The Ultimate Guide for Rhino-to-AutoCAD workflow

Hi forum,

For the last couple of years, I have been a big fan of Rhino for 2D drafting, not just for schematic design but also for full construction drawing sets, including construction details, technical plans, MEP, etc. I personally find Rhino way faster, smoother and more intuitive than AutoCAD, from layer organization (sublayers, plotting…) to certain commands (curve booleans, gumball…) — and I have a feeling that I’m not alone with this.

We are about to start a project where we want to fully use Rhino, but some people in the team still prefer AutoCAD “because it is the industry standard” — and I must agree with that. They are not 100% convinced of the “Export DWG” workflow as sometimes we have gotten problems with “dimensions”, “hatches”, “layouts”…

So, dear community, I challenge all of us to put together “The Ultimate Guide” for the best Rhino-to-AutoCAD workflow so we can easily jump from 3DM to DWG — and, maybe one day, conquer the 2D world.

What is your Rhino-to-AutoCAD workflow?



Autocad is Dead, “period”.
Its heavy in simple taks. Its stupid hatches. Its stupid freezing from editing blocks. Its stupidity in draw orders. Its!, slowing moving from model to layout. Its slowing from Xref files. Its line weights that are not real. Its stupid orthogonality way of drawing.

i think BIM will be the future of CAD project assist. Archicad, Revit and others… At least for Architects.
But still… Rhino have its own place here. I love it. And just wait for Rhino 7 and its new modeling mesh features and improvements

Your list can go on and on.
I killed A-cad 13 years ago, never came back and I am still considered pro in my company meaning Autodesk have done nothing to develop it.


that is a pure fact.
Since i dont remember more then Autodesk Autocad does not improve simple bugs. They simply still there. Edit block is one of them. Hatch another. And we can be here for all day long.
:slight_smile: if it was not because the industry standard i surely have move forward so long time ago.

We try to replace AuoCAD with Rhino. We are almost there, only Rhino 6 Mac seems to be a bit unresponsive in 2d drawing.

And doesn’t open AutoCAD Layouts properly.

I hope McNeel can improve that quickly, otherwise I like Rhino a lot.

I wanted to make that shift myself as I now only use AC for 2d documentation. So much so that I’ve gone to only ACLT. However, there are a few features I use daily that Rhino does not have preventing me from abandoning AC all together.

White/Black layer color (White in model space, black in paper space)
Dynamic blocks
Automatic Viewport (Detail) scale display in paperspace, to name a few.

These have been discussed here and some are on the R7 WIP list.
With a lot of help from the programing mavens I created a python script to access and display the correct detail scale, set it in text, and I made a template for it. It’s serviceable, and I now do simple drawings in Rhino. However, without these and a couple others, my 2d speeds are substantially reduced. I still export Rhino, and Sketchup to AC for 2D.

I know the DetailScale is on the WIP list.

Hi Calypso,
I gave up my AutoCAD LT for drafting at Rhino 5. Rhino 6 and Rhino 7 chip away at more feature that make 2D not just possible but enjoyable.

Just a short list for Rhino 6 features that made the difference in my projects:

  • Make2D improved and faster in Rhino 6 for making 2D elevation from the 3D model.
  • Clipping plans assigned to the detail
  • Rich text
  • Rhino PDF printer
  • Draw Order Control of 2D objects

White/Black layer color (White in model space, black in paper space)
Rhino has a Print Color that can accomplish this. You can assign the print color to the object or layer

Combine a solid hatch with the Print color or white and the draw order control to create a wipe out hatch

*Dynamic blocks:
Not supported. But plugin VisualARQ has Grasshopper Components that are similar and easy for those that do not use Grasshopper to use.
Rhino 7 will have support for simple block attribute in and out of Rhino.

*Automatic Viewport (Detail) scale display in paperspace
Rhino 7 enhanced the Text Field with this option. It even offered formatting.

Hope this helps.
Let me know if you have additional questions.
Mary Ann Fugier
McNeel Technical Support and Training


May I get a model that will show me this issue?

Please open it and delete anything you do not want to share.
You can post it here or email it to

Thanks for your help.
Kind regards,
Mary Ann Fugier
McNeel Technical Support and Training

Hi all, thank you for your replies.

I agree AutoCAD is dead. I just started a collaboration with a new partner (interior designer) who has been working in AutoCAD for +6 years and I (architect) don’t plan on going back there as Rhino offers a much more enjoyable drafting experience with great results.

