Managing lineweights in landscape drawings

* These notes are under development and have been created for landscape designers using gCADPlus software. They are adapted from some notes about lines and their use in architectural drafting by Valann Fernandese from firstinarchitecture – click the link to visit this site. It is well worth a visit!

Landscape drawings often contain much information – species lists, planting details, dimension measurements, materials, and construction details. If different line thicknesses (lineweight) and linetype patterns are used in drawings to emphasize important details, such as planting, structural elements, or notes, the drawing is easier to read and understand. This is especially important where landscape drawings are concerned because they are likely to be used by horticultural contractors, builders, or other professionals who need to understand the design in detail.

Lineweight – a line weight is the thickness of the line. gCADPlus allows the association of a variety of lineweight settings to an entity. These range from 0.00 mm (0.01 inch) to 2.11 mm (0.083 inches). Line weights are used to differentiate between different elements of a building or structure, such as walls, windows, and doors. The drawing becomes more organized and easier to understand by assigning different line weights to each element. For example, thicker lines may be used to depict the outline of the building, while thinner lines represent interior walls. Line weights can also be used to convey depth in architectural drawings. Using a heavier line weight for elements in the foreground and a lighter line weight for the background, the drawing can create the illusion of depth and dimension. Finally, appropriate lineweights can enhance the aesthetics of the drawing by creating a sense of balance and harmony. In addition, careful use of line weights can help draw attention to important design elements and create a sense of movement or flow within the drawing.


Drafting on paper

Traditionally, when architects drew their plans with pen and paper, a limited amount of line thicknesses were available. Pens made by a Rotring were commonly used. These contained a set of technical drawing pens with different thicknesses ranging from 0.10mm to 2.0mm.

The most common lineweight thicknesses used in plans were:

  • 0.7mm – Thickest
  • 0.5mm – Thick
  • 0.35mm – Thin
  • 0.25mm – Thinner
  • 0.18mm – Thinnest
Common lineweights used in technical drawings

The outline or heavy line weight (typically 0.50mm or thicker) is used for the most prominent elements of a drawing. It’s commonly employed for the exterior walls of site buildings, structural columns, and architectural features. The thick outline provides a clear boundary of the building and outbuildings, making them stand out.

Tip: We will commonly set a line thickness of 0.6mm for building outlines in small-scale landscape drawings and use the same thickness for a border around the design. The figure below shows a design where different lineweight settings have been assigned to entities to improve the understanding of the design. Lineweight can be applied to entities in both modelspace and layout space. Here the border of the design has been drawn as a rectangle in layout space and a radius set for the corners.

lineweight example

Cut Line (Medium Lineweight)

The cut line, also known as the medium line weight (usually around 0.35mm to 0.50mm), is used to represent elements that are cut through in a section view. This includes walls, floors, and structural elements that are essential for understanding the building’s interior layout. Here is an example shown with a thicker section line for emphasis.

Hidden Line (Dashed Line)

Hidden lines are represented using dashed lines. These lines (commonly 0.18mm to 0.35mm) indicate features that are not visible in the current view but exist in the design. Examples include structural elements obscured by walls, and as in the example below geotextile fabric.


Centerline (Thin Lineweight)

Centerlines are used to denote the center or axis of symmetrical features. These lines (typically 0.13mm to 0.18mm) help in aligning and dimensioning objects accurately. Examples include centerlines for doors, windows, and circular elements. The example below shows an enterline being used to position a water feature for a better view from the living room.


Dimension Lines (Thin Lineweight)

Dimension lines are usually thin (around 0.13mm) with arrows at each end. They are used to indicate measurements and sizes of objects or spaces within the drawing. The dimension lines are accompanied by dimension numbers specifying lengths, widths, and heights. In landscape drawings, we often use modified leaders to indicate species names of plant symbols.


Leader Lines (Thin Lineweight)

Leader lines are thin lines (around 0.13mm) with arrows or dots and point to specific notes, labels, or annotations on the drawing. They help in associating text with specific elements or features in the design.

Text and Annotations (Thin Lineweight)

Text, labels, and annotations are typically drawn using thin line weights (around 0.13mm) to ensure they don’t overpower the drawing. These elements provide essential information such as labels for rooms, materials, and notes. In gCADPlus designs, we usually set the lineweight of the L-SmartLabel layer to 0.13mm.


Hatch Patterns (Thin Lineweight)

Hatch patterns are used to represent materials and textures within the drawing, such as bricks, tiles, or insulation. These patterns are typically thin (around 0.13mm) to avoid overwhelming the drawing but should still be distinct enough for identification.

By using various line weights strategically, architects and drafters can create architectural drawings that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also convey precise information about the design. This helps communicate the design intent clearly to contractors, builders, and other stakeholders, ensuring that the construction process goes smoothly and as planned.

Linetype – a linetype is the style of the line. This can be set to a continuous solid line, a dashed line, or a line that contains symbols. To develop these patterns, gCADPlus uses (works with) a linetype file. These linetype files are simple text files that can be loaded from the gCADPlus Format drop-down menu and are based on simple text files in a form originally developed by AutoDesk, the company that develops AutoCAD.

Lines and other entities also have a line pattern (linetype) associated with them. The example below shows the boundary of a site drawn as a simple line. The property of the line was changed from continuous to a fenceline type and the result is shown.

Fence line