Rhino and Grasshopper


What doesn’t kill you… makes you a better designer. Or at least that is what I am hoping.

During the semester we took a class dealing with two 3D design programs, Rhinoceros and Grasshopper. These two programs are linked, meaning designers can design in one or the other or combine them but the two programs are meant to work together. I am not a huge fan of digital design and love to work by hand. BUT the world is certainly moving into the digital era and even now, my hand drawing skills all too often seem obsolete, so learning programs like this are increasingly important.


I found that working solely in Rhino was a bit like drawing on a 3D drawing pad and even though the program gives views from above, front, right and a perspective, it was often hard to get a good idea of where you were and how the elements interacted with each other. I have a background in sculpture but at times this was mind-boggling for me.


Working with Grasshopper was completely different. Instead of building an image, you built a structure of equations based on nodes (basically different buttons that had different uses). Once the structure was complete, it would build a 3D model in Rhino. For me this was also pretty difficult, simply because I did’t have the visual reference I was used to. I am sure that with time I could learn to be more comfortable with these programs but they seem designed for engineers more that artists.


For those of you who may be learning these programs I will offer one tip. If you truly work with both programs together, moving back and forth from one to the other, not only will you start to see how the two programs work together, but you will also have a better understanding of what it is you are designing. This helped me a lot and in the end I had to keep flashing back and forth to get a good idea of what was happening.



Our professor assigned us a homework assignment to design a “shell” and “skin” for a skyscraper. This pretty much meant the outer structure and the rendered appearance of the building from the outside. I went ahead and took this as a conceptual design project, which would allow me to learn the basics of the programs for the assignment but also have some fun with a presentation poster.


My design focused on using the beehive concept of a hexagon structure to make the wall of the tower. Grasshopper allows you to make quick changes in your design, so I was able to build the structure and change it by adjusting the openings of my hexagons, their depths or the heights, which gave me a lot of room to play with the structure itself. As far as an actual design, I wasn’t really happy with the end building but the learning curve and the process I went through to be able to make the model using these two programs was great. I ended up with an extremely satisfied feeling and while the design wasn’t the coolest thing ever made, it did fulfill the goal of the assignment, which was to learn how to use the programs. And I defiantly did that (even if only in a basic way).


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