As we have discussed in earlier modules, if a new garden is to be constructed under the auspices of a garden designer, that designer needs to present the client with a plan. We hope by now that you have a good appreciation of what is required. Here we will concentrate on helping you build you own personalized stable of plant symbols. You are asked to produce several symbols typical of those included in landscape plans, scan and upload these to your Google Docs space. This is not dissimilar to the first project in this series (Project 2.0), but now you have some improved skills and will be able significantly improve both the quality and speed with which you draw.
Most landscape designers start working for clients by producing hand drawn plans and the ability to produce good-looking plans is an important skill; one which you must develop and practice. An example of a typical hand drawn garden design plan is shown in the figures below. The first figure shows the whole plan including a 3-D representation of part of the garden in the bottom right of the plan. The second figure below, shows a close up of part of the plan.In the interest of client confidentiality, we have blocked out details of site location, scale, north point etc. You will note that this designer does not produce a plant schedule as such, but indicates the name of each plant close to the symbol representing the planting point.
One of the most challenging tasks for a budding designer who wants to produce plans such as this is to develop confidence in drawing and placing the symbols representing individual plants into the plan. In this project, you will hand draw several symbols, each indicating a different plant species. You will scan (or photograph) them later and submit copies to us as attachments to an email note for comment.
This particular project - developing symbols suitable for inclusion in hand drawn garden plans
The figure above showed part of a typical garden plan drawn by hand. Rather than draw complete plans of this type to start with, we want you to practice drawing and colouring individual plant symbols.
Colouring is also called rendering.
For a complete plan, many symbols are required. Rather than 'invent' new symbols each time you draw, we recommend practicing producing a (rather small) range of symbols before you generate your first plan. You are then able to quickly replicate symbols on a 'real' job, because you have rehearsed drawing them. It goes without saying that the symbols you use need to convey the right 'feeling' for the intended species and ''work' in a graphical sense.
If you file these symbols in a (paper) folder and refer to them as you draw new plans, the speed of your drafting will increase as you will not have to think about the graphic, you just copy your earlier work
Let's take one of the simplest symbols in the sample plan above - the symbol representing the Golden Robinia tree. Note that this is a very 'open' symbol. The designer has developed the symbol in this way because she knows that a number of understory plants will be required in this design and so she keeps the symbol representing the tall tree very sparse and has used a nearly open circle.
An aside - sheet size
We would like you to keep all your hand drawn symbols on the same size sheet. This will make them easier to file paper copies for later reference. Let's start by using A4 sheets of paper in portrait view. An A4 sheet is 210 mm wide by 297 mm high.
You will learn about the sizes of other sheets later - in this course, we will use the ISO international standard sheets - A0, A1, A2, A3, B1, B2 etc.
The key issue is to force yourself to practice drawing symbols before working on a plan for a client. You can if you wish, put several symbols on the one sheet as shown below.
Now create the first symbol
Using a compass or template, draw a circle of reasonable size using a soft (but sharp) pencil. Now referring to the figure above, trace around the circle by hand with a heavier ink pen, making quite small indentations as you go. Do not concern yourself with accuracy of penmanship, just roughly follow the outline of the circle. Let the ink dry. Finally trace around the inside of the circle as show above with broad brush, colour pen/pencil (or water colour - whatever you prefer). If you keep to the inside as you do this and you happen to be using ink for the broad highlighting colour, the ink will run to the line on the outside and stop there, thus making a sharp line. The inside of the coloured strip inside the circle will be less sharp - a desired effect. An example is shown below. We have not yet rubbed out the pencil construction lines.
When you are working on an actual job, vary the colour - here a pale green is used as the Golden Robinia is almost a lime green colour. Use a different green when specifying other species.
Can you see that when the symbol is in use in a plan (as seen above), you can also add some colour to part of the symbol for extra effect? Note that this type of 'open' symbol works well where you intend to place understory planting later. If you make the symbol too graphically rich, it becomes difficult to subsequently indicate understory planting.
The colouring was effected using a chisel point highlighter.
