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Computer Aided Design (CAD) for Landscape Architects

The tools used for design always affect the results, as with the choice of drawing tool (pencil, charcoal, brush etc). This is discussed in the article on Dead masterplans and digital creativity. The present worry about Computer Aided Design (CAD) is that it is being used to produce similar results to those which were formerly came from technical pens.

In sculpture, the means of working also affect the results. Michaelangelo and Brancusi were carvers. Rodin was a clay modeler and his marbles (made by assistants from clay maquettes) are palpably not the result carving: they are much more fluid. And it would not make any sense at all for a constructor (eg Anthony Caro) to aim for the aesthetic results which come from either modeling or carving. Use of found objects, originating with Duchamp and Picasso, has introduced new techniques and new approaches to sculpture.

The letters CAD should be spelt-out as Computer-Aided-Design (not -Drafting). It is an easy error to think of CAD, which resembles a shortened version of AutoCad, as meaning 'vector-CAD' (ie using co-ordinate geometry to produce Euclidean shapes). Read correctly, the letters CAD can stand for all the uses of computers to aid designers, for there are many. We should look to the day when one can look at a built design as one can look at a sculpture, and make an intelligent guess about the type of software which aided the designer.

AutoCad is reputed to have begun as a draftsman's programme in the days when senior partners, thinking of keyboards as being for secretaries and other exploited menials, employed CAD technicians to operate the machines. But the programme is developing. It can be linked to databases, can have a GIS bolt-on, and is being adapted for internet-connectivity. These facilities all provide opportunities to move way beyond computer-aided-drafting. The most interesting prospect it of drawing information from the world wide web and interpreting it with specialist software to assist in clarifying the multifarious interpretations of the  nature of the world - upon which the art of landscape design  resides.

Computer Arts ('Britain's biggest-selling creative magazine') using the following software classification listed below. [Note that AutoCad is not included as 'creative' software]. There are full software reviews on the demo disc which comes with the magazine. You can request a sample copy of the magazine from: Future Publishing Ltd, Freepost, Somerton; Somerset; TA11 7B.

Vector Based Drawing CAD

CorelXARA; FreeHand; Illustrator; CorelDraw

2-D Bitmap and Paint CAD

Paint Shop Pro; Painter; Photo-Paint; Kai's Power Tools; Photoshop

3-D Modeling, Rendering and Animation CAD

3D Studio Max; Maya; Electric Image 3D; LightWave; solidThinking

Multimedia/Web-authoring & Design CAD

Dreamweaver; Fireworks; Director; Flash

Digital Video Editing & Effects:

After Effects; Premiere; Pinnacle,