Rhino 8 Feature: SectionTools Integrated

SectionTools plugin allows you to create dynamic sections and drawings to support modeling, drafting and fabrication workflows. SectionTools is now fully integrated into Rhino 8 for Windows and Mac and it has been updated to take advantage of the many new clipping and sectioning features in Rhino 8 such as Section Styles and Selective Clipping.

The following is a description of different SectionTools commands and workflows, and how they integrate into Rhino 8.

Clipping Sections: Create, View and Edit

Rhino 8 introduces a new command to create clipping planes called ClippingSections that is geared towards drafting and sectioning workflows. It helps select sectioned objects, set sections orientation, name, label and also save to Named Views for easy access in modeling and Layout spaces.

  1. SectionTools commands are located in the drafting toolbar and the menu under Drafting->Sections.
  2. The ClippingSections is the main section creation command. It creates clipping planes that cut through selected objects (or all objects). It has options to set the direction, depth, name prefix, label and saving to named views.
  3. Clipping planes properties such as name, depth and label and which views to clip can edited directly from the clipping plane property panel. You can also update which objects and layers to include or exclude from clipping.
  4. The clipping plane widget has been updated in Rhino 8 to indicate the up and normal viewing directions. The widget includes a dot or text label of the clipping plane name. The grip points of the widget are used to change the location and depth of the clipping plane. End grip points help scale the widget size.
  5. Sections geometry (curves, fill and hatches) is visible only when the view is actively clipped. Clipped views update dynamically when transforming the clipping plane, changing objects properties or editing the model. If you need to the 3d sections geometry (regardless whether the view is clipped or not) you can extract in-place using ExtractClippingSections and ExtractClippingSlices commands, and you can enable History if you need the geometry to update with model changes.
  6. Sections can be copied, deleted and transformed using the clipping plane object of the section, and regular Rhino commands. Coping a section that is saved to named views, creates a new named view for all copies. Deleting a section, also deletes the associated named view and the drawings layers of that section.

Fabrication: Extract 3D and 2D Clipping Geometry

Rhino 8 supports extracting curves, hatches, surfaces and slices of clipping planes for modeling and fabrication. Use ExtractClippingSections command to extract curves and hatches in place and ExtractClippingSlices to extract surfaces and slices in-place. Both these command support history. You can also use NestedClippingDrawing command to generate sections curves that are projected and nested on World xy-plane with tags which can be used in laser cutting workflows.

Dynamic 2D Drawings: Create, Edit and Export

Rhino 8 supports creating drawings of sections and elevations of clipping planes that update with model changes. The drawings are projections of clipping planes’ views on the XY-Plane. Use ClippingDrawings to create the drawings. The geometry is organized in layers to control visibility in modeling and layout. Drawings dynamically update when editing the associated clipping plane. You can also use UpdateClippingDrawings command to reflect model updates such as adding and removing objects from the model, or changing their properties.

Use EditClippingDrawings command to edit the 2D drawings properties such as grip point, label visibility, placement point, background and projection. You can also exporting the 2D drawings to 3dm and dwg files using ExportClippingDrawings command.

Sections: from 3D Model to 2D Layout:

Rhino 8 introduces a number of new features that enhance the flow between 3D modeling space to 2D layout paper space when it comes to sectioning data extracted from clipping planes. The following present two workflows.

1) Use Clipped Views in Layout

Create clipping planes for section, plans and elevations, then save to named views using SaveClippingSectionViews command with Clip=Yes option. Reference the saved named view from a detail in layout. You can set the depth of the clipping plane to zero to view the section without the background geometry.

2) Reference Drawings in Layout

You can generate dynamic drawings of clipping planes sections, plans and elevation and their background geometry, and place on the Work XY-Plane using ClippingDrawings command. You can then reference the drawing in layout from the Top view. The section geometry is organized in layers that you can turn on and off in layout. It is now possible to turn off layers in model space, and keep on in layout. This helps viewing the drawings in layout only.


  1. Files created with SectionTools in Rhino7 should load correctly, however section hint and layers will be updated to use the new layer organization and features in Rhino 8, so please make backups of your files before loading into Rhino 8.
  2. SectionTools commands in Rhino 8 will work with clipping planes created using the ClippingPlane command. For example, it is possible to using any clipping plane to extract 2D drawings and save to named views.

Hello @rajaa ,

  1. I have no such grip in the latest WIP. Will it appear in the next one?


  1. I’ve already asked about this. Will it be possible to change arrow style?
    Maybe we need an additional chapter in Annotation styles related to Sections?

  2. Select Section by picking labels? Much easier to me than trying to aim the line.


The grip appears if the section has a custom depth other than zero

This is discussed here… Please add your input there.

