Optimizing the Mac design environment

A gCADPlus user wanted some help customizing her gCADPlus drafting environment. Here, we advise optimizing the Mac design environment when using gCADPlus. Our designer 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.

Optimizing the Mac design environment

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. Although the movies focus on Mac users, they should be equally useful for Windows users.

Creating a CAD version of your logo.

Using a raster (image) version of your logo in title blocks on layout sheets to present your design concepts is possible. 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. Since presenting a design usually involves using several sheets, each with a title block, the design file size 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 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 them into 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.

Optimizing the Mac design environment when using 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 and arc, editing commands, such as offset, and controlling 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, size it appropriately, and then trace over the image to create a CAD version. We add some text, matching the text’s colour to the text’s colour 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 moves to Cartesian coordinate 0,0.

connolly garden design

Saving a drawing file

The drawing containing the new logo will often be used as a block 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 tested our work by inserting the logo into 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 the one 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. We also discuss the influence that typography has on a logo’s impact.

MrB Landscape Designs

Knobbly Rush landscape designers  Sustainable Landscapers

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 title blocks and print a test design using PDFWriter.

Tip: PDF writers enable high-resolution prints of designs created using gCADPlus. Although several PDF writers are 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 regarding what is required to satisfy the client’s needs. Your design may be used in some development applications, and in that case, a detailed title block may be required.

Good housekeeping – filing work carefully

As a landscape design practice grows and works digitally, 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 back up a copy of gCADPlus and the work completed using it on an external device.

Fine-tuning templates

YouTube movie Speed drafting can be done by creating 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 in cutting drafting time and applying a more consistent approach to the development of landscape plans.