Export to Affinity Document

With Affinity Designer becoming a popular new alternative to Adobe Illustrator (and with Affinity Publisher on its way), are there any plans to introduce a native export to Affinity Document command in Rhino for Mac?

Currently, Affinity Designer cannot open the .ai files that are exported from Rhino

Affinity Designer looks great. I haven’t used it myself. A little Googling doesn’t turn up an SDK that we could try out to write its native format (which is?). What file formats and workflows do you use with Affinity Designer?

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I’m interested in Affinity Designer as well and it would be great to see a good workflow solution from Rhino to Affinity.

My process is to create a 2D drawing and just format it a bit in Illustrator or copy parts of the drawing to incorporate in presentations. I’ve recently moved the Mac though and can’t use my version of Illustrator which is CS4 for the PC.

Affinity’s native format is .afdesign which probably doesn’t tell you very much other than that it’s probably proprietary. It’s my understanding that it’s a shared format with their photo editor (Photoshop competitor) so it might make a nice work flow for those of us putting together presentations of 2D vector drawings and bitmapped renderings.

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If possible for McNeel, a path forward may be to update the rather old .ai format Rhino Win and Mac exports. This may have other benefits too, such as the ability to place Rhino exported .ai files into InDesign, etc.

Is there a reason the .ai format Rhino exports is so outdated?

This thread touches on the outdated .ai format too:

@tim can give details.

I’ve logged this feature request (MR-2243). I can’t seem to find anything about a software toolkit for reading/writing their file .afdesign file format, so this may be a bit difficult to push forward. Does anyone know a good person to ask on their development team? Perhaps forward them a link to this thread/forum…?


Can’t find any useful contact info on the website other that the obvious. They do have a forum thread over there on the same issue: https://affinity.serif.com/forum/index.php?/topic/8189-ai-import-from-rhino/.

Thanks for the link to their forum. Obviously, we need to update our Illustrator format support, but that seems like a separate issue to me. I would seem more topical/better to focus on a more direct link between the two softwares, if that is what is desired.

If Affinity does not publish a toolkit for their format (.afdesign), the obvious alternative is for the Affinity developers to use our free and robust openNURBS toolkit to read/write 3dm files from within Affinity. openNURBS is available in C/C++ as well as .NET flavors.

While there is no “Export” function like there is with the Adobe Illustrator (.ai) file extension/format, I did recently find a way to import vector data from a Rhino document and open up successfully in Affinity Designer for further editing:

  1. Go to File > Print
  2. In the print setting dialogue, make sure to check the “Printer output” as “Vector output” — check any other settings like paper size, scaling, view, etc. that you may need specified.
  3. In the lower lefthand corner of the print setting dialogue, select “Save as PDF…” from the drop down menu.
  4. It will then prompt you to specify the file name.
  5. Open up your newly saved .pdf file in Affinity Designer.

Affinity Designer does seem to recognize layers created in Rhino. While AD does not retain the name, it groups your curves by layer(s). Just be sure the layers you want exported are on/visible before saving the file.


Clever! Thanks for sharing!

It doesn’t seem like the folks at Affinity have any intention of addressing this issue at all, so I guess the best bet is for us to wait for McNeel to update Rhino’s .ai export version. This needs to be done anyway!

I contacted the makers of Affinity Designer & inquired if a SDK is available for their “.afdesign” file format. Unfortunately, their developers don’t have plans to make the file format public. They have listed .dxf / .dwg file support as a requested feature on their forum but unsure if / when it would be implemented.

Printing a vector Adobe PDF from Rhino seems to convert smooth curves to interpolated curvature by using straight line segments. I have tried exporting .dxf files from Rhino (both with and without the ConvertToBeziers command on needed geometry), but in my experience, the curvature is often distorted & not interpreted correctly by other programs like Inkscape or QCAD upon import. I could then export the geometry from either of those programs as a .svg file for further editing, but it’s no good if the geometry is inaccurate to begin with.

As other users have suggested, please consider adding .svg import / export functionality in Rhino for better (and hopefully more accurate) compatibility with non-Illustrator vector applications. I’d be curious to see if the .svg curvature information from Rhino is retained when opened in a program like Affinity Designer or Inkscape. Thanks for listening.


Hey, I guess these posts are still relevant. As Affinity is gaining popularity and is really a great tool, it would be really great to export from Rhino to Affinity Designer in a proper way. It seems to work quite well with Rhino 6 for Windows, using the Native Rhino PDF printer.
I am working with Rhino for Mac, and can’t find a really smooth workflow, regarding an export to AD.

Can anybody help me?

I see two possible approaches:

Could the Native PDF printer for Rhino 6 be implemented for Mac?
Could the .AI export be lifted to a newer standard (or as an option). As far as I get it AD does only support newer AI Standard, as written here.

AD beside is working on dxf import option, which would be nice, too.

I really appreciate Rhino, and would be glad about that improvement, to have wider opportunities to evolve/modify my Rhino designs using its proper vector geometry. Software is on the one hand, but machines are on the other. Adressing cutters, Lasercutters, etc… Switching easily between Rhino and AD helps a lot there.

Maybe I am missing something.
In case, please let me know.

Hi @ivo.kalvelage

Check out this post

Instead of printing, select the artwork and go to file>export>pdf. Using this technique affinity designer will be able to read the pdf while keeping Rhino layers and the line quality.

Also worths mentioning that a copy/paste feature from Rhino to Affinity Designer is being developed and soon will be implemented, so the workflow between both softwares is going to be really smooth.

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Have been a fan of Affinity products for a while, more and more architects and designers are switching from Adobes restrictive subscriptions to a more free feeling buy and use as you like :+1::+1:


Hi José, great to hear that!
And thanks a lot for your reply above, I never tried the file>export>pdf since RH5 again.
I just wonder while AD doesn’t show any layer structure after the export. As well selecting the geometry in Rhino seems to have no impact on what will be exported. In AD I just get a huge list of lines and planes.
Do you have any idea what could be the issue?

Hi @ivo.kalvelage,

The support for PDF layers is in WIP V7 version, but if you have V6 you can download it and use it to take advantage of it.


Hi José,

thank you! I just figured that out while ready your linked discussion twice.
Download is on its way :slightly_smiling_face:

Thank you for the quick help.