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Intro to Grasshopper

The first step on your Grasshopper journey, this guide covers the basics of the tool and demonstrates it with a small exercise


This guide we will introduce the computational design tool Grasshopper, a visual programming plugin for the 3d modelling software Rhino. By the end of this guide you will understand what Grasshopper is, how to get it running and create your very first Grasshopper definition.

What is Grasshopper?


Rhino's Grasshopper is a visual scripting language tailored for designers, architects, and artists. It opens up the possibility of creating complex, parametric designs through a node-based interface. By connecting various nodes, you establish relationships, patterns, and rules that guide your design. This parametric framework allows you to quickly iterate and explore multiple design alternatives, enhancing your creative process across various domains—be it in architecture, furniture design, or intricate geometric forms.

Grasshopper allows you to extend your modeling capabilities in Rhino and automate many of your repetitive workflows. It also provides a great entryway into computational design. With it’s intuitive visual interface, Grasshopper is much easier to pick up then scripting with traditional text-based programming languages. At the same time it is extremely powerful, and can even be extended with custom libraries for specific use cases.

What you will learn

In this introductory guide, you'll venture into the Grasshopper environment, focusing on:

  1. Interface Familiarization: Get acquainted with the Grasshopper interface, including the canvas, panels, and essential components.
  2. Creating Your First Definition: Assemble a basic Grasshopper definition by connecting nodes to complete a specific task.
  3. Parameter Control: Harness the power of parametric design by manipulating input parameters to dynamically alter your designs.
  4. Data Flow: Understand how data flows between nodes, affecting the logic and geometry of your creations.
  5. Output and Visualization: Learn how to generate your design output in Rhino and visualize how parameter changes in Grasshopper influence your model.

Upcoming tutorials in this series

This series will teach you Grasshopper starting with the basics and assuming no prior experience. We will start with basic Grasshopper skills including working with different data types, exchanging geometry between Grasshopper and Rhino, and developing parametric models from a series of components. We will then cover the main data types and structures used in Grasshopper. You will learn how to work with single items as well as lists of items and more complex Data Trees. You will also learn basic techniques for data management including filtering, sorting, grafting, flattening, splitting, and joining data. A parametric facade is used as a case study to show how a complex computational model can be constructed using a variety of data types and a combination of mathematical and geometric operations.

Upon completing this tutorial, you'll have laid the groundwork for mastering Grasshopper's key concepts, preparing you for further exploration into computational design. So, let's embark on your journey to unlocking limitless design possibilities with Rhino Grasshopper!

Sections in this guide

Intro to Grasshopper
1Getting started with Grasshopper
2Exercise: Hello Grasshopper