Rhino better than AutoCAD for 2D work?


I’m a landscape architect who loves Rhino. As well as its comprehensive 3D capabilities, I find Rhino to be a very fluid and efficient environment for drawing in 2D.

It is a source of no small dismay to me that so many UK landscape architecture practices (and indeed other built environment professions) still use AutoCAD for 2D work.

I feel strongly enough about the advantages of Rhino that I am considering putting together a demonstration of some typical Landscape Architecture workflows in Rhino to present to practices as a kind of sales pitch.

Feel free to get in touch if this is something you would be interested in discussing.

Kind regards,

Hugh Chapman


Hi Hugh,

This is very generous of you.
Our Barcelona office is the regional office for Europe.

They do webinars and one is “User Spotlight”.
Live presentation are a little stressful but they are fun.
There is always a lot of energy when the topics presented are inspiring.

Let me alert @carlosperez and @Guillermo_Varela to your offer.

Thanks you again.
Mary Ann Fugier


There’s a really good landscape architect who’s published several YouTube videos. She says in one of her videos at one point that Rhino is not the right tool for 2D work… she’s more or less right. But if a person (or group) really wanted, they could make Rhino a viable 2D options.

I’ve done a bit of work myself. I’ve created a few C# commands and experimented with standards. I can get up to about 75% AutoCAD speed depending on what I’m doing. Unfortunately I ran out of time and couldn’t polish off my project/template.

Some stuff is already better. Hatches for example: Once you get used to Rhino’s way, it’s better than AutoCAD’s.

One big time killer for me is the text editor. That’s one thing that could use an upgrade. AutoCAD users are kind of spoilt in that respect as most modern programs actually regressed in their text editing abilities (Revit for example). I can make up for much of this with C# commands but that was another area I had trouble with (I probably should have learnt Python).

Another lost advantage compared to AutoCAD is the dynamic blocks. Grasshopper can kind of fill this void… almost/kind of. It’s just not as fast. Some of my C# code was also tailored to speed up block insertions (scaling based on the annotation style’s model space scale… if you’re in model space).

As soon as I’m confident I can get Rhino to work like I want in 2D I’ll be very happy to save the thousands of dollars per year on my AutoCAD subscription.


Hi @hughecchapman and thank you @mary for letting us know about this.

Yes, we organize the Rhino User Webinars that you can find on our Youtube Channel: Rhino User Webinars and for example, this one Computational Design in Landscape Architecture by Thomas Chapman was about Landscape design.

If you are interested in presenting one with your workflow, let me know and we can schedule a meeting to discuss the details.

Thank you.
Kind regards,

Guillermo Varela


Please checkout AutoCAD’s AI-based markup/redlining feature recognition and AI-based Smartblock insertion and Block replacement before comparing with Rhino. Also checkout AutoCAD’s webclient and iOS app, which both support “Construction Cloud” to share files across devices on different platforms and even support markup/redlining done on a physical piece of paper, which can be “scanned” with an iPad’s Camera and overlayed in the DWG as an AI-editable “onion skin”.

Thanks for replies All.

@keithscadservices @Erazmataz I do appreciate that AutoCAD has certain features that Rhino lacks or that can be regarded as superior - Dynamic Blocks, for example.

Aside from general usability concerns like the notorious slowness and crashiness of AutoCAD on many systems, my preference for Rhino for 2D work is based on basic ‘bread and butter’ functionality. Some features I’d highlight that make Rhino a great tool for 2D work are -

  1. Rhino’s enhanced selection functionality enables a more fluid and efficient workflow in my experience. In particular:
  • Rhino ‘holds’ selection after executing a command, enabling the user to move fluidly to the next command or edit the selection without having to reselect. I know that something similar should be possible in Autocad using ‘P’ for previous selection but this involves two extra keystrokes at best, and does not work reliably in my experience

  • There are a number of ways to quickly select all objects on a layer in Rhino. I find it perplexing that this basic functionality hasn’t been added to AutoCAD. Combined with Rhino’s more user-friendly layer management, this makes the Layers panel a powerful and efficient way to organise/manage/select linework (and other objects of course) in Rhino.

  • Rhino’s selection filter and comprehensive range of selection commands are surely more usable than AutoCAD’s ironically named ‘Quick Select’ or ‘Select Similar’ commands and submenus

  • Rhino’s Hide and Isolate commands are very useful and effective in terms of only ‘seeing what you want to see’ at any given point.

  1. CurveBoolean is an extremely useful command when editing linework

  2. The Gumball is very useful for certain 2D operations as well as 3D work

  3. Customising aliases enables the user to assign a one or two letter shortcut to frequently used commands - e.g. CB for CurveBoolean. I know it is also now possible to customise aliases in AutoCAD. I include this here in case anyone is unaware of this feature in terms of Rhino workflow optimisation.

These and other advantages are why I estimate I’m twice as fast in Rhino vs AutoCAD for most 2D workflows.


