Printing CAD drawings can be a frustrating process for new users. This (rather long) case study discusses some typical issued faced when printing a landscape design drawing. We cover model space, layout space, the use of layers, setting color, linetypes and line thickness implicitly or BYLAYER.


It is possible to print from either model space or layout (paper) space. In our view, it is much better to print from paper space. The white background seen when a layout view is created (from the format drop down menu) simulates the appearance of the final printed sheet. There can be no confusion about the space you are operating in - the background color gives it away. The figures below show the two spaces - model space and layout space. Note that the screen background is black in model space and white in paper space.

Model space ​view

Model space view

Layout (paper space) view

Paper space view

The figure below shows the layout space view zoomed out. The drawing has been placed on an A2 size sheet. We have used the Distance tool to confirm that the white rectangle is indeed an A2 size sheet.

On A2 sheet

Setting up the layout (paper space) view

In setting up the layout view prior to plotting, a number of factors need attention. These may include the need to put extraneous material on a non printing layer, adding extra floating viewports, adjusting the viewport size, adjusting the view port location, setting the colour of the viewport border etc. You may also want to add logos and sheet frame information in paper space. These steps are discussed below.

Cr​eate layout view

The first step in the printing process is to create a layout via Format>Create Layout.

Create layout

The box shown below appears. This shows a list of your current layout sheets. In this instance,  am in the process of setting up a separate sheet (a small A4 size sheet) to display a diagram about planting on a slope.

New layout

Set up view port to match desired area in model space. In this example, I have a small diagram of how to plant on a slope showing to the right of the main design in model space. This is indicated by an arrow in the right of the figure below.

Slope planting

Tip: If you simply create a new layout (say for the plant on slope diagram), it is likely that the desired view will not show. Here is an example. Although we have the portrait view we want, the drawing of the slope planting does not show.

Plant on slope 3

To fix it, double click in the middle of the new view and you will automatically be taken back to model space. A magenta colored view port will show. Simply size and move it to the correct position covering the part of the drawing you want to display.

Plant on slope

Right click and select "Display on paper space". Here is the result. Note the rectangle with the dotted line. This shows the position of the floating view port on the paper.

Plant on slope 5

Right click and select deactivate the layer. Note that it is possible to control the visibility of layers in view ports.

Slope planting

If you want to re-position the floating view port on the paper, start a crossing selection box and select the view port. Your screen should look like this.

Slope planting

The view port can be enlarged by dragging on the handles. It can also be made smaller and new view ports created on the same sheet showing other parts of the design.

We routinely change the color of the border to white (255) at the point of a final plot, so it (the border) disappears from view. Note that it is possible to copy viewports and have more than one view port per page as shown below.

Two view ports

Line thickness

When drafting by hand, it is common to apply different line thicknesses to help give the drawing some definition and distinguish different parts of the design. The figure below shows that the designer has applied a thicker line for the site boundaries.

Line thickness

The figure below shows close up of part of the drawing where attention has been paid to setting line thickness.

Line thickness

Once the drawing has been set up with line thicknesses and appropriate layouts, it is time to print

Print Box

The figure below shows the gCADPlus print box.

Print box

 Print dialog box The simplest way to get a satisfactory print from your drawing is to select a PDF writer as the print device,  move to a suitable layout, choose the Paper option with Fit drawing and make the PDF file. After checking, we send the PDF file to the client. To view the drawing, click the image below.


This client required a lighting design plan for the area surrounding the central crushed dolomite path. She set up a new layout and turned a lighting layout layer on to show the light spill from a series of low voltage lamps.

Lighting spill

Click here to download a print guide for gCADPlus (in PDF format)

Check plot  It is always a good idea to take a check plot using a PDF writer a number of times when developing a design. This movie shows a check plot being Here is an example of a PDF check for a design for a garden in Massachusetts, USA.

Check plot  We show that it pays to take care with the layer properties of floating viewports in landscape CAD drawings. If the layer is made non printing, the resultant PDF file may show title block information but the design (in model space) will not show. 

Managing multiple floating viewports (plant schedule and ground cover schedule)

Floating viewport How to manage viewports.

Floating viewport Managing several floating viewports in a USA drawing.