Let's imagine that you had been invited to design an installation (a pop up) for a garden display show (forum). The figure below shows an example of the type of installation you might have in mind. You saw this design in a Paris park on your recent world trip and it has sparked a few ideas!


You want to use gCADPlus to develop a plan for a similar space - some 5 meters long by 3 meters wide.

When complete, your design will look something like the one shown in the figure below.


We will build a quick 3D model by exporting your design to SketchUp and produce some images similar to that shown below.


Quick links to sub sections:


MovieSmall space  This movie shows how to produce the design shown above using one of the templates available in gCADPlus.

Step 1.

Start gCADPlus. Select New and choose the 'Funky' template.


This gives us a space on the left to set up our design. The symbols on the right can be left as a 'drag and drop' store.

Step 2.

Select the text on the left of screen, right click and select erase. This removes the unwanted text. Hold the mouse wheel down and and center the view, ready to create the design.

Funky 02

Step 3.

Set a layer. We want to draw the boundaries of the site ( which measure 5 meters (5000 units - mm) by 3 meters (3000 units).

It is good practice to put that boundary information on a separate layer.

Click on the layer tool and make the layer L-SITE-BOUNDARY layer current.

Funky 3

For ease of recognition (and only as a temporary step), we will set the color of the boundary layer to red.

Double click on the word Foreground in the color column and change the color to red as shown below. this means that anything we draw on that layer will be red in color.

Funky 4

Step 4.

Draw the base of the site. To do this, select the rectangle tool from the Draw drop down menu (or toolbar) choosing the 2 points option. Set the left (first) corner of the rectangle at coordinate position 0,0 [make sure you type the zero number not upper case "O", include the comma and hit the ENTER key when prompted for the right, (second corner), type  5000,3000 [again hit the Enter key]. Make sure the comma separates the 5000 and 3000 numbers.

Animate This movie may help.

The result should be as shown in the figure below.

Funky 5

Small space Here is a short movie showing how to adjust the position of the rectangle if you see via the Properties box that yours does not match ours. 

You may find that the rectangle is drawn with a dashed line (with large gaps)instead of a solid line. If this is so, select (with the left button of the mouse) the rectangle. Look in the properties box at left and change the linetype scale from 100 to 1.

Tip: We create lines with different patterns by selecting a linetype style and adjust the scale in the properties box. 

Funky 7

The rectangle is now a solid line. Select the rectangle again and focus on the size value in the properties box. The rectangle must be 5000 units wide and 3000 units high and have a center point at X=2500 and Y= 1500. If it's not, you need to start again.

Save your drawing, giving it a meaningful name e.g. AkiraBaseDrawing. Submit your drawing for us to check it. Email info@designcad.com.au and attach a copy of your gCADPlus (lcd) file. 

Step 5.

Once the base rectangle is correctly placed, it is time to drag various 'hardscape' pieces from the template at the right into position as shown in the movie - items other than plants. If the group is a single entity (shown by the fact that one click selects the whole group) you will need to select the group and use the right click menu to pop up a list of options, select explode - that breaks the group up into a series of individual parts. You can also reach the Explode option from the Modify drop down menu.

Place some plant symbols by moving them from the group at the right into your new space. Try to match the 'feel' of the symbol to the intended species.

Email a copy of the design info@designcad.com.au. We will try and give you some feedback.


Step 6.

Create a plant schedule. Every landscape design needs a plant schedule. These can take many different forms - individual plants can be tagged with some type of indicator, plants can be identified by their symbol or simply by the use of the leader command as shown below.

Funky 6

In our view, labeling each plant with a leader is not helpful to the client or construction team. We prefer to let the software work hard for us, not the other way round. We tag each symbol and a tool on the gCADPlus drop down menu does the rest. The tool automatically counts each species used in the design and draws a plant schedule (species list). We do this in conjunction with a companion application to gCADPlus - a database called SppDb because it enables the generation (export) of a plant data list which can be loaded into gCADPlus. This saves the need to create a plant list from scratch. 

