Optimizing the Mac design environment

A gCADPlus user wanted some help to customize her gCADPlus drafting environment. She needed a template similar to those found when selecting the File > New option. The focus was to be on the needs of her landscape design studio. Here we set out the steps needed to create such a template.

Before we start, let’s look at the completed template in action.

YouTube movie Demonstrating the use of templates to increase drafting efficiency in the gCADPlus design environment – an overview. 8mins.

Tip: The series of movies below is designed to help landscape designers work more efficiently. The movies have a Mac focus, but should be equally useful for Windows users.

Creating a CAD version of your logo.

It is possible to use a raster (image) version of your logo in title blocks on layout sheets to present your design concepts. However the print quality on the PDF file that you send to a client might disappoint if an image file is used. Moreover, raster versions of logos are usually large and since presenting a design usually involves using several sheets each with a title block, the file size of the design file may be unnecessarily large. Making a CAD version of your logo based on an existing raster copy is a good first step.

Importing raster images

YouTube movie In order to make a CAD version of a logo, we need to be able to import the logo image into gCADPlus. Here we demonstrate the ability of gCADPlus to handle a wide variety of image files and bring into in the drawing editor. After creating an A2 size layout sheet, we paste images of species used in a design and print a PDF version of the images on an A4 sheet to show the versatility of gCADPlus.

Reviewing the gCADPlus interface

YouTube movie  This movie provides a quick review of the gCADPlus interface by demonstrating the use of several drawing commands such as rectangle, arc, editing commands such as offset and control of the placement of entities using the OFFSET command.

Tracing over an existing logo to make a CAD version

YouTube movie  We capture a logo from a web page, draw a rectangle of appropriate size for the logo, paste an image and size it appropriately and then trace over the image to create a CAD version. We add some text, matching the colour of text to the colour of text in the image file using IrfanView. The Properties box is used to adjust text height and width. Finally, the image file is removed and the left corner of the new CAD logo move to Cartesian coordinate 0,0.

Saving a drawing file

The drawing containing the new logo will be used as a block and many times in other designs. It is a valuable resource and needs to be saved where it can be easily located.

YouTube movie This movie shows how to carefully file drawings in the Mac environment when the Windows emulator CrossOver is in use. Installing gCADPlus creates a large number of folders. We use the SaveAs command and place a new design for a logo into its appropriate place in the gCADPlus file system. We test our work by inserting the logo in a new design.

Making a logo from scratch

Tip: If you are just starting out, you can of course create the logo from scratch using gCADPlus. Making a CAD version of a logo such as those shown below is a very good first exercise for someone just learning CAD.

YouTube movie We show how to use gCADPlus to create a new CAD version of a logo for a group that specializes in planning urban food gardens. The influence that typography has on the impact of a logo is discussed.

 

Testing the CAD logo in a title block.

The next step is to insert the logo into a title block on a layout sheet and test its quality by printing to a PDF writer.

YouTube movie We insert a new logo into two different title blocks and print a test design using PDFWriter.

Tip: PDF writers enable high resolution prints of designs created using gCADPlus. Although there are several PDF writers available for Windows users (CutePDF, Bullzip etc.) we are aware of only one (PDFWriter) that’s available for the Mac.

Creating a custom title block

YouTube movie Create a minimalist title block incorporating your new logo.

Tip: Opinions vary as to what is required to satisfy the needs of the client. Your design may be used in some type of development application and in that case, a detailed title block may be required.

Good housekeeping – filing work carefully

As a landscape design practice grows and works in the digital space, it becomes increasingly important to store files efficiently.

YouTube movie We create a new design by running one of the templates and save the design in a ‘Jobs’ folder.

Making a design studio template

YouTube movie We create a template for our design studio by running one of the gCADPlus templates, editing it by replacing the existing title block with a new one and saving the new drawing in the correct gCADPlus template location. We then test the template.

Backing up your valuable work

YouTube movie This movie shows how to backup a copy of gCADPlus and the work that’s been completed using it to an external device.

Fine tuning templates

YouTube movie How to speed drafting by setting up a template containing commonly used symbols, legends, linetypes, text styles, dimensioning styles, layers etc.

YouTube movie This movie shows a different (and highly developed) template being used to assist a design studio cut drafting time and apply a more consistent approach to the development of landscape plans.