Rhinoces vs. Sketchup


Dear Archinectors,
I convinced my boss to buy Rhinocesros 3D for the project i'm working on now, which includes modeling a complex terrain. my firm's been using sketchup up to this point and now I have to show and convince my co-workers and other principals how good Rhino is compared to Sketchup. I wish you sirs can help me giving me some additonal insights. If you also believe Sketchup has some advantages over Rhino, please share with me as well.

I believe Rhino's better than Sketchup in

1. Creating complex curvaceous model with great accuracy - hence, provides widened modeling capability.

2 Better control over curves and surfaces.

3. importing and exporting to other softwares such as CAD, 3ds
Max, Revit, and even to Sketchup (Sketchup wouldn't be bad at
this too)

4. Easy learning curve? Someone might say that SketchUp is easier to learn but my modeling capability in sketchup is limited to boxy forms.

Apr 7, 09 12:04 pm

Since you most likely have a CAD background - Rhino will be asy to learn, in fact you would already be half ways into your Rhino EDU (asuming you know CAD). Its not as easy to learn as Sketchup, but you said it yourself "my modeling capability in sketchup is limited to boxy forms".

Importing and exporting - works well with both software.

Apr 7, 09 12:56 pm

In support of Rhino:

Multiple plug-ins that allow you to do almost anything

Most renderings I see from SketchUp look like dog crap


Parametric design with Grasshopper

Command line with many commands the same as AutoCAD be honest, I'm not even scratching the surface. I'm sure someone will post on here and just totally obliterate SketchUp...

I'm sure SketchUp has some advantages...maybe, but...

Rhino FTW!!!

Apr 7, 09 12:58 pm

you can add Penguin Live display modes if you like the 'sketch' plus many more looks.

the only thing Rhino lacks but is getting soon is real-time shadows along with 64bit support

also watch this new video on what is possible with Paneling tools: Link

overall I don't think any software can touch Rhinoceros at this point, not for it's simplicity, advanced powerful tools, extensive plug-in collection, price, interoperability in CAD, lenient licensing model and much more

Apr 7, 09 2:12 pm

the topic could read: Rhino vs. max,autocad,sketchup,illustrator&more

and that you are doing complex terrain get either poinset reconstruction set or Rhinoterrain

Apr 7, 09 2:14 pm
Cherith Cutestory

Let me start out by saying I am not the world's biggest fan of SketchUp. I find the interface to be confusing and difficult to use, menu items are difficult to locate and the way that it doesn't let you isolate geometry by layer is counter-intuitive to pretty much every other software made.

However I have seen people do really amazing things with the program, so there that is.

I think a lot of it comes down to the type of work your office is doing. If you are just using the models as quick form and schematic studies and you are not really doing any complex geometry or crazy details, SketchUp might be the way to go. It costs 1/2 of what Rhino costs and people with no 3D modeling skills can use it. It exports well to Maxwell or Vray if you don't want the ghetto SketchUp "rendering."

If you are looking for an affordable modeling software that is more robust than SketchUp, then Rhino is totally the way to go. As mentioned above, it has an endless number of useful features and plug-ins enabling you to do just about anything. Best of all, Rhino interfaces with almost every software any office would or could use, and that is always helpful when you receive someone's 3D Studio Max and you don't have 3D Studio.

Really though it comes down to the office and the work. Also be mindful that the person who pushes a new software is also going to be the person who has to teach it to everyone and answer the boatload of questions that will follow.

Apr 7, 09 2:15 pm

I like both sketchup and rhino.

Sketchup is brilliantly simple to use and the sketchy display styles are good for early concept stuff that possibly sit next to hand drawn sketches. But eventually I always hit a wall with sketchup, where things suddenly just won't work they way I want them to.

Rhino on the other hand is more involved, it has a steeper learning curve, but essentially there are no limitations as to what you can model. I also find that modelling from 2D CAD files is much easier with Rhino than with sketchup. With the free plugins from the rhino labs pages in the rhino wiki many architectural modelling tasks are made simple; panelling tools and pointset reconstruction are definitely must haves.

Finally, any professional should never be tied to one software package. Software is just a tool and the professional will always choose the tool best suited to the task.

So my oppinion is, you'll need both.

Apr 7, 09 5:29 pm

Thank you everyone for thoughtful response. I find them very helpful.
just one more question, I will probably work between Rhino and Sketchup in the future and I am just wondering what is the best file format to import/export between two software? obj, or dwg?

Apr 7, 09 8:12 pm

Two completely different programs. Learn both.

