Alias DesignStudio vs. Rhino (ship concept design)

Hi all.
Which one would you go for: Alias DesignStudio (the cheapest Alias version) or Rhino? I would prefer AutoStudio, but my boss says it’s too expensive. Which makes sense… DesignStudio lacks class A surfacing and Rhino the construction history. The two main issues here.


While I haven’t used it Rhino 4 has added construction history. I can’t comment on how well it works, but I know it’s been added.

Rhino is a great app for the money. If you don’t need the class A surfacing capabilities then plenty of people use Rhino for high end production work.

Look at the end results of both Design Studio and Rhino, is there any “major” difference after the file has been rendered through a quality rendering application, no. Stick with the cheaper of the two, Rhino. Your boss and you will be glad that you did.

I think alias is great. So much control and detail, so much freedom. But all that comes at quite a premium price (10x rhino 4 ?)

What you really will be lacking in rhino, is the degree of control, which is arguable relative to an individuals skills with the software. I don’t think designstudio has any of the great surface evaluation tools.

I guess it comes down to what you are modeling- ships? Like big boats? Are your surfacing needs equivalent to the degree of automotive industry? Are these only to be used for renderings. Will they be remodeled in pro/e for production?

I’d start with rhino, it’s cheap and even if your needs expand and you need alias, rhino is a great companion package for alias (and/or solidworks).

Plus, in regard to personal development, rhino seems more common and more marketable these days…

I know we live in a consumer market… bu don’t look at price to compare. For example.

If a user spends 20 hrs on a project and does not have the control they desire… then spend 10 more hours trying to figure that out… then 10 more hours… You really have to at some point start paying yourself by the hour. Lets give it 50 per hour. 50x40 = more than the cost of the cheaper software.

Rhino seems to have more of a history with the marine industry. It started life as an AutoCAD plugin for ship designers. Further I personally believe Rhino to be a superior design tool for most designers. Alias seems to really dislike dimensions of any kind. Rhino seems to work better when you need to work dimensionally. Rhino seems to be a lot more responsive to designer needs. They introduce more tools that I find bridge the gap to engineering while keeping the core qualities of a good surface modeler.

If concept renderings are an important deliverable then I would say that Alias is a better tool than Rhino by itself. The real time rendering results are really a nice addition. Alias integrated sketching is also a great tool

Alias starts out as a auto design tool. Unfortunately auto design is a lot more visually driven, with a lot of emphasis on surface continuity and surface manipulation. Though this is important it is not the core performance factor that I look at when designing.

Alias is a good stand-alone design app. You would not need another software to create sketches,2d Linework, renderings and 3D surfaces. However most of us do use other apps like Maxwell, Bunkspeed, Solidworks, Photoshop and Illustrator. Rhino plays well with other programs. Output is rock solid. It has one of the best translators in the business, and for that alone it is probably worth the cash. It outputs clean Illustrator line work with the minimal amount of control points. I use Rhino instead of Illustrator, to output line-work that would be rendered in Photoshop.

Add on top of that the amount of time you’re costing your client or employer if they need to rebuild that model inside the engineering package of choice.

Say you build your models in Rhino and they work in Pro/e. Your doubling the work flow, because even if you do fully understand how to use an external model as your skeleton in Pro/e, you will be losing significant amounts of time (aka Money) if you have to massage that surface by .5 mm because that capacitor is bigger than you originally thought.

In my experience you would lose that time anyway. Engineers that I have worked with tend to rebuild the whole damn thing from scratch to fit their modeling methods. I asked this questions on Solidworks to Solidworks baton passes. Since the onus is on the engineers to document they will simply redo a perfectly good model 90% of the time.

Besides you would have those same problems with Rhino OR Alias. Is Catia an option? That seems built for these large enterprise level products.

It seems like i will get the summer to evaluate the softwares (Alias vs Rhino) and afterwards I will do a summary and argue for the one I prefer.

Yes, I will model big ships and small ships (everything from tankers to small catamaran ferries). Surface evaluation is not critical (everything ends up as an AutoCAD 2D drawing at the end.



Add on top of that the amount of time you’re costing your client or employer if they need to rebuild that model inside the engineering package of choice.

Say you build your models in Rhino and they work in Pro/e. Your doubling the work flow, because even if you do fully understand how to use an external model as your skeleton in Pro/e, you will be losing significant amounts of time (aka Money) if you have to massage that surface by .5 mm because that capacitor is bigger than you originally thought.

I disagree slightly. The workflow I teach does not double the time for engineers to remodel. Let me try to explain.

