Minecraft Castle Render mathieu legault cinema 4d the chunk reinhart

How To Make Beautiful Minecraft Renders In Cinema 4D

Are you a proud Minecraft server owner? Do you have dozens of amazing builds in your world that deserve nice renders? There are many ways to create beautiful photorealistic Minecraft renders in a short amount of time. Let me show you how I do it!

A step-by-step tutorial

The following tutorial is a demonstration of the core steps I go through to make renders. I obviously add and modify things from one render to the other, but these steps are always the same.

If something is not clear, please let me know and I will help you. It is my first tutorial and I would appreciate feedback in order to improve it, so every server owner can make renders. Thank you!

Contents

  1. Converting world to 3D object
  2. Cinema 4D / 3D software
  3. Post Processing
  4. Summary (TL;DR)

In this tutorial, I use Cinema 4D as it offers in depth lighting and rendering options, but it can prove challenging to use. Alternatively, you can try Chunky which is a free Minecraft renderer, but I won’t get into that in this tutorial. You can also use any other 3D modelling package such as Autodesk Maya, 3D Studio Max, or Blender, to follow along this tutorial but the layout may be different.

Minecraft Castle Render mathieu legault cinema 4d the chunk reinhart

1. Converting world to 3d object

There’s a bunch of different types of software you can use to convert Minecraft worlds to .OBJ models, such as MinewaysjMc2Obj, mcobj. You can also click here to see the full list. I use Mineways, as the others are all comand line programs, whereas Mineways has a user interface.

mineways

Mineways is great for its intuitive layout and ease of use. Download Mineways, and place the extracted folder on your desktop. Once Mineways is opened, load your world and use the right-mouse-button to highlight the desired area to export. Note that under “File” the option to set a terrain file is available, which is the Minecraft resource pack to use when exporting. There are already a few resource packs that come with Mineways (the PNGs in the Mineways root folder) but there is a way to add your own.

To add your own resource pack, first locate it. It may be in the .minecraft folder, or in your downloads if you just downloaded it. Once located, open/extract the resource pack and find the “blocks” folder ([resource-pack]\assets\minecraft\textures\blocks\). Copy  its content to the “blocks” folder inside your Mineways folder. Now simply run “TileMaker.exe” or “TileMaker32.exe” (32bit). It should generate a PNG terrain file called “terrainExt.png”. Rename that PNG or it will get overwritten if you generate a new resource pack. You can now load that terrain PNG in Mineways in “File > Set Terrain File”. My favorite is the Ovos Redemption pack for my renders.

Now we are ready to export! Go to file, Export for Rendering, and change the settings as you want, however the defaults are usually what I use. Mineways will export an .OBJ file (your world), three .PNGs (textures) and an .MTL file which links your textures to your world. Put them all in a folder.

Note: Mineways may crash if the selected export region is too big. If you want to export huge parts of your world, consider another software. However, you can also export your world region by region, and uncheck the “center model” when exporting with Mineways. This will let you put all the piece back together in C4D.

2. Cinema 4D / 3D software

Once we have our .OBJ model and textures, we’ll need a 3D modelling package in order to render it. I use Cinema 4D as personal preference, but Blender is a great free alternative with tons of tutorials and resources.

Inside your 3D software of choice, import the .OBJ file that was exported using one of the converting tools.

In Cinema 4D, click the “File” menu on the right, then “Merge Object”, and select the .OBJ file of your exported world.

cinema4d_insert

If the texture link is broken, everything will be black like this.

cinema4d_missingtextures

In order to fix the problem, we must manually select all the material files on the bottom left corner, and change their texture link by clicking on “<<Multiple Values>>” on the right.

cinema4d_missingtextures-2

A window will open. Select the world-RGBA.png texture exported with your .OBJ world. That is the sprite sheet of your world’s textures.

cinema4d_missingtextures-3

Now that the textures are linked and our world has become colourful, we must add the transparency to materials for blocks such as water and leaves.

Once again, select all the textures, and on the bottom right panel, click on the “Basic” tab. There will be a list of options to check from. Tick the “Alpha” channel.

An “Alpha” tab will appear. Go in the Alpha tab and link the texture to the world-ALPHA.png like in the previous step.

alphachannel

*If you use another software, you may have to manually add the textures too. In that case, dig around and try to link the color/diffuse channel and the alpha channel to the RGBA png.

Realistic Water

We can replace the water with a more realistic looking water. If you used Mineways, all the block types will have their own layer, so find the “Stationary_Water” object layer in the right panel.

We can either create a new water material and apply it on the “Stationary_Water” to override the default blue water, or delete the water object completely to add our own. I usually delete the water layer completely.

cinema4d-water-texture

Then, I use Infinite Ocean by C4Depot which creates very realistic water with waves, foam, and reflections. However, it increases render time significantly, and the plugin costs money.

