Rhino vs. Alias

I’m comfortable with Solidworks, and I’m looking to branch out into more complicated surface modeling programs. I’m mostly concerned with Industrial Design applications (transportation, furniture, shoe design). If anyone would like to comment about either Rhino or Alias for ID, it would be very helpful.
Thank you!

In my opinion you can’t go wrong with either. Alias has a more powerful toolset at the cost of having a more complex interface. From an amatuer standpoint, it can be very overwhelming when you’re able to customize every marking menu, pallete, toolbar, etc.

Rhino has the advantage of being powerful but easy enough to jump into, as well as being one of the lowest cost applications out there. It even has some nice plugins like Auxpecker which make it very useful for quick and easy real time visualization.

What is it that you can’t do in SolidWorks that you might be able to do better in Rhino/Alias?
I am currently using Rhino looking at adding Solidworks and so far from the demos I have seen SW is much more freeform than I thought it ever would be.
The razor/shaver video demo they have really sold me on its conceptual power since that is very similar to how I work in Rhino, except I would have the parametric power for any revisions instead of a complete rebuild.

Just wondering from someone on the other side of the fence. Thanks,

Thank you both for your help. I heard that the interface in Alias is a bit intimidating and the reasonable price of Rhino is certainly tempting.

In regards to what Jaded added:

“What is it that you can’t do in SolidWorks that you might be able to do better in Rhino/Alias?”

To tell you the truth, I don’t know. I love Solidworks, the parametric capabilities alone make it standout in my opinion as well. I definitely have a long way to go before I ever feel that I am using it to its full capacity, but I guess I feel the need to get familiar with a program that offers a different perspective. And I also think it would make me more of an asset during a job interview.

Don’t get hung up on which software to use. They’re all tools and none will make you a “better designer”.

If you have a specific reason to learn new software (personal interest, targeting a job with that requirement, etc.) go for it. Otherwise, I believe you would do yourself more good to become a SolidWorks “expert”. Learn how to speak in 3D through any software and you won’t lose a job because you don’t know Alias over SW.

Im impressed with rhino development team with respect to what has (or has not) happened to Alias development the past 5 years.

It is hard to beat parametric functions of that in sw and proe. once you get the hang of proving form with parametric constraints.


It also comes down to workflow. Are the models you are creating as an Industrial Designer, going to be rehashed by an engineer in Pro/E or SW anyway? Can you elicit more control over the models by staying in those native software environments?

In a lot of ways, this discussion always brings me back to the thinking that if you have solid 2D skills that you can flush out a form well enough on paper than it shouldn’t matter what SW you are using. You will have the form pretty tight in your mind and it shouldn’t matter what S/W you are using.

3D software is a tool. Not a skill.

the (recently sued) architect Frank Ghery said the computer is a tool for CAPTURING the curve not INVENTING it… i think about that alot.
it makes me draw more.

IP your right.

workflow is a big part of the software choice yes but workflow needs to be modified in order for a team to mature too.

Workflow ten years ago don’t always work now a days. I see workflow issues while doing training all over the states. They like their workflow because they have not seen other workflows that get to the end result in a different way. Workflow has been holding em back in many cases. We have been teaching what we call ‘proving form’ to ID’ers as a workflow.

Easy to say because our school teaches workflow as apposed to the menu clicks. Just my 2 cents…

If you could set up your own environment/workflow…what would it be?

Should it be flexible to whatever suits the person best? Or should it all be one platform specific?

I actually use Rhino more as a sketch tool. I can clunk out some quick curves around a block diagram of the internals, PDQ. I then use those for a guide to my sketches to make sure proportions are correct. Once I have a good grip of the form and how it will all go together, I jump right into Pro/e where I can get a quick skeleton done. Use the parametric capability to tweak and fine tune. Do a few copy geoms and start shelling.

Its pretty dog-gone efficient.

I like to stay in a native platform but I am an engineer. Major manufacturers realize you can’t dictate creativity and photoshop/illustrator/rhino combo works best and let engineers rebuild and remodel. ‘capture form’. We teach engineers to do that.

