These are the commands that we reviewed during our first (2) meeting times.

Text Command Drop Down Menu What?
Line Curve > Line > Single Line Single Segment Lines
Length Analyze > Length Length Measurments
Extend Curve > Extend Curve > Extend Curve Extend Curve
Polyline Curve > Polyline > Polyline Polylines
Hide/Show Edit > Visibility > Hide/Show
Rectangle Curve > Rectangle > Corner to Corner Rectangles and Squares
Lock/Unlock Edit > Visibility > Locking
Polygon Curve > Polygon > Center, Radius Polygons
Circle Curve > Circle Circle
Ellipse Curve > Ellipse Ellipse
Offset Curve > Offset > Offset Curves Offset
Distance Analyze > Distance Measuring Distances
Fillet Curve > Fillet Curves Fillet
FilletCorners Curve > Fillet Corners Fillet Corners
Chamfer Curve > Chamfer Curves Chamfer Curves
Explode Edit > Explode Explode
PointsOn/PointsOff Edit > Control Points > Control Points on/off
Move Transform > Move Move
Sel(variable) None > None Selection
Group/Ungroup Edit > Groups > Grouping
What Geometry Definition
Join Edit > Join Join
CloseCrv Curve > Curve Edit Tools > Close Curve Close Curve
Trim Edit > Trim Trim
Split Edit > Split Split
Scale Transform > Scale > Scale 3-D scale
Copy Transform > Copy Copy
Mirror Transform > Mirror mirror
Curve Curve > Freeform > Control Points Control Point Curve
InterpCrv Curve > Freeform > Interpolate Points Interpolate Curve
Arc Curve > Arc Arcs
Rotate Transform > Rotate Rotate
Point/Points Curve > Point Object Points
Text Dimension > Text Block Text
Dim Dimension > Linear Dimension dimension
Hatch Dimension > Hatch Hatch



Rhinoceros 3D is a NURBS Modeling Platform, allowing Users to directly develop and edit Curves, Surfaces, Solids or Meshes; within a 3D or 2D Work Environment. Using various Commands, Users begin to realize Creations more fluently, and the input gained becomes an essential part of their Work Method. More in-depth discussions, covered in future tutorials, will improve your understanding on how to use this platform efficiently, and the role 3D Modeling plays within several relative Creative Workflows.

DropDown Menus

Every Rhino Command, Macro, Preference, and Setting can be accessed from these menus. For beginners, it is very useful to get acquainted with these.

Command Prompt

The Command Prompt allows you to call commands or macros via text. Simply type in the Command, and press ‘ENTER’, ‘SPACEBAR’ or ‘RIGHT-CLICK’. The autocomplete option is very useful. If you partially type a command, Rhino will give you a listing of every command similar to your entry. Fuzzy Auto Complete is also useful, for those Users who begin to become more familiar with the Software. Enabled by default, fuzzy autocomplete suggests the most used candidate. For example, ‘LI’ most likely autocompletes to Line rather than something like LimitReferenceModel, and the autocomplete menu contains best partial and inexact matches.


Viewports are the majority of your initial view within Rhino. By Default, FRONT, TOP, RIGHT, and PERSPECTIVE Views are activated. Your Mouse Scroll Wheel will allow you to Zoom In and Out within all Viewports. CTRL and SHIFT Keys will activate different functions within these Views. For example, Right-Click and Drag within the TOP, RIGHT, or FRONT Viewports, will allow you to PAN; whereas SHIFT + Right Click within your PERSPECTIVE Viewport will allow you to PAN. You can Double-Click any Viewport Title to maximize the Viewport. Alternately, Double-Clicking a maximized Viewport will return you back to your default set-up with all (4) Views.

Top Dock – Toolbar Groups

The tabs positioned along the top of your screen, directly underneath of the Command Prompt, are Toolbar Groups. Toolbar Groups are groupings of commands that are affiliated with similar workflows. You can Right-Click on any Toolbar Group Tab, to edit the properties, or show/hide specific groups.

Left Dock – Toolbars

When we select certain Toolbar Groups, the Left Dock (Sidbar) Icons will change. These are some of the most common commands you will use in Rhino
You can customize your default toolbars by visiting the ‘Tools’ DropDown Menu and Selecting Toolbar Layout, or by entering Toolbar in the Command Prompt.

