Recently, I have been immersed in the Capstone Certificate in Geodesign, my PhD research writing and teaching; as a result I have found the creative side of my brain wanting an outlet for artistic expression. In this blog post I will share some of my experiences and the wealth of resources I have found or rediscovered inside and outside of landscape architecture. These resources can be used as guides, tutorials, or inspiration to expand your own design thinking or visual communication skills. Visual communication and design thinking are a critical component of a landscape architect’s design process. Landscape architects use various tools and techniques to visually ideate our design thinking; as well as to communicate our ideas to clients and the public; and construction documentation. Without visual communication we could not think through the nuances and systematic connections necessary to create healthy, vibrant, and sustainably built environments; let alone get them constructed to function properly. Because of my schedule my commitment is to practice or learn a new technique every week or every other week as my schedule allows. I will also only spend a half hour to an hour on each project. In the future this may mean that I revisit and spend more time on certain techniques or images.


Foundation/Fundamental Skills

The foundation of graphic or visual communication consists of color theory, typography, line types, line weights, hue, depth, hierarchy, contrast, board layout, perspective, scale, pacing, spacing, focal points, etc. These skills are necessary for effective visual communication; both computer and hand graphics depend on these basic skill sets. No matter your ability level, I have found these resources helpful:

  • Books
    • Cantrell, B., & Michaels, W. (2014). Digital drawing for landscape architecture: contemporary techniques and tools for digital representation in site design (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
    • Doyle, M. (2006). Color drawing: design drawing skills and techniques for architects, landscape architects, and interior designers (3rd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
      This is a great resource for design communication. It covers a broad range of topics and issues.
    • Reid, G. (2008). Landscape graphics: plan, section, and perspective drawing of landscape spaces (Revised.). New York, NY: Watson-Guptill Publications.
      This book has been criticized as dated; however, it explains the nuts and bolts of landscape architectural graphic visualization and communication in a straight forward and easy to grasp manner. Master these and you can apply them in any other form of design communication you choose, particularly if they become second nature.
  • Websites
    • Color Matters is a great website showcasing color theory across a multitude of disciplines and use areas. While the website is probably a bit rudimentary for most landscape architects, I find it is a great refresher to return to the basics and it is helpful for many of my students are still grappling with the nuances of color theory –
    • ColorBrewer 2.0 is a great website to assist in color choices for communicating spatial data in maps. It provides a range of options for sequential, diverging, and qualitative data color schemes to meet web and colorblind accessibility standards –
  • Videos
    • Linescapes is a Youtube channel that focuses on sketching and hand drawing in landscape architecture. The author discusses technique and tips and tricks during the video as he is drawing. Great to see the work emerge as he is working –



I have found inspiration for great graphics in many places. They range from traditional hand graphics, digital, and tradigital. I have found the following terms useful to search for images on Google image search, pinterest, behance: architectural visualization, matte painting, photo-realistic rendering, compositing, and landscape architecture graphics.


Software and Tutorials

            The following is software I use within my landscape architecture workflows and a few tutorials I have found useful. A great alternative workflow can be found here:

Entourage Resources


I am excited to here what tools and resources you find inspiring or tutorials that you find helpful? Over time I hope to add and develop a critical explanation of each. Over the next few weeks I will be showcasing and critically reviewing a few of these links in more depth. I will also post about my experiences drawing and sketching on my iPad.

Until next time.


Travis Flohr