Cinema 4D Tutorial – Creating a Cloud Fly Through with Pyrocluster


I found this Pyrocluster preset kicking about in my 3D library today and I cannot remember where I got it from. If you sent this to me, then please let me know and I’ll credit you in this post.

Pyrocluster with Thinking Particles

Pyrocluster with Thinking Particles

I’ve used pyrocluster many times and although I feel that there is much room for improvement, it is still a unique tool within the Cinema4D feature set. If you haven’t ever used this volumetric shader system then this short tutorial should get you started.

Pyrocluster Volume Tracer

Pyrocluster Volume Tracer

In this tutorial take you through the steps to create a simple cloud fly through. Pyrocluster has got a bit of bad rap over the years for being painfully slow. This tutorial demonstrates some simple tricks to speed up workflow and ensure you are not waiting around for renders when setting up these type of complex volumetric effects.

Pyrocluster Preview

Pyrocluster Preview

The setup is fairly basic but there is a lot of scope to take this type of technique much further and create some cool effects. I’d definitely encourage you to play around with the lighting, use falloff, add shadows. Check the lights ‘Project’ tab where you can choose to use specific lights for Pyrocluster Illumination and Shadow Casting. Of course there are so many things you can do with MoGraph and generating Thinking Particles, shading those particles with Pyrocluster opens up a whole new world of rendering.

Cinema 4D Tutorial – Creating a Cloud Fly Through with Pyrocluster

Author: Tim


  1. Jay B.
    Jay B. On February 13, 2013 at 5:03 AM

    Tim, that is just brilliant. Thank you.

  2. Regis
    Regis On February 13, 2013 at 10:53 AM

    Nice tutorial.
    Unfortunately we can’t cache/bake the solution of TP + Pyrocluster ;o(
    That’s an old limitation.

  3. Neil
    Neil On February 14, 2013 at 1:04 AM

    Like it tim, do you have any projects where you have used this?

  4. Andrea
    Andrea On February 14, 2013 at 5:46 AM

    Very helpful Tim!
    Thanks 🙂

  5. Michael Rosen
    Michael Rosen On February 14, 2013 at 10:48 AM

    Tim, love your tutorials. I’m always looking for more. This is the best pyrocluster one I’ve seen. Thanks.

  6. Laurel Guy
    Laurel Guy On February 15, 2013 at 6:57 AM

    Thanks Tim, for quite a detailed yet simplified tutorial that I have been wanting to learn. I knew the basics, but this was so much more comprehensive and informative… esp with reducing the steps, the variance on the shader and overall set up. Really appreciate your time to help us along.

    • Tim
      Tim On February 15, 2013 at 6:59 PM

      @Laurel Guy Thanks for the feedback, glad you enjoyed the tut.

  7. Harry Mitchell
    Harry Mitchell On February 15, 2013 at 6:41 PM

    Great Tutorial Tim, however I have one question.
    I have recreated a similar scene using the techniques shown in this video but I am experiencing a strange issue. As time goes on the clouds seem to be growing.
    For example at Frame 1 the clouds are the right size and look pretty good but at frame 70 they have grown out of proportion and now just blur the entire screen.
    Any advice on how to fix this?

    • Tim
      Tim On February 15, 2013 at 7:03 PM

      @Harry Do you have the ‘Use Age Effects’ enabled in the pyrocluster material? They’re for controlling parameters like size and colour over time. Check the Pyro material, Age tab.

  8. Harry Mitchell
    Harry Mitchell On February 15, 2013 at 7:56 PM


    Thanks Tim that has fixed it, your a legend!

  9. Willem
    Willem On February 19, 2013 at 12:34 AM

    Thanks Tim!


    In version 14, you can bake your TP with the new Alembic export.

  10. Regis
    Regis On March 16, 2013 at 1:44 PM

    Thanks guys for pointing solutions to bake TP with pyrocluster. Sorry for late reply as I relocated in Montreal and my stuff just arrived after 8 weeks ;o)


  11. Mark
    Mark On May 18, 2013 at 1:15 PM

    This is actually a brilliant tutorial for a fairly niche subject area, thanks a lot!

  12. rick
    rick On June 9, 2013 at 6:43 PM

    great tut, thanks tim,
    I am new to TP, is there a way to animate the clouds, so the seem to be floating?

    • Tim
      Tim On June 10, 2013 at 1:04 PM

      If you use MoGraph (Matrix Object) to generate the particles then you can add a random effector to animate the particles floating around.

  13. DMoore
    DMoore On June 21, 2013 at 5:36 AM

    Great tutorial Tim! I was wondering how you would randomize the size of each cloud. I can’t seem to work it out using the Mograph effectors or Xpresso.

    Any help would be great!

    • Tim
      Tim On June 21, 2013 at 10:44 AM

      @DMoore You can use the Pyrocluster Age Effects to control the size of the pyro puffs based on the age. If you generate particles and have a varied age then this will be reflected in the size of the clouds.

  14. DMoore
    DMoore On June 21, 2013 at 10:59 AM

    Thanks Tim. I managed to set up a good looking system using Xpresso and Particle Groups, basically distributing five different sizes of cloud across geometry, but i definitely went about it the long way!

    As a side note I have had really good luck lately using pyrocluster for foliage as well. It render dramatically faster than polygons.

    Once again thanks for all your help.

    • Tim
      Tim On June 21, 2013 at 8:16 PM

      Pyro for foliage can work really well. I wish we’d see an update for pyro soon it’s getting rather ancient.

  15. Joey
    Joey On August 19, 2013 at 6:40 AM

    I’m experiencing an odd problem as I follow this tutorial and I’m wondering if anyone might have experience with it. When I set the matrix object to thinking particles and then add the sweep nurbs as the object, C4D lays out the particles (seen as crosshairs) according the whatever mode is set by default (vertex). Then when I switch the mode to surface, it adds the particle crosshairs for the surface particles but does not clear out the vertex particles. If I keep switching to the different modes it will keep adding particles, but never clear out the previous ones. I can even delete the matrix object and the particles will remain. I can see them listed in the Thinking Particles Settings window as well.

    So… is this a bug? Am I the only one experiencing it? Is there a way to force it to clear out thinking particles that have been generated by this process? It’s hard to do something like this tutorial without ending up with way too many particles.

    Thanks, to anyone who has any insight.

    Also, I’m using R14.042 on Mac.

    • admin
      admin On August 19, 2013 at 11:25 AM

      Jump forward a frame and then rewind to frame 0 and the particles will be regenerated correctly.

  16. shawqy
    shawqy On November 2, 2013 at 5:03 PM

    how to use this materials Pyrocluster with vray

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