Right Dock – Panels

Panels are located within the Right Dock. By Default, some of the more common Panels are loaded. The Properties Panel allows you to edit Object/Geometry Properties. The Layers Panel will allow you to organize your geometry onto Layers. Display Panel will allow you to depict the specific nature in which your geometry is represented on your screen. Finally, the Help Panel contains information on anything and everything Rhino Related.

Bottom Dock – Snaps and Misc Settings

The Bottom Dock contains checkboxes pertaining to Object Snaps. These are only viewable if you have the ‘OSNAP’ setting activated (located at the lower-most center of your screen). Object Snaps are extremely useful for successful and correct 3D Modeling involving Post-Processing (i.e. 3D Printing, Injection Molding, Architecture etc.). By selecting the checkbox affiliated with ‘End’, any geometry we create will automatically gravitate towards existing geometry end points.

Below Object Snap, we have various quick selection settings. Your Grid Snap Settings are helpful when you prefer to use the Grid Lines for Reference Points. Ortho, will lock anything you create, to rotation limits (i.e. every 90 Degrees, 45 Degrees etc.). Planar will limit your geometry to Planar Locations, a setting best understood through experience, rather than explanation (try drawing a Polyline with the Setting OFF, and once with it ON)

Getting Started – Options

Before you begin any Creation, you should tailor your workspace to your needs. Take for instance, Units of Measure- we can change our Units, (depending on your preference, or an outside entity) by entering Units into the Command Prompt. A new window will appear, and a DropDown Menu will allow you to change your Units to anything you desire. You can also access this setting by entering Options into the Command Prompt; or by visiting the Tools DropDown Menu, and selecting Options.

Another custom setting that will change depending on the Project, are your Grid Settings. The ‘Grid’, is featured in each one of your Viewports. The Grid is made of Major, Minor, and Axis Lines. Your Axis Lines are depicted by their bold Red and Green Colors. Your Axis Lines will change depending on your View- in the TOP View, Red is your X-Axis, and Green is Y-Axis. In your FRONT View, X-Axis remains Red, but your Green Axis Line is now corresponding with the Z-Axis. The point at which these two Axis Lines meet, is your Origin Point. This point is defined by the values X=0, Y=0, Z=0. Measurements from this point, can be referenced by your Major and Minor Grid Lines. Major Grid Lines appear in a bold dark-gray color; whereas your Minor Grid Lines appear as a thin, dark-gray line. While it may seem silly to think of these lines as tools- they will prove extremely useful when used properly with the Grid Snap Setting. You can specify the spacing of your Grid Lines by entering Grid into the Command Prompt. However, for beginners, it may be more suitable to enter Options into the Command Prompt, and browse to the Grid Options in the next window.

Display Options

Different workflows will require different visual preferences. The ability to change the way your geometry is represented visually, can be accessed in a multitude of ways. To begin, let’s discuss the available choices:

Wireframe: Default Display Mode, Unshaded, IsoCurves and Exterior Curves.

Ghosted: Shaded, Objects appear translucent.

Shaded: Shaded, Opaque, Minimal Processing Power.

Rendered: Shaded, Simulation of Materials, Lights, Scene, and Camera; Medium Processing Power.

XRay: Shaded, Wireframe+Ghosted.

Technical: Objects appear as Technical Drawings are defined; w/ hidden lines etc.

Artistic: Soft lines, simulated Pencil Drawing effect.

Pen: Hard lines, simulated Pen Drawing effect.

To set your display mode, you can use the DropDown Menu affiliated with any one of your viewports. Alternately, you can enter SetDisplayMode into the Command Prompt. More commonly, Wireframe, Shaded, Ghosted, and Rendered Display Modes are used- thus, you may use Keyboard Commands to switch through these Display Modes: CTRL+(‘S’ = Shaded),(‘W’=Wireframe),(‘G’=Ghosted),(‘R’=Rendered). Go to the Help DropDown Menu, Select Help Topics, and type ‘Display Modes Options’ for more information.


The ability to organize your geometry onto Layers, will prove useful with any workflow. It is a universal convenience!  The Layers Panel, in your Right Dock- will allow you to create as many layers as you like, organize, and access geometry as needed.

