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American Society of Landscape Architects


July 2006 Issue

Image Is Everything
Improvements in software make it easier to add graphic quality to CAD.

By James L. Sipes, ASLA


Landscape architects who learned to create drawings with trace paper, parallel bars, No. 2 pencils, and markers cringe at the idea of having to settle for drawings generated with CAD (computer-aided design) programs. Prevailing thought has always been that CAD drawings are cold and sterile and lack the richness and warmth of hand-generated drawings. That was certainly true for years, but no longer. Many landscape architecture firms are finding that they can generate CAD drawings that have much higher graphic quality than ever before.

Integrating Color

Every landscape architect who uses AutoCAD should know about M-Color, a plug-in for AutoCAD. M-Color offers a wide variety of drawing, editing, and conversion tools that can be accessed as a pull-down menu, just like any other set of AutoCAD commands.

M-Color was originally developed by Motive Systems back in 1989, but somehow it has escaped the attention of most landscape architects. That is surprising, considering how much we depend upon CAD. Perhaps one reason is that M-Color is often referred to as a “plotting” program, not a visualization program. Even in its brochure, Motive Systems calls M-Color a “professional color plotting software package.”

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