Export from Rhino to Adobe Illustrator Best Process

Export from Rhino to AI Adobe Illustrator

    Summary: Discover our expert recommended standards for exporting from Rhino to Adobe Illustrator or other vector applications to avoid visibility errors, blank pages and preserve the scale.
    Software: Rhino, Adobe Illustrator or vector software like InkScape
    Commands: SelectObjects, Export with ORIGIN, Export as AI
    Level: Beginner    Tutorial by: 


The export feature from Rhino to Adobe Illustrator is arguably one of the best kept secrets in the design world. If graphic design professionals knew about the strong correlation between Adobe and Rhino , Rhino would be a powerful (and most likely mandatory) companion to any Adobe vector process, especially when creating complex curve project designs and typefonts. The variety of curve commands, freeform and analytical functions in Rhino (InterpCrv, Crv, CrvBoolean, GCon, OffsetCrv, BlendCrv, HBar, HandleCurve, RebuildCrv, etc) provide additional control, design management, analysis, accessibility and ease. Drawing the same path, shapes, beziers or splines is often much faster to generate in Rhino than by using Adobe Illustrator alone.

The Rhino to Adobe Illustrator export feature offers a synergistic tool for conversion. Within a few clicks of the mouse, you can import the Rhino objects into AI very simply and still maintain the designated scale and Rhino layers. Separating your original Rhino file into multiple color-coded layers will allow best control of lineweights, effects, livepaint tools, and other Adobe Illustrator features.

Export Visibility Error with Preserved Scale

But many students and designers experience visibility issues when exporting vector modelspace data directly from Rhino to Adobe illustrator, especially with preserving scale intact. There are numerous online forums dated from 2006-2017, where users mention the AI file is left blank and vector linework is missing when the 'preserving model scale' option is checked during the Rhino export process.

    This commonly occurs when objects in Rhino are not located in close proximity to the Rhino world origin point.
This can be especially problematic for users who often re-locate the CPlane or draw a series of design iterations away from the origin during the conceptual design process. You might experience this visibility error or you may not; it all depends on how you as a Rhino user setup your file and your workflow.

Fixes to this visibility error include:

  • (In Rhino) Using Rhinoscript shortcuts to move the origin point
  • (In Rhino) Manually move the selected objects to the world origin before exporting to AI (Select Objects, Type 'Move', pick a point on/near the objects for the "Point to move from" and type "W0,0,0" in the box adjacent to 'Point to Move to")
  • (In Adobe Illustrator) using Adobe AI shortkeys to frame visibility
  • (In Rhino) Export selected objects with a new origin point in Rhino before exporting to AI (** what this tutorial demonstrates**)

How We Control the Origin Point

In an effort to establish protocols and increase design efficiency, this tutorial illustrates one of our design standards I've composed over the past decade. The following tutorial outlines one of our standard approaches when exporting from Rhino to AI for scaled graphic designs or presentation material. It involves how to workflow to control the origin point. It's a quick work-around to avoid visibility issues and alignment errors between overlays by controlling the world origin point in each Rhino 3DM file iteration before exporting to AI (it may also serve an ambitious workflow to consider when linking separate files or using the blockmanager to create 'layouts' in modelspace rather than paperspace).

  • Design is more than drawing it is a product of collaboration

    Step 1: Under Construction

  • 3D modeling graphic design by K. Nofal Design

    Step 2: Under Construction

Step 1: Draw a small cross (+) near or bounding region (□) intersection around the objects to be exported. This point intersection will serve as the new origin point for the export process.
Step 2: Select Objects to be exported and bounding region (+ or □) for Export.
Step 3: Go to File > Export with Origin to a new 3DM Rhino file
Step 4: Make sure Osnaps is turned on and define the origin point at the point intersection (+ or □)
Step 5: Open the new 3DM Rhino file > Export as AI file with the preserving model scale option chosen
Step 6: Open file in Adobe Illustrator

WHY DEFINE YOUR WORKFLOW: When I create conceptual design mockups in Rhino, I sometimes develop multiple iterations amassed in one 3DM master file. The iterations are typically aligned in rows or multiple columns. But even with text labeled to describe the multiple versions, the file gets complicated. I am well aware that with several iterations in one master file, a design version (let's call it version X) may be located too far away from the original Rhino origin point. When detailing version X, I could face visibility and tolerance errors depending on my processor. That's why I always include some type of intersection or bounding region adjacent to all the multiple interations to easily export a separate Rhino file and control the world origin among all iterations. Drawing a cross intersection (+) visibly displays more prominently than simply marking a single point. If you are working with others, a bounding region (□) is often preferred. Once the world origin points are set and drawn, it makes editing or updating (layers, linework, details, etc) much easier to control, paste in place and reduce alignment errors between files.

**You cannot preserve the scale from a perspective viewport.**