Rendering and Material Improvements(?) in Rhino

What’s missing from Rhino WIP in this regard? As far as I know, rendering and material stuff is feature complete and ready to ship in Rhino 6.

maybe I’m missing something but a file>new> small objects millimeters gives me this new file, I see no materials at all and only one not-so-hot environment:

Compare with Keyshot:

This is what I see missing.

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Did you try pressing the “+” in the material editor? And choosing “Import from material library” ?

Or opening the libraries panel?

  • Andy

Hi Andy,

I didn’t know those were options to get to materials. I wonder how many people will find it?

I just tried it and I encountered the same library you had a while back, honestly nothing there useful to make a product renderings (not sure about other industries).

Also it’s all folder based, too much clicking without seeing, and you have no way to search either, or at least I could not find it.

It looks like this:

and then somehow I ended up in my desktop, trying to climb out of the deep folder path:

Also I don’t see any good environments either, no way to quickly change colors (like color presets that you can drag-drop to a material to only change the values affecting color).

The contrast with the KeyShot UI is abysmal, in theirs everything is findable, and you get a clear sense all the content available and how to get to it, easily. Same for Modo’s preset browser, a bit more geeky, but also extremely easy to navigate and easy to see it all at one glance. Have you ever used either of these products?

…And you can always type on the top text field a keyword to filter from it all, like “gold” typed at the top-level will show me from the entire library just this:

…And here are all the materials that if you clicked on each category you would see (I didn’t go into colors, you get the idea of how many color systems there are, etc)

full resolution link: Dropbox - keyshot_all_materials_01_gf_160405.png - Simplify your life

The closest thing to something easy to use, well categorized and useful for products in Rhino was Auxpecker. Do you remember it?

I know many at McNeel laughed it off as a hack, but I think it’s the most approachable/usable materials assignment workflow I have even seen inside Rhino.

I created my own presets based on that (I further hacked that hack, so I have to preselect objects and click, I cannot drag and drop):

I hope you guys can ship something better than what you have now in terms of usability and content. I think the bar in much higher in the rest of the products out there in terms of:

  • quick setup
  • rich defaults
  • usability

…than what you have right now.

You have a great Open GL engine, and a pretty good renderer with Cycles. You are missing making it accessible for the majority of users, not the uber-nerds like us in this forum.



more context…

Here’s the Modo 9B PAD library (free download), PAD stands for Product and Automotive Design.

All the standard materials at the root level:

zoomed in and scrollable so you can see shader appearance:

color override subfolder for solid materials:

(not fancy color systems, just a manageable/license-free variety)

Color override subfolder for reflective materials:

Color override subfolder for transparent materials:

Color override subfolder for luminescent materials:

Pattern (bump) overrides for any base material:

Pattern (displacement) overrides for any base material:

textures for those materials:


one more example…

Modo’s default library (running 801 here, from 2014) presents you with this root level folder structure (not ideal UX but lots of goodies inside):

If I drill down in metal:

Then Aluminum:

Or Titanium:

Or Plastic>Textured (shows Moltdtech numbers)



When you pressed the plus, did you notice some other options? Glass, Gem, Metal etc.

Did you try them?


Would it be possible to make it so that *.rmtl files had a preview in the file browser that comes up when one goes here? That would help a lot, if you ask me.

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Hi Andy,

I see in that library a metal folder, this is what’s inside:

None of those are useful for products, as compared to the ones I showed above.

If you are referring to this:

then well, that’s not a library of materials. that’s a tool to make our own from scratch. I tried the glass one, dropped it to my scene and it looks pitch black. Not what I was expecting.

In those KeyShot or Modo libraries I pick a glass material, by looking at the collection of glass material thumbnails and choosing one with the tint, type, refraction, overall look that I like, and I just drop in in my model and looks exactly the same.

It was work created by experts and curated for the user, and all we have to do it assign it to our models.

A very different user experience, don’t you think?


Pitch black? Show me!

It is a different user experience, but not a better one in my opinion. The “glass” as an example is “curated” - I have decided what settings goes to make up glass. And you get a preview as you change the limited settings.

And yes - it’s not a library. It’s a very deliberate choice. I find libraries where the options are 500 types of glass, with slightly different colors, to be dumb and useless.

I think with these types of materials, the user knows what kind of physical material they want - they know their widget is made of plastic. Once you’ve made that choice, you want the options limited to only those that still look like plastic.

They do. If you’re not seeing it, there’s something wrong.

That’s cool. But can you then also tell me what to do about it?
I click on the Material circle in the layer manager, click on the arrow next to Default material, click on the + next to Use a new material, click on Import from material library…, then browse to some material in one of the directories and get a No preview available. - as per the following pictures.

Ok thanks for explaining Andy. So at least I have clarity that what you have in mind is a tool for power users, experts, to make their own materials with total control, multiple clicks and tweaks each time they do that. Unless they want to start curating their own library (also very time consuming). So you are chasing a very small market of really smart people. And honesty I don’t think you guys have a product/architecture/platform to be best-in-class for those users.

What I had in mind is a menu of materials already made where all I have to do is assign them. A very big market of really stupid people. That is stupid when it comes to rendering technology and know-how. That’s myself and every designer that I know -a few hundred of them- except for the 5-10 geeks that love tweaking, many of those you might already know.

I just give up. At least I know that I really really tried lead the horse to water.


PS: black material is gone. Getting in bed now. I’ll share tomorrow.


Try right clicking in that dialog and change the view mode to “Large icons”

Ok. But I respectfully disagree. I think a giant pile of slightly differently coloured thumbnails is a crap shoot. Much better to give the users control - but not overwhelm them with options.

For glass, for example, you get color, clarity and IOR. It would be open to simplifying it further - for example, by changing the IOR to a simple combo with “flint”, " crystal" etc. Or even get rid of it entirely.

That kind of works. That doesn’t give a preview in the preview pane and I’ll have to change that for each individual directory - but only once, I suppose…

I agree with Gustavo here,

As an non-expert when it comes to rendering, Keyshot has the most intuitive UI I came across when trying out Apps.

I opted for Octane ultimately, but only for the GPU power, otherwise Keyshot.

The advantage of a huge library of materials is that you can so easily try out lots and lots of options just to see what it would look like, and not have to either save materials as you go along or have to try and imagine/create the material first. Sounds lazy I know…! But as a designer, that’s what I want to do.

I found the additional Brazil library invaluable when using Neon, but still a bit limited in comparison to Keyshot.


Yeah, I kinda have to agree with Gustavo here too about the extensive Keyshot library and ease of use… --Mitch