This module will guide you through the process of creating the design shown below using gCADPlus landscape design software. We will work in the Imperial environment using decimal feet as the unit of measure.
Tip: Even though you may prefer to work in metric units, we encourage you to take the unit as material covered here is a logical extension of the concepts introduced in the previous design example.
The design includes the following elements - front and rear gardens with flexible garden borders, shade for the pool, cabana, installation of artwork, raised boardwalk through tropical garden, custom plant lists, generation of plant and ground cover schedules. We will cover presenting designs, incorporating images, adding extended entity data and costing a design.
The figures below show the design. The first is a view showing a print of the front garden as might be shown to the client and the second shows a layout view inside the gCADPlus drawing environment. Click on the image for a magnified view.
Examine the completed design
Requirements: You will need a copy of the drawing file in gCADPlus format (a lcd file) to complete the exercise below. Select here to download a the drawing file Save the file to your desktop or to a location where you can easily find it later. The file is called Version9.lcd
Check out the (almost) finished design
As shown in the movie, start gCADPlus.
Use File>Open and load (Open) the drawing that you have just downloaded. Its filename is called version9.lcd. Every gCADPlus drawing has the file extension .lcd. It is possible to open files in AutoCAD's dwg format, but is is more efficient to work with lcd files as they are much smaller than the corresponding dwg file.
As shown in the movie, use the distance command to measure the width and depth of the site.
Examine the plant schedule and note that the number of individual plant specimen required to execute the design are shown. These are calculated automatically using the plant schedule tool found under the gCADPlus drop down menu.
Click on the layout tabs at the bottom of the screen and note that different parts of the design can be presented on drawing sheets.
Experiment with turning line weight display on and off. Also practice turning the electronic grid on or off
Select one of the borders around the floating viewport frame that holds the paper space view. Practice right clicking to unselect the view
Create a new design
In the remainder of this module, we will recreate the design shown above from scratch using one of gCADPlus the templates.
The figure below shows the dimensions of the house. It may be useful to print off a copy of the figure as an aid for the next part of the exercise.
Switch your attention back to gCADPlus.
While the Version9 file is open, Select File>New.
A list of possible template drawings is presented, choose the template called TropicalInformalDesign.
[This template drawing has been pre-configured to produce a design similar to that we have been studying. In fact portion of the same design is carried on the right of the drawing area.]
Make sure that Polar is turned on. Click on the tab in the status line under the drawing editor screen.
Start the line command by selecting Draw>Line.
As shown in the movie, place the lines representing the footprint of the house.
The starting sequence is:
Line> left click to mark a suitable start point, head off to the right, type 23.3 and hit the enter key.
Then move down 4.5 units (feet)
move across and type 28.2 units
move down and type 19.0 (feet)
across to the left 24.65 (feet)
move down 45.25 (feet)
move across to the left 19.55 (feet)
move up 39.2 (feet)
move cross to the left 7.3 (feet)
move up 29.6 (feet)
Square off the design using the Modify>Fillet option.
Locating the front boundary is quite straight forward because existing geometry (the building) is used to create boundaries by OFFSET. We make extensive use of the Distance command (tool) in order to determine offset distances.
Tip: We recommend that you practice setting the offset distance a number of times to make sure that you can use it accurately.
Measure the distance from the house corner to the front boundary using the distance tool
Measure the distance from the corner of the house to the front boundary of the house at the right of the drawing. (If this were an actual job, you would have measured this with a tape and not determine it from the drawing. We ask you to do this as a form of practice.)
Use the offset command to create the front boundary - the offset value is 33.6 feet.
And create a line representing the chain mesh fence using OFFSET. The offset value is 25.6 (feet).
Offset the side of the house 8.1 (feet) to get the top boundary.
Use the fillet command (from the Modify drop down menu) to square off the front and side boundaries.
Next we will add two more boundary lines.
As shown in the movie, measure distances and create three side boundaries, the front chain fence and the 18 foot wide driveway.
Draw and locate the portico
Use the offset command to set up a guide for the location of the portico. The offset distance is 9.31 (feet)
Draw a rectangle 3.2 ft by 5.1 ft using the @3.2,5.1 command sequence (called relative coordinate entry).
Then use the MOVE command to locate the portico as shown in the movie.
Fine tune the driveway and crossover area.
The critical dimensions for 'cleaning up' the driveway area are shown in the figure below.
Follow the instructions in the movie and fine tune the driveway area.
Define the garden bed areas
Follow the instructions in the movie.
Create an edging layer.
Set it as current and make its colour red.
Use the polyline command to lay out the edges of the garden beds. Just click on a series of control points.
One the broad outline of the garden bed has been set, use the Properties box and apply curve fitting.
