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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Hello @susanhutson. I was about to ask the same question as Jeff. Can you elaborate? I'm envisioning 3D interactive design, which has been possible in Vectorworks Landmark for some time. Designers typically have been used to designing in plan view, but many have been designing in 3D in recent years. With the Mutliview feature, the ability to work with both 2D and 3D views simultaneously is also possible...so as you place objects in 2D or 3D, you see the result immediately in the other view. More information about what you are seeking is needed to share a better response.

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Thanks for replies Jeff & Eric,


I am grateful to get 1 reply and when I saw 2 - well I am very happy to have found this group!


So, currently I use a 2D CAD program (Dynascape) - I pull from that a file to implement in Realtime Landscape Architect as a blue print to build my house or any other structure along with hardscapes and softscape landscape design options - adding people and vehicles and other assets - outdoor kitchens - swimming pools, water fall and fire features - etc.

From that software I get renderings and there is a camera option to make flyover videos. (similar to a drone taking videos)

From that production, I send to a video software where I add notes, music, and other objects.


After viewing Vectorworks Architecture - Designer - and Landmark

It appears that I could do everything I am doing with the 3 different software packages in 1 Vectorworks package but I am not sure and if so, which one should I go with?


An associate had mentioned Lumion but that would mean going from Dynascape with it's piggyback (Sketch3D) to Sketchup and then importing it into Lumion.  Who wants to run through 3 software packages if there is 1 that can do it all? 


Thanks again gentlemen 🙂

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@susanhutson I'm guessing you are doing residential landscape design or might be a design/build landscape contractor.  If so, it is unlikely Vectorworks is the right tool for the job.  You might find VIP3D by https://www.structurestudios.com a better fit.  It is tailor made for that industry.


Vectorworks is great, but it takes a lot of time and effort to get highly effective at it.   It is lacking in the 3D presentation department, most of us who need to do polished landscape renderings have to export to alternative rendering packages such as Twin Motion, etc.  It is great for 2D drafting and color presentation drawings, but you already have a nice solution for that.  It can do 3D modeling and BIM workflows, but it takes a lot of effort and is usually too complicated for typical residential landscape architecture.   Many of the tools you may have seen showcased in the marketing materials are very complex and somewhat unfinished.  Spending any time here on the forum will reveal many of the headaches those of us who have been using it at a high level have experienced.  I would only recommend it if you are doing very large projects where the emphasis is on developing rough concepts that will be exported to a better 3D rendering program AND/OR you have very high demands for detailed construction drawings.  I would also recommend it if you have minor GIS needs for large scale planning projects.  It is not quite one package to do it all in, depending on your needs.  I use it primarily for large landscape architecture projects and the occasional residential job.  I render most of my polished presentation work by hand or Affinity Photo/Photoshop/Procreate.  For 3D animation and still images, I use Twinmotion currently, AutoCAD + Accurender back in the day.


That being said, it's hard to overlook Structurestudios' offerings, especially if you do pool design.  It's the only software I have seen that is extremely fast at developing what you seem to be looking for.  The first time I used it I was able to create a complete 1 acre landscape design including pools, spas, overhead structures, architectural context, and all the typical landscape stuff.  It went from idea to 3D animation in 1 day, complete construction drawings in a week.  That's the route I would have taken if it weren't for my very large LA & Planning work tied to coordinating with Architects and Civil Engineers.


hope it helps,


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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Good morning @susanhutson.


Your observation of being able to combine the work you are doing in DynaSCAPE, and other software in Vectorworks Landmark is correct. There have been a number of landscape designers who have moved from DynaSCAPE, Sketch3D/SketchUp, Photoshop, etc. into Vectorworks Landmark for that very same reason. Another benefit you will appreciate is that unlike using DS Design and DS Color to form line drawings and renders, Vectorworks Landmark consolidates this too, as there is no need to move between modules to conduct line drawings and renderings. For animated walkthroughs and flyovers, this is already built into to the Landmark software, as well. For creating movie files (MOV format) of these walkthroughs and flyovers, it is simply accomplished by choosing that output in the same dialog where you set up the walkthrough path.


