Cinema 4D toon shading with Arnold render



Most of my artworks adopt a "toon" style that has become my main style over time.

I used the standard Cinema 4D "Sketch & Toon" tag to render those outlines over mesh with controls.

This native material type offers a wide range of settings, allowing for fine-tuning line renders with great precision.

Sketch & Toon only works with the standard renderer, so I always thought I couldn't use other render engines to get the toon look.

Very recently, I stumbled across a tutorial to get the toon look using Arnold render. The given example artworks were very close to some SCI-FI artists' products I follow such as Caldermoore:

Ocean wastes

Therefore, I embarked on an Arnold journey and discovered a whole new texture node system.


In Arnold, we use a "toon" type material. But unlike Sketch & Toon, the Arnold one is set up using interconnected nodes, similar to the Xpresso interface.

We have a basic "toon" node but need to connect many other nodes to fine-tune some color and outline setups.

To preview the result, we have to use the "IPR" render module.

Comparison with the standard Sketch & Toon


  • The greatest feature to me is the ability to use noise patterns or textures and render them as outlines. - - This immediately gives an ultra-detailed surface look, so we don't have to deal with complex geometries.
  • We can stack different textures and fine-tune them using gradient ramp shaders, acting like masks. Arnold also seems to give a different and more subtle lighting look than the standard renderer.


  • It comes at a greater cost regarding render times but stays manageable for simple scenes.
  • This node system can quickly turn into an absolute nightmare if we don't thoroughly organize the different layers forming our whole material.
  • The ramp shader is more difficult to handle because it's simply less precise than numbered parametric values.

Seriously? Ocean wastes

First shots

Here are some first tries (next ones will hopefully be better; beginner results here 😁).

Ocean scene

Ocean wastes

Residential building viewer

Tour Le Triangle - Montpellier

Trams crossroad

Trams crossroad - Montpellier

Wrapping up

Arnold is an interesting and surprising render engine in my toolkit. I'm not sure it will remain my go-to choice for long because of its downsides.

It brings a more detailed look, but it comes with some troubleshooting associated with hardware and node complexity.