How hard is it to learn Rhino?
January 20, 2010 6:03 PM   Subscribe

Can an intelligent but non-computer person teach themselves to use Rhino?

My partner is a sculptor/woodworker who is frustrated with designing a complex piece that involves compound curves. It has been suggested that she try and learn Rhino. Is this a realistic plan for someone with no CAD experience and limited computer enthusiasm in general?
posted by InkaLomax to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
I am going to lean towards "no" on this. I have a lot of experience with a number of different CAD and animation packages, and I found rhino to be pretty non-intuitive. Not only was it non-intuitive, I am not convinced that it would be particularly helpful to a sculptor/woodworker (at least I have a hard time perceiving the benefit).

I suspect that if you could tell us a little more about what exactly is tripping her up (or more generally, what types of things she could use some help with) that we/I might be able to come up with a more effective computer package to assist her.

Maybe not the answer you were looking for, but I am more than willing to help!
posted by milqman at 7:25 PM on January 20, 2010

I work and teach at an art and design school. We have a Rhino class; I've taken it, but I'm rusty. Mostly we have product design students in the class, but there are sometimes fine arts students and faculty who take it. I've seen a couple of successful sculpture/woodworking projects come out of the class--objects that were carved out on our CNC router.

I think Rhino's easy to get started on but hard to master, and I think it takes a lot of practice to get really proficient at any CAD work. It's not too hard to create complex shapes ones, but it's harder to create the exact shapes you want. I find Rhino's command-line interface to be clunky and at times counter-intuitive, but that may be interference from the CAD software I use. The people I've seen struggle with the class weren't too enthusiastic about computers either.

What does your friend want to do with Rhino? Proofs of concepts? Make a visual model? A photo-realistic rendering? Animation? Generate plans? Have something made with a CNC router or rapid prototyping? Is there a reason to have CAD data? Somethings will be easier with modeling clay or carving foam.
posted by hydrophonic at 7:56 PM on January 20, 2010

I know artists who have learned it on their own. I believe it took them around 2-4 months to get to a workable degree of mastery. She can absolutely learn it, but if she is looking for it to solve an immediate problem, I would say no.

And she would have to be enthusiastic, definitely.
posted by Vaike at 10:35 PM on January 20, 2010

Maybe she could use Google SketchUp instead? I started on Rhino but as mentioned above, I find the interface trickier than AutoCad or SketchUp. SketchUp has online tutorials that are easy to follow, and the package is downloadable [I think for 8 hours at a time, but I just keep adding it].
posted by honey-barbara at 4:32 AM on January 21, 2010

I tried teaching myself Rhino and failed, but I probably lack the spatial reasoning of your partner. That being said, I have found other programs that were more intuitive--i.e., even I could use them with some success--but lacked certain key features I needed. (I was trying to mod a video game at the time, so specifics would be irrelevant to you.)
posted by AugieAugustus at 4:57 AM on January 21, 2010

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