A free and fast solution is to use the built in water presets that come with Cinema 4D. They can be found in “Create > Load Material Preset” menu just over the textures at the bottom of the screen.

Lighting

Next we want to add nice lighting. The best way to do that is to experiment within your 3D software, but inside Cinema 4D, you can try adding a Physical Sky which usually gives you a nice starting point. Physical Sky gives you a multitude of options letting you set the time, sun intensity, color, haze, etc, however you can stick with the defaults which is a nice warm sunrise.

addsky

You can also add an “Environment” object which adds more haze and atmospheric fog. This is great when you want to hide the horizon, or the cut off region of your world.

Render Settings

Then, for the render settings. If using Cinema 4D, click CTRL-B to open up the render settings window, and add Ambient Occlusion and Global Illumination from the “effect” button on the left.

Ambient occlusion darkens the little cracks and corners, and Global Illumination simulates the bouncing of lights on all the surfaces to make more accurate lighting. These two features will greatly improve the quality of your final result and make it more realistic. They can be found in almost all 3D softwares as well so look around in the render settings for similar options.

Once again, in Cinema 4D, the default settings will usually be enough for our purpose, but feel free to experiment.

rendersettings

One last important thing to change; Anti-Aliasing. This will smooth jagged edges on curved lines and diagonals, and will make your digital image much more realistic. Head over to the Anti-Aliasing tab in the render settings, and change the settings to “Best“.

If you are feeling adventurous, you can add a camera with depth of field, as well as sky textures and clouds, but I usually like to keep it simple.

Now find a good angle. It’s important that the limits of the world are not visible in the final render. Move the camera around until the horizon is hidden and then render.

Note: If you want to add your own sky image in post processing, go in Cinema 4D’s render settings. In the “Save” tab, check “Alpha Channel” and change the image format to “PNG”. This will render the image with a transparent sky to let you add your own later.

3. Post Processing

If the “Physical Sky” was used in Cinema 4D, then the render will probably have a warm feel. I like to cool it a bit and saturate the sky/water. I try to keep the picture as realistic as possible, with subtle color correction. I find that exaggerated color grading, lens flares and tilt-shifts are too much. We want to focus on the build, not your Photoshop skills. However, it is up to you to create the image you want so have fun!

postprocessing

If this tutorial helped you, please comment below and post your own renders! I would love to see them.

Summary (TL;DR)

  1. Get Mineways.
  2. Export World.
  3. Open C4D, and Import the .obj world through the File menu in the right panel.
  4. Select all the textures and link them to the world-RGBA.png that was exported alongside your world.obj.
  5. Link all the textures’ alpha channel to the same PNG as the previous step (for transparency).
  6. Add a Physical Sky.
  7. In the render settings, add Global Illumination, Ambient Occlusion, and change Anti-Aliasing to “Best”.
  8. Render.
  9. Color Grade and Color Correct

20 Comments

Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

Alicereply
March 02, 2016 at 10:03 AM

How much is the cheapest version of Cinema 4D for Mac? I am praying it’s cheap and also that it doesn’t get rid of any features.

Mathieureply
March 02, 2016 at 01:03 PM
– In reply to: Alice

The cheapest version of Cinema 4D is Prime, and is around $1,000. However, if you have Adobe Create Cloud, you have access to Cinema 4D Lite through After Effects. While the Lite version has less features than Prime or any other version, it should still be enough to make nice Minecraft renders. For a free alternative, check out Blender. All you really need is any 3D software that can add realistic lighting to a scene, and Blender does that. I hope that helps!

Joaoreply
March 28, 2016 at 05:03 PM

Mathieu, thanks a lot for this tutorial. This’ll help me out a lot.. I’m starting to get familiar with Cinema 4D, and I’m aware there is still a lot to learn. Is there anything you suggest me doing besides regular practice? Maybe some youtube tutorials, or looking forward to more tutorials by you? Another issue I’m having are render times. The renders are taking 20-30 mins to render, and I do have a pretty good computer. Around how long do your renders take to render? Thanks once again, keep up the great work!

Mathieureply
March 28, 2016 at 08:03 PM
– In reply to: Joao

Hi Joao,
I’m glad the tutorial helped you!
To learn Cinema 4D, I suggest you create anything just to experiment and know the available features. It doesn’t need to look nice, but it’s good to familiarize yourself with the program and know what it can do. Try out the different effects and tools. Start by making small things that could be useful like a 3d logo, an emblem, your name, a low poly model, etc… I found that doing small things I could later use for myself – like for my youtube channel or profile picture – was very motivating.

