Create an Explosive Abstract in Cinema 4D and Photoshop

April 30, 2010| Legion of Skills

Create an Explosive Abstract in Cinema 4D and PhotoshopExplosive Abstract in Cinema 4D: In this tutorial, we will be creating an explosive abstract piece called “What is Man?”. We will use Cinema 4D to create the explosive effects. Cinema 4D’s has a very intuitive interface and logical workflow that makes it possible for those new to 3D artistry, to dive in and be productive very quickly. It is a great tool if you want to add some 3D elements to your design. We will take the 3D elements over to Photoshop for the final composite and lighting. lets dig In!




This tutorial was inspired by Nik Ainley’s “Keep it Together”. and the scripture verse from Psalm.

“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet,” Psalm 8:3-6


Final Image

Final Image




Step 1

Download the Female Head by Bitmapworld from Turbo Squid 3D Marketplace. (Download the female Launch Cinema 4D and Import the File. File > Open > female head_new_obj.obj


Female Head


As you can see her dentures are included in the file, we won’t need those, so go ahead and delete them by selecting, the items labeled, Gum, and all the Box14-Box55, shift click to select them all, then delete.


Group Objects


Rotate the camera, so that the head is faced to the right, Group the remaining objects by selecting them and choosing Object > Group Objects in the Object Manager menu.


C4D Object Manager


Change the grouped objects name from Null Object to Head.


Step 2

Now to the fun part. We will now add some explosion effects to the head. Get the Explosion Object and drag it unto the the Head Object.


C4D Explosion


Click the Explosion Object and Give it these settings:

  • Strength 1%
  • Speed 2 m
  • Angle Speed 100
  • End Size 0.03
  • Randomness 100%


Explosion Object

[sam id=3 codes=’false’]

Step 3

Now we will set up our lighting.


C4D Lighting


Light 1 Settings

  • Color: R:249 G:240 B:210
  • Shadow: None


C4D Light Color


Light 2 Settings

  • Color: R:244 G:174 B:136
  • Shadow: Soft


Light Settings


Do a test Render to see how your lighting looks.


C4D Test Render


Now we will set up our final render settings, Click on the Third Movie icon or select Render > Render Settings and the Render Settings Dialog box will open.

  • Output: 1600×1200 Resolution: 300 dpi
  • Save: Path- Choose a Path for your Render and Save it as “Head1” Format – Tiff (PSD Layers)
  • Anti-aliasing: Best
  • Effect: Cell Render (this will create a nice stroke around each polygon)


Cell Render Settings:

C4D Cell Render


Close the Dialog Box and Render your Scene in the Picture Viewer.


C4D Picture Viewer


Render Results for “Head 1


Final Render Cinema 4D


Now do two more renders, making sure to name the renders in the render settings and save them to your project directory.

Explosions Settings for “Head 2″

  • Strength 5%
  • Speed 12 m
  • Angle Speed 100
  • End Size 0.09
  • Randomness 100%


Explosion Effect 2


Explosions Settings for “Head 3

  • Strength 57%
  • Speed 3 m
  • Angle Speed 100
  • End Size 0.09
  • Randomness 100%


Explosion Effect 3


Step 4

Launch Photoshop and create a new document 1600×1200 at 300 dpi. Add a gradient to your first layer.

Hex Colors: #050505 to #3a261b.


Gradient Photoshop


Create a New Layer filled with black above the gradient and add some clouds. Set foreground color to black and background color to white by pressing D on the keyboard then choose Filter > Render > Clouds, Add a Color Dodge in the Blending Mode, then lower the opacity to 23%.


Photoshop Clouds


Duplicate the Cloud layer and Add some noise. Filter > Noise > Add Noise (Uniform/Monochromatic @ 16.57%). Lower the Opacity to 23%.


Photoshop Noise


Open “Head 1”. Use the Magic Wand to select and delete the black areas, then use the Polygonal Lasso, to cut away some of the Polygons from the Neck and back of the head.


Photoshop Magic Wand


Duplicate the “Head 1” layer and add 7.00% Noise and change the Blending Mode to Overlay.


Blending Mode


Open “Head 2” and delete the black areas, and the overlit “white” areas.




Apply a Mask to Head 2. Layer > Layer Mask > Hide All (if you do not see these mask options, press window >Workspace > what’s new in CS3/CS4)

The Mask will hide “Head2” behind a black color, use a soft white paint brush and start painting in the explosion areas at the back of the head, and ears.




Duplicate the “Head 2” layer. Right click the layer and Convert it into a Smart Object and add 7.00% Noise: Filter > Noise > Add Noise. Change the Blending Mode to Overlay.


Blending Mode


Repeat the steps for ” Head 3“, Revealing more explosion at the back of the head, side of the face, eyes and neck. Then duplicate the layer and add Noise and change the Blending Mode to Overlay.




Step 5

Open the Takemoto’s Nebula by stock.xchng and resize it, just above the background layers. Change the blending mode to Color Dodge. Duplicate and place them at key areas behind the head. See image below.




Change the color of the Nebula to match the lighting., with Hue and Saturation. Image > Adjustment > Hue and Saturation, Change the Option to Colorize, with the settings below.

  • Hue: 42
  • Saturation: 25
  • Lightness: 0


Hue and Saturation


Step 6

Now we will start adding some abstract glow lines. Add a New Layer above the Nebula and Add these Blending Mode. Outer Glow, Color Overlay.

Outer Glow Hex Color: #ff4b35


Outer Glow


Color Overlay Hex Color: #ffdcaa


Color Overlay


Start drawing lines with the pen tool, Right Click the line while the pen tool is still selected and click Stroke Path. Drop the Opacity to 37%. duplicate the lines and place them around like the image below.


Stroke Path


Step 7

Now we will start adding some more abstract glow lines. Add a New Layer above the Nebula. Copy the layer styles from the previous layer. *Change the Opacity to 100%. Right Click Line layer and Select Copy Layer Style, paste it on the new layer.


Draw a curved line with the pen tool. Right Click the line while the pen tool is still selected and select Stroke Path. Change the brush size to Soft Brush 5 pixels and Stroke the path, with Brush and Simulate Pen Pressure selected.


Simulate Pen Pressure


Duplicate the lines and group them together like the image below.


Duplicate lines


Place the grouped lines behind the head, you can rotate and place them as you think is best. Finish up the image with a Color Balance Adjustment. Click the half moon symbol in the Layer Palette and select Color Balance. Enter the settings below.


Color Balance Adjustment


Final Image

Final Image



In this tutorial, we have seen how easy it is to create an interesting abstract artwork with Cinema 4D and Photoshop’s powerful layer tools. This explosive effect can also be used on your typography projects or you can experiment with exploding other 3D models.


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Categories: Compositing, Tutorials

15 thoughts on “Create an Explosive Abstract in Cinema 4D and Photoshop”

  1. Babytza

    Hi, How do i get the 3D human Models ( male and female ) for cs4 extended , pls ?
    I need them for my Second Life clothing maker ..Thank you

  2. Carine

    Wow really awesome! I like both the art and the concept behind. The explosive effect reminds me of how we are made from dust and to dust our body will return.

    1. loswl

      Thanks Carine, I am happy you got the concept, exactly what I was trying to fragile we are 🙂

  3. Tutorial Lounge

    really awesome abstract art using cinema 4d and photoshop techniques.

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