The designer starts off doing his research. Take pictures then may go thru discussions ect. Maybe the designers process did not skip some photoshop or illustrator models… At some point the designer starts modeling … say Alias to get down the basic lines of the product. Adds some surface patches, modifies the CV’s beyond the boundary curves back and forth. Maybe 40 or more hours go by before the first design review gets a look at a model on the screen before more changes occur.

Now the designer has something he/she likes and can now pass off the concept to the engineering staff who in my example is competent with surface modeling in Pro/E and understands alias enough to observe modeling techniques etc. At this point also the designer can explain to the competent engineer using Pro/E “don’t model it the way I did, I skimped here for time” “instead, model it with a four part boundary and trim back, I just crammed a 3 part boundary for time and ease for proving form”. In this case the engineer remodeling the part does not have to go thru the exploratory efforts. He/she gets to model the form as described in the iges export. The remodel effort is completed in 1/4" of the time in this way.

“I have helped many companies team up with themselves” if I can say it like that. Many desginers punt over the fence to engineers laughing at them when they fail. Make a smooth hand off to one on the team who gets it and work with them. There are twenty tips and tricks for the engineer to utilize for shaving even more time off the remodel process, but that is for another thread.

In the end the engineering team has a happy designer with a robust parametric and easy to modify model where designer and engineer can make quick modifications to draft experimenting with different lines etc.

The frustration comes when the communication is lacking and the engineers don’t have the skills req… Or the engineer does not have the eye for light reflections. or the engineer does not take the time to look at the iges import in Pro/E… This remodeling process does not double the time. Maybe after ribs and hundreds of changes occur it may seam like doubling…

Just my thoughts and reaction to the word “doubling”

Having used both, I would recommend Rhino. Though it may be a result of not modeling well enough myself, I have found that working within tolerances functions much better in Rhino. Alias can be quite frustrating in this regard, forcing you to reconstruct surfaces quite often. As has been stated before, Rhino also works seamlessly with many other CAD programs (renderers, solid modelers, etc.) I have personally switched exclusively to Rhino for surface modeling.

I have worked in depth with both programs and I would recommend Rhino. I have started two corporate internal ID departments and each time I have chosen to go with Rhino for a host reasons. All of which have been listed above. Rhino is just as popular with designers as alias and become more and more popular with students. That is my 2c.

After 3 months of being on the fence b/w Rhino and Alias I just purchased Rhino3D + RhinoCAM from MecSoft.

I’ll be buying Apple Mac Pro tower (w/ Parallel software to run Windows XP) + 2 screens (one for Mac and the other for PC) + Wacom tablet to start.

What’s a good output device, i.e. printer, plotter, etc.?

Which high end solid renderer would you recommend?

I’ll be hiring junior designers, but would like to get up to speed myself with these softwares though my time is spent mostly on acquiring and managing clients.

I’m not sure what you mean by “solid” renderer, but if you’re going with Rhino I would suggest V-ray, Maxwell or Hypershot. Hypershot is the easiest of the three, though, because it is so simple, it lacks the little tweaks that V-Ray and Maxwell have. V-ray and Maxwell plug straight into Rhino, and their quality is pretty comparable (Maxwell is slightly better but slower and V-ray is a little faster but sometimes not as high quality.) They both have fairly steep learning curves.

I personally use V-ray as it can output many different styles of rendering (i.e. from flashy but obviously CGI to photo-real.) Maxwell only goes for the photo-real.

If you just picked up a Mac Pro with the 8 cores then go for Maxwell.

Maxwell is fairly slow on a regular machine. On a behemoth like that Maxwell will CRANK pretty damn well. You should be able to comfortably crank out screen friendly renders in a few minutes and print sized renders overnight.

The other nice thing about Maxwell is it develops over time. The image will start off very coarse and noisy and continually refine itself till it runs out of time or cycles. To get a rough idea of what your image looks like you usually only need to let it run through half a dozen cycles. By that time you’ll be able to tell that the lighting is way off or not. The ability to post process your lights is also an awesome feature. If you do a rendering and your background light source is too dim just bump it up and you’ve got instant results.

The learning curve sucks - but thats true of ALL renderers. The great public material library and awesome results outweigh the cons - especially if you’ve got the firepower to run it properly.

Great info and insight. Thanks guys!

stay away from any Alias if you can’t or don’'t want afford AutoStudio or Surface Studio.

Rendering shouldn’t be an issue, as there are plenty of choices out there. The renderengine of Alias is ok but just a simple raytracer with some basic HDRI features. I like that engine because it has command line and batch renders.

To sum up: You can afford AutoStudio? Go for it, the construction history for align/skin and birail tools is nice. Fillets, Ball corners etc are nice features too.

Otherwise go for Rhino 4, by VRAY or even Maya or something else to render…