Spp and gCAD+  This small movie show how gCADPlus and SppDb work together to produce a plant list.

Data file

Click here to download a copy of this file and save it to your desktop. In the next part of this exercise, you will load it into gCADPlus.

Select the gCADPlus drop down menu and the Plant Schedules & Lists option and load the downloaded plant list.

Load list

Small space Here is a small movie showing how to load a plant list and generate a plant list (schedule)

Plant list

Plant schedule

An aside: gCADPlus provides an alternative method of identifying a plant symbol. We will provide a movie showing how that's done in the near future.

Step 7.

Move to layout space. The template used here already contains a layout space designed for an A2 sheet so there is no need to create a new one. To access it, simply click on the tab at the bottom of the screen. The figure below shows the A2 space. 

Small space This movie shows how to manage the layout and printing of the design.


Small space this movie shows how to improve the presentation of the design.

Improve presentation

Step 8.

Add some shadowing to symbols and a landscape design logo.

Small space This movie shows how to apply shadowing to plant symbols and produce a PDF version of the design. Click on the image below to view the resultant high resolution PDF file generated from the drawing.


Here is a link to the QuickPDF version - it is certainly acceptable and is generated much faster than the HiRes version.

There is much more to do:

  • Section view
  • Elevations on a layout sheet showing the design for the backing screen with a pattern similar to that on the paved surface.
  • Location plan
  • A dimensioned drawing complete with accurate setout point data (on a A4 sheet for a construction team to use)


Constructing a section view

The tools drop down menu contains a link to a section tool. This can be used as an aid to construct both section and elevation views similar to that shown below.

Section tool

We have added some interest to the layout sheet by inserting an image file - a strip of 'sky'.


Section tool This movie shows how to use the section tool in a gCADPlus drawing.


Elevation view are constructed in much the same way as the section views. The plant symbol library contains some useful symbols although we are sure you would prefer to make your own. We not drawn the chairs and tables. They will add a lot to our elevation once done.


Fixed scale This movie shows how to adjust the shape of a symbol by changing the x scale factor.

X scale factor


Landscape designers will often reflect part of the building into a landscape plan. We have turned that idea on its head here and produced a design for the screen at the back of the plot that takes as its main design elements the 'stripes' embedded in the paved area.



Print (plot) to a fixed scale

There is often a need to plot to a fixed scale. The image below shows another approach to the design task described above. The designer wants to plot the drawing out to a fixed scale so she can print a check plot on her local A4 printer.

Fixed scale Here is a small movie showing how to plot to a fixed scale.

Fixed scale

To do that, we create a new layout using Format>Layout, choosing an A4 sheet in landscape view.


Here is the result; the layout has been given a meaningful name and the dimension layer turned off. Note that the scale factor in the selected floating viewport is about 50. 

Scale factor

Let's assume that only a plan view of the design is required, but the scale factor must be fixed. Double click into the floating viewport and set the display are appropriate for the plan view.

Scale layout

Here is the result. Note that the scale factor is close to 20.

scale layout 2

To print the design, simply print the paper option at a scale of 1=1

Fixed scale

Tip: we recommend including a scale bar in model space as a separate check on scaling.

Handling title block information

In our view, it is better to insert a title block into layout space rather than model space. the same block can be included on all layout pages, but easily edited to adjust information on each sheet while keeping the same basic information such as logo and site locations.

Title blocks  This movie shows how to use title blocks in layout space.




There is often a need to include a location plan as part of a set of CAD landscape drawings. gCADPlus has an option on the gCADPlus drop down menu that enables an image to be captured from Google Earth/ Maps and pasted into a drawing.

Title blocks Using Google Earth images in CAD plans.





Set up a dimension scale and a layer to accept the dimensions (L-DIMENSION may already be present), dimension style and apply the dimensions as shown in the figure below.

Dimensions This movie shows how to apply dimensions to entities in the drawing.


