Axis-constrained drawing? How to think in Rhino, not Sketchup

Rhino’s all kinds of great, but I came from Sketchup and I can still produce simple planar geometry about ten times faster in SU than in Rhino. I go back and forth a lot for that reason. Can anyone give me some hints about how I should be approaching things differently?

I think most of of my difficulty comes from not being able to draw axis-aligned lines whenever I want, which SU makes really easy.

Here’s an example case that’s similar to problems I run into all the time. I’ve got a box defined and I want to make a vertical rectangle some distance larger than it off to one side. Here’s a picture in Sketchup, where it takes me about 20 seconds to do roughly and slightly longer to do precisely. Note the green color of the last partial segment, letting me know I’m drawing parallel to the green axis.

In Rhino, I can think of a bunch of ways to accomplish this (

  1. Change to right view and draw around the box with Ortho on
  2. Sub-select rightmost face, 3d-scale it with the gumball, and hit alt to copy.
  3. change CPlane to rightmost face and draw with Ortho on;
  4. Draw a rectangle on CPlane and rotate it onto the rightmost face;
  5. Turn on Ortho, turn off OSnaps, and draw vertical segments with Elevator mode… which I can’t seem to work quite right
  6. Specify relative coordinates while drawing my polyline)

Still, nothing seems as quick and easy as the SU way of drawing. (OK, 1) and 2) are pretty trivial, but I regularly run into cases where they wouldn’t apply and I still want to just draw on the axes.)

Are there some tricks I could use to axis-align my cursor movements, or should I just focus on thinking outside the single-perspective-view, rectilinear box? Anybody else who made the SU -> Rhino transition, what helped you?


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use the shift key… it will temporarily engage ortho which will lock the cursor to the x or y axis… it takes a little while to get comfortable/confident with it as there’s no color feedback but once you figure it out, it’s great… (once you’re on an axis or vector which you want, you can then press the tab key (toggle) to really lock onto that direction… sort of like press&holding the shift key in sketchup except you’re not limited to the x,y,or z axis…

yeah, that’s the one that’s the biggest bummer for me… it seems like there should be a much smoother way to go vertical while drawing in the perspective viewport… i’ve tried to bring this up a few times in the past with no success / takers :smile:

a good example of how it could work is while youre dragging an object… drag an object then press the cmmd key and it will force vertical. i just wish there was a modifier key you could press while doing things other than dragging which will act the same way…

if you’re just drawing a line, it has a vertical option so you just enter V during the command it the line goes on the Zaxis… polyline doesn’t have a vertical option but some other commands do… (rectangle, circle, etc)… but even then, i always just want to press&hold a key which makes the cursor go up/down.


but just to be clear, you don’t have to turn on ortho and turn off osnaps for elevator… to go vertical, you click a point (say the startpoint of a polyline) then you cmmd-click on that same point again and you’ll now be locked on the z-axis)… it just seems like an extra click plus you have to realign your cursor prior to making that extra click.

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Thanks, Jeff. Just tried that out, and I think I�m getting it working. Once I get Elevator working as second nature, all that difficulty may just go away. Cheers!

(ok… added the rest about the shift key and the original stuff i said about the awkwardness of going vertical back to the post which i deleted earlier when attempting to edit the post)

You can also use “tab” to lock on a specific axis. I use it all the time. Nice part is it isn’t restricted to an othro projection. It can be any axis you want.


Yeah, the tab trick is useful, although I�ve had a hard time making sure that the axis I lock is really the one I want. With the combination of Ortho & Elevator mode, though, I seem to be getting there. Thanks for your help, guys.


Yeah I use and it in combination with shift and near snap most of the time.

don’t forget about projectosnap. Once you are in the right cplane/axis, turn this on (I have it set up on my f4 key, I use it all the time) and it will guarantee you can’t place a point on a different z.

SketchUpBeGone Combo:
left button: Set Cplane to Object / right button: Set Cplane Top