We have used a series of horizontal lines as a guide to add some text. We chose double line spacing, but you might like to try single line spacing. This is a good opportunity to practice your lettering skills - use both upper and lower case. From a botanically correct viewpoint, you would captitalise the generic name and use lower case for the species name and in italics (e.g. Eucalyptus camaldulensis), but for ease of reading in the field, construction teams prefer the lettering to be all in upper case.
On a scrap of paper, try drawing several more copies of the symbol - see how your speed and accuracy improve as you copy the symbol. File your hand sketched symbol in a section in your portfolio folder.
Shadowing (drop shadow)
Try applying some dark render to 25% of the symbol as shown below to create a shadowing effect.
The shadowing is used to indicate that the sun is low in the sky and (coming from one direction). This provides more interest to your plan, but is time consuming to apply.
The same symbol can be used for many species - just vary the diameter of the circle and perhaps the rendering colours. Pay attention to layering, making sure that the tallest canopy of the largest species is outlined in its entirety.
Fill a symbol with water colour
If you want to add more depth and interest to your symbol when it is used with no understory, then water colour fills can give a good result. A convenient way to do this is to colour your symbol using water-soluble coloured pencils. Make sure that you darken the colouring image toward the outside, not the other way around.
Let's do the same for the group of symbols which represent the Liriope species in the original example.Take a fresh A4 sheet and draw a symbol representing a group of plants as shown below. This symbol is quite different to the previous, both in size and ornamentation.
Using a soft pencil, first draw the small circles to indicate the center point of each plant in the clump and then set some guide points for the end of the leaves, finally draw the leaves, using the guide points as an aid. Use a dark ink pen to draw the plants using the pencil markings as a guide.We have left the guide points in place in the figure below.
Then render by applying colour as shown below. Refer to our sample plan to see if your symbol works as well.
Draw filled circle dots representing the core of each bush first before developing the leaves and colouring them. Make sure that you vary the width of the leaves as shown. Again file the paper drawing and scan and file an electronic copy ready to send to us.
Symbols #3 and #4
The figure below shows symbols used for Cupressus 'glauca, Agaves and Mondo grass. Try drawing symbols for each of these on a new sheet as previously.
Practice drawing a symbol rather like that below. Start by drawing the crisscross central lines, then loop each arc. Note that the designer making the symbol above used more arcs than we did in our attempt below. We have coloured the symbol using a water colour wash.
Practice drawing and colouring the symbol as shown below. Start by drawing the larger leaves (the older leaves, to get the size of the symbol correct (for the scale you are using - see later) and then draw the younger, smaller leaves on top. Apply more colour to the edges of the leaves rather than the middle vein area.
The Mondo grass symbol is simply made by drawing several crossing lines.
Finally, develop two or three symbols of your own, scan them and file ready for submission to us. We think that you will be surprised how easily you will be able to draw symbols in landscape plans if you practice them in this way, but that's our opinion and we would like to hear your views in a note in your blog.
Solid fills and highlights
It is possible to use solid fills in symbols as shown in the figure below. This technique is especially useful when you do not want to show details of planting, but just to indicate that there will be (in this case) planting along (say) a boundary. The crescent shaped highlight on a solid block of colour is a useful techniques as is the extensive shadowing indication lighting from one direction. Note that the drafter has used much wider shadowing than in our example above. We are not sure that we like it.
Symbols with much detail
The figure below shows another symbol, perhaps suited to an autumn specimen tree such as a Chinese Tallowood. Can you see that while the symbol is effective, it takes forever to draw by hand? Each individual blob shape must be coloured - a job to do while watching television, but not for a paying job.
As you will learn later, computer software can be used to create this type of symbol very quickly. We hope that you are beginning to see that hand drawing and rendering while effective, has its limitations for commercial use.
Upload examples of your hand drawn symbols to your Google Docs space.
After completing this module you should have an appreciation of the use and value of symbols in landscape plans, a knowledge of the various drawing techniques, and an ability to produce a 2-D hand drawn landscape symbol that works in both colour and black and white.