If you are interested in a demo to see more about the features you are seeking (and others you may not have mentioned above), please let me know. We can coordinate a time that works for you. We can also see if we can align you with other designers who have made the move to Vectorworks for the same purpose to hear from them about their experiences and recommendations.


Thanks again, Susan.


Best regards,




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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

@jeff prince curious why you believe that a Landscape Designer would not find Vectorworks as the right tool. I know hundreds of Landscape Designers that work and function at a very high level with Vectorworks and have found it to be the key to their success. Yes there are other great tools but Vectorworks fits the Design Build market better than most.

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@bgoff I’m a landscape architect and Vectorworks works for me, even overlooking a few of the technical issues such as the ones linked in my signature that have gone unresolved.  Every designer and industry has different requirements.  Based on my experience with residential landscape design and design/build community, the requirements are typically different than say those of an LA doing large projects or planning work.


So, the poster was looking for a program that will make 2D concept drawings, 2D construction drawings, and 3D animations within a single package for residential landscape projects.


Can Vectorworks deliver these items?  Technically yes.

Is Vectorworks the best tool for this use case in the residential market?  I don’t think so for a variety of reasons.


So, I’ll do you and the team a solid by listing just a few of the key reasons why I feel the way I do.


1. TOOLS - There are better programs that produce better results quicker for the landscape design/build segment.

  • Take a look at how VIP3D/Pool Studio handles 2D/3D landscape design, especially swimming pool modeling.
  • Consider how Vectorworks handles export of landscape and lighting to popular 3D rendering engines

2. STAFF - It is difficult to find employees familiar with Vectorworks in the residential landscape segment compared to many other programs.  Staff time is the most expensive part of a design operation, not their software.

  • AutoCAD + landscape add on packages, while not my choice, is very popular.  Still requires additional software to get the 3D animation portion nailed.
  • VIP3D/Pool Studio, while a niche program, is easy to find technical and sales staff familiar with its use or develop them quickly in-house.  This is an all-in-one solution the poster needs.
  • Revit, not my choice again, but extremely easy to find talented operators who can develop workflows to address the shortcoming of the program in regards to landscape definition.  Still requires a additional software to get 3D animation like the poster wants.

3. TRAINING - It takes significant resources to get new employees up to speed on new software, especially if their role is going to focus on sales/presentation more than technical documentation and they lack that type of experience.  There are other programs that have better learning tracks available to deal with this.  I hope Vectorworks University improves to be the great resource it could be in this regard.  Further, some programs like Pool Studio are really easy to teach to a sales person or other employee who have no prior CAD or 3D type experience.  It is common in the residential design/build industry to hire sales people who have no formal design training and have them develop and sell jobs.  They have to get up to speed in a week or two, it is not possible to take the average employee and have them become productive in Vectorworks 3D within this time frame.


4. OUTPUTS - Lots of software now use video game type rendering engines natively or with tightly coordinated export/import.  Vectorworks has a ways to go in this, especially in the planting and lighting area.  There are several programs that allow you to manipulate the design while viewing the real time rendering and have the lighting work in both environments, but this is not easily achieved in Vectorworks in regards to 2D/3D integration.


5. 3rd PARTY CONTENT - There is a huge marketplaces which produces content for the real time rendering engines out there.  It is exceptionally easy to purchase or commission the development of any 3D asset you can imagine.  Vectorworks does not import many of these formats and requires jumping through too many hoops for it to be worthwhile, thereby limiting what you can get quickly in the 3rd party arena.  Yes, you can import Sketchup nicely.  However, it takes some software gymnastics to deal with a variety of of their common real time rendering formats.


6. OUTSOURCING - The feast/famine cycle of residential landscape design finds many businesses needing to staff quicker than they can on-board new employees.  This makes outsourcing a good strategy for dealing with surges in demand instead of adding new in-house staff.  It’s very difficult to find Vectorworks talent in my experience, be it for in-house or outsourced production.  Not being able to find help means you have to pass on opportunities or disappoint clients, neither of which is desirable.  Further, the design/build market in the rapidly growing areas of the US has a high turnover rate for various reasons, hence the increased importance of outsourcing.


