Design Software

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    Robert Anderson

    It looks like it has been very quiet here on this forum. Quick survey to find out what Design package people are using and are they working in 3D or 2D? And of your design options what do think is missing for the type of projects you work on?

    Jamie Chen

    I have used AutoCAD at work. Rendering with Photoshop. As I have worked at smaller design-build, there have not been a need to learn 3D rendering. I’m teaching myself SketchUp.

    Robert Anderson

    Thanks Jamie for your thoughts.

    James DeRoussel

    I have used AutoCAD my whole career at multiple firms. SketchUp quickly became the go-to program for 3D rendering. My impression is this is where the majority of LA firms are still working: AutoCAD and Sketchup.

    With Architects rapidly moving over from AutoCAD to BIM software, Revit in particular, the limitations of AutoCAD for integration with BIM become glaring, especially for site work and landscape. We are currently looking at using Vectorworks for landscape architecture instead of AutoCAD, in order to better integrate with BIM and 3D modeling workflows.

    If anyone has any experience with switching from AutoCAD to Vectorworks, or using them in tandem, or site/landscape integration with Architectural BIM in general, please share! After only a few days of use, I find Vectorworks to be capable and user-friendly, with many potential advantages over AutoCAD.

    Robert Anderson


    Thanks for the response. I like you had used that combination for many years. I switched to Vectorworks Landmark in 2010 when I started my own practice. Since I have gone down this road, and helped other firms with the transition I can provide you with valuable insights. Please contact me if you have any questions.

    James DeRoussel

    Thanks Robert, that’s excellent. I may well take you up on that offer as we get a little deeper into Vectorworks. I literally started the trial period last week! Right now we are trying to test Vectorworks 3D terrain modeling capabilities versus Civil3D-to-Revit terrain modeling. I like what I see from VW so far.

    In a broad sense, have you found anything that you miss about AutoCAD or that AutoCAD still does better than VW?

    Bridger DeMars

    I am curious how using Revit, an Autodesk software, is pushing LAs away from AutoCAD. I don’t have a lot of experience with working hand in hand with architects as my current firm’s focus is on master planned communities with civil engineers who solely use Civil 3D. From my experience in grad school working in integrated classes with architect students, Revit was both compatible with AutoCAD and SketchUp and the architects actually preferred final 3D rendering with SketchUp plugins or 3DSMax though no one was really capable of fully utilizing 3DS Max. I do recall elevations were easy for them to prepare with Revit but that did not have anything to do with LA production.

    Most LA firms are integrating Land FX into their workflow. Does this work with Vectorworks?

    Robert Anderson

    Are you asking if LandFX is compatible with Vectorworks? If so the answer is most definitely not as Vectorworks Landmark has all the features and more of LandFX. You can also exchange files with AutoCAD users, import Sketchup and Revit files and create 3D renderings and AR models to show clients.

    Arnaud Van Blommen

    12 months later…. ­čÖé
    I use Bentley Map at work, Draftsight for my personal projects. All this coupled with Qgis, Gimp, Sketchup and Photoshop.
    Vectorworks Landmark looks great!!

    Bob Luther

    LandFX with FXCAD, Sketchup for 3D, Pixelmator for image processing (great Mac alternative to Photoshop). Wouldn’t change a thing!


    I used AutoCAD on a PC for over 20 years, early in the career as a draftsman, later in the career to review architectural and site data. I reverted back to hand drawing for my design work when the economy slowed down and farmed out the CAD. When it came time to update the computer and software, I started playing with Vectorworks and a Mac in 2016. I doubt I would ever switch back to AutoCAD or learn Revit after seeing the light. Autodesk does nothing for our discipline and slows down the creative process. Vectorworks is too powerful to ignore. It replaced sketchup for concept models, has enough GIS power for my needs, and could replace InDesign for some of us. I’m beginning to think that those features coupled with the ability to extract data from the model in a simple and useful way makes it the most powerful tool available for a LA. Love the planting design tools, plant database, and 3D capabilities. I have staff cutting out images of plants, housing them in the database, and the images can drag and drop right into my reports. It’s amazing, easy, and actually fun to use.

    Robert Anderson

    Welcome to the family!


    auto cad is best for 3d design


    Autocad Civil 3D and LandFX. Plan renderings in either LandFX or Photoshop.


    I guess I’m sort of an “anomaly” as a Landscape Architect…as I have managed a successful (42) year design career without the use of “autoCAD” or any other type of “computer generated software program”. 100% of over 600 plus projects designed “By Hand Drawing”. And, I’m still
    active on a somewhat limited basis, now at Age 70.

    In 1991, after 15 years of designing completely “By Hand”…I became extremely busy with major design projects…no time to stop to learn “autoCAD”…had I stopped to learn, I would have lost several major clients, for sure. So, just kept on doing with what I knew best “Hand Drawing”. Of course, I “could” have farmed out my designs and hired a young “autoCAD tech” or expanded my Design Practice and hired a couple of young LA’s who were proficient with “autoCAD”…it was just a “Career Decision” to remain as a (1) man LA Design Practice.

    Interesting too, never in my entire LA Career, has a single Client of mine requested that I produce any of their projects using “autoCAD”.

    I think it’s GREAT that there are MANY “computer generated software programs” available to LA’s and have been for many years. But, LA’s should remember…in the very early stages of the “design process”, “Hand Drawing Skills” can be very helpful.

    Just a side note: I was reviewing the Portfolio of a Landscape Architect graduate from The University of Georgia, a few days ago…This LA graduated in 2016, 4 years ago. If I were a University LA Professor, I’d give this LA a “D” for the color autoCAD Planting plans in his Portfolio & the one Final Drawing (autoCAD) was both very poor design & poor line quality use on the autoCAD. I guess I just expected more, from an LA graduate with (4) years of experience.

    Whether drawings are created using “autoCAD” or “Drawn by Hand”……both the Design and the quality of the drawings need to be “outstanding”! Creativity, Strong Graphics, Good Line Weights, etc…High Quality Design & Graphics, regardless of the method/s you use should be a high priority, IMO.

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