To create a layer, right-click in an empty space, and select New Layer. You are given the option to title the layer immediately, or you can double-click the text name and re-title the layer later on. Layers can also have SubLayers, and SubLayers can have add’l SubLayers, etc.

The Column Field immediately to the right of the Layer Name, is the Current Layer indicator (Check Mark). You may have only one Current Layer. When creating geometry, all objects will be saved to this Layer; so it is important that you place the check mark, next to the Layer you would like your geometry saved. If you forget to do this, you can always select the geometry you would like to transfer, then right-click on the Destination Layer, and select Change Object Layer from the DropDown Menu.

To the right of the Current Layer Column, we see the View Indicator (Light Bulbs). This Column controls whether the Layer is ON/Viewable, or OFF/Hidden. *Note: You cannot turn OFF your Current Layer.

In the next column, we have our Lock feature. If you lock a layer, the affiliated geometry will remain visible- but cannot be edited. This is useful with Object Snaps. Following the Layer Lock, a square color box, indicates the Layer’s Color. This will change the color of any geometry saved to the layer.

Lastly, we find the Material, Print Width, and Linetype Properties. Materials are affiliated with Rendering Workflows, and discussed in a separate Tutorial ([RHINOCEROS] Rendering Link *wip). Print Width and Linetypes are discussed in the next tutorial, [RHINOCEROS] 2D Modeling.

Universal Tips

i. Typically, the ‘ENTER’ Key is used to activate the Command called from the Command Prompt. Several Commands in Rhino require multiple steps, and you should reference the Command Prompt frequently for instructions. The ‘SPACEBAR’ Key, and the Right Mouse Button will also function as the ‘ENTER’ Key. Use whatever is most efficient!

ii. You can Zoom with the Mouse Scroll Wheel in ANY Viewport.

iii. CTRL+Z will undo your previous command. Type Options into the Command Prompt, visit the General Setting Area, and you can adjust the max memory for the Undo Command. This will allow you to undo several operations.

iv. Commands can be called in (3) Ways: 1. Drop Down Menu Selection; 2. Entering the Command in the Command Prompt; 3. Calling for the command via Toolbar Icons/Buttons. Regardless of your selection, the Command will always appear in the Command Prompt History, above the Text Entry Area. You should begin making notes of the Text Format of the Commands, to become more efficient with your Modeling Technique.

v. Selecting any Geometry, and typing ZS into the Command Prompt, will Zoom to the Selected objects. Additionally, Left-Clicking and Dragging to your right, will create a solid outline window; any Geometry that is COMPLETELY within this window’s bounds, will be selected. Left-Clicking and Dragging to your left, will create a dashed-outline window; any Geometry that is within any portion of the window, will be selected.

vi. The Help Panel in Right Dock is extremely helpful. This Panel will AutoUpdate, when you call a command, this Panel will immediately display relative information on how to successfully carry out the command. Included are short videos (3-10 Seconds).

2D Modeling


This Tutorial reviews some of the more common 2D Geometry Commands. Creating 2D Line Geometry provides a fundamental platform for 3D  Modeling and Digital Fabrication Workflows. To begin, Users should understand how Line Geometry is defined. Every Line and/or Curve, is defined by Points- there is always a Start Point, and End Point. Some Geometry requires additional defining Point Geometry- such as Curves or Arcs. Even still, some commands use Point Locations to define specific Measurements, such as a Circle’s Center Point to Radius. Regardless of the scenario, it is important to understand that Point Geometry defines Line Geometry.


Menu Location: Curve > Line > Single Line

This command creates a Single Line, by indicating a Start Point, and an End Point. The command terminates itself after both Points are defined.


Menu Location: Curve > Extend Curve > Extend Curve

Use the EXTEND Command to lengthen, or shorten a Line. Pay attention to your command prompt, this will provide you with vital information on how the command is completed. You can indicate a Boundary Curve or Point to EXTEND to; or you can EXTEND Dynamically. As a final option, you may simply type in a value for your extension length.


Menu Location: Curve > Polyline > Polyline

Polylines, simply put, are multiple line segments- strung together by their Start and End Points. Ultimately, the Command begins by defining a Start Point. Define the End Point, and this becomes the Start Point for your next Line Segment. Terminate the Command by pressing ENTER.


