Layout & Drafting: What's the plan?

My understanding is that the parametric modellers do not work this way. They cheat by using the feature sketches for the drafting results, hence why they are far more developed than Rhino can produce from a “dumb” model with no sketch based feautures. I might be wrong though.

This is obviously wrong, the simple proof being that many people export “dumb” geometry from Rhino to these tools, expressly for them to make projected views.

By chance, all the workshop drawings for our steelwork are done by our sub-contractor this way : we send them STEP models (which get imported as parts /assemblies since we use nested blocks), and they do all the drafting with Inventor or similar.

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reminds me of the old Autocad command ViewBase hardly anyone knows about. Great for quick hidden line perspectives and hatched sections.

exactly, and (SW) produces these 2d drawings instantly vs extreme slow make2D


And, of course, there’s this lovely thread:

How many of the requests made in that one have been addressed?


I think the message, that Rhino currently is not fullfilling the needs of people who would like to do 2D Plans has come accross.

The main problem, is not the fact, that you can’t create 2D drawings, but the fact, that it takes to long to create and alter a 2D drawing to make it presentable.

I personally believe, that the “AutoCAD” approach with layouts and mixed Files with 2D and 3D Data is not a good and clean solution. Most of the software packages got rid of this approach by now.

I believe, since a 2D Drawing in is derived from 3D, the approach Inventor or Solidworks with a clear seperation between 3D Model and 2D drawing is a good thing - a .2dm File with an assosiation to a .3dm File would be something I’d like to see.

In an effort to get rid of 2D Plans completely in the workshop, it would be great to support the PMI capabilites of the STEP Format.



but as was mentioned above, these programs still need extensive cleanup to go to a typical cnc machine.
and are extremely restrictive. In rhino/gh you can quickly generate 1000’s of accurate clean drawings that programmers love as well as the documentation. Really not even a contest.

Generally Dimensioning is hard to automate - possible but hard.

So what you are saying is correct, as long as the demands on the drawings are not “too” high, and the geometry is somewhat similar.

Once you come to the point where parts are very different from each other, and dont’ follow similar geometric rules, dimensioning thousands, is quite hard to do with GH.

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I do not know every feature, but it is an example of storing the process to refresh the drawings. Saving which surfaces are hull, station/waterline position, names and layers etc for quicker updates.

STEP 242 standard looks very interesting. Thank you for that link :slight_smile:

@DanielPiker Is there anything in there that Rhino can jump on? I’m thinking about your sketch constrainer, or whatever you want to call it, here. I think you might get a few user’s attention if you can send models to someone with Solidworks etc and they find that the model comes complete with inferred PMI.

I also like the idea of a .2dm format, especially if it could pop open in a floating viewport when prompted.


Oh, I’ll have to try that. But my experience of SW models of boats is that it doesn’t produce useable drawings. There’s too many “artistic” decisions to make. For example, a simple section of a boat model is useless, too much information is missed or included. Adding depth to the section doesn’t help. The drawing is a representation of the design to describe it to humans, not an exact detail of the 3D model. I suspect architecture drawings are similar. This is the crux of the problem we’re discussing, how to program a computer to streamline the decision making.

At the very large auto company I worked for the initial packaging of vehicles used to be done on 2D drawings which had standardized formats. For instance one standard side view drawing would include the occupant postions, the loctions steering column, pedals and gearshift, centerline profile of the hood,windshield and roof, door openings, etc. floor, tunnel and dash/instrument panel profiles, the nominal location of the panel never, never refered to as the “firewall”, etc. As packaging transitioned to using 3D geometry in CAD there were requests for drawings, generally for reviews. It took a while to learn that the drawings could not be created by simply sectioning a 3D model but had to be synthesised using combinations of profiles, sections and silhouettes from the 3D model. Eventually the 2D drawings were only used as initial sketches, and 3D models became the standard for reviews.


In the guitar making industry we use 3d almost exclusively to communicate with factory manufacturing teams-usually IGS. But 2d still plays a critical role in communicating tolerances and calling attention to critical areas. Also the guys that run the companies often can’t open a 3d file- they need to see a PDF or maybe if you’re lucky a DWG. I use Make2d for illustration but it is a nightmare when it comes to production drawings for anything but relatively simple geometry. Too many micro lines stacked on top of each other and missing information,etc., so I have to use sections, duplicate part edges and a fair amount of old school drawing to produce 2d that I can reference reliably. I’m excited to see game changing advances like Grasshopper and SubD but please don’t forget that we still need rock solid 2d drawings, preferably interactively tied to the 3d model.


I don’t like the idea of having separated files for 3d and 2d since it can be a nightmare with bigger projects with hundreds of files.

My two cents on how to solve it could the following.

  1. Some polishing on Make2D to avoid duplicated stuff, with the option to send it straight into a Layout with some kind of history enabled.

  2. A similar approach to what Orca3D does, creating sections, buttocks and water lines that update automatically when edited, so I could setup a bunch of planes that would intersect stuff, with the option to send do different layouts or into the same layout.

  3. Using the clipplane itself to generate a Make2D view. So, if I setup a clipping plane right in the mid of the car/ boat / house that I am looking at, lets say from the Right view, then I invoke the command, lets say, MakeClip2D or Make2DClipped, it will ask for me to select the clippling plane I wish and then make a 2D view of what the Clipping plane is showing. Then I could Add multiple Clipping planes with the option to boolean combine then or not, if not combined, they would generate X detail views or X layouts with Y detail views, based on the number of X clipping planes a Y as input for maximum details per layout, if boolean combined they would generate a single detail layout output with the view of the clipping planes, so if I had a room clipped twice making it in 4 parts, the combined Make2DClipped would show me 1/4 of the room, with the option to choose between what clipping plane would be the “camera” or even doing the projection of right top front perspective of that 1/4 of a room.

