Wednesday, 27 January 2010

In which I am dragged kicking & screaming into the 21st Century

I have resisted the inevitable for too long, now I have no choice but to succumb and I’m a total convert. What are you wittering on about now Linsey, I hear you ask? Well, ever since I became a garden designer and stopped being a propeller head clients have been asking me whether I prepare my drawings on CAD. ‘No’, I say proudly, ‘they’re all hand drawn’. People are impressed – there’s a lot of detail, pretty colour, little daintily outlined plants, each paving slab drawn in by hand, lovely! This is all well and good until you get so busy and your design projects get larger and more complex and you find yourself working every day and most evenings in a bid to keep up.

So, finally, after much procrastination, I have invested in super duper, state of the art CAD landscape design package. I have chosen Vectorworks Landmark as it is widely used by garden and landscape designers and there’s loads of support and training available.

I didn't like the look of the graphics when I first looked at Vectorworks. The Master Plan is how I convey the overall concept of the garden to clients. It’s a sales document and communication tool. It helps get the client to buy into my ideas, and making it look attractive is important for helping to convey how the finished garden will look. CAD drawings don’t have that same hand finished look to them which clients seem to like and I wasn’t sure how I would introduce some personality. However, like any piece of software there are degrees of sophistication that can be utilized and having purchased my software and attended my first day’s training I’m absolutely hooked and can’t wait to get cracking.

There are ways of personalizing the drawing and introducing your own style, but I am less concerned now with this aspect of the design process. Its more important that the design of the garden is good and works for the client and their circumstances. But, its easy to get carried away with aesthetics of the plan and invest too much time in prettifying it. The Vectorworks software gives you the ability to create multiple perspective views and walkthroughs which are so invaluable for communicating your vision to the client and giving them a better idea of how the garden will feel and how they will use it when it’s finished. I think this more than compensates for a slight dumbing down of the graphics.

For larger projects it’s hard to believe I ever managed without it. Most landscape design projects will require changes and amendments and even the smallest adjustment can take hours by hand, but is particularly true on a larger scheme. Using the software this can take a matter of minutes. The many construction plans, planting plans, lighting plans, drainage plans and other technical details can be much more quickly prepared with no loss of accuracy. It's also going to be really useful to be able to send plans to architects and engineers by email and being able to import their drawings straight into my software.

As you can tell, I am really excited about my new toy and can’t wait until I produce my first design – as soon as I do I’ll post it. So, thanks to the fabulous Tamsin Slatter and her team including husband Adrian for bearing with me whilst I made up my mind.


timmatcham said...

welcome to the brave New World Linsey - do share your joys and frustrations. Tamsin is a great tutor and it's well worth getting her book as well as attending her tutorial sessions. After a slow start I am now happy preparing 3D drawings and perspective plans which as you say are a fantastic selling tool, particularly for those that can't visualise a 2D drawing

Linsey said...

Thanks, Tim. I'm getting on really well practicing what I learnt on the course and teaching myself some new stuff as well. Being a bit of a geek helps, I think. I'm sure I'll be picking your brains at some point in the future.

Bob-H said...

I've done some digital terrain site modeling in Vectorworks, and with a little patience, it really produces. If you use an imported site survey DWG file, be sure to simplify the contour polylines before you make the site model.

Linsey said...

Thanks, Bob. I'm really getting into Vectorworks now and all tips are very gratefully received.