Apr 8, 09 5:39 am

Rhino can open Sketchup files natively--just be careful, vertices don't always line up properly due to SU's modeling methodology

Apr 8, 09 12:50 pm

Isn't model making easier using rhino since you can flatten 3d work onto a 2d board and then all you need to do is cut out the pieces and glue them together and with access to cnc machines and 3d printers you can do so much more.

Apr 8, 09 8:39 pm
le bossman

yeah like sicro said i like them both for different reasons. if i'm working on a small project that doesn't have any curves (although there are plugins and scripts to get it to make curves) i'd go with sketch up every time. yeah, sketch up's drawings don't look good, but i don't think rhino or flamingo's do either. it really takes a LOT of messing around to get a decent rendering out of flamingo in my mind. rhino's better for curves, and more industrial design and fabrication type applications. i'd just buy a copy of each and then get v-ray.

Apr 8, 09 11:19 pm

Anti, you said "the only thing Rhino lacks but is getting soon is real-time shadows along with 64bit support"
Do you mean Rhino can do real-time shadows in 32bit Windows, or did you mean Rhino lacks both Real time shadows AND 64 bit support?

Apr 9, 09 1:02 am

rhino is really nice to work in merely because of the multiple viewports

snaps are better

fewer glitches than sketchup

more accurate

for me it's the little stuff

Apr 9, 09 2:06 am

sketchup (for most purposes) is free...

Apr 9, 09 8:17 am

sketchup is free and you dont (or at least shouldnt) render from it

i love how the common bash against sketchup is that its renders look like crap
its not a rendering program
get one of the plugins or whatever other programs with it, and it can produce nice renders reasonably quick

if you need photo quality, mistaken for real life images, dont use it, use one of the other actual render programs

but you can do very quick modeling and rendering with sketchup that i would think works for most of your projects in an office
unless everything you do needs ridiculously awesome realistic renderings

Apr 9, 09 9:59 am

Yeah, SketchUp is free for private use and that makes it even more interesting as a modeller to have on the side.
However, Rhino is so powerful and versatile, yet so reasonably priced that it must be the best value modeller money can buy.
That's why both are 'must haves'

In contrast to what a lot of people said, I really like the sketchy display styles available on Sketchup. The cartoon style 'rendering' is really conducive to diagrams, concept sketches, initial ideas kind of stuff - that's what you use SketchUp for.
Once the designs develops and matures, you probably need more flexibility and modelling power, you want clay style or full photorealistic rendering and that is where Rhino together with Brazil, V-Ray or Maxwell kicks in.

Of course you also need a good 2D CAD package for production drawings and layout, a photo editor, image stitcher, vector drawing program, spreadsheet and word-processor - not to mention pen and paper.

And that's another good reason for Rhino - it reads and writes many file format and thus fits smoothly into the production pipeline.

Apr 9, 09 4:06 pm

what file format do you use to transfer rhino model to sketchup?

Apr 9, 09 6:03 pm


DWG from Rhino to Sketchup.

Rhino imports sketchup natively.

When you want to get a clean imort into rhino from sketchup (i.e. not a mesh object) you need to use the skethupimportoptions command, and choose the planes option.

Both programs are awesome for their intended purpose. Can't go wrong with either - use both together. Did Voltron only have one cat/robot/vehicle.....nooooooo.

Apr 17, 09 11:48 pm
ghetto SketchUp "rendering"

- I just wanted to repeat that line. Awesome!!

Yeah learn both, then don't use them...learn something else. The new "it" will be out in 2 years anyway just when the global economy picks up and it won't be any software you've heard of. So learn it and forget - allegiance only gets you killed.

Apr 18, 09 1:18 am

not true my Rhinoceros allegiance has gotten me work and given me the abilities to do allot that could never have been done anywhere else.

worker owned model all the way!

May 8, 09 6:22 pm

"allegiance only gets you killed" - not completely true. I have unfettered 'allegiance' for AutoCAD, Rhino, Photoshop and Illustrator. And that has helped me make a lot of money.

Probably what you mean is that one should keep looking around for the 'next big thing'...and grasp it quickly...

May 8, 09 9:38 pm

Rhino for everything... nuff said. I've wasted years before finally switching over. Don't be one of them.

May 28, 09 1:56 am

If Rhino is so great, why are you using Autocad?

May 28, 09 6:05 am

Autocad and Rhino are two different things. each has its own function, both can produce great or obscene architecture.

