Rhino and vray vs modo

Hey i have been using solidworks and keyshot for the last two year or so but i am looking to mix it up a little and expand my tool kit.

I am looking at a different rendering and modeling package to use along with solidworks. I am hoping to use these to modeling things that are a little tricky in solidworks and then render these models.

I have come across these two combinations to use in conjunction with solidworks and i was hoping that someone could give me advice on which would be the best option. I was thinking either using rhino and vray or perhaps just modo?

Also what would be the best software to use when attempting to model a products inside a 3D space e.g a toothbrush in a bathroom or something. Would 3ds max work best for this?

VRay IMO isn’t worth the investment anymore. VRay is great for architectural viz and was a great tool a few years ago, but these days with tools like Keyshot you can get much better results much faster.

Now learning Rhino as a surfacing tool I’d recommend (or Alias) since surface tools give you some freedom that Solidworks doesn’t.

Modo is also a great rendering package if working in conjunction with Solidworks, but it’s also what I’d call a “high effort” rendering tool. It has some really nice plugins that give you access to photorealistic studio lighting, materials, a lot of other nice touches.

As far for putting something in a 3D space the question these days is do you actually NEED a 3D space? Rendering on a photo backplate (IE take a picture of a bathroom) and then composting in Photoshop is the norm these days. You can try to actually model a full bathroom but these days that doesn’t make much sense - that’s a lot of investment because now you have to spend time to get a photorealistic bathroom environment too.

This is my cup of tea…get ready for long-windedness…

Personally I’m very much a supporter of supplementing typical ID software with a robust rendering engine. If you’re doing strictly informational consumer product shots, sure stick with Keyshot, but if you want to add some artistry and/or start doing advanced visualization projects, most definitely look into more elaborate renderers.

Vray is great but a headache, Maxwell is my favored software but can be difficult to integrate into a design workflow (render times). Luxrender can achieve similar quality and is free, but this means no tech support.

As for modeling: if you’re trying to expand your arsenal, I’m not sure I’d go with Rhino. I do own it and sure it’s more flexible surfacing but it’s still just another NURBS modeler. So I think you should aim for a subD modeler, of which modo is a good choice. But the modo rendering engine is actually the same technology that powers Solidworks’ Photoview360, so you’re not really getting an additional renderer (even though it allows vastly more functionality).

Other subD modelers include Lightwave and Softimage XSI, and the plugin Power Surfacing (SW). But even more excellent are the cheapo Silo (abandonware) and the free(!) Nvil.

If you really want to be a pro, and kill a million birds with one stone, learn Blender. The amount of functionality it has is astounding. It is free, has an excellent rendering engine, and does animation, subD modeling, standard polygon modeling, NURBS, digital sculpting, particle systems, fluid simulation, physics/dynamics simulation, rigging, UV mapping, camera tracking, and compositing. This is more functionality than most paid software!

There’s a question of what you want to do with the software and whether or not you want to be a designer who can create nice renders, or a visualization guy who also does design.

Softimage/Maya/Max/Blender all fall into the second camp IMO. You can create awesome visuals but if you then need to go and take that back into the real world (with the niche exception of people who are using Sub D tools for things like 3D printed products) having a Surface tool and Solid tool under your belt is more universally valuable.

Blender is great for a free tool, but most professional studios use professional tools for a reason, which makes learning Blender more of a value for the hobbyist, not a professional.

At the end of the day it really depends on what kind of projects you want to be working on. If you’re designing interior spaces, then Keyshot isn’t the right tool. But if you just want to drop your product into an environment, it will get you 90% of the way there in 10% of the time.

I am a huge fan of Vray and Rhino, but I have been using both of them for some time. Rhino, and most other NURBS modelers, is incredibly fast for rolling through iterative 3d models. It’s cheap, too, especially compared with Alias and Solidworks. Vray has a steep learning curve, but I simply don’t like results from the new crop of renderers (e.g Bunkspeed Shot, Keyshot, etc.) Everything seems to look the same to me.

That being said, my next program/digital skill to learn is Sub D modeling. The fact is it’s much faster than any other method, and it extends into basically every part of the design process other than final surface/solid modeling (which Solidworks is more than capable of.) I see a lot of product designers starting to work with Sub D programs, and Blender seems like a great option.

