Create a tile in Rhino 3D that has an area of ten times ten centimeter. Think of an interesting surface e.g. a geometrical pattern and implement it via Rhino. Afterwards print the model with one of the available fused disposition modelling printers.
Step 1: The Model
The first surface that came to my mind was a lunar surface. The essential elements shaping this landscape are craters which are based on the geometrics of circles and spheres. Thus objects that seem to be well suited for working with in Rhino. Although I spend a good amount of time on it, I just could not find the right balance between basic geometric objects on the one hand and a surreal landscape that has been formed by random influences over millions of years and which is therefore not regular in any way. No matter how hard I tried I was not satisfied with the result still looking much to clean and artificial.
So I decided to take a completely new approach. At the time this project took place we also had an introduction into Grasshopper in class. The powerful opportunities of this software in regard to control, precision, and composition made me decide to dig myself deeper into this program. I found that the tile project could be an appropriate task for this attempt. The weekend I started to work on this second model I spend in New York City. Therefore the Idea of virtually creating a little Manhattan was not so far.
Step 2: The Design Process
Following I will explain some basic element of Grasshopper which I used for this project. From my actual point of view this functions appear to be quite fundamental but some months ago I had to overcome some entry barriers what was not done in a few minutes. Hopefully these hints will help future students to faster take these first hindrances.
After installing the Grasshopper plugin it can be opened by simply typing “Grasshopper” into the command-line of Rhino. The upper section of the Grasshopper desktop provides the user with a variety of functions and elements. After hitting one item the selected object can be placed anywhere on the working area. These “boxes” can be rearranged at any time by drag and drop. Most of these boxes have docking points on both the right and the left side. On the left side the user can attach input-elements for the function. The types of information (i.e. the type of box) that can be used as an input depends on the function you work on. Thus not every box can be connected to every other box. On the right we have the output of the function i.e. the object that was created. The output does not necessarily have to be linked to a following function but in many cases we will do that. Usually every box has to have input information. Otherwise nothing happens. Exceptions are elements (like the “slider”) where the information is already embedded in this very object. Connections between objects are created by simply hitting the output docking station (i.e. the port on the right) and dragging the appearing arrow to an input docking point of another box (i.e. a port on the left).
Important: There can be more than just one arrow be attached to an input port. In this case each connection after the first is drawn by pressing the “shift-key” and dragging the arrow as usual.
B) First Steps
The first thing we want to create is a series of values (no points yet). In order to do so we could select the “Series” symbol in the upper section of the screen or we just double click on the work space and type in “Series”. This function will simply create a row of numbers by using some inputs that we also have to define. In our case we want to have input information for the docking points N (Steps) and C (Count). Therefor we select the item “number” in the upper section and place it on our workspace (two times). With a right click on one of these “number-boxes” we enter a menu where we can change the name of the box (in the first line) and the value of the box (“set number”). We change the name and the value of the first one to 8 and the second one to 12. Subsequently we connect the “8” to the “N” and the “12” to the “C” (We don’t have to take care of the “S”). The Series that now has been created can be visualized by using a “Panel” (The yellow item in the upper section).
C) Square Grid of Points
With this series we want to go ahead and create a square grid. In order to do so we double click again and type in “Cross Reference”. Both the input-ports A and B of the “CrossRef” will now be feed with our series. Still there is nothing visible on the Rhino screen. This will change with the next step. We now want to place a point on each element of the grid. Type in “construct point” (not just “point”!) and connect the A-Output of the “CrossRef” with the X-Input of the “Point-Box” and the B-Output with the Y-Input. As soon as these connections are done a field of points will appear in Rhino.
D) Random sized Boxes form the Manhattan Skyscrapers
Still there are no actual objects present. So we continue by placing a “domain box” in the usual way (double click and typing in the word). This one has four inputs. The first one (B) will define the position of the box which will be created. Because we connect this one to the “Point-Output” each of the points in the field will now serve as a basis for a box. The other three inputs form the size of the boxes. We don’t want them all to look the same nor do we want to spend hours of typing in numbers. That is why we use the function “Random” now (create it two times). By the way, an input must not necessarily origin from another object. Actually we can also right click on the input-letter itself. By doing so we click “R” and choose “set domain”. We give the first random variable a range from 2 to 7, and the second one from 5 to 30 (That’s the part where you will return to later and play around). In the same way we give “N” a value that is at least as high as the number of boxes we create. So here we chose 144 (“N” defines how many random numbers are created. And we want all the boxes to have a number of their own).
We are almost through. Now attach the “Random-Box” that carries the range 2-7 to the X and the Y input of the “Box-Box” (this way all the boxes/skyscrapers will have a square ground area). The other random number is connected to the Z-Input and will therefore make up the height of the buildings. Take a look at the Rhino Screen and see what has happened.
Now right click onto the “box-box” and select “bake”. E Voila! The created objects have now been exported to Rhino and you can work with them as you are used to. Nice downtown-Area!
E) The Finish
The remaining work is done in in Rhino with the tools you might be familiar with. I simply created a tile of the demanded border length. Then I imported a picture of Manhattan to get its correct shape. I placed the Skyscrapers onto the corresponding spots and lowered the height of those that belong to the “village”. In “Downtown” and “Middletown” I adjusted the heights more upwards. This is also a task you might want to play around with a little. At last I picked one building to be the new world trade center and made it become the highest in the scenery. And that’s it. Ready to print.