Building Topography with meshes

I’m looked around for info on mesh editing and am not finding anything that indicates that Rhino is capable of something similar to what is seen in this video on Sketchup sandbox:

I understand Rhino doesn’t do this kind of stuff “out of the box”, but I was hoping someone might be willing to share their own process in doing this in Rhino.


I had a quick look at the video, and the created the attached landscape in a few minutes using the techniques in the video with Rhino “out of the box”.
Terrain DC1.3dm (238.6 KB)

Initial terrain created as a flat surface, then used Rebuild to transform to 21 x 21 points, degree 1.

SoftEditSrf used to change shape of terrain. Several different combinations settings for U_Distance and V_Distance used to provide variation.

Rebuild to degree 3 surface.

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Thanks, this is useful, but I should have been more specific. My issue is that I have an existing topographical mesh I’ve created from a TIN map. I am going to do some resurfacing of the landscape and I was hoping this could be done easily using a tool similar to what I saw in that video. I think T-Splines would probably do what I am thinking, but I don’t have access to it.

Maybe the answer is to create new topo using the method you described and somehow merge it with the existing mesh.

For editing the shape of a mesh try:

PointsOn and select the mesh. This enables editing the shape of the mesh by turning the mesh control points/vertices on.

SoftMove Select all the control points of the mesh as the objects to be moved. Then use SoftMove to move local areas of the mesh with a fall-off.

In the past I created a complex terrain per mesh tools and T-Spline. The result can be seen in the old thread here:

My workflow was that I created a mesh of lines, converted the lines to a mesh object (per t-spline _tsFromLines), smoothing the mesh per catmullclark smoothing from weaverbird (Weaverbird – Topological Mesh Editor | Giulio Piacentino).
I used the weaverbird smoothing because in the past there was a T-spline problem to keep edges unsmoothed (solved per T-Spline 4).

I feel good to create the terrain per drawing “mesh” lines, perfect to control, best for adding details where needed. The T-Spline job isn’t a big part, maybe you can create the terrain with standard mesh tools and the weaverbird smoothing only. On the other side, if you create terrains often, T-Spline offer you more flexibility to create and modify the terrain.

I found some old screenshots from the project some years before.

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Hey guys ! sorry to reopen this thread but as I’m going through the same process today, and T-spline is no longer available in R6, what approach do you suggest ?


Hello - if you have the lines set up, you can try MeshFromLines and then SubDFromMesh. Note the latter is an unsupported test command in V6 - you’ll need to type the whole command.


Hi Pascal,

thank for answering. I’m a bit confused… I give a quick look at SubD in the forum to see how it work. And from what I saw, it still WIP, and it won’t be operative under R6 ? So I’m kind of stuck with R6 that I just bought… I had R5 student license so I could work with T-spline… but now what should I do ? Another 200$ for the R7 license ?


What is your input data? You shouldn’t need T-Splines to make a terrain model. Most terrain models are meshes made either from DEM data points or contour line data. In any case V6 has enough native tools to create basic terrain models without plug-ins.

Hi Charles- there is no V7 license, it is under development - but you can use the test command I mentioned in V6 to get a peek at the beginnings of SubD functionality - it looked like that was what you are after, here - if not, I swung and missed and we’ll start over…


Hi helvetosaur and Pascal,

I tryied to explain myself better here

-thank for advices

Hi @pascal, great to see the basic tools for terrain creation at Rhino. I tested it and here some thoughts.

It could be great if SubDFromMesh could get some functionality like from WeaverBirds wbCatmullClark. So I miss to keep the edges. Here an example:

Rhino SubDFromMesh

wbCatmullClark and fixed edges

features during the command is running

Also maybe it’s possible that SubDFromMesh shows a preview like known from tsFromLines and allow to choose edges, which should be fixed and which not. Also critical areas could be marked. Here an example from _tsFromLines, how the preview is looking.

Maybe the tsSplitCurves can be implement as basic Rhino mesh tool too. It helps to clean the lines and to get an overview. Here a screenshot:


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Hi Micha - none of this will happen in V6 - to test the SubD stuff that we have so far, use the V7 WIP builds from Serengeti.


I understand, no problem. I’m curious for the further SubD features.



Can you please elaborate on your process of drawing your lines to further convert them to Tsplines. From my short experience of Tsplines, its all about positionning your lines cleverly to form a sord of mesh that will be further editable. How you handle this ?

thank you :slight_smile:


I don’t know how I started to create the terrain anymore. The project was 2011. I remember me that it was refined more and more over the time.
I remember me that often I used tsSplitCurves to add details. It allow me to draw additional lines for details and get the right splits of the exist lines. It was funny to work like a spider. I don’t used the T-spline technology so much, maybe only T-Spline mesh and curve tools. So, working on organic shaped isn’t so much a question of impressive innovative code, it’s more a question of little tools like MeshFromLines.

This is the earliest state of my terrain I found. I deleted a lot of old files, so I don’t know how I started. I remember me that I tried to create quad sided polygons only and avoid triangles.