Technology Tools for both measured drawings and presentation drawings

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#1
I work in a small city, in the transportation "plangineering" department. My department is looking for software/tools that will allow us to create more visually-appealing plans in-house, lessening our dependence on consultants.

We are looking for tools/software which we can use to both:
1. make plans that are to-scale and can be used for making measurements and ordering amount of materials, as well as
2. make visually appealing designs for the public.

CAD (which all our engineers already use) is good for the first, but has limited abilities for the second. I’ve talked to two people who work at consulting firms and who use Illustrator to create nice looking plans, and they have said that Illustrator is good for the second item, but neither of them use it for the first (taking measurements).

I'm curious how other communities balance these goals when creating plans. Do people create plans in CAD, export the plans, and import them into another program (like Illustrator) to add more visual elements? Do we just have to make two sets of the same plans in two different programs (duplicating work)?

If there is another thread that already addresses this, please point me to it!
Thanks for your help.
 

DVD

Cyburbian
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#2
Maybe on of the dark side people can help more than I can. They do more of it. I don't even had autocad in my office.

Back when I was an intern, many moons ago, We did everything in autocad and exported the design to the graphics guy. He would then take it and either use photoshop or illustrator or lightwave to make some pretty pictures for the presentation book. I hear a lot about sketchup, but I don't know what all it can do.
 
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#3
To answer your question: yes, the common process for illustrative plans is to do detailed/measured layout work in CAD and then export to Illustrator for color work. Then you can drop in additional details from Photoshop for additional rendering work. Or, you can go old school and print the layout design and then hand render. Those drawings always look the best, but are time consuming to be presentation quality.

Basically, you're asking for a program that doesn't exist - at least to my knowledge. If there was, a Landscape Architecture firm would surely be using it already. Reality is that you need a combination of CAD and Adobe Creative Suite to keep production speed and to make revisions easily. Oh, and you'll need someone who knows how to use all of the software at a level that's presentation quality. Huh - sounds like you need an architect. Funny how that happens.
 
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#4
Actually, I retract: it looks like LandFX is a good option for basic presentation quality renderings off CAD. I've had some experience with the software before, it's basically a plug-in for CAD and does simple rendering work. Might be okay if you only need simple designs rendered.
 
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#5
MColor is a very good addition to AutoCAD for post production rendering. For marketing graphics (subdivision and master land plans) we export to Photoshop. Autodesk Impression is garbage and clunky. I've used LandFx to create a 2D plant symbol library (vector based) for CAD.
 
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