Rhino3d Pro Tips: How to Model and Design Faster

Blog post cover image.
D

esign is much more fun that modelling, especially when there are a lot of repetitive tasks that can be automated. I always try to spend more time on the design and speed modelling as fast as I can.

In this article, I'll show you and explain several tips for fast modelling and idea prototyping in Notion.

Over the years I learned from my experience and from others how to make modelling faster in Rhino. In architectural design, you often have to design and model a lot of things in short periods. Tips that can make the process significantly faster made my life proportionately easier.

## My best tips for fast modelling and prototyping in Rhino

### Templates

Set up templates for your projects.

Materials, layers, assets etc. should be reused instead of creating from scratch every time. Consider building a [design system](https://www.maray.ai/posts/design-system-notion).

### Aliases

Aliases are one of the best tools that Rhino provides. They offer a simple interface to map command sequences and assign hotkeys. For instance, an MV alias in my Rhino means `Move Vertical.` Normally you would use Move and then press V for `Vertical.`

With the alias, it's just MV. A couple of seconds each time add up to hours and even days of saved time. You can create longer sequences and speed up repetitive commands.

### Hotkeys

Hotkeys are a massive timesaver. Once I set my `Isolate` and `Show` commands on my hotkeys (`Ctrl+1` and `Ctrol+2`) it became an automatic reflex to isolate and show geometry that I need.

The default `Ctrl+J` to join and `Ctrl+H` to hide also come in very handy as modelling involves visibility of the geometry you are working on.

### Grasshopper

Grasshopper is a great tool. It can be used in so many different ways. If you are not into parametric design, it's not a problem.

You can use it for modelling too. Scripts for calculating numbers or modelling can save up a lot of time.

### BlockTools

I guess not many people know about this plugin. It's super helpful as it adds a couple of very useful commands.

It comes especially handy in facade design where you can copy the block, make it unique and make adjustments. Almost like keeping versions of the design and developing them further.

### Tab to continue

It's a small feature but very easy to use. When you press Tab when you move or draw, it looks the direction.

I like to use it with pressed Shift to enable Ortho and draw or move fixed on a direction.

### Command line

The status bar is your feedback on the interface. It always puts an error message or prompts you with possible options. A command line is a great tool. For instance, in software like Illustrator, you select a tool and if you do not remember or know the right sequence, then it's quite challenging to use that tool successfully. Rhino, on the other hand, tells you exactly what you have to do to complete the command.

### Status bar

Not many know but you can choose what to display on a status bar on the bottom of the Rhino window. I choose to display the layer on which the selected object is. It helps me to identify the layer and find it in the layer manager much easier.

## Top Rhino commands for more productive work

The commands and the above tips help to make the transition of your thoughts to the digital workspace smoother.

Communication between you and the software can be sped up to the limit of your fingers' speed and your thought process.

Various useful commands help to make my design process faster as I prototype ideas in Rhino.

I am giving here a short description and benefits but you can look them up on Rhino Wiki. The documentation is very clear and self-explanatory.

**Here's the list of the top commands I use to be more productive when designing and prototyping in Rhino.**

### Isolate/Show

These commands are among the most use while working in Rhino. In complex architectural projects, you have to `Isolate` certain parts of the project so that you can see what's going on.

### SelPrev / SelLast

Selection in Rhino is not perfect, that's why these commands are very handy when you misclick or want to select the geometry that you have just created.

### DupEdge / DupBorder

`DupEdge` extracts you the same curve that you used to create an untrimmed surface.

`DupBorder` lets you easily extract boundaries of various geometries.

### MergeAllCoplanarFaced (for those with OCD)

My OCD feels better when coplanar faces don't have unnecessary after join or boolean operations.

### Shift+CTRL Select - Faces/Edges/Points

Subselecting is a good feature in Rhino and comes in handy but implemented very poorly at the same time. In busy models, it can become slow to select a vertex or an edge.

### SetPT

Flattens selected objects on a chosen plane.

### Assign F1/F2/F3 to switch Rhino views easily

Assign the mains view to function or other keys to quickly switch between the views.

Speaking of views, you can assign display modes too. I use `W` for `Wireframe`, `Q` for `Shaded` and `A` for `Arctic`.

### Hold Alt to disable OSnap

Sometimes you need to disable the snap. Holding `Alt` will shut off OSnap temporarily.

### Boolean

Rhino can handle boolean operations quite cleanly.

### CurveBoolean

Boundary curves are very common in architectural models. `CurveBoolean` lets you easily flatten and merge curves.

Self-intersecting curves could be exploded and then run through `CurveBoolean` to get rid of self-intersections.

### Cap

Close the volumes. Caps with planar surfaces only, I think.

### CrvStart

Sets a point on the start of the curve. Helps you find the gap in the curve to close it.

### CloseCrv

For those who do not care about infinitesimal curve segments.

## Final thoughts

Increasing modelling speed is similar to typing speed. The more you train the more your muscles remember and move automatically.

Fast modelling simply makes you more productive and give you more time working on the design whether it's sketching on paper or in Rhino.

I am creating a knowledge page in Notion related to architects and designers. Sharing knowledge and experience in a system can be very helpful for beginners. Instead of learning it by trial and error, they could make progress much faster.

Until next time!

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