I also followed many tutorials, and I really liked the ones from Grey Scale Gorilla (http://greyscalegorilla.com). Their tutorials always explain the proper render settings to achieve a realistic look, and it honestly makes the difference between an okay render and a great one.

Regarding the render times; 30 minutes is not too bad. Depending on the render settings and the complexity of the scene, it can be much worse. Some of my Minecraft renders took more than 5 hours. I suggest you use the interactive render preview, and that you change the render settings to lower values when creating your scene. You can change them back to their best when done and let it render overnight.

It’s a lot of trial and error, and is especially long when you have to wait after every single little change. If you use Ambient Occlusion and Global Illumination in the render settings, they will dramatically increase render time so make sure to keep them turned off when not needed.

Hope this helps!

Danielreply
May 25, 2016 at 12:05 AM

How did you get the water?

Mathieureply
May 25, 2016 at 04:05 PM
– In reply to: Daniel

http://c4depot.com/c4d-plugins/infinite-ocean/

Mattreply
June 18, 2016 at 03:06 AM

Please help if you can, I have Mineways, but when I export my minecraft world the textures are very blurry, even after rendering and some parts are dark and some of them light. I did everything just like in the tutorial. The materials are fine, added alpha, but still it is ugly. I have Cinema 4D R17 and Minecraft 1.9.4

Mathieureply
June 20, 2016 at 02:06 PM
– In reply to: Matt

Hi Matt, could you send me your C4D file and the textures so I can have a look at it? Thanks!

Liamreply
June 20, 2016 at 02:06 PM

noob question, how did you add the water in C4D?

Mathieureply
June 20, 2016 at 02:06 PM
– In reply to: Liam

I used Infinite Ocean. The installation notes included when you download the file are as follows:

To install Kurdi_Ocean, make sure Cinema 4d is not running, & then move “Kurdi Ocean.lib4d” to your installed Cinema4d directory under library/browser.

Default PC directory: Programs > MAXON > Cinema 4d > library > browser
Default Mac directory: Applications > Maxon > Cinema 4d > library > browser

Once installed, launch Cinema 4d, and the Infinite Ocean tool will then be available in your ‘Content Browser’ under presets with in Cinema 4d.

Hope this helps!

Knockzreply
July 29, 2016 at 03:07 PM

Hey you’re tutorial is very good, but I need some help for the lighting. Your lights look so fantastic and mine don’t. I don’t understand what exactly is meant with adding physical sky. Are you changing some datas, etc. (Sorry for grammar, I’m german). I hope you will answer soon.

Mathieureply
July 30, 2016 at 03:07 AM
– In reply to: Knockz

Hi Knockz,

No, I’m not changing any data, just adding the Physical Sky object. In the tutorial, look at the screenshot where I show you where to find it and how to add it to your project. It’s found in the same tab as the Floor, Environment, Sky… (http://matt.legault.me/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/addsky.png)

Some Cinema 4D versions may not have it, so let me know if that’s the case, and I’ll try to find a workaround.

Also, make sure you read the whole Lighting section, because once you add the Physical Sky, there are a few changes to make in the render settings!

I really hope this helps!

Gael APEXreply
September 11, 2016 at 06:09 PM

Tu gere c’est fou 🙂

Mathieureply
September 11, 2016 at 06:09 PM
– In reply to: Gael APEX

Merci!

Tepreply
September 19, 2016 at 05:09 AM

I Have the Infinite Ocean ,but when I add the texture from it to the stationary water, the texture keep repeating it self and it looks very bad , how do I change it to look normally? Here’s what I mean: https://gyazo.com/813110105df241353ca55b5e91cbcdde
How do I fix it?

Mathieureply
September 20, 2016 at 07:09 PM
– In reply to: Tep

Yes, when you add the Infinite Ocean texture on the Stationary Water, it does that. I usually just use Infinite Ocean’s default water and move it around the same level as Minecraft’s water, then I completely hide Stationary Water.

Mylesreply
January 11 at 12:01 PM

I’m using the demo of cinema 4D, which is the best version to use? My options are: Prime, Visualize, Broadcast, and Studio! Thanks!

Isak Immanuel Mondrup Klostergaardreply
May 05 at 03:05 PM

Hey, i was wondering how you made the water look so good? I’ve been using C4D for quite some time now, but the water you’ve made here is just unlike what i’ve seen other places.

Mathieureply
May 05 at 06:05 PM
– In reply to: Isak Immanuel Mondrup Klostergaard

Hi Isak, I use this plugin for the water: http://c4depot.com/c4d-plugins/infinite-ocean/. Cheers

Malithareply
June 11 at 05:06 AM

Really good but i have issues with using infinite ocean like placing it in the correct position and someother stuff :l

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