I’m surprised that AutoCAD crashes lots on your PC. It’s one of the most stable programs I myself have ever used.

As far as your bullet points go, there are quite a few of them that AutoCAD is actually able to do. Basically all of them but for one or two of them you’d more or less be achieving the same result just with a different (not necessarily slower or faster) approach. But… as far as I’m concerned if Rhino even just comes close, the price difference between the two programs also says a lot. It’s very hard to fork out so much money for something that has seen so little development over the years.

I’ll have a look. So far, I’m extremely disappointed with anything AI related. I recently tested out Revit to see how much the program has improved. I was blown away that the program doesn’t even remember certain user settings between sessions.
My hope was that AI would eventually be able to remember which command I want to use next. It’s crazy that these expensive programs haven’t even incorporated that yet (I see it in the marketing go figure…).

I agree on every point, and want to add:: no Split command, and no sublayers in ACAD.
I learned Rhino before Acad (10th anniversary this year, yeah!), and Acad always felt like a regression. Don’t need it, luckily.
However, dynamic blocks are sorely missing ootb. We need these, Grasshopper-powered (see VisualArq Elements).


Happy Anniversary!

I’ve only been going steady 4 years but I know Rhino is the one I was holding out for :cupid:

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Autocad should better than Rhino3D on 2d work, e.g. dynamic block


@keithscadservices if you have time I’d be interested to know more about these functions in AutoCAD. I recently spent a frustrating week or so trying to customise AutocadLT to achieve greater efficiency but with little success!

Selections: The programs are different and hard to compare. They both have strengths and weaknesses. Manipulating objects in AutoCAD is quicker requiring fewer clicks. But I wouldn’t hold this against Rhino as the extra complexity has advantages.

Holding onto selections: Rhino is better in this sense I agree. I like that you can do more while you have a selection. In AutoCAD, you can save selections. Also, knowing what can and can’t be done with a selection is really just down to experience.

Layers: You can actually filter a selection set by layer in AutoCAD. You can also do “LAYISO” and select objects that way; there’s lots of approaches that work and are fast. AutoCAD also has group/property filters. Rhino’s layers are great no doubt there. Both programs have very versatile layer systems and it’s really up to the user to develop their own workflow to capitalize on that.

Selection Filter: AutoCAD has selection filters too. Rhino’s selection filter works good but the dialog is slow (so it AutoCAD’s for that matter). I only use the selection filters in either program if I really need it. I would say that Rhino wins out here. But also the filter is adapted for Rhino.

Hide and Isolate: AutoCAD does have this as well and it works really good. I use the middle mouse button menu lots in Rhino and it’s quicker than even a good macros setup in ACAD. In AutoCAD I don’t really use the hide isolate as much due to the nature of the work I’m doing. But it’s there.

Aliases: Aliases are better in Rhino for sure but AutoCAD macro is still very handy and easy to learn. I program in AutoLISP which is even better, and is very likely the most used API language of any CAD program.

The UI and Customization: I freak out when people dunk on Rhino’s UI because for me it’s the best hands down. It’s the easiest to customize (slightly unintuitive but only slightly). AutoCAD CUI is much the same: Very versatile but unintuitive for someone who’s not familiar with it. Actually I think it was the last thing I learnt in AutoCAD. To say that one is better than the other really depends on what you’re doing. Rhino’s UI seems better suited for Rhino and AutoCAD’s for AutoCAD (go figure hehe).

I would say that AutoCAD’s speed advantage comes from the Annotations (mostly the text editor), Dynamic blocks if they are used, and how objects are selected. For that last point the best way to understand yourself is to manipulate a dimension in Rhino then do the same in AutoCAD. That’s not to say that Rhino’s flawed here; it uses control point manipulation and in my opinion it’s good that it keeps things consistent (opposed to having to learn two unique systems like Sketchup/Layout). It’s just somewhat slower.

Dynamic blocks are a hard sell especially for Revit users. I actually learnt how to make Revit families before ever learning how to make dynamic blocks. They are however productivity power houses if you know how to create/use them. Rhino objects themselves behave very “dynamic” however if you know how to manipulate them. Lots of people don’t realize that they can stretch complex elements, copy sub elements, etc… Dynamic blocks are only 2D as well (but we’re also talking about 2D of course). If you’re really crafty you can create groups that almost behave similar to a 2D dynamic block.

I wouldn’t recommend spending time mastering AutoCAD. If you can do all your work in one program I think that’s the winning solution rather than jumping from one to another simply because one is marginally faster at something else. The whole point of me trying to get Rhino to work is so that I can comfortably do complete projects in Rhino. I would say that if I can achieve 75% of my AutoCAD speed in Rhino (annotating/documentation) it’s worth sticking to Rhino.


I agree about the text editor. See this post for more detailed thoughts, but essentially I think if it were overhauled it would tremendously improve the Rhino workflow.

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Just on this point -

In case you’ve not discovered it also - I discovered by accident/experimentation that if you hold ctrl while hovering the mouse over the Rhino selection filter it deselects all and you can then select only the object type/s you want to include. Much quicker than deselecting one by one!

