For a number of years, the landscape architecture profession has seen a rapid increase in …
For a number of years, the landscape architecture profession has seen a rapid increase in the adoption of three-dimensional modeling to aid the creative process and express design intent. As a result, this increase has fueled a surge in the slew of 3D modeling software programs on the market, with the majority bearing a hefty price tag. Whether you’re a penniless newbie or a seasoned professional, choosing a new and foreign piece of software can often prove bemusing. Here are five programs to consider, both gratis and costly.
3D Modeling Software
Ultimately aimed toward the 3D artist market, Blender makes the list because it presents a free, open source application for learning the art and craft of the 3D modeling world. The latest version of Blender features a slick interface comprised of three windows, and can be completely customized to your liking.
The layout may seem daunting to curious newcomers, so the software aptly includes a well-structured manual and the Blender website contains copious step-by-step tutorials. Being an open source project, Blender benefits from user-based development, resulting in continuous improvements and bug fixes. Possessing a versatile interface and all the tools needed for 3D modeling, animation, and rendering, Blender is perfect for those not wanting to open their wallets.
2. SketchUp Make
WATCH: Make Ideas Real with SketchUp
This little gem also eschews the trend of exorbitantly priced 3D modeling software and presents a free, easy-to-use alternative. SketchUp is a fast, flexible, and fun application that allows you to create, view, and modify 3D ideas quickly and easily. Users can even integrate with Google Earth, posting their latest creations for the world to see. Despite its ease of use, SketchUp isn’t scant on functionality, and includes the usual collection of drawing and filling tools you would expect. Being free, SketchUp does lack some of the advanced features many of its heavyweight rivals possess. But with its no-frills interface, simple logic, and abundance of helpful hints and guides, it’s the perfect tool for beginner and intermediate designers alike.
3. AutoDesSys Bonzai3d
The guys at AutoDesSys have taken a fresh approach to 3D modeling with Bonsai3d, intending to provide rapid conceptual modeling in a similar vein to SketchUp. The two are, however, rather different in their approach and the breadth of their toolsets. Bonsai3d has a collection of specific tools, whereas SketchUp tends to stick to a few general ones.
Bonsai3d fuses NURBS (Non-uniform rational B-spline) curves with polygon modeling, offering greater flexibility and precision when working. Another great feature is Bonsai3d’s embedded instructional videos, allowing you private self-tutelage. Exchanging ideas and problem solving is even made easy through its dedicated 24/7 online forum. For just under $500 USD, this small and intuitive piece of software has extensive capabilities.
4. Nemetscheck Vectorworks Landmark
This robust and easy-to-use software is the only major stand-alone program designed for use in landscape architecture. Vectorworks assumes you want to work with both 2D drawing and 3D modeling, integrating both into a versatile, seamless product. This allows you to simply switch between plan and 3D view in seconds, and eliminates the need for AutoCAD altogether! The software comes packed with superb site detail libraries and industry-specific tools such as the parking tool, allowing you to quickly lay out a parking area complete with cutouts for plant medians.
WATCH: Nemetschek Vectorworks
Landmark even has its very own plant database, containing names and botanical information, and can be fully customized by adding your own data. The guys at Vectorworks realize that they aren’t the industry standard, so have made it possible to import/export data from a wide variety of other programs, such as SketchUp, 3ds Max, and AutoCAD. Vectorworks Landmark is a dedicated program designed for our profession, giving you the ability to create accurate plans and spectacular presentations. Coming in at $2, 195 USD, it’s rather dear, but a worthy investment.