcetera. I'm gonna choose checkerboard just to show you a different property, and you can see how it's distorted here when you apply a texture to these properties. It's very similar to using a layer mask and photo shop, so there's your basic overview for the material editor. 3. Lighting: Let's do a quick overview for lighting again. I'm not trying to cover every last detail. This is just sort of a basic look. If we click this menu, you can see the different kinds of lights there are. Does the default light a spotlight? A target light, which is one that's pointed at a specific object dynamically. An area light that acts more like a soft box. An infinite light, which behaves kind of like the sun and a literal sunlight that lets you control an infinite light with properties like time of day. I'll choose the normal light, and down here we can see the properties by default. It's an omni. That means that it shines light in all directions from a single point in order to see the effects of light. We need something for it to light up. I'm going to add a figure object, and I'm gonna rename my light key. If we move it around, we can see how it affects the figure. You'll notice that if I render, it basically looks identical. I'm going to zoom out slightly and then at a plane object and move it down around his feet . I'm also going to go up to render and choose interactive render region. This is a window that dynamically renders on the fly while you make changes. It's a great way to see the difference in things like lighting. This little arrow on the side determines the quality. I'm gonna go and slide that to the top. Now we essentially have a final render that we can continue to look at. One thing you'll notice is there's no shadows here. Since there's a light that's up in the corner, we should be seeing a shadow on the floor. I'm going to go into the shadow property and change it from none to shadow maps. Now they show up, and you also noticed they look a little feathered, which is fairly realistic. If I switch to Ray traced, I get very hard, crunchy looking shadows that looks more like a video game and fake. If I choose area, you can see the way the shadows diffuse out, the further they get from him. You can also see that this light had this rectangle added. That's because now it's functioning more like a soft box where this entire square is emitting light. We can hit our for rotate and use this to change the angle. One light looks pretty good, but a second life will make it look better. I'm gonna Commander Control, drag this key. Then I'm gonna change the name to fill. I used my middle mouse button and click here to switch to all of my views. Hit E from move and then move this light over, rotated around little. Move it down a little bit, then come back here. If I turn this on and off, you can see what a drastic difference it makes. You'll also notice the shadows on the floor. This light might be a little intense, so if I change its intensity down to 75 the key lights doing the primary job. But there's another property that can make these lights seem even a bit more realistic If I click on details and go down to fall off and change it. Teoh Inverse square. Physically accurate, you'll notice that this added a big sphere around my life. That's the fall off area. What that means is the light will get less intense, the closer it gets to the edge. I can use this to try to position it more carefully. I'll add the same property to my key light and then move it a little bit, too. The interesting thing that you'll notice is that the light is much brighter on the top part of his torso, where he's close to the light but down by his legs. Not so much. That's because of the fall off. It's a bit bright, so I could actually back that off. We can add one more thing to have a standard three light set up a rim light. We could go up to this menu and choose a light, but we can also duplicate one of these controller command drag, Rename it rim. I'm gonna change the fall off to none in general. I'm gonna change shadow to none, turn on ambient illumination and then change type to infinite. I'm going to reset all of the properties under position and rotation. The thing to notice about the infinite light is this white line with the yellow dot. Whichever direction that's pointing is which way the lightest pointing right now it's basically going the same direction is the key light. I'm gonna rotate it around so it's pointing at us. You might notice that even though I moved things around, the lighting didn't actually change in the render. That's because we checked ambient illumination. Basically, that means that it's adding light to the entire scene instead of just from a specific direction. If that setting weren't checked, the light would be following the direction of the white line. This lights way too strong, so I'm gonna knock the intensity down to 50. We can see the effects if I turn it on and off. It's a subtle addition, but it kind of evens everything out. Those were some basic properties that show you how lights work. Now let's apply what we've learned. 