Rhino subD vs Maya polygonal modeling

Hello everybody,

I know it’s been a suject largely discussed in few years ago, but with the new subd in RH7, now the debat has shifted from rhino nurbs modeling vs maya polygonal modeling to : is rhino subd can replace / as good as the powerful maya polygonal modeling practiced by the world most famous architecture firm - Zaha, Snohetta… for curvy organic free-form creators!

Any remarks, return experiences, case study projects relating to this question “is rhino subd can replace the powerful maya polygonal modeling?” are welcome.

So let’s dive in…

Maya’s subd is A LOT more mature than Rhino.

We have had subd for a few years now, maya has had them since the 90’s… Maya is also not intended to be a production tool for actual objects, it’s PRIMARY function is for animation and visualization (yes I’m fully aware of people using for other stuff).

Rhino on the other hand is primarily for making things. As such our tools have more restrictions on them than maya does.

if you need animation assets, I’d personally use Maya.

If you need production parts to go to a cnc, Then I’d use rhino.

use the best tool for the job at hand.

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I will second what Kyle said , right tool for the job. While maya is used primarily in VFX some do use it in the art departments for visualization. However when it comes down to outputting for construction / props Rhino is the preferred tool. Having a background in fabrication and spent many years working in model shops i tend to look at software the way i would look at tools. Dont limit yourself , if one tool does a job better than another then use it. Balance is key. I use Modo, Blender and Rhino in my day to day process Rhino being my primary and the other two are supportive. Maya , Modo and Blender are much more robust for sub d work but the fact that i can start something in Modo or Blender and take it into Rhino seamlessly and continue working has been a life saver. While it would be great to have a one tool does it all its simply not realistic. I also find that having a working knowledge of other software allows me to trouble shoot better. I know Rhino will continue to improve Sub D but its already been a life saver for me.
I hope this answers your question , sorry for the long answer.


Thanks Kyle and Scott for your experience sharing.

I’m in architecture “production” and practicing a rhino (subd) - GH - Revit - Lumion workflow, i.e from conception to production with vizualisation et the high end. My goal is to reduce different format scatttering and stick to a one-dragon-process ( fluide work process, cantonese expression). This reduces time and be more efficient.

I’ve in the pass started a bit maya, a complete and complex software that is a real beast to master. Deep down, I think I’m a bit lazy in learning maya due to the fact it’s less user firendly. But again, it comes down to personal perference.

In what way rhino subd is not yet mature? In what way do you think RH subd should improve so that it will be as pertinent as Maya?

With all that being said, I agree that it’s a question of balance… we are all different in software receptiveness, one can base on one and second by other to complete a job!

Anyone shares experience in RH subd - GH - Revit workflow?

If you look at examples of the Maya and Modo workflows you can see where years of development have streamlined the process of modeling. You can see some examples in the links below regarding Modo which i have the most experience with . The things that stand out for me are falloffs and re-topolgy tools.

Design and idiation

Workflow example

New features

Thanks for giving us some pertinent feature difference between RH and modo. Indeed, these modo tools are awesome that facilitate seamless modeling!

For some inertia reasons, some architects (me included) are a bit conditioned by a box-thinking mode, that some form should be modeled by a particular software. Modo is a good example, I never thought of exploring it to architecture modeling. If one look for free-form modeling, it could be modo, zubrush … etc instead of maya, rhino. Perhaps it’s the format conversion between software that hinder the popularity… can a modo model be easily conveyed in RH so that it can be treated by GH?

It’s somehow the versatile designers who are willing exploring different software combinaison. I also think that the scale of object to be modeled matter. Like, in an animation, there are all sort of form to consider, but in architedture, the main concern is the façade / interior design and sometimes furniture. They are rather big object and have rather limited freedom.

Anyone has tried some other modeler that is potential for organic form architeture modeling? Modo can be one of them now that we know a bit better it’s strong feature…

Modo is one that I use and has served me well but its not the only one. Blender and Maya both have their strengths as well. Id say its more about finding what fits your needs . Zbrush also offers features that the others dont . They all have their pros and cons . As for translation, Modo now has the ability to export and import Rhino 3DM format which is a big advantage over the others. But again im not pushing one over another but rather just stating how i use it. Being able to take a sub d model to and from Rhino and Modo offers some great advantages. I would like to see more features like falloffs and adjustable edge weighting come to Rhino at some point. But for now at least there is a path that works.

Some Modo users claim that Modo is slow, moribund, and it crashes frequently.