Add to the list here…


It’s a very interesting advance to have merged the clipping plane and section tools functions. In spirit it works well.
It would be nice to be able to move section views with the gumball, rather than having to go to the command bar.
There should be a settings panel to pre-set layer parameters (line thickness, line type) according to your own visual charts so that we can integrate them into our model files.

Will there be any Grasshopper components to use these functions?

1 Like

I’m not sure I understand. Can you elaborate?

I talk about the “sections drawing”, which are unsensitive to the mouse. These sections drawing could react like blocks I think.

I can see that it would be useful to be able to change placement and angle of the drawing directly. I added this to the list here…

1 Like

Added this request to the list…

1 Like

I’m so happy it’s finally being made available for Mac users too. This will help me so much in regards to me drawing for projects.

I’m so thrilled to be able to adopt this workflow soon, my issue it seems the custom section styles doesn’t function in the latest build, I was expecting a hatch pattern at the section cut.

Is your object set to have it’s section style come from the clipping plane?

1 Like

Oops , you are right, it was set by object. I need to wire my brain differently :slight_smile:
Thank you @stevebaer for clearing this out.

1 Like

Don’t feel bad, this trips me up a bit as well. I often wonder if we should be defaulting all objects section style attribute to “By Clipping Plane”. It might be a bit unorthodox for us since Rhino typically defaults most attributes to “By Layer” but it seems logical to me for most starting workflows.


It probably depends on what users want to present. By clipping plane is pretty limiting as you only get one section style for many objects. In the case where you have objects representing different materials you would need to use ByLayer or ByObject.


I agree that it’s a limited path, but I think the snare is when creating a clipping plane you end up in the clipping plane panel where section style is looking at you like “click me next”, which won’t get you anywhere by default. To me that’s the disconnect for anyone trying it out for the first time. It’s not obvious that you need to go solve the puzzle elsewhere.


Hi Rajaa,

I blieve they are talking about the same discussion we had at length maybe a couple years ago now. Here’s a link back to that orig thread:

Hi @rajaa we did have some discussion already about Section Tools in the past and I am quite happy that this command evolved and integrated with clipping planes.
Good Job!
There are nevertheless some options to be added to be effective in my workflow :
Actually there are only three options, inherited from the former SectionTools: Center / Min / Max.
If I place a dynamic section on an actual layout to quote / annotate it I don’t like the section to move around…
This happens currently with any of the current options if there is a change in overall shape.
what about add an “origin” option? could be the intersection between axes
X= Section, Y=0, Z=0 in the example shown.

Nested Clipping Drawing, spacing between axis / center of the sections
Actually it is possible only to add the spacing between the boundaries of the sections. what about add spacing between center or axes as from above?

What about Nested clipping drawing to behave like Export Nested clipping drawing, with the same options? It is currently not possible to export to XY-Plane a “static” section with background.

Possibly Edit Clipping Drawing is more intuitive if placed as a Right Button option together with Create Clipping Drawings?

Hoping this is clear enough,
Thank you as always for the great work you are doing!


Thank you for the feedback.

It will be good to find consistent location. Can you elaborate on how an origin option can work and ensure consistent location. There are 2 variables: the location of the clipping plane, and the objects to be sectioned. Currently, the command uses the bounding box of sectioned objects, the grip point, and orient to target point.

The spacing is set to be the gap between sections’ boundaries to ensure there is no overlap between drawings. We can add an option to set the spacing center-to-center. Here is the wish…

@pascal what do you think?

Hi @rajaa
regarding “origin”

I think a consistent location could be the intersection between the Clipping plane and main axes like in attached sample file and screencapture.
This should works fine for orthogonal X/Y/Z sections.
In case a clipping plane is rotated the grip point can be kept and switched to the other axis at 90°?

Clipping Sections Test_v8.3dm (410.6 KB)

Another option could be to place “Ortogonal” Clipping Planes like other solid modelers do specifying X/Y/X plane and set distance from origin or pick point.
Even the name could reflect this like, in my example:
X = 2000 is a Clip Plane placed on YZ-Plane @ 2000 from origin.
But this way other properties needs to be added to Clipping plane and maybe we are adding too much complexity?

Notilus Clipper actually behaves this way with “hidden” Clipping Planes in a fashion similar to v7 SectionTools.

We already discussed about it here
@tahirhan Does Notilus clipper is compatible with Rhino v8 and the new Clipping Sections?

1 Like

Hi @rajaa
I got another couple of questions:

Curves & Clipping Sections
looks like curves are excluded from Clipping Sections,
is this an intended behavior?
If I Section a curve I get a Point, with Clipping Planes any output instead.

Computing Speed (CPU ? GPU)
Can be expected any improvement in Section computing speed?
Actually, the time required to compute a section for my model is ~5m for each one.
CPU load is 100% and the PC stay totally unresponsive for 10-30s…
I am working with external 3DMv7 files attached as linked block instances and as worksession.
Around 1500 Surfaces for a total file size around 200Mb

Thank you!