Basic Workflow Question: Dataprep, Shading, Importing, Changes


Currently I’m doing my first steps with PlayCanvas so far. The workflow seems to be similar to DCC tools like maya or Cinema 4D or so, which is nice!

But setting up a proper workflow isn’t clear to me. I’ve a “big” file of an industrial product in C4D. It is about 1000 Parts: Small Screws, Things I don’t know if you can even see them and so on. And if I import it as .fbx in PlayCanvas, there is only this big target mesh. So that’s my question: What’s the best way in preparing these files in C4D? Should I sort it in C4D by material and export/import it in small parts? Or should I sort + shade the whole model and import it complete with materials in PlayCanvas?

I’m looking forward to get some tips! Thanks in advance!


Hi @chris_001 and welcome,

Indeed finding the best import workflow from your modelling app to Playcanvas can be tricky.

If you are planning to go with the big single mesh approach which comes with a set of advantages (easy to export/upload and apply future modifications) make sure to group all of your meshes/nodes by material.

That way you will get the right number of draw calls for your model.

Now the big drawback of going with a single model is if your scene is huge / your camera is looking at only parts of your model, you can’t get any benefit from frustum culling. That is an algorithm Playcanvas can automatically run on the active camera and exclude from rendering any mesh instances that aren’t visible to the active camera. If your scene is polygon limited (too many polygons) then this can be important.

For any textures used by your model make sure to watch the total video memory allocation using the Playcanvas profiler, and use texture (Basis) compression to reduce that footprint. That will help a lot with mobile devices where VRAM can be low.

Hi Leonidas!

Thanks for your fast response! The “scene” is only one object, surrounded by an HDRI map. You can imagine it as similar to a car configurator. That means the camera is everytime pointing on this geometry.

Regarding to your mentioned advantages using one single mesh: Do you mean I should do all the shading in Cinema4D, group the geometries by material and then import it into PlayCanvas? In terms of future modifications: Isn’t it unflexible? For example, if I have to change the shading/sorting of materials.


I’d say the answer to this depends on your specific use case.

For example I’ve worked in a project in the past (art gallery) where all the static parts of the scene will be modelled/textured in Cinema 4D and imported to Playcanvas as a single model.

When changes were required I’d receive a new model with any textures that required updating (lightmaps) and easily I will uploaded them in Playcanvas. The editor provides a Preserver Material Mapping property so any custom material work I’d do in Playcanvas will be retained.

So in that case, I’d say that worked well. But if you are planning in changing often the sorting of materials then yes, you will have to reapply your materials to the mesh instances each time. Which can become tedious at some point.