I use Vectorworks.  I love the 2D graphics and 3D modeling.  I have high hopes for it in regards to developing better landscape 3D/BIM workflows as it continuously improves.  I wish it was a little better in some areas and wish some of the tools were finished or developed faster, but every program has it’s challenges and needs for improvement.  I’m glad I didn’t opt for Revit or continue with AutoCAD.... Vectorworks is much better for a landscape architect in my opinion.  That being said, if I was running a design/build doing residential landscapes and pools, it would be hard to overlook VIP3D/Pool Studio.  At the end of the day, a landscape design/build company has to produce sellable results quickly.  It simply costs a lot more to develop Vectorworks staff and projects vs some of the alternatives.

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Today I downloaded the software and - WOW!  There was a webinar today provided that showed wonderful aspects and great details that can be shown on plans.  I can't believe I haven't tried it before now.  I imported a Dynascape plan that I converted to a .dwg and had all the hidden objects appear.  This is so interesting I hope I can spend as much time as I need to get up and running.  The possibilities seem quite limitless and it is wonderful to have the chance to try this out.  Becoming fluent with this and incorporating  Twinmotion so I can show rain and traffic movement and sounds along with new people is just what I was looking for.  Thanks to everyone for the assistance offered in this group!

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@susanhutson     The bulk of our work is residential and we do a lot of 3d modeling and rendered views in Vectorworks and have almost stopped using other software completely.  I have not done any "fly throughs" or animated presentations though that could be shared however.  I don't know enough about other software options to give a really good comparison, but it does often seem like other programs have better existing entourage elements than Vectorworks.  Would others agree or disagree?  I find myself having to create a lot of my own textures, plant image props, objects, etc. because the existing options leave me underwhelmed.  But I'll admit I haven't looked through the latest catalogs in a while.


With that said, I do like how much you can accomplish in Vectorworks without having to go to other programs.  I was very hesitant to transition from Sketchup to Vectorworks for 3d (as it's not as intuitive or as fast as Sketchup in some ways), but I think the process has still been worth it for our office.  Being able to do terrain modeling and try different grading studies is the best part, in my opinion.    


One more comment - if you need to model a lot of swimming pools, I sometimes find the process of using Vectorworks to be a little painful.  There are many ways to do it, but the most painful part is not being able to easily make a change.  I find you almost have to start all over from scratch.  It makes me wish there was some kind of smart Pool Modeling tool that you could use to at least get the basic elements of a pool (shell, coping, waterline tile), so if a client decides they want to modify the depth or length or something, it's not as hard to revise a 3d model.  I mean, if someone asks to revise grading, planting, or other hardscape in a 3d model... it's no biggie.  But design changes to a pool make me want to tear my hair out!

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2 hours ago, loretta.at.large said:

One more comment - if you need to model a lot of swimming pools, I sometimes find the process of using Vectorworks to be a little painful.  There are many ways to do it, but the most painful part is not being able to easily make a change.  I find you almost have to start all over from scratch.  It makes me wish there was some kind of smart Pool Modeling tool that you could use to at least get the basic elements of a pool (shell, coping, waterline tile), so if a client decides they want to modify the depth or length or something, it's not as hard to revise a 3d model.  I mean, if someone asks to revise grading, planting, or other hardscape in a 3d model... it's no biggie.  But design changes to a pool make me want to tear my hair out!


You are not alone on this one 😞

I cringed a little when I was asked to reduce the spa diameter by 18", add an additional step, and reshape the steps leading to the pool house.  In the software I mentioned earlier, this is a 5 minute task with simple plan based modifications to regenerate the 3D.  In vectorworks, I had to rebuild all of that plus the coping, water line tile pool walls, actual water surface, and related adjacent hardscape objects.  I would kill for a real pool tool that parametrically links these related components within the pool definition.  Bonus if we had a freeform shotcrete wall tool and if the adjacent hardscape, topography, and other smart objects reacted to these changes as well.  One day, hopefully.481742588_ScreenShot2020-12-11at5_45_17PM.thumb.png.bb4818c731687a6e9f129866d3b272e2.png


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