Save symbol  How to make a symbol and save it for use in subsequent design sessions.

Save symbol Here is a movie that shows how to make a symbol for a grass (Lomandra logifolia) such that it is available in future gCADPlus sessions.

These notes are designed to provide some guidance for gCADPlus users who wish to develop their own plant symbols and add them to the gCADPlus blocks library. We show how to create the symbol shown below and adjust its properties so that it complies with those symbols delivered with gCADPlus.

New symbol

Creating a gCADPlus symbol (metric version)

Load gCADPlus and create a new drawing without using a template to start. This provides a clean slate on which to build the new symbol.

Via the Layer stack icon on the standard toolbar, create the following new layers:


Set the colour of layer L-TREE-GRAPHIC to cyan and L-SHRUB-GRAPHIC to color 74(for other layers, leave the color setting at foreground).

Tip: Layer color foreground is the equivalent of the AutoCAD color BYLAYER setting.

Make layer L-PLNT-CONSTRUCTION the current layer.

Draw a circle of diameter 1000 drawing units on layer L-PLNT-CONSTRUCTION making the center point of the circle Cartesian coordinate 0,0 

Tip: The symbol when inserted into a design and provided layer L-PLNT-CONSTRUCTION is turned on) will have a canopy diameter of 1000 units (1000 mm - i.e. 1 meter).  

Use the line command and place a cross at the center of the circle.

Using polar coordinates, draw the first line from coordinate -25, to point @50<0.

Draw a second line from 0,-25 to @50<90

The result is shown below.


Tip: This new symbol can be used to show the position of specimens in a concept drawing or for the construction team.

Tip: Convention dictates that a cross is used to indicate the position of a new plant.  If a symbol for an existing plant is required, place a small circle in the center rather than a cross.

The figure below shows the symbol in action in part of a design. Individual symbol instances have been scaled differently.



The next step in the creation of this new symbols is to more complex graphic information


Switch to (work on) layer L-PLNT-SYMBOL and create more complex graphics.

We often use the PLINE command to roughly trace around the approximate circumference of the circle (using the circle on the L-CONSTRUCTION layer as a guide and then select various vertices on the polyline to change the 'fluidity' of the shape made from the closed polyline.

The figure below shows a polyline with some 'indents' to indicate the canopy of the plant.



Tip: It is useful to set the line weight of the polyline to a value that plots appropriately on the most common sheet used in the design practice to show a design to a client. In our case, we commonly plot a design to an A2 (ARCH C size) sheet so set the line thickness of the polyline canopy outlining the canopy to 0.25mm (0.010 inch) drawing units. In the example below, the color of the polyline was set to color 74 (dark green).


In order to give more a little definition to the symbol, it is often useful to add a second polyline. We commonly put that polyline (or other entity) just inside the first entity on a layer called L-TREE-GRAPHIC  and set the color of that layer to cyan. If we are developing a symbol for a shrub, we place the entity of layer L-SHRUB-GRAPHIC and set color to a shade of green.

Here is the symbol in model space with the L-CONSTRUCTION layer turned off.

symbol 2

The figure below shows the graphic in use. Note the effect of the extra graphic information in cyan when compared to a standard gCADPlus symbol (shown in black).

Two symbols

The figure below shows an example of the design with two symbols made this way; one on layer L-TREE-GRAPHIC and the other on layer L-SHRUB-GRAPHIC. Trees are outlined in cyan and shrubs in green. This adds extra interesdt to the printed plan and is implemented automatically as these symbols are used.

Two symbols

If the design calls for greater definition of the symbols, the SHADOW command can be used as shown below.


It is possible to add even more impact to the symbols in the design by selecting one of the closed polylines that make up the symbol and setting fill on.

Set fill on

Adding a border to the filled polyline can also enhance the readability of the design..

If the symbols appear too stark, edit the block (a quick job because only one instance of the block needs to be altered and all copies of that block follow suit) change the color to a softer hue. The shadow tool works particularly well under these conditions.

Change color

It is relatively easy to create a more complex symbol by copying the symbol and adding another polyline shape. Here a symbol that might work well to show a deciduous tree.


Test the new symbol in layout space on your most commonly used paper size as shown below.

Deciduous 3

Although the symbols have a tree/shrub like appearance, the same approach works for small grass like symbols.

grass symbol

New symbol5

Once the symbol has been developed and tested according to the rules above, copy the symbol via the clipboard to a new drawing and turn off the layer L-CONSTRUCTION and any fill that's been applied. Save the file with its lcd extension and in the gCADPlus blocks folder. We suggest placing them in the standard group.New symbols will only be available when a new gCADPlus session is started. The figure below shows the new symbols incorporated into the gCADPlus library system.

symbols available

If you have developed symbols in this way, please send us a copy of your new symbol (to so we can include it in the downloads page for others to use.

Tip: many symbols in the gCADPlus sized library group are constructed in a simpler manner than described here and have been developed on one layer only. 


New landscape plant symbol