Rhino - AutoCAD Workflow (Worksession, Inserting Blocks)

Hey guys,

I have a problem I couldn’t solve. I am making a 3d model and I want to use CAD drawings made by other architects. I want to establish a workflow that would allow me to update the model once the drawings are changed.

These are the steps for the workflow:

  1. I attach drawings in the worksession, use lines/curves to model whatever I need. Everything works fine, except:
    a. I can’t move the drawings. For instance, if the authors of the drawings used real world cordinates of the project, that means I have to model far far away from the origin of Rhino WCS. That makes artifacts and flickering of the model.
    b. I can’t really use elevations and sections, because they are attached to the same place and with the same coordinates as in the CAD file, meaning they are on Top view.
    c. Attaching several floor plans results in missing parts, because in the original drawing people used the same block (for instance, elevator) for several floors. Thus, you have an elevator on the first floor drawing, but not on the second, third and etc.

Advantages: you have a clean file, you can use lines
Disadvantages: you can’t position the drawings; you have missing parts (e.g. same block on different floor plans)

The other option is to make a new Rhino file, insert all the drawings, rotate, move if needed, save the file and use that file in the worksession of the main file. This method works mainly for elevations and sections (see later why).

So, the logic is like this: CAD → Rhino (Inserted to) → Rhino (Main file)

You can ask why can’t I just insert all the drawings in the main file, move, rotate or do whatever tranformations I need. Firstly, I don’t want to keep those reference drawings in the file. When you try to delete the inserted block (drawing) from the BlockManager - it leaves nested blocks and the layers in which these blocks are. You can see those nested blocks of the CAD file in the BlockManager, but you can’t delete them, nor you can delete layers of the inserted block in the Layers window. Second, when you insert a file (Linked) you can’t pick lines or curves and use them for modeling. Thus, it works only for sections and elevations, because usually I use them as a reference of floor heights and etc.

Advantages: you have a clean file
Disadvantages: you can’t use the lines of the drawing; works for elevations and sections, but not for plans

So the ideal workflow would be the following:

  1. Using worksession you attach drawings you need, rotate ones you need or move, explode the blocks of the drawing during the attachment or Rhino makes copies of the blocks for each attachment.
    or 2. When you insert the drawing you can automatically explode all the nested blocks so that after you can easily delete the block and get rid of the corresponding layers.

I know that I can manually clean the drawings, move to the coordinates I need, use them in Rhino, but… the drawings are being changed and it quite tedious to do the same thing with multiple floor plans with every update they make. I would like to quickly update the drawings in the Rhino file and use them to make changes.


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Maybe it’s bad practice to comment on a 5-year old thread, but I am working with the same workflow (AutoCAD drawings in real world coordinates used as references in a Rhino project) and am trying to figure out whether there has been any progress on this topic.

Does anybody have a suggested workflow for how to deal with this? (And not having to either use a worksession and work with the geometry far from the origin point OR using a linked reference but not being able to select geometry, getting unwanted extra blocks etc).


Hi Agnes - are you encountering some of the specific issues that are pointed out in that post? Which ones?



Yes, I am looking for a way to work with an AutoCAD dwg in which it can be updated by colleagues (in AutoCAD). The CAD drawings are positioned in real-world coordinates, which means that when they are attached/imported to Rhino, their position is very far from the origin point (resulting in flickering or render problems).

Ideally, I would like to insert/attach the DWG, be able to reposition it so it is closer to the origin point but still have it be linked to the original DWG (and updateable). I would also like to be able to select individual curves or objects on layers and use them to create Rhino geometry without having to redraw or explode blocks in order to access the geometry.

Except for the specific issue of missing blocks (OP:s point 1c), I have the exact same question/issues.

If I attach the DWG:s in a worksession, the individual geometry can be easily selected and used to create Rhino geometry, but the attached file can’t be moved closer to the origin point.

If I insert the DWG as a linked block, I can move the block closer to the origin, and the block is still updateable and linked to the original DWG file, but if I want to use the block to create geometry, I have to either redraw over the curves I want to use or explode the block.

Is there a way to attach/insert a DWG so that it’s both updateable/linked to the original file, can be moved closer to the origin point AND have easily selectable individual geometry?