3-d design program

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by danthony, Dec 24, 2012.

  1. danthony

    danthony LawnSite Member
    Messages: 35

    I am looking at professional quality and ease in 3-d computer landscape design. Anyone have some feedback here? I think some things out there look a bit cheesy. Also I am wanting to be able not to have too clunky of a process that will take forever. I like dynascape 2-d look, but i don't know how they really compare so well... and the price along with the 'subscription' seem a bit high, although I won't rule it out. Also considering Vectorworks, Realtime LA 2012, maybe PROscapes?

    ease of entering in topography
    ease of going from 2-d to 3-d
    nice walkthru presentation for clients
    professional looking
  2. TX Easymoney

    TX Easymoney LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,109

    Bought vectorworks in2008 and the learning curve was pretty tough...they did not provide free learning to be able to easily finish a simple design....they provided plenty of tutorial disks which taught the basics, but not specific items like how to assign property lines...the disks were more oriented toward general principals ....
    Landscape pro is geared for only landscaping...they have put a lot of thought into it...and they don't charge for the tutorials specifically geared to landscaping
  3. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,099

    I use ProLandscape Design Software. I have 22 years in the field, 12 of it in design.
    To be honest, there is no 'easy'. You use a lot of 'ease' in your wish list. It doesn't exist. Either you are a designer, with time invested in learning how to do it, or you are not.
    Take a winter, learn a format. Take classes or teach yourself. There will be about a 2-3 year learning curve as you use the software and work with your clients before you become decent with it.

    But there is no easy for a do it yourself designer.

    Either you are willing to invest your own time to learn, or your own money to hire a designer/salesman. The other option is to NOT design at all. Just keep it simple and keep it to napkin sketches.

    People have done GREAT landscapes long before there were LAs and design software.
  4. danthony

    danthony LawnSite Member
    Messages: 35

    Thanks for the reply. Actually I am part owner of a small design/build firm. Looking to make the right choice and seeing some drawbacks with every solution out there. Also trying to get some feedback on these programs.
  5. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,099

    haven't known anyone who has owned one of these programs who hasn't invested years into using them, to get good at them.

    If you're in design/build, how do you design now?

    ProLandscape is the best one out there (in my opinion).
    Has an interface ability with iPad for design/sales/presentation on the go.
    Has inventory and takes plans and translates them into estimates/proposals, and tracks the project while in process.

    I have not found one that does 'easy' topo lines in a removable layer.

    A cheap trick with ProLandscape is to get a topo off of a DWG for the plat in question that's already done (can be had if your area has GIS) there is a way to do it with google earth too, but I havent found it yet.
  6. danthony

    danthony LawnSite Member
    Messages: 35

    I have been doing hand drawings for over 15 years. I have been also doing hand perspectives on occasion. I wouldn't mind speeding up the process a bit, although it is not too hard to draw small/ medium size plans. Also wanting to have a more compelling presentation where the client can visuallize the project easier. Easy might not be possible for awhile, but I am fairly computer literate, so hopefully I can learn. As long as the program has a fairly good system to automate as much of the workflow as possible.

    I think I like the dynascape output on 2-d better than the others, but in 3-D it might not be much better than the cheaper programs.

    Topography is another issue. Not sure if any of them input very well or how they work in 3-d & in bidding walls. I suspect vectorworks does ok in this but don't know for sure

    Bidding is also an issue. Workflow to outputting an accurate bid would be nice.

    Just trying to gather some info...
  7. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,099

    what about straight up auto cad?

    If youve been hand drawing you shouldnt need a gerber baby food walk through symbol stuff most of the design programs burden you with.

    But auto cad doesn't do elevation rendering.

    Do you want actual plans? Or conceptual elevations? Or both?
  8. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,778

    You can draw anything on Autocad if you have the training and experience. It is far too deep a program to get deeply into without training and experience.

    Topography is not dealt with in many of the landscape specific programs. You need a program that does something called TIN to generate contours and then the surfaces on slopes.I don't think you'll get far with 3d topo without shelling out a higher amount of money.

    I use Acad 3d companion in an engineering office, but get by with ACAD Lt (~$900) in my landscape architecture office. I don't do 3d very often, but Sketchup is what I use when I do. I only use the free version. I make a jpeg out of my acad plan and drop it in as a floor in sketchup. I scale it so that it is roughly accurate and then draw over it and extrude the surfaces. You can draw with dimensions to be accurate. You could easily draw contours and extrude them (like a foam core model). Sketchup Pro does do terrain, but it will require importing that TIN that I mentioned earlier, if I'm not mistaken.

    It is not at all difficult to calculate walls from a 2d plan if you have contours and proposed top and bottom of wall spot elevations. It is pretty easy to draw a cross section of the face of wall showing all you need above and below finished grade. You'll pretty much have to do that to generate the information to input into a 3d drawing anyway. I do this all the time in a civil engineering office on all kinds of sites from residences to larger commercial projects. It does not have to be made over complicated.
  9. danthony

    danthony LawnSite Member
    Messages: 35

    I would like planview and some premium 3-d (of course without too much work... which may not be possible). . admit I also looked at BricsCad/ Land F/X. More impressed with some of the functionality of Land F/X, but not really too keep on the look ... keep going back to Dynascape, but am turned off a bit by there $600 a year update tag and a more seemingly clumsy Sketchup interface that could be streamlined...

    I also admit i am interested in some fancy survey equiptment that I can quickly and acurately lay out a site and allow me to feed it into one of these programs with a few clicks... maybe I am dreaming or ignorant, but I think I could save some time in the long run.
  10. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,778

    If you are looking to integrate with survey equipment, you really need to look at Carlson software. It runs on Autocad or Bricscad (cheaper). The drafting skill set is identical to Acad. The integration with survey data collection is built in. It is designed by surveyors so all the things you need to do with calc'ing out lot lines and rotating points are built in .... but you still have to know what you are doing.

    There still is not really any good setup for an amature to grab survey equipment and software off of the shelf and get 3d drawings put together to wow people. You need multiple compnents and training and experience with each of them. It really is not close to being ready for a small landscape contractor to survey, design, present, and build without having multiple people to do each. The work flow won't support that kind of staff unless you are very big.

    It makes sense to keep it simple and use subcontractors when you need them.

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