The basics of graphic design for a landscape architect
August 10, 2010 2:37 AM   Subscribe

What basic graphic design books/resources/links can you recommend to a landscape architect?

My Dad, while technically a very good landscape architect, lacks presenting his plans in a pleasing format. In my work (web design), I find myself laying out pages intuitively and rarely follow a formula - but for someone like my Dad, maybe learning the basics of typography and positioning could be helpful in taking his business to the next level.

Many thanks!
posted by simplesharps to Education (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I've heard good things about the book A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction by Sara Ishikawa.
posted by malapropist at 3:00 AM on August 10, 2010

Response by poster: malapropist - not really what I was after. He just needs work on his presentation (graphic design) rather than anything to do with planning... if that makes sense?
posted by simplesharps at 3:22 AM on August 10, 2010

Hah, I suppose I got that backwards; you're looking for a graphic design book for a landscape architect. Sorry.
posted by malapropist at 3:45 AM on August 10, 2010

If he hasn't read them already, Edward Tufte and Robert Bringhurst are very popular and very good at teaching people how to present information in more thoughtful, sensible, and aesthetic ways. Any Tufte book available at your local library would probably be worth looking at (there are several of them and they say some of the same things), but Visual Explanations sounds appropriate. The classic Bringhurst book is The Elements of Typographic Style. They're a little bit indirect for this purpose — they don't exactly say "this is how to present a plan in its best light", but they show good examples and explanations of document design in general.
posted by dreamyshade at 3:46 AM on August 10, 2010

Landscape Graphics by Grant Reid?
posted by buckaroo_benzai at 6:31 AM on August 10, 2010

While it was written for lawyers writing legal documents for court, much helpful information can be found here:

The Elements of Typographic Style is also a good book, and anything by Tufte is essential in my opinion.

And after reading a million books about design you'll start to understand some very basic, universal principles, which as an architect he probably already understands to some extent.

What he needs to understand by reading about it and seeing loads of examples are the layout concepts of negative space, white space, contrast, flow, etc...

I also find the Design Basics Index to be a very helpful reference that covers these topics simply and with some good examples.
posted by jnrussell at 8:22 AM on August 10, 2010

As others have mentioned, The Elements of Typographic Style is unbeatable when it comes to typography. In addition to all of the rules it lays out, the book has type specimens at the back which are really helpful for figuring out what you like if you don't know a whole lot about type. Page layout and composition is trickier, because most resources are focused on book design rather than large format stuff like architecural drawings. Aside from looking at other people's drawing sets, you might be interested in the Unigrid system developed for the National Park Service brochures. This system handles a diverse amount of material (e.g. maps, drawings, photos, illustrations, and text) and paper sizes, and could probably be adapted for your dad's purposes. I wonder if the best solution would be for you to set your father up with some AutoCAD and Word templates, complete with character styles, and explain to him how to use them and why you set them up the way you did.
posted by Pork-Chop Express at 11:23 AM on August 10, 2010

I like the non-designer's design book:

posted by ecourbanist at 12:27 PM on August 10, 2010

oops, that link didn't link to amazon. anyway the author is robin williams. not that robin williams.
posted by ecourbanist at 12:28 PM on August 10, 2010

Only the recommendation of The Non-Designer’s Design Book makes any sense in this context. You are essentially asking for a quick introduction to popular music and respondents are coming back with Satie and Steve Reich. You do not want the design equivalent of Difficult Listening Hour. Nor do you want a lot of words. You want mostly pictures.

I say this as someone who has been reading design books for 30 straight years, including a long-term project to read every such book in the library (and every book I can interloan). But I guess my problem here is I stopped reading beginners’ design books a long time ago.

Anyway! Robin Williams’ books are exactly what your dad needs.

Also consider Graphic Design for Nondesigners (warning: sight unseen).
posted by joeclark at 9:36 PM on August 10, 2010

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