Tips & tricks

Forums Rhino Plugin Tips & tricks

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    Jeremy Hill

    Here are some tips & tricks to help getting started with Bella for Rhino

    Default Materials

    You will generally find the standard default materials in Rhino to be much too bright, at a full 255 white, resulting in a blown-out appearance. Such a bright white is basically impossible to encounter in reality, so we recommend:

    1. Setting the default ground plane material to 120 or so.
    2. Setting the default layer material to 220 or so.
    3. Saving as a template document for later use.

    Material Translation

    In its initial release, materials in Bella are always translated from their corresponding Rhino materials. One of the top priorities for the plugin going forward from here, is to expose Bella materials in Rhino. But we begin with the foundation of a good automatic translation, so that existing documents render well, and to ease use for novices.

    In the specific cases of Rhino’s Metal and Gem materials, the plugin will use complex IOR materials when possible, with dispersion enabled where appropriate. For the Metal material, translation depends on the color — if you choose one of the metal presets from the Rhino color picker, the plugin will use a complex IOR material for that type, if we have one.

    For the other “simple” named material types, Bella will choose an appropriate Bella material type and set its attributes according to what is set in the Rhino material. NOTE: I do not find the Bump to work very well with these types.

    Results may vary when using the Custom material type, since it does not have a perfect mapping to any particular Bella material. In general, the Color & Bump textures will be used, along with the Gloss, Reflectivity, and Transparency parameters.

    20.13 Update: we now have integrated Bella materials and textures in Rhino, so in addition to using automatic translation (can still be desirable due to the simplicity of Rhino materials, and because other render engines may not handle Bella materials as well as Rhino ones), you can now create very detailed Bella materials from within Rhino.

    Emitter Materials

    By default there is no Rhino emitter material in V6, however you can enable the Cycles Emissive material (along with other Cycles materials, though they are not very interesting to us) by using the hidden command: TestShowPrivateContent. Note that this is a test command, which means that McNeel doesn’t fully support it, but it seems to work fine here.

    When you have done this, you will see Cycles material types in the Rhino Create New Material menu. As with the Intenisty parameter of Rhino lights, this material has a unitless Strength value, so you may have to use seemingly small or large values to get what you want.

    20.13 Update: with Bella materials integrated, you can now assign a Bella Emitter material to any geometry in Rhino.

    Linear Workflow

    Color space management in Bella is handled internally using OCIO, and this may not work well when Use Linear Workflow is enabled in Rhino’s Rendering > Dithering & Color Adjustment settings — the rendering will generally appear dark with odd contrast.

    So you will generally want to disable linear workflow, and save this in your template document, as well. Remain aware of this when opening other documents though, since it is saved by Rhino on a per-document basis. Edit: it has also been found that gamma must be set to 1.0 to obtain a match between what is seen in the Rhino viewport, and in final Bella outputs.

    20.5 Update: when Bella is the current renderer, the Dithering & Color Adjustment settings no longer appear in Rhino’s Render Settings, and there is nothing special to do. When Bella is not the current renderer, Rhino will apply gamma, but you can get around this by setting the Bella display mode’s Linear Workflow settings to Custom, and leaving all boxes un-checked.

    Environment Settings

    Rhino’s environment setup can be quite complex, with the ability to use different environments for backdrop, reflections, and lighting. Bella supports these, but it is still easy to end up with an ugly result, so here are some tips:

    • If you switch the backdrop to use an HDRI, mind the “Use custom env for reflections” setting, so that you don’t inadvertently get reflections from a pure white color dome.
    • Likewise, when you enable Lighting > Skylight, mind that “Use custom env for skylighting” is set as you intend.
    • If you do not enable Rendering > Lighting > Skylight, Rhino will likely (it can depend on display settings) place a directional light shining on the scene from behind the camera. In my opinion this rarely looks nice, so just be aware of it.

    Bella Sky Dome

    Bella for Rhino adds a new environment type, Bella Sky Dome, to expose Bella’s physical sky simulation. In order to render with physical sky, just create a new Bella Sky Dome in the drop-down for your 360 degree environment, and then select to use it how you wish, for backdrop, reflections, and skylight.

    The sun in Bella’s sky dome may be enabled or disabled as you wish, so make sure you have enabled Rendering > Lighting > Sun if you wish to render with sun. The direction of the sun is set using Rhino’s standard Sun panel.

    Focal blur

    Bella for Rhino supports adjusting DOF (depth of field) through the standard Rhino Properties > Focal Blur panel. When focal blur is disabled we use a numerically-large fstop to get rid of DOF. When one of the other modes is used, it should “just work” as expected.

    20.13 Update: Bella now has a page in the Object Properties for views, which exposes Bella-specific parameters for the Bella camera associated with the view.

    Power output for lights

    The plugin will automatically translate rectangle, point, spot, and directional lights. However, as there are not yet any Bella-specific attributes exposed for these, it may be necessary to use what appear to be extreme values for light intensity, depending on the scale of the scene.

    20.13 Update: Work has been done to translate Rhino lights with energy output to approximate what will be seen in Rhino’s Rendered and Raytrace display modes. Since Bella is more physically-accurate than these, it will not be a 1:1 match, but it should be close.

    Production Rendering

    Though it is possible to render within Rhino by using the Render command, this is only really provided for completeness — doing so is sub-optimal, and I strongly recommend you to use the Bella toolbar to export a .bsx or .bsz file and perform rendering in Bella GUI.

    Not only will this leave Rhino freed up to continue working while rendering is done, but rendering performance is also slightly better when rendering in Bella GUI, because it has less overhead.

    Microsoft Visual C++ Runtime (Windows Only)

    For plugins that do not use standalone installers (like Rhino’s .RHI and SketchUp’s .RBZ), we have no opportunity to automatically install the Microsoft Visual C++ Runtime upon which Bella software depends.

    Your machine may already have the necessary runtime installed, but if not and/or you encounter any malfunction, please download the runtime and install it.


    Thank you for these tips Jeremy! I already tried a quick render of an old scene In V6 – without adjusting anything… I just had to (too curious :-)), even if I have modeling work to do before I seriously can start testing Bella. Anyway… The light in Bella is so much better than in Cycles! It really was worth the wait!
    Thank you so much guys!


    Jeremy Hill

    Thanks sir! I really want this to be the favorite rendering plugin for rhino, and I am gonna try hard to make it be that. 🙂

    Oscar Cano

    Hello Philip.
    We are glad to hear that 🙂 Jeremy has done an incredibly dedicated and hard work with this plugin, and it’s just the beginning, since it has great improvements on the way. It is a satisfaction when our work can be truly useful to someone.


    Hi guys! Oh yes, this is definitely going to be my favourite rendering plugin – and I really appreciate the work you (all three) have done!
    Thanks again!


    Thomas An.

    Quick question. This is a Rhino V6 plugin only. Right ?

    Jeremy Hill

    Unfortunately yes, it is infeasible to support both v5 and v6 due to the differences in their SDKs.


    It’s nice to see it has already arrived! Congrats!

    Jeremy Hill

    muchas gracias amigo 🙂

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