Rendering of backyard patio surrounded by trees and plants
Dinnie Muslihat

Dinnie Muslihat

Last updated: January 22, 2024  •  3 min read

How this Landscape Firm Harnesses Real-Time Visualization to Spark Clients' Imaginations

Marpa is a landscape architecture and construction firm based in Boulder, Colorado. They specialize in a contemplative design process and envisioning wonder during the construction management of each garden, giving clients a magical feeling with their sleek and modern landscapes.

Project Manager Brian Deck shares how he uses Enscape in his workflow and the transformative power of real-time visualization to ignite clients' imaginations.



Image by Marpa

Discovering the right tool for a fast-paced workflow

The team at Marpa had been using Vectorworks for its rendering. While it could make model renderings, it didn't bring the type of environmental quality with plant objects, lighting, and textures that a strong rendering engine could show.

The Marpa team discovered Enscape when collaborating with a firm that was already using the real-time visualization plugin to visualize interior design and outdoor patios over a Zoom meeting. The live modeling sparked an interest in visualizing landscapes, which relies on showing the planting design of a space.


Rendering of garden balcony patio surrounded by trees and plants

Image by Marpa


"That was the first time I'd heard of it, and I was immediately interested. Once we got it, I started to play around with it. I even spread it to other team members who could use it in their work."

He adds, "We're a macOS office, so we use Enscape with SketchUp and now Enscape with Vectorworks for Mac. It's intuitive, and placing objects is helpful, especially when working on landscape visuals dominated by trees and plants."

The speed and ease of switching textures is another highlight of using the plugin in his design process, especially with SketchUp materials.

"When building a model, our primary focus is massing rather than species-specific plant materials. We initially prioritize aspects like retaining boulder compositions, tree placement, and hardscape shapes. Later, we utilize Enscape's Material Editor to fine-tune textures for creating quality perspectives, which is quick and aligns with our fast-paced workflow."

Exploring forms and shapes with watercolor painting

Brian was taught to incorporate watercolor painting in his creative process in college. He now uses watercolors with digital visualization and physical modeling to guide the design-build process and think through ideas.

"I use watercolor to render and design. Exploring ideas with a pencil offers crisp definitive lines, but using watercolors is looser, and there's more room to see different forms and shapes that you might not have thought when sketching with a pencil."


Rendering of garden design with trees and plants

Image by Marpa


He sketches perspectives to think from certain views, then builds a composition from that view with watercolor painting giving character to the spaces and creating a mood.

"I set up the perspective and create forms and massing within that frame. We usually work in 2D plan views, which is efficient for moving our projects from design to construction. During construction, when we're on-site managing plant and boulder placement, having a 3D visualization to compose the design in advance is very beneficial to us."

Igniting clients' imaginations

As a project manager, Brian's work involves clients in the early concept and active construction phases. He empowers clients to immerse themselves in the vision of their spaces as vibrant living compositions by offering carefully crafted perspectives of inviting and layered garden spaces.

"A key benefit of using Enscape is that it's great for working with clients. The ability to move through a 3D model live captivates them more than if the render was a static image," explains Brian.

"Clients depend a lot on imagery to envision what their space will look like once constructed, so being able to fly around the model is helpful for them to understand the general feeling of their future space."


Rendering of downward view of garden design

Image by Marpa


Creating ambient scenery lighting in Enscape is also great for igniting imagination. Brian explains how it allows him to evoke a golden hour feeling in the design and how it happens to be his favorite feature.

"Creating the early morning and evening golden lighting is excellent for engaging clients. It helps us convey the romance or magic we want in many projects."

He adds, "I find it helpful to do rendering studies at various times of the day. It's great to have a gorgeous lighting effect, and I'm impressed with how you can treat it like an SLR or a traditional DSLR camera to play with the lighting.”

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Dinnie Muslihat
Dinnie Muslihat

Dinnie is part of the Content team at Chaos and manages the Enscape blog. She enjoys sharing informative, insightful, and inspirational content for architects and designers to empower their visualization workflows. If you have an excellent idea for a blog post, get in touch via