But then there is the occasional ID’er who gets their ‘one hour’ parametric model close to their concept sketch and starts to realize they can prove form and come up with multiple like iterations. our process teaches for example that an ID’er with experience can in eight hours deliver 12+ like iterations. (you really have to see an example) in the parametric modeler unlike alias. By taking advantage of parent child relationships. Just a different workflow.

The combination of the two is what I teach. Capture form to a point then prove it out to fit. That technique is hard to get across in a tutorial.

“Should it be flexible to whatever suits the person best? Or should it all be one platform specific?”

Flexible is best however new techniques and an open mind can do wonders with a specific platform delema. Managers realize you cant dictate creative process so well. But if you are limited to a specific platform then there are some interesting process’ so share.

Same thing your saying really just that when your with a satisfactory form you can take it a step farther and prove out more forms each different. Got a see it.

I’m with IP on this one. I also use rhino as a sketch tool. It is a lot easier and quicker to rough out concepts and move stuff around than solidworks/Pro E is. Also the rendering plugins available for rhino are at a higher level than Pro E or Solidworks. Although I have seen some alright stuff from photoworks.

Our work flow is do it in a parametric modeler if you can because tweaking and making changes is much easier. Unless you are making really organic objects it just makes more sense. We then import into rhino for rendering or animation.

In terms of Rhino or Alias. I believe rhino has a bit more bang for the buck. Alias may have more powerful surface tools but that I’m not certain. In terms of rendering, Alias has Image Studio, which is pretty good and fast and Rhino has plugins for VRAY and Brazil which seem to be a bit superior to Image Studio.

I seem to push towards Rhino but is more than likely my preference as a result of more experience in that software.

3D software is just a tool, but knowing how to use that tool well and executing efficiently is a skill.

Of course, just my 2 cents maybe 3.

I am agreeing as well. I brought up the point that same workflow for years = stale approach and new ideas bring new workflow.

brianmullins wrote:
“3D software is just a tool, but knowing how to use that tool well and executing efficiently is a skill”.

Well said!

like proving form with a parametric tool vs capturing form with a parametric tool. it is just a tool like our trusty marker set. Young ID’ers hot for CAID tools are hard to tame so they are not alowd to use the CAID tools. Instead they are encouraged to draw so they can learn to prove form maybe by tracing over the previous sketch… over and over till a new form is forged. Not that they have learnd that tool lets to it in another tool maybe with better or worse results… Solidworks or proe this time.

One observation PTC made years ago. In order to differentiate Pro/E from midrange or low-end tools… Pro/E… the tool became a communication tool as apposed to a CAD tool. CAD=Autocad now days anyways.

Interesting point seeing how China speaks CNC

I used ‘tool’ as much as possible. We teach execution workflow and technique not menu clicks.

Alias vs Rhino I think Rhino wins now that the allow parent child relationships… I just can’t get past the dorky interface. Alias just look hot.

in comparing alias and rhino, alias is superior in terms of the native sketching interface, point manipulation and surface creation and control.

i love the alias interface, to me it has a very intuitive integration of design intent and surface manipulation allowing a greater sense of conceptualization and control over the design.

rhino is quicker to learn and can produce similar results to alias but with a lesser degree of conceptualization requiring more steps in some cases. for example, when conceiving organic design in alias using the square surface tool, sliders and curve manipulators allow you more conceptual
possibilities of the surface. to conceive similar surfaces in rhino would require combinations of loft, sweep or curve networks.

while i agree with the comments on fleshing out the forms on paper and foam first, i feel that rhino and particularly alias give you a bit more creative latitude to develop various iterations of the design, in other words, to conceive it further by virtue of the sketching interface, c.v. point manipulation and visualization. in my experience, when designing in
solidworks, i need to have to have a more clear vision of the final design in a hand drawn sketch or mock-up model before i start modeling.

if solidworks could integrate a native sketching interface, surface point manipulation and the alias square too and better integration of maxwell render (too slow and detached) or vray then it would be thee industrial design software. on that note, has anybody used those solidworks nurbs plugins geometryworks 3d or surfaceworks ? i’m curious about their surfacing abilities…