This was a project in China which was a re-use master planning effort of an abandoned silver mine into an eco-tourism and cultural resort destination with a 27-hole golf course nestled within. The final rendering took about 8 hours to complete. Here is a comprehensive step-by-step process of how the illustrative plan was created and how to use the final image as a basis for diagramming and for use in Google Earth.
Step 1: AutoCAD 2-D drawing export. The CAD drawing was exported as a scaled PDF on a sized titleblock in order to register updated plans exactly in case adjustments needed to be made by the client or the design team.
Step 2: Import base drawing and main layers separately into Photoshop. The final photoshop working file will have numerous building, road, trees, groundcover, and parcel boundary layers. Colors and textures were then applied on their respective layers and opacities were adjusted accordingly in order to get the effect I wanted. You can see this layering process clearly to the left. It may take a little bit of time adjusting the colors, textures, opacities, and filters to get the right balance of elements in the final artwork.
Step 3: Digital "Painting". With the layer hierarchy set, I began filling in the buildings as white blocks and added a shadow layer to give the buildings depth in plan. The roadways were colored in as a basic cool gray color. You will want to make sure that the roads are CLOSED poly lines before importing the line work into Photoshop. Parcel and open space areas were given a subdued green tone and golf course greens have a more "spring" green to be slightly different from the other open space zones. The trees are simple green colored "circles" using a special brush filter in Photoshop CS5. It splatters the circles creating "clusters" of trees which was the feel I wanted given that we were recreating a forest.
(Above) Google Earth Draping. A really cool tool that I use from time to time is to drape my illustrative site plan over the actual project site in Google Earth. Once inserted, you can navigate and tilt through the project and see it in geographical context, which my client seem to always enjoy seeing. As this project is in a mountainous area of China, the draping was quite dramatic and really created a dynamic views of the project.
(Above) Base for Diagramming. From the Google Earth view, you can also extract an accurate topographic view to use in diagrams. In this case, I used this particular view to create a watershed diagram to explain watershed recharge and other green performance opportunities.
(Above) Final Step: Presentation Image. The final illustrative image is a high resolution jpeg that can be inserted into a powerpoint show or PDF presentation. Once digital, you can control the size and resolution you need for specific uses. If you require blow ups of certain areas, make sure you export the highest resolution possible so the result is not a pixelated image.
I hope you found this blog helpful and informational. If you have specific questions about any particular parts of this process, just send me a message.