November 27, 2010 at 2:02 pm #166729
Let me give a little background on my questions to start. I am currently in school, and we are only taught autocad and GIS, we are expected to learn sketchup and photoshop on our own. However a few of the more computer savvy people in my class are trying different programs, because of the limitations of sketchup, and since we are students we can get most of the programs free or at a severely discounted rate. So instead of just trying every program we can find I figured it might be a better idea, to talk to the professionals and find out what the best is so we can focus on one or two programs.
So what are the best programs out there for a landscape architect?November 27, 2010 at 3:25 pm #166746
Well the answer to your question is as varied as the potential firms that you might go to work for. There is a lot of confusion in the market technology wise. Because of competition of the AutoCad clones of Intellicad Autodesk would like everyone to migrate away from Autocad. They are really pushing Civil 3D and Revit. Though Revit was really designed for Architects. There are companies out there that are adding civil3d type tools and landscape design tools to Revit. The reality is that though Civil3d is vary capable it is also a bear to learn. At this juncture it is to early to tell if either of these products will really become mainstream. Some firms you run into have jumped into these programs lip deep while other firms still continue to used Autocad. For me I find that the software tools from Carlson Software are still more capable than Civil3d. After all they started as a software provider for the surveying industry. And they were closer to the needs of someone needing the capabilities of a Civil3d package. They had tools to address these needs way before Civil3D. I see Autodesk as a “me too” software provider (A. K. A.. Civil3D)
I work for myself so I have the luxury of choosing the best tools. For me I have picked Carlson Desktop and SurvCE. BricsCAD/LandFX and Sketchup Pro and Vue 9 also I use Photoshop, xFrog, and xFrog Tune and I am evaluating Tgi photoscan. I have elected to use BricsCAD in lieu of AutoCAD because after you get out of school if you go out on your own and you have to pay for all this stuff your self you will find that staying as far as possible from Autodesk products will save you tons of money over the years. They are the John Deere of the CAD industry (Good products but you pay more for them) I do my own surveying so I use a Leica Robotic Total Station (a one man surveying gun) thus the need for Carlson desktop and SurvCE. I use LandFX as my primary landscape design tool (it runs on top of BricsCAD or AutoCAD) I started out using LandCAD products from EaglePoint Software but after owning their products and just barely getting them payed off they suddenly announced they were discontinuing the products they sold me and wanted to sell me all new software. I made the decision right there that if I had to switch software I would be switching software vendors to. I never want to be associated with a Vendor that has no allegiance to their Legacy customers. So I am having to start over and learn to use LandFX instead of Eaglepoint’s LandCAD. I was also using their SMI software for surveying so I am also new to Carlson’s software. (Carlson has the highest rating of customer satisfaction in the industry) Their headquarters is also just a short drive from here. LandFX has a SketchUP plugin and Vue 9 also has a plugin for SketchUP. The biggest issue in using SketchUP for landscape presentation is finding realistic trees. No matter how many you find available from various places around the web there will always be a need for more. That is why I use xFrog. They are the premier tree modeler. When you export a xFrog tree model you export it as a .obj file that already includes the Texture maps. Because these files are huge and will choke the fastest maxed out PC and SketchUP, I use xFrogTune. I take my original model and run it through xFrogTune to reduce the polygon count for design purposes in SketchUp pro. When I have completed my SketchUP model and it is ready to render I use the Vue 9 Plug-in to import my SU model into Vue 9. I go into the gobal settings of Vue 9 and select all of my lower res tree model files and replace them to fit with their Higher Res models that were first created by xFrog. I use LandFx for all my takeoffs (plant material) If I have earthwork takeoffs I will use a Carlson product for that. I also use LandFX for my CD.s I can export my finished SketchUP model back to LandFX and from there I can send the drawing back to Carlson’s Desktop. I can then export the drawing down to SurvCE and go back to the jobsite and stake the drawing out with my survey instrument. I am currently evaluating TGI photoscan. This will allow me (I am primarily in residential design) to take a picture of each face of a customers existing house and bring the photo into sketchup and place that picture on a face of the residence model. With Tgi photoscan after you calibrate the photo the program will allow you to exrude features in the photo just like you can in SketchUP. This just saves me time in not having to draw the complete details of the house in SU. This is my workflow I am a survey/design/build firm. The firm you go to work for may be completely different and may have different software requirements. I think as a student AutoCAD will always be the common denominator. Having knowledge of SketchUP and PhotoShop will serve you well. I see SketchUP owning the presentation portion of the Landscape Design market. If I were a student I would purchase a copy of LandFX just because it would make my designs quicker to deliver and they will look more professional than just using AutoCad by itself. Can you do it with just AutoCAD sure you can… if you have extra time to fool with it. I never had any extra time when I was in school. I hope this answers your question.
