Graphic Renderings – Best Software?

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums GRAPHICS Graphic Renderings – Best Software?

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    Megan Morris

    In the past I’ve used both M-Color and Illustrator to create high quality renderings with linework from CAD. Are there other programs (newer or better), to create renderings? I’ve heard Impressions, but have not used it yet. Would like see what other folks are using.

    Robert Anderson

    First question is what operating system are you using? I can only help with Mac. To that end why use two programs if you are creating a base in CAD (presumably AutoCAD) and then sending it to create quality renderings when you can do everything, whether it is illustrative plans or 3D renderings, in Vectorworks Landmark 2017.

    As of this latest release the award winning rendering engine behind cinema 4D and renderworks are included in every license. Best of luck in your search!

    Megan Morris

    I’m using a PC-Windows. I’m going to give Vectorworks a trial run. Thank you for the recommendation, I wouldn’t have thought about it otherwise!


    Hello Megan (fellow Aggie)…..*smile*

    Well, I fully realize that our profession has gone fully digital…….but, in looking up the cost of Vectorworks 2017, I found it runs $3,000.00 to $3,500.00.  Guess large LA firms can afford any computer software program they feel they need.

    But, too late in my LA career to deal with “digital” programs.  I have always and will continue to do all of my color renderings “by hand”.  No learning curve and no increase in my overhead.

    Best Regards,

    J. Robert Wainner

    Texas A&M University – Class of 1977


    If you are currently using Autocad you could add in LandFX which is seamless and your learning curve (vs Vectorworks) is low.  LandFX has rendering capabilities and they are making constant upgrades and improvements to the program.  When you set up your palettes at the beginning of a job you can establish the rendered version of plant styles you want to use.  Once you have all of that set once your design is complete you can just click Turn Color on and boom.   You will probably have to make some adjustments to some line weights, color modifications etc., after its completed to get a look that you want, but it is pretty quick.  Turning color on and off is quick.  Certainly a lot quicker than the old days.  What once might have filled an 8 hour day can now be done in a couple, depending on the size of your project.


    Well, I know that the “quality” of the final color rendering produced by “Vectorworks” depends a lot on how talented the LA is……..because, I’ve seen some SERIOUSLY BAD color renderings produced by “Vectorworks” software.

    Some LAs just don’t have “graphic talents”…..and regardless of whether the color rendering is produced by Vectorworks software or by hand…….IF the LA hasn’t developed high quality graphic design skills…..their final product will not have professional results…..regardless of the time spent.

    I have seen BOTH recent University LA graduates’ color renderings as well as many professional LAs (who have many years of experience practicing Landscape Architecture)…..but, their “color renderings” are very poorly produced.  Which I don’t understand. Are University LA Professors not teaching LA students the value of “great graphic presentations”?  

    I was reviewing the web site just last week of an LA located in South Florida (who has approx. 12 yrs. of design experience).  I have to admit, that the photos in his gallery or projects he designed were pretty descent…..but, the “color renderings” on his website looked like they were drawn by a High School student…seriously.  I’m surprised the guy is in still in business….because, those “color preliminary drawings” used to present ideas to clients are a critical part of the design process.  

    I have always adhered to the philosophy……that “Great Design & Great Graphics go hand in hand… really can’t have one without the other”.

    If LA students and experienced LAs will visit some of the major ELITE LA Firms (both in the U.S. and abroad)…’ll see that their “color renderings” on their web sites are nothing less than spectacular.  Go visit the web sites of EDSA & Belt Collins. 

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