Menu Location: Curve > Rectangle > Corner to Corner

The RECTANGLE Command creates a closed, rectangular polyline. Begin by indicating a Corner, then define the Second Corner to terminate the command.


Menu Location: Curve > Polygon > Center, Radius

Creating a Polygon, will require some additional input within the Command Prompt. Begin the Command by indicating a Center Point; within the Command Prompt, you may change the Number of Sides by providing a numeric value. The Command terminates after defining a Radius.


Menu Location: Curve > Circle

By default, the CIRCLE Command operates similarly to that of the POLYGON Command- in which the User defines the Center Point first, then the option of defining the CIRCLE by Radius, or Diameter , is provided within the Command Prompt.


Menu Location: Curve > Ellipse

Ellipses are defined by a Center Point, then two additional values define the measurement of the Ellipse’s ‘X’ Axis, and ‘Y’ Axis.


Menu Location: Curve > Offset > Offset Curves

Offsetting Curve Geometry duplicates a curve so that all locations on the copied curve are a specified distance from the original curve. You have the option of defining the distance, and the side to which the Curve Offsets- but you can also OFFSET a Curve to Both Sides, by selecting the ‘Both Sides’ Option (during your operation) within your Command Prompt


Menu Location: Curve > Fillet Curves

A Fillet (pronounced FILL – IT) requires two Curves to be completed successfully. This will create a tangential arc between the two curves- simply put, you will have a rounded corner. The Command requires input for the Radius of the Arc- but be careful, too small or too large of a Radius will result in a Fillet that won’t work.


Menu Location: Curve > Fillet Corners

In the event that you have a Polyline or a Polygon with multiple Corners, you can call the FILLETCORNERS Command. This will function exactly as the Fillet Command, but will process a Fillet on all existing Corners of your Line Geometry.


Menu Location: Curve > Chamfer Curves

Chamfering is similar to a Fillet, however, it creates a Line Segment between two Curves, instead of an Arc. This will leave you with an Angled Corner- and the Command requires (2) Distance Values to successfully complete. This Command is best experienced, rather than explained.


Edit & Analyze


This Tutorial reviews some of the more common Editing, Analyzing, Measuring and Transforming Commands for Rhinoceros 3D. Each Command will apply universally to any Geometry within the Rhino Interface- thus, these Commands are typically utilized most often throughout your Modeling Workflow.


Menu Location: COMMAND ONLY

This Command will prove most useful, and most frequently relevant throughout any Modeling Workflow. Calling this command will provide you with detailed information on any selected object properties. Primarily, this Command will indicate whether or not an object is Closed, or Open- extremely useful when preparing files for any Digital Fabrication Post Process!


Menu Location: NONE

Typing ‘SEL’ into the Command Prompt will provide you with multiple selection options. The Auto-Complete will create a drop-down list of all available Selection Commands. There are various methods in which you can SELECT your geometry. Getting to know these options sooner, rather than later, will save you a lot of time.


Menu Location: Edit  > Control Points >

Control Points, are the Points that define your Geometry. This is extremely useful for quick/minor edits to line geometry, but gets more difficult as you transition into 3D Modeling. Turning your POINTSON, allows you to edit the location of your defining Control Points. Line Segments will typically be controlled by their Start and End Points- whereas Curve Geometry will usually have multiple defining points available for editing. You will have trouble navigating around your geometry with Control  POINTSON, so turn them POINTSOFF when you are finished editing.


Menu Location: Edit  > Visibility >

During the Modeling Process, there will be several instances where Geometry complicates completing a separate task. You can select the Geometry, and HIDE it to complete your task. It is recommended, however, that you place the Geometry on a separate Layer, and HIDE it by toggling your Layer Visibility. It is a common mistake to constantly HIDE items- when the moment arises in which you require the Geometry to be visible once more, typing the command SHOW will make ALL hidden Geometry Visible again. You can imagine hiding multiple items, forgetting about them, and then calling the SHOW Command. A surprising ‘mess’ will ensue.


Menu Location: Edit  > Visibility >

You can LOCK selected Geometry with the LOCK Command. The item will remain Visible, and you can still Object Snap to defined points. The Geometry cannot be deleted, or edited until the UNLOCK Command is called. Similar to HIDE/SHOW, it is recommended that Users place their Geometry on a Layer, and Lock it, if they have multiple items requiring this setting.


