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Getting started with Grasshopper


Grasshopper is a visual programming plugin for Rhino, a 3D modeling software. It's the most accessible way to dive into the world of computational design and algorithmic design. This guide will serve as your introduction to Grasshopper, enhanced by a series of hands-on exercises.

Rhino's Grasshopper is a dynamic 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 Will You 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

Getting Started With Grasshopper
1Intro to Grasshopper
2Exercise: Hello Grasshopper!
3Working in Grasshopper
4Exercise: Parametric tower
5Working with Data
6Exercise: Parametric facade

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.

In the exercises, you will develop the form of a parametric tower step by step to explore some of Grasshopper's basic capabilities for parametric design. You will then develop a facade for the tower two practice more advanced data management techniques.

Note: Familiarity with Rhino will be beneficial but is not mandatory for this tutorial series, as the focus will be primarily on Grasshopper.