Eh so many options =/ I really like keyshot for quick renders and the software was a breeze to learn but i am looking for something that can create a little more advanced visualizations.

I would ideally like to go for something as close as possible to solidworks regarding the user interface and i noticed there is a modo for solidworks kit that has similar navigation and layout to solidworks. Has anyone had any experience with this, i was just thinking it might help with the learning curve if i decide on modo?

Seems lots of this comes down to personal preference. A lots of ID firms use solidworks but it seems that when it comes down to rendering, there isn’t really a industry standard?

I wouldn’t let this hold you back. Solidworks has one of the most unique interfaces in the 3D industry. If you end up liking a different program, it’d be a shame to let an unfamiliar interface deter you.

Yes, and it’s popular for a reason. Very smooth and easy. Remember it requires the full edition of modo though.

Seems lots of this comes down to personal preference. A lots of ID firms use solidworks but it seems that when it comes down to rendering, there isn’t really a industry standard?

It’s a personal preference only if you’re a student, a freelancer, or an employee at an unusually flexible company. So really there could come a time where you pour (e.g.) $2000 into modo and many hours into learning it, and then start work at a studio that says “Hey welcome to Designco, we use exclusively Alias and mental ray.” So it’s really random chance. I guess it depends how much cash you’re willing to throw around!

I don’t know if you’re a student or a pro, but if you want a relatively “safe” skillset that prepares you for a broad range of employers, knowing Solidworks and one other surface or polygon modeling program (probably Rhino) will more than suffice.

There’s demos/trials for all the software that’s been mentioned. Doesn’t hurt to get all of them. Also note that learning any advanced renderer (in the class of Maxwell, Vray, Luxrender, etc) will massively help you in learning any other advanced renderer. They’re all based on the fundamentals of photography lighting.

In conclusion: 1) you can’t predict what your next employer will want you to know, and 2) the technologies all blur together and build up your universal knowledge regardless. So it’s for those reasons that I recommended the open source stuff.

I have been designing furniture for 6 months now and went from being a solidworks jockey at a foundry for 3 years doing pretty advanced surfacing in soldidworks. Things like taps which have a lot of organic curves and that sort of thing.

I recently decided to revisit Rhino as we used this at uni and I think it will be better for modelling more organic forms (think Arne Jacobsen’s egg chair).

I think that with my solidworks licence, keyshot licence and rhino I should be set to do some really cool stuff, and have already. The great thing about Rhino in my opinion is that it just makes any surface you ask it to whereas solidworks will throw it’s hands up in the air and the screen will turn red with error messages. This means you have more creative freedom.

Another big plus is the control point manipulation in Rhino.

I’m not sure what other programs can do this, but know that I can make a shape in rhino, export it as a rhino 4 file, open in solidworks, add brackets, legs, frames etc, scale it if need be and then export as xt, to render in Keyshot.

It’s a good workflow.

The Alias/Rhino surface->Solid workflow is very powerful. If done right it lets you not worry about fudging with all the parameters to get your shape right and then send it out to a solid tool to add the features you need.

I’m seriously considering purchasing Autodesk’s t-splines for Rhino and ts elements importer for solidworks. Looks like it could speed up my workflow further. At $975 and $750 I think they may be a good investment. Has anyone gone down that path?

I might get the demo versions and do a model of a product I have in mind for it and see how much it speeds up my modelling.

Certainly try every tool you can get your hands on. Free trials even better.

I tried the T-Splines plug-in for Rhino a couple years back.

My comments were answered by the expert Mark Biasotti. The interchange might be of benefit to you, toward the bottom of the page.

For high quality renderings I would like to at least chime in and say I continue to be impressed by Bunkspeed as a student I have the luxury of trying multiple programs for cheap or free. Bunkspeed seems like a logical next step after Keyshot the interface is a bit more complex but still pretty basic and it is a good gateway into the higher levels of rendering. I personally like the renderings better then Keyshot. With all that said good post processing in PS is a must for any of these

@UNarmed8888: You’d need Rhino, T-Splines, and Vray to = Modo. In the end it’s like what most ppl are saying go with what you’re comfortable with. Modo in the pipeline plays better with others whether you’re going to CAD or CG. And there’s a kit called SLIK 2 that has something that I’ve not seen anyone else do with lighting is being able to pick on the object where you want the light to shine and then the lights go to it…

Maxwell has a plugin for Solidworks. I use it with Rhino and is by far the best renderer in my experience. Just use the plugins don’t worry about the studio. It is easy to use, set a material, set a sampling level, objects in focus set a background image then render with multilight, done. If you don’t want to wait till the render is complete, stop and save the image at the level good enough for you.

