Technical drawings - Is LAYOUT the best way?


(Lowell Walmsley) #42

I appreciate the vote of confidence.
I also know that there are some things I wish worked better. One of those is the whole layout space dimension thing including exporting them.

A few months ago I did a set of working drawings for a house in Rhino and if I would have had any hair to start with it would certainly be gone now. And in the process, I found a few things that helped. That’s what I was trying to explain.

AutoCAD has plenty of facilities to represent everything you’ve talked about and it’s a goal around here to be able to do a lot better exporting some of the things that still don’t work very well.

I asked about why you want to export to Acad because I try to keep up with what the pain points are. A few years ago it would have been much more common for someone to say that they needed to finish up the things Rhino couldn’t do that to say that their client wanted a dwg file. That’s good in a way, and moves my pain point along a little more to the reliable export thing, That’s what I wanted to understand.


The reason customers want a 2d autocad drawing is often because they are used to review products in 2d. I often dream about a world were the process from an idea to the production does not contain any flat processes.

I think the main reasons that 3d reviewing is not popular jet, are:

  1. Checking a dimension in 3d is hard for someone that is not used to a 3d environment (especially for complex constructions)
  2. A life 2d view (eg. top view or section) from a 3d model can often be very useful, but a non-3d modeler friendly viewer with clippingplan view selection interface doesn’t exists jet (or does it?)
  3. People are used to 2d. They like paper…
  4. Change is hard…


But it’s not just the customer that needs to be able to evaluate a model. Production is still largely based on drawings. There’s more behind a product than just a 3D model. A designer knows how parts need to interact and that information needs to be communicated with the producer. While I’ve seen GD&T in 3D, to me that still makes more sence in 2D. At least until (individual surfaces of) parts in the 3D model carry that information within (as opposed to leaders floating in 3D space) them and this information is carried along different file formats all the way into the CNC machine.


Acutally there is some benefit to 2D Drawings.
A good 2D Plan is an abstraction of the actual planning reducing the complexity and highlighting important information.
Certain things are “easier” to understand. Not because someone is used to it, but be cause the information is filtered.
This is of course only true if the 2D Plan is actually able of transporting the relevant information. With complex construction it filters out the complexity (and might filter important information)

  • Martin


In my opinion the process from 3d to CNC is already stadium that is well defined.

2d “viewing” is very important in my opinion! But the creation of 2d drawings or the “live” 2d view of model were all the irrelevant information is hidden, are two different matters.

The power of a complete model and be able to show or hide information for different purposes in 2d views is very strong.
In contradiction to the creation of 2d lines drawings every time for different parties and don´t even to start to talk about revisions.

(sorry for my bad english)


As far as I know, you cannot define the surface finish of e.g. a sealing surface on a part, then export that part to STEP (or any other intermediate format) and expect the receiving software to extract that information.


We convey tolerancing and surface finish by use of a colour legend. When the programmer opens the file in WorkNC or madCAM, they know by the colours of the surfaces as to what is important, and what is not. It’s worked for us for many years.



Thanks for the insight, Dan! I am assuming that all this is in-house?


Yes, but there’s no rocket science here. The only drawback at this point in time is that this doesn’t work with polysurfaces. But for models comprised of surfaces it’s just a matter of establishing an arbitrary colour legend and sticking to it. For outsourced CNC work just pass along a pdf of your colour legend along with your model.


Besides exporting to dwg which actually works fine from Rhino it would be very helpful just being able to print a 2d (let alone 3d) drawing from Rhino in Vector lines.
The print dialogue includes the option to print in raster or vector. But vector printing has not worked for years. I suggest you either fix this or remove the option. Preferring of-course that it’s fixed :smile:


You want to vectorize tech view. We all want tech view as vectors. Will life ever be so simple? @jeff


My work implies usually dealing with complex architecture 3d models that need to be represented properly in 2D in order to get them built.

Rhino has been my main tool for more than 10 years. The main problem with the 2D CAD workflow in Rhino (talking about V5, 6 is on the go) when you want to get the information from 3D models is that you need lot of tricky work that involves Make2D, Section, Trim, Cap…to be able to generate quality 2D drawings with correct line width representation and projections (nothing to say about element labels, calls to element in descriptive charts, etc…).

If we could get some nice workflow that let us to specify views and cuts with good customization on how sectioned or projected elements are represented, that could improve a lot our workflow.

If I were the guy at Mcneel coordinating this (I saw that @bobmcneel said that @lowell is) I would ask my self “How many steps an user needs to complete a good looking and useful 2D drawing from a proper 3D model?”. Here we could draw a flowchart analysing in which steps Rhino is failing bringing the easiest way to deal with the problem.

And I’m a very happy user and Trainer. I have been training Rhino for more than 9 years continuously and I really think that the 3D to 2D workflow is a miracle compared to the traditional 2D CAD drawing thing, but I really thing that some polish could be very useful to deal with the new pushing family in the house…the BIM software. It’s not about considering BIM software a direct competition ut considering that for some kind of task users could prefer in the near future to invest in those monstrous tools having an all in one solution instead of looking at the fast, reliable, flexible and awesomely stable Rhino software.

Just my two cents in the conversation. I don’t want to be pedant or raise any unquestionable statement, but I think that this is a very interesting field not explored properly yet.

