This page describes how to set a fixed scale factor for a layout view using US architectural size sheets.

The figure below shows a design (in model space) by Dan (from Dominion Landscapers) for the front of a property in Oregon, USA.

Front Garden

Dan has followed a good strategy when laying out this set of landscape plans. He has kept the details and the plant schedule well away from the main design. A scale bar has been included in the drawing and as a check of distances, he is in the habit of zoom in on the bar and check the length of one segment. the reason he does this is that in one instance unbeknown to him, an employee re-scaled a drawing he was working with without him realizing it. Using osnap intersection he finds the beginning and end of the first (nominally 1 foot) segment and gCAD+ reports a length of 1 unit (1 foot). This confirms that the design is full size in model space and that the base units are decimal feet. 

The site measures approximately 100 units (feet) across. If it is plotted onto an ANSI C size sheet that's 22 inches wide (approximately. 2 feet), Dan calculates that he is going to need a scale factor somewhere near 100/2 i.e.1/48 (1/4" to 1 foot) or 1/64 (3/16" to 1 foot).

Scale bar

Dan prefers to present drawing to his clients on B or C size sheets depending on the size of the project. B sheets are 17" by 11" and C sheets 22" by 17" in landscape view. He usually prints PDF versions of the design and either emails a copy to the client or takes the file to a local copy center for color printing.

Although the inclusion of a scale bar as shown above is often enough guidance for the client and Dan will give a dimensioned drawing to the contractor, he wants to be able to put a scale stamp (text) on the layout sheet as well as the scale bar.

A common scales used by Dan are 3/16" to 1 foot (1/64) and 1/8" to 1 foot (1/96) and 3/32" to 1 foot (1/128) and 1/16" to 1 foot (1/192).

Via the Format drop down menu, Dan creates a new layout, choosing a C size sheet as shown below.

C size sheet

Here is the result. There is no fixed scale at this stage - scaling is purely arbitrary.

Rename sheet

(In the figure above, Dan is about to rename the sheet to make the tag more meaningful - CSheetPlanting - and uses the Layout Manager for that purpose).

However. Dan requires scaling to a fixed value. In gCADPlus this is conveniently done by selecting the set fixed scale tool from the modify drop down menu.

Set scale

The figure below shows the command line in operation using this tool. The scale required is typed using the notation 1/XX where XX represents the scale factor.


gCADPlus works in much the same manner as AutoCAD. Plot scale factors for AutoCAD are shown below.


It is also possible to type a value in the Properties box, the following table shows the values to be typed in the scale field of the properties box to achieve desired Imperial scales. The values in the column at left enable a conversion from a drawing in decimal feet to a plot on a metric piece of paper (1 foot is close to 300 mm [exact 304.8) e.g 192/300 = 64

Suggested value to type in Properties box Scale 1/x USA notation
0.04 1/12 1" to 1 foot
0.08 1/24 1/2" to 1 foot
0.16 1/48 1/4" to 1 foot
0.32 1/96 1/8" to 1 foot
0.64 1/192 1/16" to 1 foot

The data was taken from the Excel sheet shown below.


In the figure shown below, the edge of the floating viewport window is selected and 1/96 scale chosen.

test scale

Dan decides that he might try another sheet size. Here is the same design on a B size sheet. This time the scale value of 1/96) works well and still leaves enough room for the plant schedule.

Better fit

The floating viewport is moved to the left and a new viewport created for the plant schedule.


It is a good idea at this point to test how the design will look when printed. to that end, we print to a PDF writer such as CutePDF, selecting the B size sheet.

test plot1

Select PDF writer (in this case CutePDF).

Tip: Make sure that you download and install the latest version of CutePDF writer. Early versions did not support printing to USA architectural size sheets as used here.

Test plot 2

Preview the plot - scale 1=1 (the actual 1/96 scaling is done inside the floating viewport, but print is done at 1:1) 

test plot 3

Finally we ok the creation of the PDF file.

test PDF

A quick check print

Here is the design in Acrobat Reader as it might appear in the hands of the client. 


The level of detail here is excellent. The resolution is only limited by the quality of the printer at the copy center.

Completing the design

Now is a good time to return to model space and add to the design. You might and add explanatory text, shadowing, paving details etc. Dan is able to do that, confident when he does make the final plot from layout space, an accurate scale factor can be stamped on the sheet.

Tip: The value Scale 1:96 can be placed in model space or on the layout sheet; possibly in the title block. 


Handling line thickness

The images above were developed without turning display of on line weights on. Most professional landscape design drafters would prefer to apply line weights to their drawing because doing so makes for clarity. gCADPlus features a line weight display tool. Clicking the LWT button turns it on.

LWT display

The image below shows this drawing with lineweights turned on (via the button on the status line). Compare the design below with the design above.

Lineweight on

How to set lineweights

There is a complex interaction between the lineweight value applied to a particular entity, the layer that an entity is located on, whether or not an entity is a block (and the layers within the block, the lineweight setting for the layer and the current value for display on the screen.

To illustrate, the image below comes from this same design where lineweight display of all layers in the drawing is set to default (this is the layer lineweight arrangement in place when you start a new gCAD+ drawing).


How dark the image will appear on screen is dependent on the setting under Format>Lineweight

If default is set to 0.00 (thinnest line) the design will be lightly drawn as shown below. Click on the image to load a PDF file produced with these settings.

deafult is zero

If the general display of lines in the drawing is not dark enough for your liking, change the thickness of lines associated with the default value. Here we have changed the lineweight to 0.016 inch as we are working in the USA Imperial system. All lines are much darker. Click on the image to load the resultant PDF print.

0.016 inch

These lineweight settings produce a plot that is too dark as shown below.

too dark

A value somewhere between 0.000 inch and 0.016 inch should give a reasonable compromise between enough definition for line work without any bleeding of symbol detail.

Here is the result with a value of 0.06 inch for default lineweight.


Varying lineweight across entities

The above description focused on applying general line thicknesses. However, a drawing can be given much more 'life' if attention is paid to line thicknesses on individual entities.

Paying attention to lineweight is especially important where the border and title blocks are concerned. The figure below shows that if the border and the lines representing the house footprint have been assigned a heavier line weight, the 'readabliity' of the drawing improves.  Note one thick line has been applied to the seat.

Line weights

Note that even though lineweight display is on, the plant symbols are lightly drawn.

Line weight can also be controlled by layer settings. In our view it is important to have a clear idea how line weights are being controlled in a particular design. the figure below shows the effect of changing the weight of the layer on which symbols are placed.


It can be tricky to manage this process of adjusting lineweights unless you have a clear understanding of the behavior of layers and block entities.

The value of controlling linetype is very apparent in this sheet where Dan shows a cross section through a water feature.

wter feature

Fixed scale This small movie shows how to set a fixed scale of 1/64 in a simple design for a site in Florida.



Scaling to a fixed scale on USA size sheet