Best wishes in your studies,
s.November 28, 2010 at 3:14 am #166745
William, I have used AutoCAD for many years in both design only and design-build companies, and about 3 years ago, I began using Vectorworks Landmark. It is a stand alone CAD application that is industry specific to landscape architecture/landscape design and gives you the ability to do site specific design in unified 2D and 3D. Your designs can be highly illustrative, including artistic and photorealistic renderings, and the smart objects and drawing environment allow you to analyze your site with features such as cut and fill calculations, slope analysis and solar animation, etc.. I particularly like the ability to take clients on a tour of their site with my design ideas in still 3D views and interactive walkthroughs. Vectorworks imports and exports DWG/DXF, image files, PDF, and also imports SKP files. Also, if you are doing work with GIS, it can import and export SHP files, as well. As a student, you qualify for a free student license, and once you graduate, you’ll find that the price is far less than the combination of applications required to do the work we typically need to do from start to finish. Best of luck to you in your pursuit of other applications…keep us posted as to what you decide to evaluate.November 28, 2010 at 5:50 am #166744
LOL!November 28, 2010 at 5:52 am #166743
I am curious, what modules are you using in Vectorworks besides Landmark?
s.November 28, 2010 at 4:21 pm #166742
Steve, I am using Vectorworks Landmark with Renderworks. Though the 2D rendering is very nice without Renderworks (solid and gradient fills with changeable opacities), as well as shadowed plants and massing outlines, if you want to see the 2D and 3D views become artistic or photorealistic, you would need Renderworks (it’s required for my solar animations, as well). -EricNovember 28, 2010 at 8:09 pm #166741
Where are u from David?November 29, 2010 at 1:04 am #166740
a wee rose amongs the thorns 🙂 LOL!November 29, 2010 at 12:05 pm #166739
Ah stand corrected! LOL! 🙂 spoken like a true Irishman.
s.November 29, 2010 at 10:42 pm #166738
well I downloaded vectorworks, and now it looks like I have alot of learning to do.November 30, 2010 at 1:03 am #166737
Vectorworks is expensive and is not mainstream in the industry, even it’s rendering engine was designed more for CG Artists. You may learn it only not to be able to find a design firm that is looking for someone with Vectorworks skills.
s.November 30, 2010 at 1:35 am #166736
Steve, I’m curious about your statement on Vectorworks being expensive. I would contend that compared to your setup of BricsCAD, LandF/X and SketchUp Pro, Vectorworks Landmark with Renderworks would cost much less and provide the us with actually more functionality. I no longer have to take vector based drawings into raster based enhancement software for rendering, nor do I need to see my 2D line drawings separated from my 3D modeling work… they are unified and simultaneous. With the current release of Vectorworks’ Renderworks, the rendering engine has been replaced with a Cinema 4D rendering engine, making the resulting presentations even better and faster. There are many firms who find that Vectorworks’ import and export of DWG files meets their needs in collaborating with other architects and engineers, and do so with knowing what DWG files do/do not support.November 30, 2010 at 1:47 am #166735
well honestly, since i’m a student i get the program for free. I have tried land f/x but it would never download correctly onto my computer, so after about a dozen tries I just gave up on it.November 30, 2010 at 3:55 am #166734
I would call/email LandFX and tell them you are having a problem. It will give you a chance to test their tech support department. Tell Jerimiah in tech support I said Hi!
s.November 30, 2010 at 8:42 am #166733Cristian BerarParticipant
I think that AchiCAD is a very good software for landscape architecs. The plans of 2D looks very well, it has many 3D objects including plants, peoples etc. and you can make render with 4 different engines. Also,you can export for ARTlantis for rendering.
Another important software is Vectorworks. I didn’t work in it by now, but I saw projects made with it and I was impressed.
All the best.
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