P.S.: I tried to deal with the problem by myself from time to time, but I always face the same problems: the RhinoCommon API doesn’t expose proper methods to script some tools using functions that mimics Rhino commands as Make2D. I saw recently that a fellow from the GH forum made a good try on it:


yes please


I fully agree with what you wrote about documentation. There have been several threads about this topic. Another very comprehensive one is the following

Our office started tracking hours lost on reworking drawings in Rhino. The conclusion is we cannot continue using Rhino as our main software. We are currently evaluating Revit and ArchiCAD although we are unsatisfied with their limited functionality regarding geometry and scripting. In addition to that we do not need 50% of their functionality (BIM, databases etc.). We plan to continue using Rhino for “special parts” that will be linked into the main models of Revit or ArchiCAD. For geometrically less demanding work we will switch completely to Revit or ArchiCAD. Not an ideal solution, but still better than dealing with documentation in Rhino. Documentation is the only reason we are leaving Rhino.

Regarding the distinction between 2D drafting and 3D model, I think Revit, ArchiCAD and SolidWorks got it right. With Revit being my personally preferred solution. Please look into the linked thread above to see videos of the documentation capabilities of those programs.

Although this discussion is frequently brought up by architects using Rhino, still other fields such as product design, industrial design, engineering, fabricators, boat builders etc. would greatly benefit from a better documentation feature. Everybody who has to produce and manage 2D documentation to build / fabricate / communicate their models.


As it comes to documenting our designs (interiors, furniture and products), after purchasing Rhino last year, we assumed we would have much more efficiency than earlier, working with SketchUp’s LayOut.

Evaluating Rhino, we first put up with the workarounds, not realizing that these would soon:

  1. take up loads of our time to set them up again and again
  2. leave us with a rigid and stiff workprocess, not able to incorporate changes ( the whole process has to be re-done from scratch)
  3. leave us with a workprocess prone to faults with dimensions that are not updating when some volume changed or section cuts that stay behind in the layout, that are not longer relevant because no link to the original volumes is kept (unless you use the limited capabilities of Section Tools)

My very simple question to McNeel:

Do you take these numerous remarks from your users serious, concerning some professional documentation capabilities of Rhino? If yes, what are the plans and what’s the agenda?

Or would we users just have to hope for the best, that the current scribbling in the margin will ultimately fall into some right position?

(btw… I have fallen in love with Rhino as a modeling tool, after using it for a year now :wink: )


Just use a different tool? Microstation (and powerdraft) can reference rhino files directly. Both are far superior to autocad in my opinion


Sorry for bumping an almost year old thread, but I am curious to know if this position has changed.

For example, are there any known changes coming to Rhino 6?

On a side note, I feel that improving the product drafting part of Rhino is not abandoning its core industrial designers customers, but that changes to this area would benefit these customers and everyone who intends to show and fabricate their 3D modeled product.

I have taken notes of all the third party suggestions on this thread, but I would like to know what you guys specifically do to achieve great drawings with an efficient use of time.

(John Brock) #61

Our three largest customer market segments are industrial designer, jewelry, and architecture,
Of the three, architects primary deliverable product are production drawings.

Some industrial designers produce shop drawings for project record keeping, but many do not. They generally deliver digital models.

Jewelers have no need for production drawings at all.

That means if we decide to spend a lot of development effort on architectural drafting tools, it only helps some of our users, and is of little or no benefit to the rest.

If we write better surfacing tools and other tools that help everyone, they we are not neglecting anyone.

That said, certainly better support for architects is important for us and we will continue to improve those tools, but not at the expense of abandoning a significant chunk of our users base in the effort.


John, I’m an industrial designer myself.
Allow me to stipulate a thing or two on the matter of drawings… They’re not merely used for production purposes. They are a means to communicate about the subject you’re designing, if not, often helping in solving technical questions on dimensioning parts. Be it only for internal use or just for yourself as a designer, drawings can be a useful tool during the design proces.

So turning around your statements above, you would rule out this means of communication for designers then. Do you say that McNeel deliberately chooses to develop a designers’ software without the means of having a ‘live’ 2D section cut that updates on the fly when your model changes. And denying designers the possibility of having a usable ‘live’ 2D view of their designs.

Hand-drawing 2D views and sections are no option, off course, in a modern workflow environment. Everyone understands that the risk on errors of little changes overlooked will be to high.

Can I say that you presume a lot of things about your software’s users.

If not given attention in development, why are you using the sections, drawings, layout, … in your advertisements? Are you then tricking customers into buying the software, with features that are not even production worthy. Furthermore, they will never be fully developed, we hear now!

Hmm, onerous statements you have, if you ask me…


PS: I presumed having some productivity gain myself, buying/using rhino layout/sections/… Wrong thinking on my account…

(John Brock) #63

Bart: It is never our intention to trick anyone ever.
If you feel you have been tricked, then please return Rhino for refund.

You have badly misconstrued my comments. I am not advocating we remove Layouts, or Section Tools, or anything else. No tool in Rhino is ever 100% complete and finished. There is always something it does not do that some group of users would find useful. We rely on our users to work with us to communicate what is needed. Then we need to evaluate this huge pile of requests and allocate our development resources in an efficient way to improve Rhino for the largest number of users possible. That’s all I’m trying to get across.