Live on the Edge with the Bevel Deformer
When modeling objects for movies, TV or games, one of the areas to pay special attention to is the edges. Extremely sharp edges can be a clue that an object is computer generated because of the way the computer creates and displays edges by default. In reality, no objects ever have edges that are that sharp. Even a very sharp, hard-surface object has a little bit of a bevel along the edges. You can see the bevel as a flat or rounded strip along the edges rather than sharp line. Adding bevels to the edges of your models can be a great way to make them look more realistic. There are several ways in CINEMA 4D that you can get that beveled look. You can select specific edges and use the Bevel tool to split those edges into a strip of faces. You can also smooth your geometry, with the subdivision object for instance. Support edges can be added along any edges you want to harden. These support edges will create a beveled look when the object is smoothed and are a common practice when working with subdivided geometry. Alternatively, you can also weight edges (crease) so they appear harder without the additional geometry. The issue with these methods (aside from creasing) is that the bevels and support edges are baked into the geometry. This can be a good thing if you need your models to be portable across multiple applications. But having that extra geometry can make modifying your polygon models more difficult. It can also be difficult to get a consistent bevel if you're creating all of those bevels manually. CINEMA 4D, with its generators and hierarchical workflow, provides a number of methods for creating models in a more flexible way. This is where the Bevel Deformer comes in. The Bevel Deformer works like other deformers. In order to apply it to a model, simply parent the deformer to the geometry or put it at the same level as the model inside of a group. Putting everything under a Null object will also allow you to use one Bevel Deformer to affect multiple objects. Inside the Bevel Deformer you'll find several attributes that will change how the deformer works. The first setting in the Bevel Deformer is the Component Mode. You can choose to apply the bevel either to the object's points, edges or polygon faces and the resulting geometry will update accordingly. The next option is for specific selections. By default, the bevel will be applied to the entire object. If you want to only apply the bevel to specific components, this is where you can insert a selection tag. The Use Angle option will allow you to only bevel edges that are above a certain angle. So, for instance, you can choose to bevel only the hard edges at the top of a cylinder while leaving the edges around the circumference alone. The two Bevel Modes are also important considerations. If you aren't planning to smooth the model later, the Chamfer mode will add polygons along your edges, flattening them out to create a traditional bevel. Solid Mode, on the other hand, will automatically add support edges without changing the shape of your geometry so that your edges will appear beveled when the model is subdivided. The Offset Slider will allow you to adjust the width of the bevel. Your bevels don't have to be flat either. The Shaping tab will allow you to choose a shape for the bevel. The Round Shape will allow you to create smoothly curved bevels, while the User Shape will allow you to modify a curve to define the bevel. Alternatively, you can reference a spline using the Profile shape. Try adjusting the tension to define how curved the bevel is. Depending on the complexity of the model, beveling the edges can create some topology that's not ideal, especially on interior corners. To optimize the edge flow while beveling, you can make adjustments in the Topology tab. Changing the Mitering, for instance, will allow you to modify exactly how those interior corners are created by the beveling. The Bevel Deformer can be a great way to quickly add that extra bit of realism to your polygon models in a very open and flexible way. You don't have to add actual geometry to get the beveled effect, you can still modify the underlying model very easily, and the beveled effect can be removed at will.