4. Model Your Scene: it's time to build our trophy, so that will have something to texture and light. To do this, we're going to use an object called Lave. By itself. The subject doesn't do anything we have to draw a path to apply it to. In this case, I would recommend drawing your pass an illustrator and then importing them into cinema. Four D light. After you've drawn what you need, I recommend saving it back to an illustrator. Eight version. I've noticed that newer versions seemed to be a problem for Cinema four Dita Open. That's how I'm going to create the trophy for this lesson. But just in case you don't want to do that, I'm gonna show you how you could create one inside Cinema four D. I'll switch views to my front. Come up here and choose the busy a pen tool, and now what I'm trying to do is sort of draw a slice that's half of a cross section of the cup. This tool is very similar to using a pencil and illustrator Photoshopped. Now that I've drawn this, I'll drag it underneath the lave switch to this view, select the Les than hit tests and Now you can see I have a cup. What it did was 12. My path around 360 degrees. Instead of this blind, I'm gonna bring in my paths. You can open an illustrator file in Cinema four D without doing anything special to it. I'm gonna copy the two vectors I drew and then paste them into my trophy object. Oh, hit cult are option H to zoom to the passing on windows. You can see that I drew a contour for the cup and a separate one for a handle. We'll get to the handle in a minute to begin, I'm gonna put the cup into the lave. And you see, I have a larger cup now with more detail. I'm gonna move both of my paths because they're a little bit far off center. You noticed this switched us in the point mode. I'm gonna go back to modeling by moving this inward. I'm making the trophy a little bit tighter. Now I can deal with the handle. The first thing I want to do is unchecked close spine because it's not meant to be closed. Then I'm going to use another object called a sweep. What this does is similar to the Leith, but instead of moving in a circle, it'll move along a path. I'll add a circle path and then I'll put those two underneath the sweet. I'll make this circle a lot smaller, maybe 20. Then I'll switch to my front view and move this path over slightly. Now I've got a handle, but I need to mirror this. So I'm going to select the sweep, come up here and choose instance. That just means it's a copy of the sweep object. I'm gonna rotate it 180 degrees on the heading. Now I've got two handles that will create the base for the cup. I'll do that with an oil tank object. Move this down, make it a bit bigger, make the top a little bit rounder and make it a little bit taller. Then I'll add a cube. Slight that down. Make it a bit wider. Might as well go for 800. Then I'll have the same property to the Z. Turn on. Fill it to round off the edges will change the subdivisions down to three and the radius to 10. I'm gonna grab this whole thing and then move it up. Since it's sitting so far beneath the grit, I'll hit Alter Option Cage to center everything. Now I'm gonna hit alter option G to group everything underneath annul which I'll call trophy. Now I want to add a shelf. I'm gonna open this up, select this cube and then Commander Control Dragon rename it Shelf gonna slide that down almost all the way and then I want to make it a lot wider. Then I'm going to add a floor object, which, oddly enough, I'm going to rename Wall. Then I'll rotate it 90 degrees on the pitch and then slide it back a little bit. I also need to make my shelf a little bit deeper. I also want to add a nameplate to the base of my trophy. I'll duplicate this cube again. I'm gonna change the fill it radius down to five and then just make it a little more narrow and a little less tall. Then I'll slide it forward a little bit. We zoom in here, you can see the detail. Now I'm gonna add some type. First, I'll choose a text object, which you can customize. However, you like. I'll center that pick something stereotypical, make it a bit smaller, then move it up. I'll add an extrude. Drag this on top, then I'll move the extreme forward. We'll zoom in Hit render by pressing control or command are that looks like it has the right detail. If you hit control or command shift Z instead of just controller Command Z instead of undoing your last action, it'll undo whatever changes you made in a view, so I can use this to jump back to what I was looking at earlier. So now have modeled everything I wanted. The only thing left is to position my shop with a camera. It will make a new camera object. I'm going to switch this from classic toe wide angle. Check this icon to switch the view. Then I'm going to reset everything. I'll zoom out. I'm going for a low angle to make it look more majestic. I'm also gonna change my render settings by hitting control or command be going toe output . I want this to be square, so I'm going to make it 800 by 800. We can use that square to see what size are render is That looks pretty good. I wanted to be straight, so I'm gonna set the heading to zero in the x zero One last detail I'm noticing my late isn't very smooth. You can kind of see the polygon edges. There aren't enough subdivisions. So I'm going to click on my lave and change subdivisions from 24 2 48 if I hit Render Everything looks pretty smooth. So now we've got our trophy set up. 5. Add Some Texture: So now it's time to start texting. First, we're going to create a sort of fake brass look for the cup will create a new material by double clicking here. First, I'm gonna rename it metal. I'm gonna turn off the color and then go into the reflect INTs. I'll actually double click this, so it's easier to see. I'm going to remove the speculator. Middle, Add Beckman. I'm gonna change the roughness up to 10%. I'll knock the reflection down to 90. They don't turn the speculum strength off. I'll come down into the color and choose friend l from the list. Then I'll click this watch and change these colors. I'm actually going to do the opposite with the light color on the bottom. I'm gonna change this to a muted tan color and this to a darker shape. Then I'm gonna slide the dark over. You can see over here we're already getting a good effect. I'll click the up arrow Now I'm going to go to the