what to render beyond edge of site?

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums GRAPHICS what to render beyond edge of site?

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    Yes…..good IDEA, Henry!  Agree with you also “Landplanner”.

    Over the years, I have learned that most of the elite LA firms around the Country…..EDSA, Belt Collins, EDAW (their old name)……the projects they design are extremely complex and normally very large in scope. But, I know those firms…they all spend time using “hand drawn sketches”…developing the DESIGNS.

    I have also had dealings with LA firms that use a “combination” of color markers along with autoCAD on the same drawing….I was very impressed with that technique.  Because, a lot of photoshop type drawings I have seen (even in professional LA firms) look too much to me like “paint by number”…the color presentation drawings have little depth or life to them.  I know, I sort of keep pushing the “graphic” end of things…but, the DESIGN should be the major focus….However, great graphics really do help “sell” your design ideas to your clients.

    The Color Preliminary Residential (pool area) that I recently posted….it’s a new project on my drawing board.  After using a LOT of tracing paper….many overlays to work out the DESIGN…..I went with black pentel pens to hardline the DESIGN…on white tracing paper. Then, I used colored markers on the BACK side of the tracing paper to add sort of a light background color – to the pool, pool deck, lawn areas and some of the plants.  Then, I went onto the FRONT of the tracing and used “colored pencils” to get the punch I wanted…adding BLACK shadows to add a more 3D look….just a side note here about SHADOWS…for “graphic purposes”…regardless of which direction the SUN is actually coming from…running your shadows to the LOWER RIGHT seems to work best – it’s sort of a “visual” thing.  For Preliminary Drawings like this, I prefer to use “calligraphy” type lettering…gives a drawing a more personal touch.  I realize to most of you….this may seem “old fashion”…but, it works and when you get the process down, it’s really not that time consuming.

    I think sometimes, when an LA presents a Photoshop type Color Presentation Drawing to a client….it looks to FINAL.  So, some clients feel that maybe they really don’t have opportunities to make changes to the DESIGN.  With my Residential Client…I left them a set of color Xerox copies of all areas I designed – basically, the entire property.  I wanted to give them a week or so to review the DESIGN and the Preliminary Cost Estimates.  This process has worked well for me for MANY years…and when you completed these drawings…the Color Xeroxes come out looking BETTER than the “originals.  The color drawing I posted is a digital photo…so, the quality of that photo is not really very good.

    I guess my point is…..though lengthy…..is, don’t be afraid to use some “hand drawing” skills when you are a LA student or an LA Professional.  Try not to get buried in all of the computer software programs…..remember, that your objective is to produce GREAT DESIGNS…regardless of HOW you arrive. 


    Brian……………respectfully, I just wish to add…that I still have a problem with “photoshop” type graphics.  I feel sure that there MUST be “computer graphic programs” that give LA’s the opportunity go give a graphic drawing real LIFE and interest. 

    I’m seeing maybe (2) colors of green on the trees – when, in reality, there are MANY different colors.  And the trees are “flat” looking, no dimension. Yes, shadows help…but, may I suggest that (regardless of the direction of the sunlight), run your shadows to the “lower right hand” corner of a drawing – it’s just something in our mind’s eye that helps graphic drawings “read better”.  Texture for the paving areas would help…maybe add some cars, trucks, buses for realism. 

    Water….in water features is normally not “still” there’s some movement. There are many ways to make water look really cool…with variation of colors and the addition of 3D water jets.  Also, to help make your trees look even more 3D and interesting…consider adding a darker shade of green (or whatever the tree color is) to the shadow side of the tree & a lighter shade of green to the sunny side of the tree (along with some white streaks on the sunny side) – you’ll se a major improvement.  Just food for thought. 


    Hello Brian………..I really like that “watercolor” technique….it really does add to the presentation quality of your drawing.

    Still….even though you’re working with photoshop on this drawing…and the scale is 1:1000….still think you could give it more texture, variety of colors.  I was looking at it closer up, so, I was studying it closely.

    As for shadow directions…..well, around 4:30 pm to 5:00 pm…the Sun would be where those shadows would run to the “lower right” on your drawing.  Trust me…36+ yrs. of doing this….clients aren’t concerned about the accuracy of shadows…unless it’s a “critical” aspect of the design.  Most of the time, the color rendering is for “illustrative” purposes….to convey your design ideas to your clients.

    I not only learned Graphic Design from my Dad (who had over 35+ yrs….and was incredibly gifted), but, my first wife was also an extremely talented Graphic Designer – and many, many talented LA’s throughout my LA career…..I guess I’m just pretty fussy when it comes to graphics……….BUT….that GREAT design has to be there too.

    Best Regards,


    Goustan BODIN

    I like what you guys say, but I’d like to bounce on an idea J Robert just expressed :

     when I see poor student presentation or autoCAD drawings…it makes me wonder HOW & WHY they were issued an LA degree”

    Drawing is a fantastic skill, and having good graphics skills too. If you work on your own, or on a small team, it becomes critical because you can rely on yourself only.

