Sep '04 - Aug '08
Today I'm going to start a small series of posts summarizing some basic software techniques that will make your life easier. These have been accumulated over the past three years at the GSD and are not groundbreaking, but hopefully it will help someone (especially students who are just beginning).
Since it's so central to our work, we'll begin with Rhinoceros. Usually when I see someone mention Rhinoscript they're talking about some of the awesome computational geometry stuff, but it's also a powerful way to optimize your workflow. These three things will dramatically improve your Rhino life by making navigating around the file quicker.
Interface & Speed
1) Get used to working with one hand on the keyboard and one on the mouse. This can be odd for people who do not have CAD experience, but being able to quickly hit both escape and the space bar will massively speed up your Rhinoing.
2) Change the middle mouse button macro to "ZS" which will zoom to the selected object when you click it. This also re-centers the point of rotation for the view point. To do this, go to File>Properties>Mouse
3) Install Rhino Parkour, a simple script I wrote that allows you to quickly zoom in to a specific point. This can be quite helpful when tinkering with vertices or other detail areas that require an extreme close up view. If you have a large model you can 'jump around' similar to the namesake of this script by repeatedly using the command. I also find that I use parkour to jump to a specific point, then select the object I've jumped to and click the middle mouse button (now mapped to ZS) which provides me an easy way to navigate from object to object. I have the key "Q" mapped to run this script so that I can easily move between Q, escape, and the space bar. To install: download the script from the link above and save it in your Rhino folder. Then make an alias to whichever key you prefer with a "loadscipt" command in the command column similar to this (change the path to match your own setup):
Command: !-LoadScript "C:\Program Files\Rhino 4\Scripts\parkour.rvb"
4) Bonus round! While we're at it, change your aliases to match Autocad or whatever program you're most familiar with. Mapping "tr" to "trim" instead of "TriangulateMesh" saved me so much aggravation. To do this, go to File>Properties>Aliases.
Dimensions & Unit systems
Given the mix of international students and faculty in schools of architecture I often hear people trying to make some conversion of units from imperial to metric or vice versa. Regardless of what unit system you are using in a particular Rhino file you can always enter dimensions in whatever unit system you prefer. In other words, even if your file is in metric, you can type 16" as a dimension and Rhino will do the conversion for you.
That's fine for inputting dimensions, but measuring them is still a pain in your ass which is why I wrote a script that reports dimensions in both imperial and metric. Using the same method we did to install the parkour script, doubleDistanceCalc may be used to replace the built-in distance tool.
Command: !-LoadScript "C:\Program Files\Rhino 4\Scripts\doubleDistanceCalc.rvb"
Congratulations, you've passed Elide Modeling School #1! Subsequent lessons will introduce more scripts to smooth the process of Boolean operations, cutting sections, and whatever else I have on my hard drive.
p.s. Most people think I'm crazy but I swear by the cheap-o roller ball mice that come with Dell computers. Sure, they may not last very long, but you don't have to worry about mousing on a pad, or even a flat surface. The buttons aren't too hard to click, it's super light for traveling, and it's cheap. Expensive mice, be damned!