environment to add some fake reflections . I'll add noise. Click this to go inside, scroll down to add uses environment. Then I'm going to knock the y scale up by a factor of 10 and change the color to look more like the metal. It's a little bit much, so I'll change the brightness to 75. Now if I close this window and apply the metal to my cup into the handles and then hit render that looks pretty cool. Next will create black plastic for the base double click renamed plastic Going to the color . I'm going to choose a dark color. I wanted to look black, but not completely. So Choose something a little bluish again. I'll DoubleClick toe open up this window and make it easier to see going to reflect INTs. Choose default speculator. I'm gonna change the width down to something smaller and the strength to something higher that I'm going to add another layer, which I'll move below the speculator. You can turn these on and off individually. Since the blending mode here is set to add, it'll add this one onto the bottom layer. I'll scroll down to color and choose Friend l. But I'm going to set the roughness higher in the reflection. Much lower will apply this texture and then hit Render cool. Now we'll create a marble texture for the bottom go into color under texture will go to surfaces and then marble. If I render this after applying it to the base, we can see that looks interesting, but the detail might be a little bit too small. I'll close this window, open up my trophy click on this texture tag, and this shows me exactly how the texture is being applied. If I go to coordinates, I can see that it's set to a scale of 100 centimeters square. I'm gonna make those bigger, so the detail isn't so fine now. If I render, I can see the detail here looks a little bit more like marble, but I'd like some more contrast. I'll open this back up, click this watch and then I'll move this over. Maybe not that far. Render again. That looks good, but it should also be a bit more reflective so that it looks like stone or fake stone. Go to the Reflections property. Remove the speculator at a normal reflection. Property ad, for now at a little roughness in a lot less reflection now will render that and we can see more reflection. That looks good. The plate is actually going to be the same middle. So let's apply that. And so is the type. Looking pretty good. Now we just need to texture the shelf in the wall. I'll make yet another new texture. Rename. This would, if you're using the full version of Cinema four D, there actually is a wood texture that you can apply, which you should be able to find under surfaces working and cinema four D light. I'm going to load an actual would image. I'm not gonna be providing this since I don't have one of my own. But if you do a Google search, you can find lots of places that have free texture images online. I'll click load, image and choose this wood texture. Whenever you loden image, it'll ask you if you want a copy at the location of your cinema four d file. I usually just say no. Now you can see that the wood has been applied. I want this to look a bit more like real wood, so I'm gonna turn the reflect ints off, and then I'm going to turn the bump on now. In some cases, you could just love the same texture into the Bump Channel. But there's not a lot of contrast on this one. What I actually did was opened up that would texture and photo shop. And then I created a version where I made it black and white and then enhanced the contrast . But maps work by assessing the value of the image. How far up or down something is is relative to how water black it is. So I'll select this image, say no. And then I'm gonna knock my strength all the way to the top. You only see it very subtle effect here. But if we apply this to the shelf and then hit render, we can actually see the bump is happening in the lighting. I'm gonna go ahead and add a light to this scene just to make it more obvious. And for comparison, I'm gonna open this texture and turn the bump off. You can see even in the preview display, it made a big difference. When I render, it looks perfectly smooth. The only thing I want to change is how this would is being applied. It looks a little strange with the default. If I click this and then go to tag. I can see that projection is one of my choices. They're actually a lot of different ways to apply texture. This has to do with basically how it wraps the texture around the object. U V W mapping is the default. That basically means the software is trying to fit it onto the object in the most logical way it confined. A spherical map is what you would use to wrap something around a ball. A cylindrical one does a circular rap, but only on two axes instead of all three flat applies it on only one axis. Cubic does all three axes, but at right angles would be perfect for applying things to a box. Frontal applies the texture perpendicular to the angle of the camera. The others were getting a little bit more complicated, so we won't worry about them right now. In this case, I'm gonna choose CUBIC. Since that's essentially what my shelf is, you can see it change the orientation of the wood a little bit. I'll render this and that looks pretty good. I'm gonna turn my bump back on, then I'll render again. I'm gonna move the light out of it. so we can see the front of the shelf. The bump is more subtle than I want, so I'm gonna change the scale of the texture a little bit. Click here, gotta coordinates. I'll change each of these. 