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Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by LawnsRUsInc., Oct 22, 2007.
Yes, Acad, or other cad plans, or hand drafted plans drawn to scale are the best way to have an accurate plan. It fits or it does not, the grades work or they do not. Topography (existing and proposed) can be proved out through spot elevations and contour lines where it can not be in a photo. Plants are shown to take up a footprint not just cover over another thing in the photo (over another thing, over another thing).
In reality with photoimaging is that you must scale, stetch, and position a plant to the way that you already think it will look since it will not get there any other way. The notion that this showing how something will look is completely false. It only shows how you already think it looks whether that is accurate or not. You can take a picture of a house on a lot that slopes 6" from the front door to the street and add a 4' retaining wall with a set of steps going through it that looks beautiful, functional, and believable, but absolutely would not work.
You can't take a 4' circle and make it look like it fits in a plan if it does not. You can't put a 4' retaining wall with existing and proposed spot elevations and contours and not see that it does not work. These are just two common errors that are done all of the time that fols both the user of the program and the client.
I use photoimaging on these messageboards to show general concepts such as in the thread about the horse topiary or to make points about how they easily alter the perception of space unrealistically as in earlier in this thread. I know that they are inaccurate, but they can communicate enough of a concept to make it worth doing to share informal ideas. Using these as a sole media for design and sales is not a good thing.
I agree with AGLA that photo editors are the most misused design tool around. Design done in a plan view to scale and augmented with elevations will result in a plan that can be built. Doing otherwise will lead to trouble.
Plan views can be developed with cad programs, paper and pen, and even with a photo editor. Compared with paper drawings or the correct use of a photo editor, one will quickly see that a good cad program will soon pay for itself in time saved.
All these methods can have errors, even cad drawings. A few years back I had construction oversight for a large golf complex. The plans were done as a joint venture between two architect and engineering firms and provided on two oversize matching cad drawn sheets at 1" equal 20'. Proposed elevations were shown as contour lines. Where a service drive crossed from one sheet to the next, there was a three foot difference in elevation. And it wasn't at a place where one would want a truck dock.
Another error in these plans involved the swimming pool complex. When I compared the pool and building details, there didn't seem to be enough room on the site plan. Seems they pulled a 1 to 30 drawing for the pool onto the 1 to 20 site plan. Oops.
A photo editor does offer some small advantages over pen an paper. But to do it right you must design just as you would on paper. Start with a grid on the graphic as a plan view drawing to produce a scaled result. It will take almost as long as doing it on paper but it's easier to erase or experiment with different versions. And you probably won't do many until you see the value of a good cad program.
It would be very rare that an error is made from one page to another when working in cad in an engineering office. It would all be one drawing and the pages would be made using viewports rather than separate drawings.
It would also be an odd situation to have a cad drawing of an object such as a pool inserted into another cad drawing at a different scale. The reason is that everyone draws using real units. It is more likely that an architect or landscape architect only provided hardcopy and not cad drawings leaving it to a cad drafter to scale off of the plan and draft it in. About the only time I've run into having to scale incoming cad drawings is when the other user is using inches (architects and some LAs) while I'm using feet (engineers and some LAs) and that is always 1/12. Almost all architects are in inches. I have had one instance when a self taught landscape designer had something drafted in 1/4"=1' because he did not know how to use paper space.
Bigger projects often link drawings by external reference (xref) so that one work group does not screw up another work groups work either by accident or intentionally alterring it.
Autocad is a very deep program with hundreds of commands and thousands of variables. Some you'll never even know about and never have to. Others are ones you'll use every day while still others are going to pop up unexpectedly if you exchange drawings or work with others.
Agreed, I've seldom found errors in cad drawings. My point was that nothing is foolproof in the hands of people who don't know what they're doing.
I'm glad that AGLA uses the programs though, too, because they have their nitch.
Also said in the other post, they are one of the most mis-used tools.
As far as errors for users of CAD - the errors are of a whole different nature.
But it totally depends on the user, the program and their system.
The photo design image programs were a big nuisance to me when they first came out. I didn't use one or want one at the time, and it seemed like one in two people that called, was asking if I used them as if their life depended on it.
Now some years later, I haven't heard anyone even ask about it in a year.
At this point, it's introduced when I want to show a single angle view concept.
I've never been a fan of photo imaging, but like AutoCAD, or a pencil and paper, it's a tool, nothing more. IF you've created a good design and you find it an effective tool for communicating your ideas to the folks paying for them, they're fine for what they are. I don't use them, but that's a personal choice.
As to your assertion that great LAs never used any crutches- I have a twenty year old book of design images, in plan, elevation and perspective views. The LA who gave it to me used to photocopy them, scale them, and add them to the vellum before he ran it through the diazo machine because he wasn't a great artist, but he created amazing landscapes.
I think it's great to be able to hand draft your plans, but it doesn't make you a "better" designer. I'll admit to being a design snob, but I have to admit that the proof is in the installed landscape, not the plans. That's where I agree with what AGLA is saying- photo images have to be based off of solid, well-thought plans.
Also, as far as the idea of computer or image design being a cookie cutter when implemented, I find that actual installations can be equally "cookie cutter" or as I prefer to call them "flower arrangements" on a big scale.
As you said, the proof is in the installed landscape.
Actually, the proof is in the "matured" landscape now that I think about how I'd prefer to phrase-it.
CAD is a drafting tool. If you can draw it by hand, it can be drawn on cad. The only thing that makes a cookie cutter is the person operating it. I suppose that it is easier to cut and paste the same parts of a planting from one house to another which might temp someone who has no interest in the design other than filling space with plants.
I don't use photoimaging professionally. I only use it on message boards and altering nonlandscape photos for the purpose of entertainment. It is fun sometimes. But as I have said many times, you already have to know what something will look like to mock it up. It seems like a waste of time to show yourself something that you already know.
I notice a lot of designers who posted pictures haven't taken advantage of the depth enhancement or shadows? Goto View and Shadows who find the images are softer that way. I haven't read every post in this thread, but there is a lot of truth to the fact if you actually only used the image editor you could sell something you can't build. I use PRO Landscape, but if you don't use the planner portion of the program you're crazy. The pictures are for the customer to an "idea" or "representation" of the design. It is your responsibility to inform your customer the final product will not look exactly like the picture (Thank God). And practice makes perfect, you're hurting yourself if you go into a proposal with an average-at-best computer rendering. You're there to convince the customer that your design exceeds there expectations and they will be happy with the end result. Just some tips I've picked up in my experience...