Just one of the ways Rhino helps enable a fluid and efficient workflow :rhinoceros::sparkles:

Right click also works like in osnap. First right click activates only the selected (deactivates all the others), second right-click (to the activated slot) returns to previous setting. Really helpful

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We use Rhino for all concept work 3D + 2D, inc plans etc.,

We have done this since late 90’s, and worked on some of the largest Landscape and Urban design projects in Australia (not me personaly, but the place I work for)

Rhino is faster than Autocad and I find it does not have all the issues that Autocad does. Is easier to just simply draw, and grasshopper is very powerful for landscape arch.

I have worked on large scale landscape works and used rhino to make basic detail drawings for other landscape architects to add detail.

But - For detail line drawings, 1:10, 1:20 etc ., Revit is KING- very fast to draw / hatch and if combined with a section plane the 2D elements can be locked to 3D edges so keep consistancy etc.,

If you can afford it, the workflow between Rhino and Revit is the way to go.




Here is a few nice Lanscape / Plan Rhino aliases for you, they will draw hatches for you:

Circular hatches:

!_circle _multipause _sellast _-hatch _Pattern=SOLID _Rotation=0 _Scale=1 _Boundary=no _enter _enter _selprev _delete

Nurbs Hatches:

!_curve _PersistentClose=Yes _multipause _sellast _-hatch _Pattern=SOLID _Rotation=0 _Scale=1 _Boundary=no _enter _enter _selprev _delete

Polygonal hatches:

!_pl _PersistentClose=Yes _multipause _sellast _-hatch _Pattern=SOLID _Rotation=0 _Scale=1 _Boundary=no _enter _enter _selprev _delete

Rectangular hatches:

!_rectangle 3 _multipause _sellast _-hatch _Pattern=SOLID _Rotation=0 _Scale=1 _Boundary=no _enter _enter _selprev _delete

At the end you can select the hatches and DB (dupeborder) to get the linework add to a cutting layer or whatever. You can see in the last command I delete the curve that made the hatch but you don’t have to.



Hi @arcade.smith many thanks for insight into your software set up and for the hatch aliases.

If you’re happy to share, I’d be interested to know what you use for planting plans and planting schedules. Keyscape for AutoCAD still seems to be fairly standard here in the UK. I’ve only used the AutoCAD version but I believe it’s available for Revit also. But it may be possible to use Revit’s native BIM functionality to automate planting schedules from planting designs…? (I need to learn Revit)

Lands Design is another option - and runs in Rhino - but I hear it has some limitations when working with planting mixes.

I’m wondering whether there is a gap in the market for a user-friendly 2D-focused planting plan & planting schedule plug in for Rhino…

Generally, if Landscape is contracted in the job, they would detail up our geometry, including planting plans,. If it was a sheet(s) that would remain same format then could be 2 ways to do it:

I would create a grasshopper script that builds tables and references any hatches or other elements using the hatch name or some key.

There are many ways to make custom hatches, and you can use Autocad Pats in rhino anyhow.

Other way, without grasshopper, may be to use Document User Text -

You could set up ready made tables and tables that correspond to hatches / layers? and then they would auto-fill.

@Japhy who is the expert on Document User Text? Can the above be done?

Here are some hatch patterns, there are some planting stuff in here:

acad_ab.pat (15.8 KB)
acadiso_ab.pat (17.0 KB)
hatchpatterns_1033_ab.pat (143.5 KB)

Here are some linetypes:

linetypes.3dm (161.0 KB)
hatchpatterns_1033_ab.pat (143.5 KB)


I’ll give my best answer which is yes. By “yes” I mean that it can be achieved one way or another and conveniently. I can even do this in AutoCAD (actually it’s easier for me in AutoCAD but I’ve been using it forever). If I made it for Rhino I would create an automatically generated “table”; probably just line work. Auto-generate a square with the hatch inside it, etc… I would probably use RhinoCommon for this but there’s other ways including Grasshopper.
It really depends how far you want to go with it. You could even have a dialog system of some sort. I’m not good with dialogs in Rhino unfortunately (I do want to get back into learning them someday though).
I’m actually working on something similar in AutoCAD but for construction estimating. It’s not way up there technically. It’s actually lots of really easy code… but combining it becomes hard. Especially if you incorporate lots of options for the user.

The dev’s themselves have said that Rhino is an excellent platform for 3rd-party add-ons. A good frame of reference is looking towards Sketchup: Basically, and 3rd-party plugin for Sketchup could have an equal, or potentially better version in Rhino. There’s more incentive for a Sketchup dev because they’d be selling to a much larger user base. Most Rhino devs also seem to lean towards being more creative types. They do amazing things but the basic boring stuff (my specialty) gets neglected a bit I think.

A ‘universal’ legend generator of some sort would be more attractive to a would-be developer because it avoids the issue of being confined to a single discipline. Something that would work for both Landscaping and Architecture.