Robert McNeel & Associates ships Rhino 6 for Windows
Robert McNeel & Associates has officially released Rhino 6 for Windows, the long-awaited update to its NURBS-based industrial modelling software, after several years of public WIP builds.
The first major release in five years, Rhino 6 integrates Grasshopper, McNeel’s node-based parametric modelling system, adds support for interactive raytracing in the viewport, and boosts overall performance.
Full integration of the Grasshopper modelling system
Key changes in Rhino 6 include the full integration of Grasshopper, McNeel’s “algorithmic modelling” system.
The system, which provides a node-based visual programming environment for creating complex procedural assets, has also been updated to support HiDPI displays, and gets a range of new readymade components.
Physics engine Kangaroo, intended for dynamics simulations, is also now included.
Snapshots speed up asset development and client presentations
There is also a new Snapshots feature, which enables users to save and switch between variant combinations of components and materials for a model.
The system can be used to iterate on the look of a design more quickly, or to present a range of variant looks to a client for approval.
Support for interactive raytracing in the viewport
Rhino 6 also now supports interactive raytracing in the viewport. The system is GPU-accelerated, and supports both CUDA and OpenCL, so it should work with any manufacturer’s graphics cards.
The update also introduces a new material browser, making it easier to browse Rhino 6’s library of “hundreds” of readymade materials mimicking common real-world materials types.
Other graphical changes include support for UV unwrapping of multiple objects, workflow improvements when placing decals, and support for alpha-mapped billboard textures.
Updates to outline rendering and document creation
Make2D, Rhino’s outline rendering system, has also been updated, adding support for clipping planes, plus new display options for hidden edges and for whole-scene silhouettes.
Outline renders can also now be controlled via Grasshopper, which gets a set of new Make2D components.
Rhino’s wider toolset for generating 2D documentation from 3D models also gets a number of new features, including support for annotation styles, and for multiple font weights and styles within a single block of text.
Speed boosts and miscellaneous tools
Under the hood, the software has been rewritten for performance, particularly of the viewport display.
According to tests conducted by reseller Jean Pradelle, quoted on McNeel’s blog, Grasshopper networks also now evaluate up to 100 times faster in Rhino 6 than in Rhino 5.
There are also a number of smaller new tools and workflow tweaks, which you can find listed here.
Support for subdivision surfaces pushed back to WIP builds
Early reactions have broadly been positive, with users welcoming the new features.
Criticism – for example, that expressed in this forum post – has centred mainly on Rhino’s lengthy release cycle, particularly the time taken to develop a native alternative to NURBS modelling.
Support for subdivision surfaces has been pushed back to the WIP builds, an issue compounded by Autodesk’s decision to discontinue its popular T-Splines plugin for Rhino in January 2017.
Integration of Blender’s Cycles render engine within Rhino also remains available only via WIP builds.
Pricing and availability
Rhino 6 for Windows is available for Windows 7 and above. New licences cost $995.
The Mac version of the software, which lacks some of the features from the Windows edition, has not yet been updated past Rhino 5.
On its forum, McNeel says that it intends to make WIP builds of Rhino 6 for Mac a “top priority”, but hasn’t announced a timescale yet.