Digital Media Applications to Landscape Design

Using Procedural 3D Modeling Software and Machinima Software for the Development of Landscape Design Graphics

Landscape design graphics are instrumental in both improving the quality of work produced during design development and in improving communication between clients and design professionals. Machinima and procedural 3D modeling  software such as Vue, The Plant Factory, and LumenRT offer great potential in improving landscape design graphics.

My computer is crashing: The perennial challenge of CGI in landscape graphics 

Creating a fully immersive digital landscape scene has always been a challenge.  It slows most 3D modeling software to a frustrating crawl. The challenges come in many forms: terrains, adjacent architecture, outdoor amenities, and of course—plant material. Modeling the necessary geometry to convey a design used to be close to impossible—imagine modeling trees with thousands of leaves, placed in large quantities, along with a myriad of shrubs, grasses, and forbs. To top it off, we often work at large scales, with projects often spanning multiple neighborhood blocks. But to truly understand why these tasks make us so familiar with a recurring blue screen we need an understanding of how these images are put together.

This project set out to apply these contemporary 3D modeling and rendering tools to generate landscape design imagery. Using CGI in Landscape design has the potential of improving visualization of outdoor spaces and may complement both design development and the sales process.

To support this intent, the project’s objectives were as follows:

  • Develop a replicable process & methodology for CGI production.
  • Develop an online repository of procedural models available for use by the landscape design community.
  • Apply these tools to a real-life project (On With Life project).

This Salvia nemerosa ‘Machnight’ model features correct shoot branching habit in orthogonal pairs. The overall height and spread of the model are true to the mature size of this particular cultivar. Leaves were created by scanning a sample leaf from a live specimen. The forb rosette is created using the hydra tool.