We recently tested using each our preferred program (AutoCAD/Rhino), exporting files to DWG when necessary. However, to be constantly exchanging files seemed unsustainable and caused some issues with dimensions, hatches, plot styles…

I believe she would really enjoy Rhino, but I understand her concerns about jumping to a new software all of a sudden.

What I am looking for is a proper Rhino-to-AutoCAD workflow so I can gradually introduce her to the new tools without freezing our ongoing projects.

I will be running some tests and posting issues here. Meanwhile, it would be nice if you share your thoughts about how to make this transition best.

Thank you!

  • Automatic Viewport (Detail) scale display in paperspace
    Rhino 7 enhanced the Text Field with this option. It even offered formatting.

Perhaps and explanation of how this works in WIP7. In AC I select the VP/layout outline/border and assign it as the object to get the scale field data. The detail border is not select-able when I tried it. I’m not getting any other attempts to work in the WIP, so I must be doing something wrong if the feature is working?

Maybe these videos can help you to understand those text field enhancement in Rhino 7.

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Just watched. Unfortunately, they didn’t help. I tried the procedure as shown, no go. I then guessed at the code being %<DetailScale()>% and entered that but got ###. Changing the actual layout scale of the detail does nothing. The only field that is essential for layouts my work IS scale.

Hi Calypso,

The detail scale is the property that the text field is linked to.
It is best to use the “select” method at first. Typing is allowed, but the syntax is very specific.
Also there is no scale set to the layout, it is full size, 1=1. This is the same approach as AutoCAD.

Take a look at this short video.
In it I show you how to link the text field to the detail and how to format it.
Your detail layer must be visible for you to select.
Also, I show how you can change the scale of the detail, and the text field updates.
This is what the text field is designed to do and it seems to work as I expect.

You can even nest this text field in a block and it will update as well.
But remember to link to the primary detail, even if it is text field in the title block.
Try the example in the attached sample model.

Hope this helps.
Mary Ann Fugier
test detail scale v7.3dm (84.0 KB)

Thanks for sharing the links, Jose.
I have a few more of these videos left to do.

Mary Ann Fugier

If you don’t use Autocad LT try import 3dm.
Maybe this work

And maybe a Rhino 2d software " RhinoCAD " will kill Autocad definitely

1 Like

Hello Mary,

I did send you some files over wetransfer for your testing.

We are now using Rhino 6 mac.

To be able to replace Autocad entirely we have to be able to work fluently with large 2d files and import and export large dwg files with many layouts, hatches and dimensions.

Very often we get large large 2d dwg drawings from the construction industry and have to clean them up in Autocad first, because opening them in Rhino is not possible because of performance issues.

Thank you McNeel for taking this seriously, we do appreciate your attitude!

From today’s tests VS the AutoCAD side of the office, a point for them was:

I have an AutoCAD file with another AutoCAD as an external reference.
If I open the file in Rhino, the xref becomes a Block, but the reference to the original AutoCAD file is lost.

Likewise, if I attach a DWG to my Rhino file, then export it as a DWG, it would be nice if the attached file would still be there as an external reference.

Do you know a solution for this?


1 Like

Thank you Mary Ann. I was approaching it as in AC, just clicked incorrectly I guess. I got it to work.

Hopefully I’m not hijacking this thread, but my questions are related to transitioning from AC to Rhino.

Regarding the DetailScale, I actually like how my script works as it offers scale selection from a dropdown, (like in AC) and whether to lock the detailview after resizing. I’m thinking I can use the new DetailScale to automatically update the text as opposed to the current selection requirement.Giveing me something similar to AC.
AC scale select.

My python script options, Select and Lock.



Re your response on wipeout. In AC you can set a tool to a specific layer that any time you select the icon all objects are created on that layer. Can I make a Wipeout Icon/Tool macro to draw a shape that will automatically be filled with a solid hatch and be on the wipeout layer? Following on that, Can I set a draw order where that wipeout layer will always be on top?

I notice in WIP 7 my layout tabs are gone and I now have one “Layouts” tab and a Layouts panel for selecting. I would really like the option to choose. It is rare that I have more than 4 layouts so the tabs work great. On occasions when too many tabs would clutter my screen, (as has happened a few times in my AC work) the layout panel would be great.

Hi - you can right-click on a tab and uncheck the Combined Layout Tab option: