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Alex G.

Best Practices for Contour Labeling on a Grading Plan

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Greetings,

I am attempting to label a grading plan.

Problem: In trying to show existing and proposed contours I have overlapping contour labels. I can modify existing or proposed contours separately, however, when I update the site model the labels revert back to an overlapping mess.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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This has frustrated me too. One thing you can try is moving the labels that are overlapping (you can do this in 2015 and I think in 2014). But if this doesn't work, you can always resort to Annotations to add labels exactly where you want them. This is usually what I end up doing.

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Wow. Thanks Peter.

I suppose on the bright side the labels are there to trace over as annotations.

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Also on the bright side, most Site Plans (or Grading Plans) only need a few such numbers added. The graphics of the Major v Minor Contours make it pretty easy to fill in the gaps...

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Great info I may have to just do them manually as well - I also have a question (new to VW). How can you get your contour labels to be whole numbers - 1141'? And not 1141'0" - I would like to remove the inches part.

Thanks,

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@benboggs

The only way I have been able to change the rounding of the units is to change the actual units of the drawing from feet and inches to just feet. This is not a very desirable long term change, but may be a quick solution for an exhibit or export.

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Running into the same issue with a grading plan. The contour labels overlap. I can move them with the reshape tool, but this is a waste of time as when I update the model the labels shift and overlap again. Also would like to see whole number label options. 

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I agree with all, the fact that a DTM can be quite slow to process then when a mod needs to happen all work on cleaning the DTM is lost. I would like to see the ability to turn off the elev units and use "Reshape" to add them where I wish! this would place where I want them graphically and not randomly computer generated.

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On 6/23/2017 at 8:44 AM, Bryan G. said:

I agree with all, the fact that a DTM can be quite slow to process then when a mod needs to happen all work on cleaning the DTM is lost. I would like to see the ability to turn off the elev units and use "Reshape" to add them where I wish! this would place where I want them graphically and not randomly computer generated.

 

Totally. 

 

In general, I feel like there is way too much "programming" in the tools. The whole site modeling/grading process could (or should at least offer) a much simpler, lighter, nimbler approach. Just give us vertices on proposed contours and let us reshape the site, manipulate "grade limits" or tie in points. Also How in the world is everyone doing spot elevations? Pretty useless if I cant add elevations to bottom and top of walls, hardscape, etc..

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For setting up existing and proposed contour plans I use the site model snapshot option to create a snapshot of the existing site. This can be placed on a separate layer, or a separate class so you can create a clean existing site model and a clean proposed site model.

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On 7/1/2017 at 3:36 PM, Jonathan Pickup said:

For setting up existing and proposed contour plans I use the site model snapshot option to create a snapshot of the existing site. This can be placed on a separate layer, or a separate class so you can create a clean existing site model and a clean proposed site model.

No. This should not be necessary and only adds complication to the process...in your technique how do you control where proposed grade tie into existing, assuming, as with most real world projects, you are not regrading the entire site?!

 

we need precise, manual control of proposed contours, as well as full control of labeling. In general, I believe the process in be needs to move further away from automation and develop tools in a way that allow more manual user control.

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NCA, are you just suggesting the old school drafting of key contour lines, 2D poly to 3D poly (guess you can skip a step now and go to contour)?

 

I am so old school, most of my grading is done that way, with the advantage that you don't really need to put in every foot or two contours for bulk areas, but can do it for the detail you need.

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18 hours ago, nca777 said:

No. This should not be necessary and only adds complication to the process...in your technique how do you control where proposed grade tie into existing, assuming, as with most real world projects, you are not regrading the entire site?!

 

we need precise, manual control of proposed contours, as well as full control of labeling. In general, I believe the process in be needs to move further away from automation and develop tools in a way that allow more manual user control.

 

are you thinking of the Site Model Snapshot or are you thinking of some sort of screen shot? 

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On 7/2/2017 at 9:54 PM, Rossford said:

NCA, are you just suggesting the old school drafting of key contour lines, 2D poly to 3D poly (guess you can skip a step now and go to contour)?

 

I am so old school, most of my grading is done that way, with the advantage that you don't really need to put in every foot or two contours for bulk areas, but can do it for the detail you need.

 

Yes. Pretty much. The only difference of course being that when you manipulate 'key contours' you also manipulate the 3D model and all of the associated data, ie slopes, cut/fill, etc. 

 

It's incredibly frustrating to me (and I do not consider myself 'old school' by any means and very tech savvy) that I can basically look at a site survey and see exactly how I want to grade it, but have to jump through a million hoops to basically 'program' the model via the site modifiers. I say, get rid of the site modifiers altogether and/or just allow vertex control points on the proposed contours (just like using the reshape tool on plylines or editing polylines in autocad). Its really that simple. 

 

That would eliminate the continuous complaints about 'choppy' or innacurate contours, lack of fine controls, etc. Heck, you could even properlay grade roads and parking lots without a million steps and headache! Just add vertices or lots of control points to the proposed contours and let us addour own contour labels, etc.

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9 hours ago, Jonathan Pickup said:

 

are you thinking of the Site Model Snapshot or are you thinking of some sort of screen shot? 

 

I cannot hand a grading plan, whether snapshot or screenshot, that shows the ENTIRE SITE being regraded (or 'proposed contours') to a contractor or civil engineer. Thats just unrealistic and confusing. I want, basically what the software offers now--one site model with existing and proposed contours, ability to manipulate tie in points (however, the tie in controls need to be way more accurate) and vertices or control points on the proposed contours.

 

Typically our (and this is industry standard for LA) grading plans show greyed back, dashed "existing contours" and heavy black or red "proposed contours over top. The proposed contours typically need to tie in seamlessly with the existing and at very specific points so as to avoid disturbing grade in critical zones such as beneath existing trees or along hazardous slopes, etc. I cannot emphasize enoughhow these tools need to be accurate and come with fine control.

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A couple followup comments: 1) You can set the graphic attributes for Proposed and Existing Contours in the Site Model Settings/Graphic Properties. 2) If the current "grading" tools are used as intended, there will be very clear "limits" to the altered (graded) area(s), and Proposed Contours will tie in as expected. 3) It does take a substantial amount of time to master these tools; but it's well worth it in my view. 4) Don't forget to set the Site Model to "Show Existing and Proposed" in 2d; "Show Proposed" in 3d; and don't forget to Update the Site Model with each change. As proof, see attached, which was produced using these exact methods.

Site_Model_Example.pdf

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20 hours ago, CipesDesign said:

A couple followup comments: 1) You can set the graphic attributes for Proposed and Existing Contours in the Site Model Settings/Graphic Properties. 2) If the current "grading" tools are used as intended, there will be very clear "limits" to the altered (graded) area(s), and Proposed Contours will tie in as expected. 3) It does take a substantial amount of time to master these tools; but it's well worth it in my view. 4) Don't forget to set the Site Model to "Show Existing and Proposed" in 2d; "Show Proposed" in 3d; and don't forget to Update the Site Model with each change. As proof, see attached, which was produced using these exact methods.

Site_Model_Example.pdf

Peter,

 

Thanks for your suggestions and proof. However, I feel I've become proficient enough in the software to confidently state that the tools need work or complete overhaul to be adequate for a typical Landscape Architect workflow, at least without spending an inordinate amount of time fussing with the tools.

 

While your plan example may be sufficient for your uses, I can see a number of issues in our workflow:

1. your proposed contours are graphically very choppy and show grade modification in areas that look like there shouldn't be any. There are small areas of disturbance that seem unnecessary. For our practice this could be important so as to avoid a grouping of existing trees or steep slopes. I understand the grade limits tool and it is mostly sufficient for this purpose. Overall, we want FINE controls over the proposed contours. As LA's we need to communicate design intent, which often isn't simply about grading a driveway, but blending the proposed grading and improvements with the site. Your contouring shows some unnecessary grade modifications which communicate to me a lack of precision. 

2. I see a lot of choppy geometry in the driveway/hardscape poly's and driveways appear to be drafted as shapes from the outside-in rather than from center line out as is standard practice in landscape architecture. A lot of our projects have very stringent fire turnaround, access  requirements, and parking standards. I can't think of a single jurisdiction where we work that would accept your parking layout with what appears to be drive aisles that intersect directly into parking bays with no islands,  perpendicular parking on ~16' aisles, paved areas exceeding what appear to be 30%+ (no scale on plan) and dead end bays with no turn around. 

3. Slopes appear to exceed 2:1 in places, labels overlapping, unnecessary fill, etc...

 

Again, this plan may be sufficient for your projects in your particular service area. My point is our projects typically require much finer control and a totally different drafting standard and workflow it seems when it comes to roads and parking lots.

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The plan I attached was a preliminary version, mainly used to demonstrate graphic capabilities (not grading capabilities). I agree that the Site Modeling tools could be more refined. This takes time; software evolution is slow. If you have not done so yet, you might consider filing specific bugs and/or enhancement requests which clearly state flaws and/or possible improvements. 

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1 hour ago, CipesDesign said:

The plan I attached was a preliminary version, mainly used to demonstrate graphic capabilities (not grading capabilities). I agree that the Site Modeling tools could be more refined. This takes time; software evolution is slow. If you have not done so yet, you might consider filing specific bugs and/or enhancement requests which clearly state flaws and/or possible improvements. 

 

Understood. Graphically, I think we could make a better looking plan that conveys the DESIGN INTENT more precisely in AutoCAD or some of 2D drafting application much faster. However, you lose 3D/BIM association. Again, my point is that the automated nature of the grading/site modeling tools are cumbersome to the design process, especially for an LA or professional that knows what they want but just needs a tool to easily help them communicate their vision. 

 

VW Landmark tools are fundamentally flawed because they seem to be developing tools to help automate the design/drafting/modeling process. Unfortunately, as previously stated, you end up with a process that in my opinion feels very 'programmy/synthetic/detached.'

 

I have spoken with the development people. I have sent them bugs and queries on everything from site modifiers to labeling to file exports. SOmetimes I never even get a solution. The trouble is, these are not necessarily 'bugs' but workflow and standards issues. 

 

That is not good.

 

I understand my comments may seem like a criticism of your site planning/grading, but I see it as a product of the software/tools to some extent. I have seen several examples of parking lots and roads that are just unrealistic or poorly designed at best. I believe in many cases it is the software inhibiting, rather than fostering good design practice. 

 

 

 

Edited by nca777

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nca777, keep submitting bugs and enhancement requests. Be persistent, constructive and patient.

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On 7/3/2017 at 8:57 PM, nca777 said:

I cannot hand a grading plan, whether snapshot or screenshot, that shows the ENTIRE SITE being regraded (or 'proposed contours') to a contractor or civil engineer.

 

I know you said you understand how 'Grade Limits' work: Currently they do not offer the precise control you are requesting, but they will prevent the entire site from being regraded:

Creating Grade Limits : Vw2017 Help

Edited by rDesign

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On 7/5/2017 at 11:46 AM, rDesign said:

 

I know you said you understand how 'Grade Limits' work: Currently they do not offer the precise control you are requesting, but they will prevent the entire site from being regraded:

Creating Grade Limits : Vw2017 Help

Definitely understand how grade limits works. The tool is pretty close--with the reshape tool you can hone in on a pretty precise area, the only problem is it updates the grading as well. Its backwards in my opinion. In other words, if you have your grading set and are adhering to pretty precise contraints, then decide you need to save another tree or avoid regrading a particular area you change the grade limits and the whole area adjusts accordingly. 

 

Again, this could be simply remedied by providing vertices or CONTROL POINTS on the proposed contours. That would basically eliminate the need for the grade limits tool altogether.

 

 

Edited by nca777

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