Placing symbols representing plants
Follow the instructions in the movie to place symbols. [We have not made the discussion here detailed as the methods for placing symbols has been discussed in earlier modules]
Attach a plant list to the drawing
It is now time to start working on a planting scheme for this design. gCADPlus allows you to attach a plant list to a design. We will download a store a very small plant list and use it to demonstrate symbol tagging. The figure below shows the plant list attached to the design we are working on.
These lists function in a number of ways. If the list is reasonably comprehensive and pre-loaded with species names with which you are familiar and which you commonly use in design work ,they can assist in plant selection, especially as the list can be sorted in a number of categories. The list is also used to link a symbol specified for a particular species in the design to the botanical and common name of the species.
Here is a link to a paper that explains in some detail how plant lists are used in conjunction with gCADPlus.
In this movie, we show that this florida list can be attached to a drawing and how botanical and common names can be added to the dictionary. We will also demonstrate how to use the dictionary tool to add unusual botanical and common names.
Click here to download a plant list (florida.gcp) suitable for inclusion in this design exercise. Save the file in the My Documents>gCADPlus folder
Use the gCADPlus drop down menu and select the florida list.
Experiment with sort tool (click on a column heading)
Try adding botanical names to the dictionary.
Associate a symbol in the design with a particular botanical name
In order for the draw plant schedule to tool to be used, we need to make an association between the symbol in the plan and the correct botanical name.
Count specimens used and draw plant schedule
Next we want to use the automated tool to draw the plant schedule. One of the most time consuming tasks in landscape design is the production of a plant schedule.
Adjust the plant schedule
You may recall that one plant symbol had not been assigned to a species in the plant list attached to the drawing. To remedy that, we need to add a new plant to the plant list and re-issue the draw plant schedule command. The figure below shows the 'missing' symbol.
Use gCADPlus>Edit Plant List and add a new species (Anthurium andreanum) to the list. Just scroll to the bottom of the Botanical Name column and type the new name.
As shown previously, choose gCADPlus>Set Data to Plant and assign that symbol to Anthurium. Don't forget to check that all symbols have been assigned and run the draw plant schedule tool again.
The figure below shows the result - the new plant is included in the schedule.
Tip: There is no need to erase the old plant schedule, just draw a new one and the previous schedule will be removed.
Costing a design
The plants specified in a design often constitute a large proportion of the construction budget. gCADPlus offers a convenient mechanism to export the (final) schedule to spreadsheets for costing and further manipulation.
Use gCADPlus>Extract Plant Schedule. As shown in the figure below, you will be asked for a filename. In this instance, we have called the file Florida. A file Florida.XML is saved. These XML files can be easily manipulated in spreadsheets such as Microsoft's Excel.
To examine the extracted data, start Excel, choose File>Open, filter the drop down list to show only XML files, navigate to My Documents>gCADPlus and load the file.
Here is the result.
The construction line entity can be used as an aid to creating section views.
Change linetype to show open fence
Hatching - driveway, grass areas and garden bed areas.
Although gCADPlus can create hatching over wide areas (and often find hatch boundaries automatically), in our view it is preferable to use a light touch when hatching.
The ground cover tool calculates the number of plants required to fill any given area.
It is a good idea to keep the needs of your landscape construction team uppermost when designing.
The sequence Draw>Raster Image, calls up the tool used to insert raster images into a gCADPlus drawing. Images can be inserted in either model space or layout space.
This movie shows the insert raster tool in action. We create a layout view and insert an image of some garden art. This provides a quick and convenient mechanism to show a client what we have in mind for their garden
Extended entity data
The merge PDF tool enables the generation of a single PDF file that shows the client showing the main features of the design in a convenient way.
Interactions with other software
Although we have tried to make gCADPlus a complete solution for a landscape design office and incorporated all the tool we think you will need to present high quality documents to clients, information in a drawing can be saved in different formats and exported to other programs. Here is a list of possible data types together with the software tools that can accept them:
It is possible to print to save a PDF file directly from gCADPlus or, if you have installed one of the many PDF writers available (CutePDF, Adobe Acrobat etc.) print to them.
Tip: It is important to pay attention to the resolution and line thickeness settings when the file is generated. The image below has been printed at a resolution of 600 dpi.
Adobe applications such as InDesign and Acrobat can accept PDF files, perhaps to present a portfolio of designs for a client to view.
DXF and DWG
Vector applications such as Adobe Illustrator, SketchUp Pro require vector files. Use the save to DXF and dwg options if you need to pass material to those software tools. Note that it is possible to change the version number of the dwg export and the number of decimal place accuracy when exporting a DXF file.
Tip: DXF is an open CAD exchange format used by many CAD applications.
JPEG, PNG, TIFF, BMP and GIF
Images editors such as Photoshop and Gimp require files in bit mapped format. Use the Make raster tool in gCADPlus to save a file in one of these formats. Pay particular attention to the resolution and size of the image before you generate it.
The next module will cover the use of more gCADPlus tools including exporting information to 3D Modelling software.