Apply different materials within a polysurface


Hi everyone,

I have been using Sketchup for a while and I would like to change for Rhino.

For my projects, I used to model the 3D in Sketchup, then apply different colours for each materials and then export it to a rendering software (like Artlantis).

I don’t know if the method is similar for Rhino, but I have some troubles doing it in Rhino. For example, if I want to create a basic geometry, like a wall, I create a closed polysurface. But let’s imagine I want my wall to have several textures : do I have to explode the polysurface to assign a colour (as in Sketchup) for each material or can I apply these different colours within the closed polysurface ?

In sketchup, if I create a wall, I would group it and then within the group I would be able to apply the different colours.

I would be glad to find some help here.

Thank you for your answers and your help.

(Brian James) #2

In Rhino 5 you will need to explode the polysrf to assign separate materials. We have been working to make this easier and in Rhino 6 you’ll have the option of sub-object material assignment so exploding won’t be necessary. With that said, I’m not sure if this sub-object material assignment info will export in the file format you’re using. If you have a v5 license and registerd on the forum with the same email associated with that license, you should be able to access the Rhino 6 WIP to test it out. Ctrl + Shift when dragging a material to a plane on a box would assign that material to just that side.

Here’s a link to the v6 WIP page…


Thank you for your answer.

You are basically saying that in Rhino 5 the only option is to extract the surfaces within a polysurface that have a different material ?

(Brian James) #4

yes, that’s correct, extractsrf or explode


You could also use UV maps and decals to add multiple textures to an object.


Thank you both for your replies.

I have another question which is a bit off topic but as I am an architecture student, I would like to know what the best to create “holes” to make windows is ? Is it by using the command “create hole” or by creating volumes that cross my walls and doing a “BooleanDifference” ?

I know they both work but which one is the most convenient / useful / fast ?

(John Brock) #7

The solution that works best for you is the one to use.
Both of those will generally work but both can fail depending on the specifics of your model at the time. There are other ways too.
Keep exploring and learn the details and differences of what each command does. Both commands exist because they work differently.


I’ve tried this in Rhino 6 WIP and it does not seem to work. crtl+shift drag material to face correct? Am I missing something?

(Brian James) #9

No, that’s it. You can hold ctrl+shift and drag and drop to a sub-object surface in a polysrf for instance but you should see the sub-object highlight before releasing the left mouse button. You can also pre-select a sub-object with ctrl+shift and then right click a material swatch to choose Assign to Selected.

If neither work on your model, can you post it? Or a portion that shows the issue.


Got it now. I was trying that in a mesh object. It works on polys. Thanks!