Koi Pond: Digital Masterpieces- Virtual Water Features Part I

Douglas Hoover

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One of the most challenging aspects of designing ponds and waterfalls is trying to convey my ideas to my client. Coming up with award-winning pond designs or implementing them using adequate skills and experience is not a problem.

My challenge is getting my client to see what I see. Drawing and painting are not my forte; it is next to impossible for me to draw a rock, not to mention water. The hardest part for me is drawing perspective. Prior to discovering the art of digital design my most common phrase used was, “Just trust me. " Wait till your pond and waterfall is finished, I promise you'll like it.

Unfortunately, “trust me" are the most common two words spoken by used car salesmen! Thank goodness that most of my clients were referrals from other satisfied customers and already knew what I was capable of creating.

A few years ago, I discovered a computer program called “Photoshop" and realized I could use it to create virtual photos of water features. I learned how to cut an item from one picture and paste it into another. Actually, that was nothing new for me since I did that in third grade. It's called cut and paste. Only now I'm using a mouse instead of rounded scissors and edible white paste. (I hear the manufactures are adding vitamins to it now. :)

I started out scanning dozens of photographs into “Photoshop, " which converted them into a digital image capable of being manipulated in hundreds or thousands of ways. The Photoshop program has a large learning curve, especially for someone who is unfamiliar with graphic design techniques, so I started searching for a solution for my pond design department.


Microsoft has developed a user-friendly software (small learning curve) for working with photographs. They can be scanned into the program or digital photos from a digital camera can be downloaded into the program. Then each picture can be enhanced through a variety of processes such as brightness, contrast, blur, tint, etc. , all with a simple click of the mouse.

Once the photo is finished, I can then cut out objects from the picture, such as rocks, groups of rocks, plants, or portions of the waterfall and pond. Which I did from several thousand photos of waterfalls and ponds I have constructed over the past 26 years.

I gathered these jpg images into an indexed library. Using this process with pictures from hundreds of my projects, I was able to build a substantial library of objects for pasting into the “before" photo of a client's yard for a pond design.

Now I can take a digital picture of someone's yard and download it into Microsoft's “Digital Image Suite " program. (This is not an endorsement, it just happens to be the product I use. I do not sell Microsoft products and have no investments in the company) Next, by dragging various items from my library, I can construct a waterfall and pond of any shape, size or configuration onto that picture.

So thanks to the arrival of the digital age, I can construct on paper a virtual image or idea that was in my head. As a result, my clients can see exactly what their pond and waterfall will look like when finished. Now a pond design takes only minutes.

Whether you are building a waterfall and pond for yourself or for a customer a pond design or waterfall design can be a marvelous thing. Simply marvelous! Happy koi, Peace & Joy.

For more details on digital design, read Koi Pond: Digital Masterpieces-Virtual Water Features Part II

Douglas C. Hoover; CEO of Aquamedia Corp, freelance writer and author designer, architect, inventor, engineer and builder of over 1,900 waterfall and ponds in California or the past 26 years. Read my other articles. Have a question? http://www.askdoughoover.com


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