Rhino: Creating Surfaces

This tutorial is an overview of most used methods to create 3D surfaces from 2D and 3D lines.

If you just started working with Rhino you probably feel overwhelmed by a huge amount of possibilities to create surfaces. In this tutorial I will quickly present several useful methods to create a great variety of forms. Please note that many forms can be created using different methods.

Planar Surface From Closed Lines

PlanarSrf is  probably the easiest method to create coplanar surfaces. Note if you have several closed lines on the same plane, one inside another, they will create holes:

Surface Between Two (or more) Linear Profiles

You can use Loft command to create a surface between different profiles. Play with options to see how you can create a smooth or sharp (angular) surface using this command:

Revolving Surfaces From Rotating Profile(s)

If you want to create a revolving surface, like on a potter wheel, use Revolve command:

Note that the position of the rotation axis in relation to the profile defines how the profile is rotated (and determines the resulting shape). For best results, use vertical axis throught the endpoints of the profile shape, as in the beginning of the video. Otherwise you may get unpredictable results and open surfaces (like near the end of the video);

Extrude Curve

ExtrudeCrv is probably the most used command to create surfaces by extruding lines (giving them “depth”). Similar to PlanarSrf, if you extrude -at the same time- more than one coplanar curves, it will result as a “holes”.

Note: To have a closed filled object (solid) check option Solid = YES (as in my example).
Please note that there are many more extrude methods (ie. along the curve, for example which is very similar to Sweep1 command).


Pipe is an interesting command that lets you create surfaces with circular profile. The size of the profile can vary along the pipe, as in this example:

Sweep1: Profile Along Path (Rail)

Another very commonly used way to create surfaces is to have a profile (cross-section of the shape) that we extrude “along the path” (rail). We use command Sweep1 for that purpose.
Please note that best results are obtained when a profile is aligned with the rail start point, and is perpendicular to the rail. Different position and rotations may get unpredictable results, as in the first attempts in the following video:

Sweep1: Using Multiple Profiles

More complex version of the same Sweep1 command is using more than one profile to define the cross section of the shape. Again, it’s very good idea to have them aligned. Important thing to notice in the video, around 1:00, is the definition of seam point – for all profiles, move seam point to the same position on shape (as I did in the video) to avoid final shape looking twisted.

Sweep2: Fit Surface Between Two Edges

Sweep2 is similar to Sweep1 (naturally) but fits the curve between two edges (two rails) which lets us have more control over the resulting form:

Sweep2 With Multiple Profiles

For even more control over the look of our form, we can use additional profiles (cross-sections) in our Sweep2 command:


Patch is an extremely useful command to create surface through selected lines, which comes very handy for certain type of forms:

More Info On The Subject

There is a huge number of tutorials on Rhino, but for an overview of more methods, you may want to see this page:







Any questions?

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.