Maxon’s new free plugin lets you use 3D scenes in Adobe Illustrator – whether you have Cinema 4D or not

Artwork by Adi Gilbert from his tutorial, Create an artwork with both real digital brushstrokes

Maxon has released Cineware for Illustrator, so you can use and edit 3D content inside Adobe’s app – as reference or for creating 3D artworks or product mockups.

Cineware for Illustrator is a new free plugin for Mac and Windows that lets you open and edit 3D scenes from Maxon’s Cinema 4D inside Adobe’s vector graphics application.

If you have Cinema 4D, you can bring in your own scenes. If not – and even if you’re not experienced with 3D – you can download free and paid-for scenes from stock libraries like Turbo Squid.

Using Cineware within Illustrator offers a different workflow to Adobe’s own still-in-beta Project Felix app for combing 2D graphics and 3D scenes for projects such as packaging mockups. Project Felix is a standalone application that has a 3D workspace, where you apply 2D graphics such as labels and textures to 3D objects and then add lights to product a render of your scene.

Cinewave brings 3D objects into the 2D world of Illustrator, using them as flat layers but with the ability to position and scale them – and edit their materials (aka textures), lighting, cameras and hide any elements you don’t want to show. It’s simpler and, arguably, less powerful – but works within an application you already know (and alongside one you’re familiar with if you’ve used Cinema 4D).

Maxon sees three main purposes for Cineware. The first is to add 3D shapes to your artwork. This could be as simple as bringing in a sphere, cube, or extruded star or type into Illustrator without any materials applied to it, and then applying graphics as materials to it. Or you could bring in a complex 3D model that you’ve fashioned in Cinema 4D, or bought from one of the best websites for 3D models (or downloaded from the best free xxxxxx

The second use is for reference, perhaps posing a model in Cinema 4D (or using a pre-posed model) and then tracing over it to bring a character to life.

Finally, you could use Cineware for creating packaging mockups, quickly applying your designs to cans, boxes, cartons or T-shirts. To make this easier for designers and artists who don’t have Cinema 4D, 3D model stock library TurboSquid has put together a series of models for this very purpose. You can download six simple models for free – a T-shirt, ‘chocolate’ and ‘cereal’ boxes, a cap, book, and folder paper – or you can buy more complex bundles from between $49 and $99 including everything from Apple tech (for comping on websites and apps) to restaurant packaging and human figures.

How to use Cineware for Illustrator

Once you’ve the Cineware plugin installed, you bring in C4D scenes like any other asset – Placing or Opening it in a new document. You can even bring in scenes with animation, selecting the frame you wish to use.

The plugin adds three new panels, plus its own version of the Control Bar. In this Bar, you can switch cameras, pan and zoom around your scene, and adjust the quality of the render that it output into Illustrator (and whether it has a transparent background or not).

The Scene Structure plane gives you a breakdown of what models, lights and cameras are in your scene – and you can hide individual elements if you wish.

The Attributes panel lets you adjust the position, rotation and scale of individual objects, lights and cameras. You can also change material properties here – and drag swatches or complete graphics from your Swatches panel or artboards onto this panel to apply them as materials.

The Materials panel shows all of the materials used in a scene – whether brought in as part of the scene from Cinema 4D or applied in Illustrator – so you can quickly drag them onto objects in the Attributes panel to quickly change their material.

To see CineWare for Illustrator in action, watch Maxon’s videos below.

You can download Cineware for Illustrator here – and Maxon has created a series of videos to help you get started. The plugin requires Illustrator CC 2015 or later, and Windows 10 or macOS 10.12 (but not 10.13, as Illustrator CC isn’t compatible with macOS High Sierra).

Cinewave for Illustrator is based on similar technology to the Cineware plugin for After Effects, that provides a direct pipeline from AE to Cinema 4D and back again. Its latest version also allows you to do simple 3D modelling tasks directly within AE, such as extruding vector shapes and text into 3D.

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