Create your own symbols

We would encourage you to create your own planting and other symbols rather than rely on ours. It is a simple matter to do this, just create your symbol, select all the elements (lines arcs circles, etc.) which make up the new symbol, right click and give the new symbol a name.

Here is an example of a symbol for a Hydrangea macrophylla created by the team at Stately Paving and Landscape Design in Melbourne, Victoria.

Note: It is not mandatory, but if you would like to make your symbols work in the same manner as native gCADPlus symbols, you need to follow the instructions set out below.

Creating a gCADPlus symbol

YouTube movie It is important to give landscape designs produced using CAD software a sense of your own style. One way to do that easily is to learn to make your own symbols. These are of course unique to you and give your drawings personality rather than relying on the in-built symbols that come with the software you use. Here we show how to make new symbols that are ‘built in the same way as those supplied with gCADPlus landscape design software.

YouTube movie When developing new planting symbols for gCADPlus, aim to keep the file size at 5Ok or less. We have found that the best way to keep the symbol file size small is to build the symbol using closed polylines with a fill. Point and linear gradients in the polyline can also be used to good effect. If species symbols are made this way, they do not bloat the landscape design file when in use. We show that paying attention to this maxim when creating new symbols, leads to a noticeable improvement in zoom and panning performance.

Here are a couple of examples. The file size of the example at left is around 30k, yet the image is colorful and gives an ‘impression’ of Dietes bicolor. The file of the image on the right is also 30k and gives an impression of the Australian native Dillwynia species.


The steps

Start a new drawing. [Do not use a template – select no template].

Via Layer>Layer dialog box, create the following layers:


Set the drawing colour for each layer at BYLAYER. [You may of course change the drawing colour as you draw – colouring various parts of the canopy and branches appropriately].

Tip: Make sure that you know how to make a layer current. You will want to move to a layer, (say L-PLNT-SYMBOL) and change the drawing colour to an appropriate shade of green or whatever to indicate the plant species that you are designing for. You need to be able to switch back to drawing by layer when you have finished this.

Place a circle (1000 units diameter – 500 units radius) on layer  L-PLNT-CONSTRUCTION

The sequence is Draw drop down > Circle> Radius

Mark the center point of the circle at Cartesian coordinate 0,0 on layer L-PLNT-CONSTRUCTION with a diameter of 1000 units (radius 500 units). This means that the symbol when displayed on layer L-PLNT-CONSTRUCTION will have a canopy diameter of 1 meter.

Draw a point on the same layer as the central indicator. Use Format > Point styles and set it as a plus sign.


Tip: Do not use a cross for this as the cross will be in an awkward position after rotation. This gives us a symbol that we can use to show the client a rough draft of the design – the full high-colored version comes next.

Set the point properties as shown below.

Now switch to and create the artwork work on layer L-PLNT-SYMBOL

Draw the ‘fancy’ symbol

Here different colors are commonly used along with the PLINE (Polyline) command. We often use the PLINE command to trace around the approximate circumference of the circle (using the circle on the L-CONSTRUCTION layer as a guide and then use the PEDIT (Properties in gCADPlus) to change the ‘fluidity’ of the shape. See the examples above. Save the symbol.

Tip: We find it useful to give the symbol a botanically meaningful name and store these in the Named library subfolder under Plants as shown below.

Library location location for named symbols

 Test the symbol both on the screen and when plotted on paper. When you are satisfied with your work, save the symbol in your own block library.

Please send us a copy of your new symbol ( so we can include it on the downloads page for others to use.

Adding a symbol to the gCADPlus library

After testing a symbol, save it to the appropriate place in the My Documents > gCADPlus > Blocks folder.

The figure below shows the folder structure at the point of saving a symbol in the standard folder set.

Named blocks

Tip: A good approach to the use of new symbols is to add them to your standard template.