Rhino 7 SoftTransform command is similar to Modo Falloff. The SoftTransform can be combined with Gumball.

Rhino has tools similar to Modo retopology tools: Rhino 7 CurveOnSurface and InterpCrvOnSrf commands draw curves on surfaces. Rhino 8 ShrinkWrap command automatically transforms TOTALLY CHAOTIC meshes into VERY CLEAN meshes. Rhino 7 QuadRemesh command converts somewhat messy meshes into SubD surfaces that are easy to edit.

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Thanks for sharing some insight features of Modo. I will definitely take a try to diversify.

It’s awesome the Rhino 8 ShrinkWrap command, it seems that RH subd is on his way to betterment…

Well, perhaps I’m wrong saying that RH subd is gaining power, I would like to hear from architects who use rh subd in a way that to replace maya due to less aller-retour from 2 platform… that maya is good but with a bit patient you can get same result from rh… etc

Come on, rh subd is replacing or as good as maya?.. drop in, we want to hear your voices!

Ladies, Gentlemen, Rhino subD vs Maya polygonal modeling, which is the best?

Hey guys,

you’ve been speechless over months… incredible ;(

Let me give you some feedback after having myself given Maya a try and having interacting with somebody practicing maya - rhino workflow in top organic architecture modeling firm.

It actually backups what Kyle and Scott have said, rhino subd is not mature to do complete fluidity modeling wanted, it is used to some less demanding task. But GH is needed at some point to get the whole model done.

Just give you one aspect allowing Maya to be more mature, for example in vertice selection - soft select. In RH subd, it’s difficult to select a zone with some strength variation…

Also, there are some simple parametric tricks inherent to maya without the need to treat in GH.

So overall, you can get something like 80% of model done in Maya and 20% in RH/GH.

It sounds crazy, I feel like I’ve lost years in RH nurbs modeling while in Maya you can get the result naturally if diving into a bit deeper. One factor being in terms of modeling education, Maya is not architecture orientated and hence lesser fit tuto than rhino… The power is hidden…

Anyone having experience supporting my point of view or you totally disagree…

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Use EditPtOn, SelBrushPoints, SoftTransform, and Gumball… and read entire Rhino documentation.

Thanks for hints.

RH SelBrushPoints and SoftTransform are rather basic compared to Maya which is more sophisticated and the result is more fluid.

Sorry but extra point to Maya!

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we released subd in 2020… maya released their subd in the late 90’s… they’ve had a little more time to develop, no one here is going to argue maya is more mature in their toolset.

Our SubD will continue to develop, check out the sharp command in v8 wip. Dr. Lear has developed a lovely variable creasing tool.

soft transforms with curve based falloffs is on our radar, and something I’m personally pushing for.

Hi Kyle,

Officially you are right, but practically I think you are grading your team on a very curve-based falloff.

I wrote about this apologetic ‘we are newbies’ tactic here recently:

I think new features are always welcome, but more importantly I think you guys need to make the basic feel of tools: selection, responsiveness, transform previews, gumball, snapping, alignments, etc. substantially better.

You guys should to a very healthy and grounding exercise of self/awareness: one morning, in a 2 hour window, you break the rule of ‘not looking at other software’ and you all install alongside your latest Rhino WIP, Modo, Maya, Blender, Max, C4D in one PC. And you all do one task on a simple model. And have all of you see, feel, click, drag and move the same exact polygons to do the same exact task and maybe then, only then, your dev team might start to know what they don’t know.

Or at least come out and say clearly and honestly: “look our tools are never going to be that good, but we will work on awesome live-link/ Rhino-inside tools for those who want to work with Rhino, and also with those other modeling tools alongside.”

Thanks for listening,


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not sure where you got this time line, but it’s wrong.

Maybe we are counting differently :wink:

yes the core was worked on for years and started all the way back into the v6 cycle. The core was not a useable tool in any way and did not ship in v6 for that reason.

The actual development of actual useful tools happened much later. Subd wasn’t even remotely useable for even simple models until about late 2018/ 2019 or so and wasn’t ready for release IMO until very late 2019 early 2020.

I’ll settle with you at 5 years. That’s my best and last offer.


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No matter the number of years, it appears we have a ways to go.

  1. I watched the videos linked above on Feb 11 and then tried to use Rhino’s SelBrush / SelBrushPoints / Selection filters to select SubD faces in a simple car body model. It didn’t work in Rhino. I’ll try to find out what’s going wrong and see who might be able to improve it.

  2. “Soft” transforms are already being discussed internally to see what we should do next.