…and not that this was really part of the equation but a seat of Keyshot is $1k for basic and $2k for Pro. Modo is $1,400 and gives 10 times more from a rendering stand point and also give some amazing SubD modeling capability.

As an alternative there is also the cloud based solution Lagoa which is is offering an online only real time web browser experience.


Not to derail the conversation too much but Adam have you played around with Lagoa much? I saw their booth at IDSA and was pretty damn impressed but still haven’t had the time to dive in. I’m pretty entrenched in Keyshot but personally I love the idea of cloud everything so the business model really appeals to me.

Hey choto;

I figured I could add some to the topic as well. I use Rhino (for modeling), and modo (for modeling/rendering). I also work at Lagoa and use it for rendering as well.

Try out Lagoa for yourself, choto. We operate on a freemium model, and our free version is fully featured (the pay version gives you faster rendering, more storage space, etc).

I’d say the biggest improvement to my workflow by using Lagoa has been the background renders. When I wrote this article (http://lagoa.in/1bNHYrr) on architectural lighting, I made an adjustment, sent off a render, made another adjustment, sent off another render - an hour later I had 10 renders going at the same time. Then I went and played Battlefield 4 (I was working from home - yay cloud!) while the renders completed. If I had done that with modo I would have had to sit there and tie up my machine the entire time - and I definitely couldn’t render more than one image at the same time. So while the rendering engine is fast and accurate, more so than many others, it’s also not fair to compare it strictly on speed - you free up a lot of your local processing power once you move your rendering work over to the cloud.

The other cool thing is this: http://lagoa.in/1eVQ1oW. Click to load the model and click the green button to start the render. If I was working in an ID shop, I’d love to send that to a client instead of a bunch of still images. I plan to try it out anyway if and when I get any freelance clients. I think it adds a lot to the presentation of an idea for a client to be able to rotate a photorealistic view to any angle they want, rather than just scroll through a bunch of still images.

@InvertedVantage : Just to be clear about workflow. I Lagoa as much as the next and it’s awesome what it adds to the entire process. But it’s just that…rendering and does not work offline. (at least not yet) so more than just offloading has to be a part of the equation.

But just to be clear, what you described with regards to making 10 renderings in Lagoa can 100% be done in Modo. You can add multi render passes and make 10 variations once the render is kicked off. There’s also functionality like UV mapping, displacement, IES lighting…etc that Lagoa doesn’t quite have just yet.

@choto: A dedicated only rendering system like Lagoa, Keyshot, Maxwell aren’t some magic bullet that’s going to make renderings any easier. This really is about these 3D software programs being different tools that are leveraged for their benefits. You’ll have to strike a balance in the longer run for what works best for you, just know the limitations of these different tools and know when to let go.


I know Lagoa is missing a lot of features. Typically I use modo for the heavy lifting, and then a lot of times I’ll bring it into Lagoa at the end. With multipass renderings in modo, my machine is completely tied up because they’re all done locally. By doing it in the cloud, none of the burden is on my local hardware and I can continue to use it for other things. Even the beefiest computer has trouble keeping up if you try to do multiple simultaneous renderings and geometry editing at the same time.

Trust me, I love modo and have been an avid user since 301, so it’s not going to leave my toolset any time soon (especially not with MeshFusion, oh my goodness I can’t wait to get my hands on that).

That being said, Lagoa’s brand new, and features are still being added. I think in a year or so it’ll end up having many of those missing features, and close the gap between it and other products. I’ve found a place for it in my pipeline (final stage rendering and rendering embeds) now, and in time that place will probably grow as it’s made into a more complete package.

Good advice to choto. :slight_smile: Pick something that works well with your personal cost/benefit analysis.

There is actually ripe room for innovation in this area, if one of the more design-oriented applications (whether modeling or rendering) decided to make a more intuitive, dead-easy UV mapping solution.

The fact that most design-oriented rendering engines don’t offer displacement is odd to me…the models are already polygons by the time they’re rendered, which is the perfect time to apply a displacement deformation.