Menu Location: Edit  > Join/Explode

There are several instances, in which Objects are made up from multiple parts. This could be a Polyline, or a Polysurface- by calling the EXPLODE Command, your Object will separate into each specific part. Polylines become Line Segments, and Polysurfaces become Surfaces. JOINing an Object back together, proves a little more difficult, as all disjointed items must be re-selected beforehand.


Menu Location: Edit  > Trim

Performing a TRIM is exactly what it sounds like. To successfully TRIM any Geometry, however, you require an intersecting object. The TRIM Command requires that you select the Object you would like to TRIM, first; then you select the intersecting object. From this point forward, within the Operation, whichever parts you select with your mouse, will be deleted/removed.


Menu Location: Edit  > Split

SPLITting an object is similar to TRIMming- however, your Object retains any TRIMmings- instead of deleting them. This Command required that you select the intersecting object first; then you select the Geometry to be SPLIT.


Menu Location: Transform > Move

The MOVE Command is helpful when you need an Object MOVEd from specific point to specific point. You can use Distance Values, or (X,Y,Z) Location Values to define Starting Position and End


Menu Location: Transform > Scale > Scale 3D

SCALE an Object by selecting an Origin Point, first. Next, define the Object’s first reference point- preferably, this is a distance, length, or value you already know. Finally, enter the new value into the Command Prompt. This will re-size your Object to the Size you’ve indicated. Origin Point-to-Reference Point #1 = New Value. You can also Scale 1 or 2 Dimensional by using SCALE1D or SCALE2D.


Menu Location: Transform > Copy

The COPY Command allows you to create multiple copies of an Object. Alternately, you can use the MOVE Command, and set the ‘COPY’ option to ‘YES’ within your Command Prompt. Think of the COPY Command, as a MOVE Command- only you are now creating duplicates.


Menu Location: Transform > Mirror

MIRROR Objects by selecting the Geometry, first. Second, indicate a Center Line, this is called your ‘Mirror Plane’, and by default defined by (2) points. You also have the option of creating copies, by activating the ‘Copy’ Option within the MIRROR Command Prompt.


Menu Location: Transform > Rotate

ROTATE an Object by selecting the item, first. Second, indicate an Origin Point, this is called your ‘Center of Rotation’. Next, indicate your first ‘Angle Reference Point’- your object will ROTATE about the ‘Center of Rotation’, dynamically, or by a defined angle value input into the Command Prompt. You also have the option of creating copies, by activating the ‘Copy’ Option within the Command Prompt.


Menu Location: Analyze > Length

The LENGTH Command is great for Line Geometry. Simply select the Geometry, and use the LENGTH Command. The LENGTH of the Line can be referenced in the Command Prompt’s History at the top of your screen.


Menu Location: Analyze > Dimension

Use the DISTANCE Command to get DISTANCE Values between two points. The DISTANCE Value can be referenced in the Command Prompt’s History at the top of your screen.


Menu Location: Dimension > Linear Dimension

There are various DIMENSION Commands- however, specifically using the DIMENSION Command will allow you to create a LINEAR DIMENSION. This is more commonly used when providing reference to outside project members- but useful for ‘quick’ measurements on an as needed basis.


Menu Location: Dimension > Text Block

Using the TEXT Command, will allow you to insert TEXT Objects into your Layout. You may choose the Font, and Font Style- and you can re-edit the TEXT by double-clicking the Text Object after creation. By default, the TEXT will appear with a Fill- meaning, the object is filled with a solid color (dependent on the Layer on which the Object was created). You can eliminate this fill, by using the EXPLODE Command. However, re-joining the object won’t re-fill the TEXT. See HATCH (next paragraph) for information on how to re-fill a Closed Object.


Menu Location: Dimension > Hatch

The HATCH Command, will create a pop-up prompt, for you to select what type of fill, a Closed Object should receive. Note, that the object must be completely closed, before performing a HATCH. Typically, HATCHing is a Computer Aided Drafting Command, used to distinguish between different materials or processes for a Project. However, the command is also utilized for various Digital Fabrication Processes, such as Laser Engraving.