Want to learn how to create movie- and video game-quality 3D animations? Cinema 4D can help you produce stunning results—even if you’re a beginner. Learning animation in Cinema 4D is an easy process, thanks to the software’s intuitive and easy-to-use interface. 

Want to get started? Below, learn the basics of Cinema 4D, and then explore seven Cinema 4D animation tutorials. Whether you’re interested in character rigging or creating an Instagram-worthy GIF, you will find the perfect course for your next project. 

Everything You Wanted to Know About Cinema 4D Animation

Cinema 4D is 3D computer animation, modeling, simulation, and rendering software from Maxon. It’s a widely used program among both hobbyists and professional studios to create video games, virtual reality and augmented reality graphics, visual effects, and motion graphics. In fact, you’ve probably seen movies made with the help of Cinema 4D, like Spider-Man 3, Chronicles of Narnia, or The Polar Express

The program is particularly well-known for its motion graphics component, MoGraph. With MoGraph, designers can quickly create complex animations with innovative tools such as the Cloner object and collection of Effectors. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognized MoGraph with a Technical Achievement Award in 2019. 

Part of Cinema 4D’s appeal is its gentle learning curve. It’s intuitive and easy to learn, so you can get up and running quickly. That makes it a great option for beginners; however, it also boasts a range of impressive features, so it’s ideal for seasoned animators, too. Plus, Maxon provides tips, tutorials, and live webinars to help users get—and stay—up to speed on the latest software developments and features. 

Is Cinema 4D Easier Than Blender? 

Cinema 4D is often compared to Blender, a similar 3D computer graphics software toolset. While Blender is free and open source, some users say that it’s less intuitive and harder to learn than Cinema 4D. 

How Much Does Cinema 4D Cost? 

While you cannot get the full version of Cinema 4D for free, you can download a free trial version. The full version is available on a subscription basis, starting at around $60 per month. 

7 Cinema 4D Animation Tutorials

If you’re interested in getting started with Cinema 4D, we’ve rounded up seven Cinema 4D tutorials to get you started. From animating a character to creating an ’80s-inspired GIF, these tutorials will guide you through your first Cinema 4D project from start to finish—some in less than an hour. 

1. Creating a Simple Animation in Cinema 4D Using Dynamics

green bubbles
An animation of spheres may seem simple, but using Cinema 4D to give it a realistic, film-like quality can raise that animation to the next level. 

If you’re new to Cinema 4D and want to learn the fundamentals of animation, this is a great beginner class. In this course, you will create a simple yet impressive animation. You’ll start by modeling, lighting, and texturing a few standard spheres. Then, you’ll dive into major camera and render settings to give your colorized animation a realistic, film-like quality. 

By the end of the course, you’ll have a colorful and interesting animation—but you’ll also have a better understanding and deeper familiarity with Cinema 4D’s layout and tools. 

2. Introduction to Cinema 4D: A Beginner’s Animation Guide

fantasy landscapes
With Cinema 4D, you can create colorful, dynamic animations. 

If you’ve never used Cinema 4D before, this class is the perfect introduction to the platform. In this class, Skillshare instructor Don Mupasi guides you through using Cinema 4D from the ground up. (However, if you’re already familiar with the program, don’t count this class out—he also provides tips and tricks to help you work faster and expand your knowledge.) 

The class isn’t a quick fix; rather, Mupasi aims to take the appropriate time to teach each element of Cinema 4D. While this is a solid commitment—the class is approximately seven hours in total—you will come away with a deep, comprehensive knowledge of the program.  Plus, equipped with your new knowledge of the program, from navigating shortcuts to modeling, lighting, and splines, you will complete a shareable animation by the end of the course. 

3. 3D For 2D Animation: Getting Started in Cinema 4D

2D skateborder
Even 2D animations can benefit from 3D elements, such as the skateboard in this animation. 

Even if you typically animate in 2D, you can benefit from learning how to incorporate 3D elements. In this class, Skillshare instructor Russ Etheridge starts by covering the foundational elements of Cinema 4D, including how 3D animation works, an introduction to the Cinema 4D interface, and modeling and animation basics. 

Then, he dives into how to use Cinema 4D to add 3D elements to your 2D animation. Using the example of a skateboard, he demonstrates how to take a 2D illustration and make it 3D. Then, he explains how to make that 3D animation look 2D using Sketch and Toon. Ultimately, you’ll have a 3D element that meshes seamlessly with your 2D animation. By the end of the course, you’ll be confident creating and incorporating 3D elements into your work.

4. Motion Graphics in Cinema 4D: Design an 80s-Inspired Animated GIF

neon hyperwave
This looping landscape animation uses bright colors and perspective to achieve a retro, sci-fi feel. 

Skillshare instructor Gustavo Torres’s signature GIFs have earned him a devoted following on Instagram and Tumblr over the past few years—and in this class, he teaches you how to create similar pieces of animated art. 

This class outlines the entire process of how to render an animation in Cinema 4D, from the initial sketch to exporting the final animation. You will learn how to create a looping landscape animation with bright colors and perspective, ultimately creating a GIF with a retro, sci-fi feel. 

The 10-lesson class takes just over one hour to complete and is best suited for intermediate students. 

5. Cinema 4D – Looping 3D Animation for Instagram and GIF

This Cinema 4D animation, called the “Jellybean Factory,” is a looping animation perfect to showcase on Instagram. 

In this class, learn how to create a photo-real animation that Skillshare instructor Dave Bergin calls the “Jellybean Factory.” This animation loops seamlessly, depicting jar after jar getting filled with jelly beans. But, you don’t have to limit yourself to jelly beans—students who have taken this class in the past have created projects showing containers being filled with everything from eyeballs to Lego figurines. 

In just under two hours, you will learn all the design elements you need to put the animation together, including modeling, lighting, texturing, dynamics, animation, and more. 

6. 3D Character Rigging for Animation in Cinema 4D Masterclass

animate man
Learning character rigging is key to mastering Cinema 4D character animation. 

If you’re interested in Cinema 4D character animation (including Cinema 4D Minecraft animation), this course is for you. In this class, led by Moy Lobito, you will learn everything you need to know about rigging a 3D character in Cinema 4D. 

The class begins with an explanation of the importance of character symmetry and character optimization before you start rigging them. Then, you’ll learn how to create the base rig and create a full skeleton, including the spine, legs, arms, fingers, head, and eyes. Finally, you will combine the skeleton with the character mesh or skin, so you have a final character to control. Equipped with a complete character, you will learn how to weight and pose that character. 

7. Create 3D Abstract Animations with Iridescent Colorful Materials in Cinema4D

liquid neon
With Cinema 4D, you can create abstract animations, like this iridescent, liquid animation. 

While you can use Cinema 4D to design characters and landscapes, you can also use the program to create more abstract animations. In this class, you’ll learn how to design iridescent liquid and crystal animations. 

This quick Cinema 4D tutorial takes just over 30 minutes, so if you’re short on time but want to enhance your skills, this class is a great option. 

With its robust features, Cinema 4D can seem intimidating, but with these Cinema 4D tutorials and classes, you can get up to speed quickly—and begin creating movie-quality animations. 

Looking for Another Fun Project? 

Create A Retro Delorean Loop in Cinema 4D and After Effects

Written by:

Katie Wolf