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So separate files is a solution to some problem, it would be helpful to step back and consider what requirements are driving that suggestion. I’d suggest that they might include:

I want to produce multiple 2d views of my model because I need to convey different information to different audiences.
I want to specify the drawing scale of each 2d view so that a viewer can relate one to another.
I want to be able to combine 2d views into a view set that will fit neatly onto a sheet of paper of a chosen size because sometimes I need combinations to make things clear.
I want to have a standalone 2d view fit neatly onto a sheet of paper of a chosen size because I don’t want to spend time juggling it around.
I want a warning when a model change means a 2d view no longer fits the paper because I want to only deal with exceptions.
I want to be able to spread a 2d view across multiple pages because I sometimes cannot scale down enough to fit on one.
I want to find and print an individual 2d view quickly because time is precious.
I want to create subsets of 2d views relating to particular needs because different viewers only need subsets.
I want to find and print subsets of 2d views quickly because time is precious.
I want to identify all the 2d views that need reprinting because something changed in my model because I need to know whether to publish an amendment or republish a complete set.
I want to identify all the 2d views that don’t need reprinting because something changed in my model because people want to confirm their drawing is current.
I want versioning and timestamping applied to my 2d views because people need to know which version they have.
I want to print an entire drawing set easily because time is precious.
I don’t want 2d views intruding into my 3d model views because they would obscure things.
I don’t want 2d views intruding into each other because that could be confusing.
i want to be able to see 3d views and 2d views simultaneously because it leads to better comprehension.
I want to be able to see which 2d views relate to which 3d models because I want to maintain asset integrity.
I want to be able to store, retrieve, backup and archive 3d models and 2d views collectively easily because I want to maintain asset integrity.
I want to make styling changes to 2d views collectively because time is precious.
I don’t want my models to become unwieldy because time is precious.

Community: Feel free to add to this, support, deny, debate.
@bobmcneel : Feel free to capture this and add it to all the requirements expressed about dimensions and hatches and everything else. It would be great to see a comprehensive set of user stories around the whole 2d arena evolving, being prioritised and informing future development.


I just want to say that it’s refreshing to see a discussion like this on the actual dev’s forum. I’ve recently had a less than delightful experience with another software dev’s forum where I tried to bring issues to light. Let’s just say that they weren’t as invested in the discussion, nor were willing to really talk about the issues like they are here at McNeel. Based on the attitudes I see here, I can only see Rhino3d getting better and better (the opposite being true about many other programs).

So now my actual reason for jumping into this conversation: I think that comparing Rhino3d directly to other programs isn’t appropriate. If you’re comparing Rhino3d to a software package who’s yearly fee is twice (or more!!) of the cost of Rhino’s perpetual license… of course the prior program should have more features/be more refined (this might not be the case). By all means fork out the money for solid works, it’s a great software program for the mechanical engineering industry.

I’m an advanced Revit user. Although I can get my drawings looking pretty close to the way I want them to, it’s a pain. Revit has no command line and you can only make/memorize so many keyboard shortcuts. The CUI is very hard to customize without serious API programming ability. Furthermore, Revit really tries hard to dictate the way things look. Title blocks for example. I can get them looking like I want (custom family followed by some manual manipulation). But said and done, it takes at least 2x longer to add my annotations in Revit compared to CAD. When I use layouts in AutoCAD I keep things relatively simple. An example being my title blocks in CAD: Most of the text in the title block (anything that is likely to change from sheet to sheet) is just text, and one only needs to double-click on it to change it. A project title would be part of the title block’s block definition. I’ve tried different things and this is quickest. An added bonus is that I’ve had more success training employees with this method as well. I like having the freedom to do that with CAD. With Revit, I need most of my title block’s information to be contained in labels. I don’t have the flexibility where I can simply ‘move or copy’ layouts. It takes much longer to edit a title block in Revit compared to my simple method in CAD that could have been done exactly the same way in 1998. And then when you run into a unique situation, such as having a sheet title name that doesn’t fit, or wanting to break a line of text, this is when Revit really takes a dump (as these take seconds to deal with in CAD). I also hate the lack of flexibility of leader styles in Revit, and how slow it is to add leaders. Revit’s annotation and 2D layout features aren’t terrible but at the same time aren’t great either.

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The replies in this thread are making it way too complex imo. The eventual developer that gets time to work on this will be overwhelmed. I’d suggest that we all make 1 wish for v7. Once that’s fulfilled then let’s talk about Rhino v9

My vote goes to customizable per object hatch fills in clipping planes. If you agree, like this reply, otherwise make your own suggestion.


Drafting is complex and heavily reliant on the drafters preferences, probably the reason we’re still debating desired features and McNeel haven’t delivered comprehensive features.

I see two areas of development…

  • View generation
  • Annotations

There seem to be good moves being made on the annotation front. View generation though is very personal for anything beyond simpler mechanical parts. For example I would have no need for hatch fills on clipping planes and would prefer a native custom clipping object.


Maybe, embracing the idea of a separated file and a single wish, ExportMake2D where it would be processed and be able to update as a block or something, so I don’t have to re do all the 2D detailing every time something minor get changed on the 3d model.

This is actually what I started doing at work, I save as older rhino version so my solid can import it and then make the 2D drawing on solidworks.

Sadly that is not possible when I do my home projects.

Totally agree, some of the complexity in these suggestions is exactly why McNeel take the stance that plugins are fine. We really have to focus on the bread and butter integrations for any serious drafter in V7:

  • Printing live detail views straight to vector without the need for make2d (@Ncik is this what you meant by view generation?)
  • Annotation Tools (Clipping planes with better fill controls, linked dimensions etc.)