    Now, in a larger office/team, you need a wide array of different skills. The ones who are good at rendering graphics, the ones who can quickly elaborate a site strategy plan, the ones who understand where the sun and light come from and how to deal with views, the ones who can calculate technical stuff (step heights and so forth), the ones who know their construction techniques and materials well, the ones who can cost things up before hand, and so forth.

    (edit) I realized I haven’t even mentioned plant, soil, etc knowledge !

    Landscape is a profession that require so *many* different skills, it’s insane. Limiting our job to just drawing is in my sense like looking through binoculars the wrong way.

    I’ve had 2 job interviews mostly limited to a hand drawing test. Though I love to scribble for myself by hand, to record my ideas/feeling fast, I am *terrible* at drawing.

    I’m still glad they gave me my degree, because I’d hate to restrict the way I consider myself  to my drawing ability 😉

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    J. Robert,


    Brian learned from his dad as well. Perhaps you have heard of him – Mike Lin?


    Interesting,Andrew……to learn this about Brian.  I did a little research…it seems that my Dad & Mike Lin BOTH studied at the Los Angeles Art Center School of Design.  My Dad did very little “gallery art”, 90% of his design career was in Advertising Art.  While he was a freelance Advertising Artist, I remember my Dad having the acct. for “Braniff Airlines”. My Dad’s graphic ‘style” was photo-realism – very different than Mike Lin’s style.

    I was using MY 36+ yrs. of LA exp. (graphic exp.) to make a few suggestions to Brian…..where I felt he could do some things to make the graphic presentation he posted….stronger & bolder…more realistic. I’ll never be as good as my Dad or as good as Mike Lin.  My strength is actually with “plan graphics”…I was only trying to help Brian.


    Goustan……..Yes, I agree, in very large LA firms (there probably are areas of specialization)…..from design to autocad to photoshop, 3D graphics, etc. 

    But, it would be MY recommendation…that LA’s become a “sponge”, especially in large LA firms.  Learn everything you can from everyone.  Yes, today, you may be in a large firm, performing (1) special function in that firm. But, trust me……there very well could come a day where you will find yourself…….”on your own”.  And when you do, you BETTER be able to do hand sketching, great design, fantastic color renderings, grading plans, planting plans, contract administration, job site inspections…..the whole 9 yards. 

    Because there are a TON of LA’s over the age of 50 who have found themselves…….unwanted.  LA firms tend to focus on 25 to 40 yr. old LA’s.

    When I was with a Dallas, Tx. LA firm for 13 yrs…everyone on staff had to handle 100% of every aspect of every project…..drafting base sheets, prelim. designs, pool designs, grading plans, planting count take-offs, cost estimates, const. details, planting design, writing specs., color graphic presentations, sketches, etc. 

    As it turned out, in 1991, at the age of 41…..we had massive layoffs at that firm….we were totally out of work.  And there were ZERO jobs out there.  I had little choice but to take what I had learned….and est. my own LA firm.  No way I could have succeeded had I NOT learned all of the various LA tasks that I did those previous 13 years at that Dallas firm.  And, even with 13 yrs. of exp., it still took me (3) years to get my own LA firm established.

    So, don’t allow yourself to get stuck in a pigeon hole….doing one or two tasks……learn EVERYTHING you possible can.  Because, if you’re NOT the whole “package” by the time you’ve been an LA for say, 15 yrs….you’re LA career could be cut SHORT.  I believe maybe as many as 30% of all LA’s are “freelance”…on their own.  And my bet is a great majority of them are over the age of 50.  Because, no LA firm wants to hire LA’s over 45 to 50 yrs. old…it’s very rare.


    Well…..I was curious, so I looked it up.  According to U.S. News & World Report…..ranking the Top Graphic Design Schools/Programs in the World………Rhode Island School of Design #1….Art Center School of Design in California came in at #7.



    #6B is better. Get it messy.

    Goustan BODIN

    Somewhat glad you see things as I do : 1 skill/set of skills is not enough.

    Now, you also scare the hill out of me: I’m just 40, and I feel that what you just said is sound and real.

    Do I feel ready to fly on my own if I have to ? Not really. Will work harder to be sure I can if the time comes. Thanks for your warning.


    Hey, you’re welcome Goustan.

    Well…..of course, I can’t (nor can anyone else) predict the FUTURE of Landscape Architecture OR our economy. 

    I just wanted to share my experiences with other LAND8 members…..it’s just important to be “prepared” for what the FUTURE may bring…..because, we just never know.

    You’re still young enough to learn MUCH over the next few years.

    Like I suggested (be a sponge)…learn everything you can from the LA firm where you’re employed.  You’ll be fine.

    Good Luck!




    Sorry for the late response. It’s great to hear from you. Whenever you’re able to drop in for a chat it’s always appreciated. And thanks for the kind words. You know you’re A-1 in my book as well Bro.

    Bullets and single malt: now that’s my kind of party.

    Please stay in touch when you can my friend. Peace.

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