2 200 This change might not be as obvious at the moment, but it'll look better once we've set up the lighting and played with our render settings. The only thing left is the wall. I'm going to duplicate my wood texture by controller command, dragging it, rename it wall in the color. I'm actually going to clear the texture out and change it to a light blue. You can pick whatever color you like. We'll apply this to the wall. And I'm also going to change this one to be much larger hit render and you can see now I have a wood texture on my wall. Now that everything's textured, we can move on to lighting 6. Light It Up: we already have a Lightner scene, which I'm gonna rename key. Then I'm gonna reposition it a bit. We'll zoom out on these windows so it's easier to see. I'm going to change the shadow type two area rotated around a little bit. I'll go to the details, set the fall off the inverse square that I'm going to open it up quite a bit and then move it a little further. Render this to see what it looks like. That's pretty cool, although that shadow is kind of intense, so well out of fill light to try to combat that a little bit. I had a new light change the bill. I'll make this an infinitely move this up, so it's easier to see. Then I'll rotate it around a little bit and down slightly. I'm also gonna knock the intensity down to 75% so it's not too strong. Render that That looks pretty good. Since our type is a little bit difficult to read, I'm actually going to use plastic instead of metal for its texture. Open trophy up. Then I can just drag this plastic on top of this old swatch. Now fire under again it's a little bit easier to deal with if you want to play around with lights a little bit. Some interesting things you can do is play with contrast in light sources. If I go to my key late to the general properties and change from pure white to something that's a little bit warmer, you can see how it changed my scene. In contrast with that, if my fill light is a little bit bluish, you can see how that altered my shadows. I think that he's a little bit too warm, so I'm gonna pull that back. I like the way that looks. One thing I'm realizing here is that the metal actually looks a little bit flat because there's no highlights. I probably shouldn't have killed the speculator ity completely. They don't change the speculator strength back up to about 10. If I render, we can see I've got some cool, shiny highlights that make it look nicer. Now that our scenes textured and lit, we could move on to rendering 7. Add Effects & Render: one of the render settings were going to be using is called ambient occlusion. This is a property that causes objects to look darker in spaces where light wouldn't get is easily. I'll show you a quick example. If I add a figure and then add a plane, we'll change that two plus Z, then make it a bit wider, a bit taller. If I render this, we can see there isn't much in the way of naturalistic shading going on. But if I open up the render settings and then goto effect ambient occlusion when I render, you'll notice that there's a lot of dark areas wherever the figure is touching the plane. That's what ambient occlusion does anywhere, like a little spot like this, where light would have a harder time getting into a corner looks darker. It tends to make most things look more realistic, so we'll go back to our scene and turn ammunition collusion on fire under it. Now there's some very subtle touches, but small details in these areas will look nicer. If you ever want to change your view without altering your camera, you can just uncheck this icon and then move around Normally I'm gonna zoom in so we can see some of these effects. It's very subtle, but you'll notice that in areas where this marbles touching the wood, there's a little bit of extra shading as well as in some of these smaller, tighter spots around the type. I'll turn the camera back on. And then there's one more simple thing that we can do to make this look better by going to my render settings and go to anti alias ing. This controls how smooth everything is. The default is geometry, which is not necessarily the best. In fact, you might say it's literally not the best, because we should choose best. I'll just leave these on the default settings that did go slower, but you'll also notice there were a lot of areas where we had noise and crunchiness that now look very smoothed out. Anti alias Incan make a big difference. Once you've done all this work, your scenes all set. You should save your file and then export Orender. If you're working in the full version of Cinema four D, you can go into your render settings and under save, you'll have options to be able to choose where you want it to go and what file format you want to change it to. Since we're working in cinema four D Light, I'm just going to close Cinema four D and then I'll drop my object into the timeline by default. The renders set to software. I'll switch that to standard Final. This will take a moment since it essentially has to rear ender. But then I can set this to render out of still and change it to whatever format I like then get rendered to save it out. And just like that, you've made your very own three D trophy. Once you've exported, you're still go ahead and upload it so we can all see what work you've accomplished. 8. Sky’s the Limit!: I hope you enjoyed that exercise and learn some new things. I've only scratched the surface with the possibilities. As is often the case in three D. If you want to spend more time experimenting, you can try different lighting setups to create different moves. You can also play with different surfaces to create looks. I recommend checking out my other basics lessons. If you haven't already, a great learning exercise would be applying what you've learned about light and texture to my other lessons. Let me know if there's any way I can help you out, and I'll see you next time.