May 28, 09 6:11 am

you mean intellicad. for the classic feel and look ;)

May 28, 09 6:16 am
le bossman

i would like to point out that many older professionals, especially those who learned to draft by hand and aren't well versed on the computer, really like sketchup because of it's simple, intuitive interface, particularly it's ability to construct solids by extruding surfaces. i would point out to them that rhino's extrude command can do this just as well, and with the patch command, the cap planar holes command, the fillet solids command, and perhaps all the other solids and surfaces editing tools, can work even better and be just as fast. the only thing they may need to ever learn is how to temporarily set the c-plane to a curve or surface, but generally even this isn't the case if you're extruding a specific surface. even with all of it's capabilities, constructing simple solids in rhino is almost exactly like doing so in sketchup. the same can be said for the basic navigation interface, i.e. orbit, drag, zoom etc.

May 28, 09 4:43 pm

try 'MoveFace' for all the sU fans

May 28, 09 7:11 pm

When making shadow... Su is better I think... Thats good for producing simple graphic options for client... Su is also faster for quick perspective study in eye level... I think faster than setcamera in rhino... I am not very familiar with rhino...not sure if there are some quicker methods achieving those...but in general rhino is better in many aspects.

May 6, 16 7:23 am

You can't even compare them, two different products for two different branch of people.

May 6, 16 8:00 am

SKup works just fine for smaller scale projects where shadow study/ renderings can be for had in as soon as a couple of hours and a quick and dirty raytracing pass to eliminate the sketchy look should you are too fond of it. Attached pic related. 

And yes, Vray works in total integration with SK no need to export anything. 


For more complex/precise work, sure pick your tool, no need to get stuck with rhino. 

May 6, 16 12:33 pm

wow.. it is surprising that people responded this thread that I posted 9 years ago.. it feels like a message in a bottle.  

Lot of things happened in 9 years.. the company that i worked for went belly up during the recession. I became proficient at SU, Rhino, 3Ds Max, Revit, etc during the harsh years to survive.  

Now, i don' have to do this anymore. i have juniors who can do it for me :) I told them to learn everything. 

Vray plugin works on Rhino too.  One company i worked for uses Rhino then render images via distributed nodes of multiple Vray licenses.  My juniors told me it takes 15 mins to create 3000x2000 images, though this is based on lot of other factors - complexity, materials, lightings.

May 6, 16 8:23 pm
Stasis that sounds a lot like my firm... Which office are you in?
May 7, 16 3:18 am
3D Model Man

One major point I thing a lot of people on this forum have missed out on I think is having access to over a million free 3D models on Sketchups 3D Warehouse. This includes a ton of actual models from real distributors around the world that have even IFC tagged some models to make them usable for BIM. This is what Sketchup is tailored for - 3D modelers in Architecture and Design. 

Working in construction I usually need to convey an idea to a client which involves modelling basic geometry then populating the scene with tons of models that people from all over the world have made public in the 3D Warehouse. Having this 3D warehouse, an ease of use and speed is the reason I use Sketchup. 

I am also an experienced 3DS Max modeler/CG Artist. Similar to Rhino I would only ever use Max if I need to model organic shapes. But I have also seen people create organic shapes in Sketchup using a ton of plugins it also has on the extensions warehouse. 

All in all it depends on the work you do, but from a design and construction perspective, I have had a lot of support from Sketchups 3D Warehouse for my line of work. 

Dec 16, 17 6:08 pm

Sketchup models import into rhino natively now. I often import entourage from the sketchup warehouse into rhino.

Personally, I am using Form Z. Sketch up is very weak with NuRB forms and surfaces.
Form Z has the look and feel of sketch up but more powerful and geared for architecture firms - plus it offers now vRay pluggin
Good luck !
Dec 19, 17 5:44 pm
Personally, I am using Form Z. Sketch up is very weak with NuRB forms and surfaces.
Form Z has the look and feel of sketch up but more powerful and geared for architecture firms - plus it offers now vRay pluggin
Good luck !
Dec 19, 17 5:44 pm
Non Sequitur

Again? How much is formz paying you for this continuous endorsement?


Sketchup all day.. Preliminary concepts can be pumped to the client with relative ease. Import into LUMION and you can create decent quality renderings in a fraction of the time it takes to model in RHINO. Not to mention the warehouse is is extremely useful. I changed my work flow in sketchup and even use it to put together detailed elevations ect.. Still need CAD or REVIT to put a construction set together but SD / PD / DD I think it can produce the fastest models. I should also mention our firm does not deal with parametric crazy geometry so I cant speak to that. 

Dec 19, 17 8:37 pm

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