PDF quality

Is there a way other than passing it though Illustrator or something to get PDF printing or saveas (I have Acrobat Pro and PDFCreator on my machine)to output smooth vectors? Trying to set higher quality settings in the PDF printer settings makes them look better but still jagged.


it sucks. I often end up printing to an image file and then turning that image into a pdf. It is ridiculous. here are two examples of the same layout printed to PDF and printed to jpg.
All I want in life is smooth lines.

stage monitors.pdf (640.5 KB)

It’s evidently not just a Rhino issue, it’s with PDF creators in general, the ones I have anyway. I know Illustrator and InDesign can export cleanly, but that’s a bit overkill to break out for every little task.

Hi James,

It’s probably of not much practical use but FWIW:

I wrote a script (left in alpha stage) to export svg files. In addition there is an option to auto-run the svg through inkscape and let that convert it into a pdf. The resulting pdf-curves are as smooth as expected. Be it that I know of at least one bug where higher degree curves were incorrectly exported.


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I’d asked about this many times on the old newsgroup. As it was explained to me, the blame lies with Windows’ handling of the print request and there’s nothing that can be done to avoid that in Rhino. The print handlers inbuilt into Illustrator and Acrobat are different, resulting in clean line work.

My further question was, why can’t Rhino have something similar inbuilt? It would be great to pass clean line work to third parties using PDF, simply because it’s such a universal, cross platform format. That never got an answer…

This is an eventual goal for Rhino and is definitely not something that we are ignoring. It just happens to be a lot of work and involves a bit of redesign of our display framework.

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Initially, when I started working in Rhino I assumed I was leaving SketchUp behind for a better application. In many ways that’s true but not in all. I often go back into SketchUp and print out of Layout because I have better control and I can generate a far superior image. Sucks to have to do that but a lot of my workflow involves print material for clients. The model may be geometrically perfect but if the image looks shoddy, I look shoddy.

I’m not sure if your comment relates to the other comments in this post. I thought this was about generating smooth vector output in PDFs. Am I confused?

Well at least I know if I was to write some code that exported stuff by .ai and fed it through an Adobe product for PDF, it wouldn’t be wasted effort. It’s not a huge issue for drawings except for the company logo in the title block that always comes out looking like it was printed on wet paper.

I was making a comparison - SketchUp / Layout offers three options for PDF output - raster, vector and hybrid (hybrid gives you vector profiles and shaded surfaces) and these options are available in perspective mode as well as the orthographic views. One of the biggest problems for me with PDF export out of Rhino is the lack of a vector option in perspective mode. That’s why I thought my comment was relevant to the topic. Apologies if it seemed otherwise to you.

that pdf has vector and raster images in it… enlarging the pdf shows:

the blue line is vector (as are the text/titleblock/borders) but the model is raster (it seems)

idk, just making an observation is all… mac rhino doesn’t even have pdf export yet :wink:
osx has some pretty sweet pdf stuff built in so maybe/hopefully mac rhino can tap into those resources.

Rhino definitely allows vector out of perspective and we default to hybrid printing of layouts where wireframe details and the layout page are drawn in vector on top of details that require raster.

My guess is the possibly you are using a display mode that requires raster like shaded or technical.

I’m not trying to defend our work. It sounds like there is something we need to improve in order to help you get the pdf you want out of rhino. I’m just trying to figure out what that is.


Is the company logo on a layout? This should be in vector if it is.

I have found that the dpi setting in the PDF printer dialog affects the vector resolution as well.
Sounds not logical, I would assume the dpi setting affects bitmap data only.

Here is a test.
‘pdf’ is not text but vectors.
I printed through PDF995 with different settings and re-imported the results:


The problem is not that it isn’t vectorized, but that the current PDF export/print makes the lines and curves “ugly”.
But we get superb curves if we export to Illustratier through the .ai format, and then in Illustrator exports to PDF.

So the big wish here is the ability to export “illustrator grade curves” directly to pdf.

This can easily be seen if you make any curve-text-object in Rhino (just write “Smooth Curve Test” in Arial)
and export to PDF and to AI and re-import those exports, and then turn on controlpoints.

Setting the PDF print settings to high quality helps, but the curves are still no where as smooth as the .ai ones.


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Now I see the difference.

When we export a PDF from Illustrator, a curve is a curve and not a bunch of lines.
When we print from Illustrator through PDF995, a curve is also a curve.

Printing a PDF from Rhino through PDF995 always leads to lines instead of curves.

But I can’t imagine Rhino sends a bunch of lines to PDF995.
Then the resolution setting wouldn’t do anything.
Or does the printer driver Rhino tell how fine the curves must be converted?

The ‘curves’, even at high dpi settings, are just a series of very short straight lines when pumped through the Windows print handler. They look better, but the point count goes through the roof. @stevebaer it would be great if it were possible to export lines, curves & hatches/fills to PDF format directly from Rhino whilst retaining something like the original geometry, though I understand that it’s not possible to go beyond 4-point degree 3 (?). Even with that caveat, it would save me a lot of time.

As it was explained to me previously, the Windows print handler sits between Rhino and PDF995 (or Acroplot, which is what I use, or a.n.other PDF ‘printer’) and it’s that step which converts the curves to straight lines. It’s not the fault of Rhino or PDF995, but Windows.

Hmm, then, when printing to PDF995 from Illustrator, it should be the same…

I think Illustrator and Acrobat must have their own print handler (someone correct me if I’m wrong) that bypasses the Windows one.