How I Learnt Cinema 4D In 30 Days, The Ultimate Beginners Guide

May 2, 2021

How I learnt Cinema 4D in 30 days and how you can too!

This article documents my learning experience with Cinema 4D from absolute beginner to getting my first job in the motion graphics industry (thanks Behance!).

Here's what this article will cover:

  • Cinema 4D vs Blender and why I chose Cinema
  • My learning experience with Cinema 4D and how I got started
  • How I'd recommend you start learning, starting with free resources and graduating to paid resources later down the line
  • Which render engine to choose - Octane vs Redshift vs Corona vs Arnold

Ok, so you're interested in learning Cinema4D. You may have seen some posts on Instagram and thought 'oh my god that's so cool, how did they do that?'. That's how I got started. I was merely curious as to how difficult it was to create these amazing animations and still frames.

That led to me looking at a tone of tutorials, finding inspiring YouTubers like Andrey Lebrov  and Don Mupasi. When I saw you could create some pretty jaw dropping stuff fairly easily, I bit the bullet, downloaded Cinema and got started.

The No BS Learning Guide

Start here

(It's free):

Cineversity offers some excellent content for free once you have Cinema. It's created largely by EJ from eyedesyn and is top quality. The foundational course is much more comprehensive and up to date than Greyscale Gorilla's which is all the way back on R14. I'd also highly recommend Don Mupasi's 8 hour intro to Cinema4D class. It's on Skillshare, so it's paid but my god, do I WISH I'd had this when I started. It's extremely thorough, you learn a tonne and it's by far the best value you'll get out of a Skillshare class.

Once you've got the basics down. Head over to YouTube and check out this absolute goldmine of free Cinema content.

Best Free Resources for learning Cinema 4D - YouTubers

Andrey Lebrov:
My personal favorite. Very information dense videos that are immaculately edited. Very high production value and top tier content. Very vibey.

Don Mupasi :
Beyond legit, super cool sci fi animations. Don is the god of Skillshare content for Cinema 4D. He has an 8 HOUR intro to Cinema 4D covering all the foundations. His YouTube channels are also excellent value as well.

Theo Kerr:
New kid on the block, very thorough and informative. Theo is very beginner friendly and it's been fascintating seeing his channel grow as he expands his Cinema 4D knowledge.

CG Shortcuts:
Concepts and short projects, 10/10. Dave presents very well and has some really unique tutorials that are very accessible for beginner and intermediate Cinema 4D users.

Eyedesyn :
If you're looking for some slightly more advanced (but unique and informative) projects to tackle, this is where I'd head. EJ is a professional teacher and it shows in his content.
Once you've gone through the YouTube content, and you're ready for some more advanced content. Skillshare. It's cheap, accessible and so full of fantastic content it'll keep you busy for months.

Best Skillshare Teachers

Visual Don has an 8 hour beginner class for Cinema4D. Definitely start here if you're looking at Skillshare!
He's probably my favorite creator on the platform, super friendly and his content is incredibly thorough. It is by far, the best value for money you'll get :

While YouTube is fantastic, Skillshare was absolutely instrumental in getting me my first motion graphics job. The animations from Visual Don taught me techniques for looping visuals, which was what I was first hired to do. Patrick Fowley's stills rounded out my portfolio with some more interesting pieces and I used CG Shortcuts animations as part of that first job.

Visual Don (looping city animation) :

Patrick Fowley (awesome sci fi stills) :

CG Shortcuts (looping and concepts) :

If you were thinking of signing up for a year, here's 30% off yearly membership with Skillshare!

There's also a new class by Lilly Singh - Social Media Storytelling:

As an alternative, and for those who want structure, check out School of Motion. They offer a pathway for learning Cinema but it is very expensive. I can't talk to the quality as it's not something I've used, but it does seem to be positively reviewed.

School of Motion:

The end game - Greyscale Gorilla

Greyscale Gorilla, or GSG are titans of the motion graphics industry. I paid for their GSG + subscription which gives you access to all of their paid content, materials and plugins. If you're serious about learning Cinema4D and want to learn production techniques and third party render engines (Redshift and Arnold training available which is the best i've come across), go here.

It's expensive, but compared to School of Motion, offers a much more well rounded purchase as you get a tonne of materials, plugins for lighting and some really advanced tutorials that are industry leading.

Having a library of materials to use opened up a lot of creative avenues on my own projects. I didn't have to worry about texturing or scraping the internet for free materials. It was really freeing having that library to pick and choose from.

I used GSG's tutorial on Redshift - it's as thorough as it is lengthy, which is exactly what I needed. The Arnold course was also superb.

I really can't recommend GSG enough, but I wouldn't get it until you're absolutely sure Cinema is something you want to sink more time and money into. There's plenty of free content available to learn the foundations. Get GSG when you want to start creating more content, can understand the value that the material packs bring and want to sink your teeth into third party render engines and advanced concepts.

For those venturing into freelance work

I'd also recommend the Freelancers Manifesto ( . It was invaluable and incredibly revealing on how the whole freelancing world works. I was incredibly naive when I first started out (and to an extent still am), but this book covers a lot of the questions you'll undoubtely have when you get good enough to start looking for clients.

It was especially helpful when it came to negotiating your rate, knowing how much to charge, common 'gotcha's' for the contract phase and how to get good clients.

While written specifically for motion designers, it's only 10-15 dollars on Kindle and was one of the most enlightening reads on how to operate and survive as a freelancer. Even if you're not doing motion design, the concepts are all transferrable.

What render engine should I choose?

Start off with the physical renderer. There's a lot to learn with Cinema and if you jump to a third party render engine first of all, it'll be expensive and you'll probably end up more confused and frustrated than if you stuck with the standard renderer.

Once you're ready to take the leap. I'd recommend Redshift. Maxon (Cinema 4D's parent company) acquired Redshift so the native integration with Cinema will make it very future proof to learn. You won't make a mistake by learning Redshift. GSG's Redshift course is what i'd recommend using for this.

Why I chose Cinema4D over Blender (despite Blender being awesome)

The type of work I wanted to do was done in Cinema. Plain and simple. You can produce amazing stuff with Blender. I chatted to a friend of mine, Nicholas Hodgson about what I should choose.

He's a huge advocate of Blender, and uses it daily in his work at Weta Digital, one of the best motion graphics companies in the world.

There are plenty of reasons for and against Blender and Cinema, so, to ease your mind. Go to Instagram, Artstation, Dribble, anywhere creative work is posted. Look at your favorite pieces, find out how they were made, and go with that program.

Some of the above links may be affiliate links which offer me a small kickback should you choose to use those services. It really helps out the channel so thank you for your support!

I love Skillshare

I use it on a regular basis to learn motion design, iOS development and keep up to date with Photoshop.
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