Apply dimensions to a section

The figure below shows some neatly applied dimensions to a typical landscape section. [Courtesy of 5SensesDesign]

Dimensions  Here is another movie showing how to apply a set of dimensions to the design shown below. Click on the image to see an example of well applied dimensions. Here the drawing has been plotted on an A4 sheet and is not to scale - the dimensions themselves take precedence over a written scale.


Dimensions  The presentation of this dimension information can be further improved by including a scale bar (as an additional check even when a design has been fully dimensioned) and utilizing the ability of gCADPlus to create multiple floating viewports.







Providing appropriate lighting is an important part of landscape design work. Position and type of lights can be specified in a gCADPlus drawing. The symbol and location can then be passed to programs such as SketchUp in order to provide a client with a realistic view of the completed design. 

Dimensions This movie shows how the divide command was used to assist in the location of some small up-lights for the rear of the upper platform.

Dimensions This movie shows how to extended data tool can be used to improve lighting design information.

Extended data


Setout points

The point marker tool can be useful to provide a construction team with a guide to set out a complex paved area in a design such as that shown in the figure below.

Dimensions This movie shows how we can assist a construction team layout out an unusual paved area using the Point Marker tool to provide a list of markers for the edge of the paving.

Point marker

Irrigation design





Export to 3D modelers

Some clients experience difficulty in understanding 2D plans, even when they are provided with elevation and section views. It is of course, possible to hand sketch a 3D view, but not everyone has the necessary skill to do that. Many drafters now use software applications such as SketchUp to build a computer generated 3D representation of the design.

Tip: SketchUp, a tool previously owned by Google, but now owned by Trimble.

gCADPlus provides a convenient way of exporting base information from a 2D design and bringing it into SketchUp. Building a 3D model is then greatly simplified because the accurate 2D information from gCADPlus serves as a base for the 3D model.

You have three options for building your 3D model in SketchUp on 2D information from gCADPlus:

(1) Export a graphic and use the free SketchUp application to build a model based on the graphic or

(2) Export a DXF file from gCADPlus and import into free SketchUp (using a plug in to allow DXF importation) or

(3) Use a SketchUp Pro which has the ability to import DXF and DWG files. 

Option 1

Dimensions  This movie shows how to export a graphic from gCADPlus and use it in SketchUp as a base for building a 3D model.


Option 2

Assign a Z value to entities (structural elements) in the gCADPlus drawing. Use a "Create SketchUp Layers" tool and export accurate 2D information from gCADPlus in the form of a DXF file. Entity snap in SketchUp based on the transferred information is then possible.

Dimensions This movie shows how to work with option (2) in the SketchUp environment. We export geometry as a DXF file, import to SketchUp and begin building the model.

Animate  Dimensions Passing elevation data to SketchUp.

Step 1

Assign Z values

Z values

Use the layer stack tool and isolate just those entities that you want to work with as a base in the SketchUp environment. (turn off unwanted layers, including the layer on which plant symbols have been placed).

Select the Make SketchUp layers tool from the GCADPlus drop down menu.


Assign a Z coordinate to entities if required. In the example above, the yellow deck was set at 300, the grey paved area 100 and the white decoration 105.

Select entities (no hatching, no plant symbols, explode blocks if used to make structural details).

Hit Enter.

Choose whether or not to transfer symbols and text to another layer.


Start SketchUp and import the DXF file that's been exported from gCADPlus. If you have assigned elevation values to each structural entity, it is a simple task to use the Push/Pull tool to create 3D geometry.


Use your SketchUp skills to assign materials to surfaces.

build model

Add planting and furniture. An image file taken from the elevation view in gCADPlus was pasted onto the screen. 

back board

Add some textures.


If required, the model can be passed to rendering software for higher resolution and softening. Note the loss of detail of graphic on the screen wall. This is a function of the renderer in use. It is possible to include the graphic on the rear wall in some ray tracing software. Click on the image to see such a rendering application in action.

rat trace

Make an ​animation

Some clients may benefit from seeing an animation of the proposed design.

Animate Animate   Play a relatively low resolution animation of the design above.


Design task - a small garden space