The Bottom Line
- SmartDraw landscape-design software has a large library of symbols.
- Drawing tools similar to PhotoShop's.
- Free trial of SmartDraw 7 is available.
- Warning: May cause unsettling flashbacks in PhotoShop survivors.
- You can download a free 30-day trial from smartdraw.com.
- Wizards and tutorials help flatten out the learning curve.
- Within the same program, both customary units of measure and the metric option are offered.
- For pros starting out on a shoestring: use SmartDraw for presentations till you can afford better.
- Don't want to start from scratch? SmartDraw has templates already partially filled with shrubs, etc.
- It's not just for landscaping. You can tackle everything from bathroom plans to flow charts.
- A "ruler" runs across the top of the drawing area, and also down the left side.
- The drawing area itself looks like a sheet of graph paper. The idea is to produce "scale" drawings.
- For homeowners, I'd ask, Do you enjoy software? If so, buy SmartDraw. If not, stick to paper.
Guide Review - SmartDraw 7 Landscape Design Software
SmartDraw has a library of "symbols" and, if you're brave enough to create your own shapes, an arsenal of tools, all of which may cause PhotoShop flashbacks for some of you.
But as only PhotoShop survivors would understand, a comparison to PhotoShop is a double-edged sword. E.g., the term, "layers" makes PhotoShop survivors cringe. I regret to inform you that SmartDraw 7 will also challenge you with "layers." They're there for your own good, but you'll have to remember to keep switching back and forth between "border" and "landscape" on the layers tab.
A challenge in using the program is working in cramped quarters -- again nothing new for those familiar with graphics programs. Besides the drawing area, the screen is filled with menus, toolbars, symbol libraries and wizard boxes. I like to hide as many of these as possible and set view at 100%. Not only does this reduce screen-clutter, but it also makes the ruler settings easier to follow. E.g., let's say your settings call for 1" to represent 4'. If the view is set at only 50%, it will appear as though 1" were representing 8' (confusing).
You'll probably find the drawing area itself too small to achieve a proper scale drawing. But if you drag a symbol over to the edge of the drawing area and hold it there, the screen scrolls over to accomodate you.
Such tricks notwithstanding, I still find the paucity of space annoying. I can't see myself switching from paper to (any) software until this issue is resolved.