Case Study - The Landmark Group
The Landmark Group has been using SketchUp for nearly two years but it wasn’t until the company employed the powerful combination of DynaSCAPE Sketch3D and Shaderlight that the business really started reaping the benefits. The transformation of 3D models into photorealistic images secures immediate client buy-in to the designs, whilst saving development time and reducing costs across the business.
The Landmark Group is a premier Landscape Design/Build contractor creating fine landscapes since 1986. Whether a project is big or small, its clients demand a commitment to quality, flexible and responsive service, innovative design and good value with a hassle-free, professional experience. Being a one-stop shop, The Landmark Group accountability allows the business to offer the best-known warranty in the industry.
Creating landscape content
Before using DynaSCAPE Sketch3D, The Landmark Group sourced all landscape content from SketchUp’s Warehouse and Podium’s free browser.
To convert CAD drawings into SketchUp format a DynaSCAPE Design CAD drawing would be imported and then began the long, painstaking process of tracing the entire design.
DynaSCAPE Sketch3D provides a comprehensive library of 3D landscape models that enables The Landmark Group to save hours of design time, whilst producing high quality results, whether its swimming pools, rose arbours or plants. The software also delivers savings across the build process. DynaSCAPE Design can now export CAD drawings into SketchUp format and a DynaSCAPE CAD Cleanup plugin for SketchUp cleans up and makes faces out of the converted geometry in one step providing a significant time savings.
Matthew Civiero at The Landmark Group explains: “DynaSCAPE Sketch3D has shaved hours off our initial set-up time and has made populating our models fast and accurate. Being a design/build firm, we typically deal with high-end residential landscape designs that require high attention to detail. But it’s not just about communicating better with the customers. Using DynaSCAPE Sketch3D, everyone involved gets a better understanding of the design, which translates into better construction drawings and more accurate quotes. We can then forecast pitfalls or construction challenges and be better prepared before we actually start building”.
Taking designs to the next stage
A typical model for the Landmark Group would be around 45mb. A lot of natural materials (large, jumbo flagstone, weathered boulders, pavers, timbers, etc.) are used, including intense plantings requiring a naturalistic feel. A natural style is much more challenging to make look realistic than contemporary jobs so it was very important that the team could realistically render material such as water, grasses and perennials to visually communicate the design to clients.
Matthew Civiero continues: “Our clients are discerning and their style and business sense demands professionalism, creativity, innovation and top-shelf quality. That’s the market we’re in, so the design needs to follow suit. They are not impressed with rudimentary 3D models. The “oh, I can tell that’s a computer generated picture” response of the past doesn’t cut it anymore”.
After trialing Twilight, Podium and V-Ray, Matthew found rendering plug-in to SketchUp Shaderlight - and has never looked back. As soon as he had downloaded the free trial of Shaderlight Pro, Matthew was soon producing quality renderings with ease. “I knew that pretty quickly I would be able to produce industry-leading renders that that will connect with our clients. Shaderlight was the only rendering tool that didn’t get me frustrated and I was proud to show my colleagues what it could do. Its user interface is great.”
Wowing the clients
The Landmark Group projects are typically quite large in scale and it’s not always easy for clients to fully understand the design arrangement of scale, grades, flow, sight lines, materials and details. The combination of SketchUp and DynaSCAPE allows customers to buy in to the design from an early stage, immediately gaining a better understanding of the design vision. They then get more excited and start to understand the true value of their project. The team no longer has to spend time “educating” clients on understanding a 2D drawing, explaining what every symbol is and how to understand grade changes and traffic flow.
Matthew continued; “Our clients’ landscape projects are a large investment for them. The better than can visualise their dream and understand its complexity, the more they can picture their outdoor lifestyle and determine where they want to put invest in it. Shaderlight is the icing on the cake for our finished models.
“Like great landscape photography, we really love playing with natural, dramatic light (early morning and late day sunlight). Early evening would be my most used lighting effect: saturated color tone, rich, dramatic shadows, highlighted plantings and dynamic looking water are a treat to work with. You just can’t beat a great reflection and Shaderlight allows us to incorporate this into our designs”.
Delivering financial savings
Using Sketch3D and Shaderlight for SketchUp has demonstrable savings across the board from the initial, rough concept modeling right through to design details for estimating. It may add some initial time investment to the design phase, but time is saved in design changes, landing the sale and getting team members up to speed on the design and intent. It is also helping to drive sales. Matthew concluded: “Our clients are always blown away and now spend most of the meeting focusing on the renderings!”
For more information about DynaSCAPE Sketch3D, visit their website.
To see more work from The Landmark Group, take at look at their portfolio.