gCADPlus can be used to apply a watercolor like effect to finished landscape plans by adding transparency to entities.

transparency Here we discuss the use of transparency and its limitations. Using true colors may be a preferable approach.

Applying transparency This movie shows how to change the transparency of polylines and circles in a gCADPlus drawing shown in the figure below. Click on the image below to load the drawing file. 


Applying transparency This movie shows how one user applied transparency to a gCADPlus design for a front garden and entrance to a 'modern' house.

Note: We have not been able to find a PDF writers to print entities with transparency, please use our File > Save As PDF tool.

An example of a landscape design showing entity transparency is shown in the figure below.


In this case, the designer used the same symbol to represent all the species in the design and distinguished individual species by placing a code in the center of the symbol. [one of the many ways to indicate species]

Here is another example. Note that the designer has included an internal scale as unlike printing from layout space, we have no control over scale factor.

How to set transparency

Applying transparency to the design to gain a 'watercolor' like effect' such as this could not be simpler. As shown in the movie, all that was needed was to select the symbol, right click and select the edit block option and adjust the properties of the circle in the block (which was located on a layer L-PLNT-CONSTRUCTON) by setting fill on and (in this particular case) set the transparency value to 50%. All instances of the symbol update with the new transparency producing the watercolor wash effect.

 When combined with some subtle coloring of ground surface and water features, a nicely colored plan can be produced very quickly indeed.


Reverting to the 'standard' gCADPlus view is simple - the layer containing the circle (L-PLNT-CONSTRUCTION) was turned off.

Here is another example showing the design discussed in the movie.


A word on printing drawings containing transparency

A gCADPlus drawing contains vector entities - that's what gives the software its ability to zoom in on any part of the design and maintain high resolution. We have changed the gCADPlus drawing database to allow us to set a transparent value on these vector entities. Although on the screen everything appears fine in a drawing with transparency, current PDF writers will not print transparency and may cause gCADPlus to hang or even crash. To avoid this, please use our File>SaveToPDF tool.

We think that the resultant resolution of PDF files made in this way will meet most requirements. Click here to download a view a PDF file of the above drawing displayed on an A2 sheet

PDF writers

We have done some experimentation with Microsoft's XPS writer. This printer driver is supplied free with Windows 7, and 8.1 and does allow transparency in a gCADPlus drawing at very high resolution. Note that an XPS plot (called OXPS in Windows 8.1) does take a little time (about 5 minutes is not unusual), but an extremely high resolution plot will be generated. If your copy center cannot print a XPS file, please use a (free) online conversion facility to change the XPS file to PDF. We have had some good results with these online conversion tools: http://online2pdf.com/oxps-to-pdf or https://xps2pdf.co.uk/ 

Here is a link from Microsoft on using an XPS Writer: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-au/windows/print-to-xps-document-writer#...


The driver does not print transparency, solid color only.

Tips on coloring landscape plans

Keep in mind that currently, no PDF writer prints transparency. To email a PDF version of your design complete with transparent symbols, use File > Save As PDF.

Since our Save As PDF does not allow you to nominate the page size, even though you may have set a fixed scale for a sheet, the resultant drawing will not reflect that scale factor. Always include an internal scale block.

Put entities with assigned transparency values on their own layer e.g. L-PLNT-CONSTRUCTION or L-TRANSPARENCY. Then, in order to revert the drawing to a standard gCADPlus view, turn that layer off. If applying transparency to existing gCADPlus standard plant symbol blocks, set transparency to entities on layer L-PLNT-CONSTRUCTION.

Even though the design may look good on the layout page, keep transparency values in the range 150-255 otherwise the drawing can appear rather washed out when saved to PDF.

For greater definition, using the Properties box, set a rectangular border and make sure that the color chosen stands out well in layout space.

The ground level should be lighter than what's on top.

Mini shrubs>Small Shrubs>Medium Shrubs>Large Shrubs>Small trees>Large Trees in order of increasing density, but tall trees, small trees and perhaps large shrubs should be transparent - tall trees most transparent. 

More on transparency in gCADPlus drawings

The transparency of any closed entity can be set - not just plant symbols. The gazebo in this project was easily shaded by filling the polygon making up the extremity of the gazebo and then offsetting it.


Here is the model space rear garden of the same property showing similar shading.

Model space

and the corresponding view in layout space.


The figure below shows the model reverted to a classic CAD landscape view. Click on the image to see the result of saving to PDF from the file menu. This options captures all the subtlety of the color wash.


Target entities

The property of any entity that can be closed, such as a rectangle, polygon, circle, ellipse, polygon and spline can be assigned a transparency value via the properties dialog box.

The figure below shows examples of the entities with a copy of each entity overlying the original entity. The color of the top entity has been set to green and transparency at 25%. The appearance of text (placed on the same level as the original (dark) entity gives some idea of the effect of setting transparency.


TRansparency 02

An entities transparency value can vary from 255 (no transparency - fully opaques) to 0 (fully transparent. The figure below shows a circle entity with color set to green with differing transparency values. A filled rectangle has been placed at the back of the row of circles. Note the apparent change of color in the circle entity as the transparency value is changed.

Transparency 3

Tip: Use the Match Properties tool to set the transparency of an entity to match an exiting entity.

Using transparency provides a very simple and efficient mechanism for enhancing the interest of landscape plans. In the example shown, rather than using complex landscape symbols, circles with different transparency have been used to create interest. 

transparency 04

Entity transparency