Those of you who have had Graffix plugins for Adobe Illustrator for a while know that version updates and even new features are almost always free. In fact, every update since 2014 has been free, and although some significant updates are currently in progress, none are planned to require an additional payment.
When new features, improvements to existing features, or just addressing issues that occasionally arise, I like to get fixes and improvements in the hands of users as soon as practical.
On the other hand, I realize that unzipping the download, then navigating through the file system to place the plugin in Illustrator’s Plug-ins folder is a hassle. Illustrators have too much to do to be saddled with busywork like this!
When I rebuilt my plugins using Hot Door’s CORE libraries in 2014, I was encouraged that it had built-in almost all the tools I needed to automatically install updates (key word: almost). A fellow developer recently alerted me to an approach that finally made the last piece of this process possible. Some of the plugins available for download now have the auto-install system added, and the rest of the plugins will be updated as well in the near future.
When the new plugins fetch an update, they will automatically install it, and move the “read-me” doc file to a “Graffix plugins” folder located in your Documents folder. I only wish I could have enabled this sooner!
IMPORTANT UPDATE: The auto-install, I found out too late, only works reliably on Mac systems, and then only when the Plug-ins folder has its permissions set to read/write for everybody. Current plugins test for the known limits and, if necessary, will send a link to your browser to download as it used to. If you’ve already downloaded a plugin with auto-install, you’ll have to manually download an update from the site. I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience. Please remember, I’m just an illustrator like you who’s figured out how to write plugins, and that limited experience sometimes shows.
Update: now with AxoTools 16.2, there’s an easier way!
Ron Kempke, who wrote the math behind AxoTools, has provided a follow-up to this post on using an auxiliary view in AxoTools, with these steps on taking it a step farther. Even with the oblique plane rotated at all three axes, we can still construct an auxiliary view and establish an axis for extruded art on that plane.
In this example, we have a simple cube with one corner removed. With the three sides projected, the triangle shape practically draws itself, but a problem arises when other objects need to be added that match this orientation.
Here, Ron walks us through this process using the AxoTools Projection panel along with Illustrator’s built-in Scale and Rotate tools.
To start, we need to do some construction drawing in the orthographic top view. You’ll probably want to work on copies of these views. Select the long side (hypotenuse) of the triangular shape in the top view. Copy and paste it, then rotate it 90°. Position this line to divide the shaded triangle at its right-angle corner at the corner of the cube. Use this as a guide to draw the red guide triangle.
Align the right angle of this triangle with the upper left corner of the right side view. Rotate the top view to match the guide triangle, as shown in the blue square below, then project this to the axonometric top view.
Use Illustrator’s Measure tool to measure the angles of this projected shape. Enter these values into the Axis fields of the Projection panel, which will then become a new (but temporary) axonometric view. The top face of the preview proxy cube in the Projection panel should resemble the rotated cube in your art. Note that these values are for this example only; your angles will certainly be different. If you now project the left and right ortho views, it should resemble the blue cube shown above.
Select the right orthographic view and scale it so that the shaded triangle matches the width of the red guide triangle.
Now on this foreshortened right side view, rotate a copy of the angled line -90° as shown. Here it’s colored green to distinguish it from red guide lines. Remember that having entered new values into the Projection panel axis fields, your projection now matches the blue cube shown below. Project the new guides into your axo view.
Measure the angle of the green guide line that represents the perpendicular, and save that value for later. Rotate the oblique surface and red guide lines so that the perpendicular is perfectly vertical.
If you’ve entered the new X and Z axis angles correctly, the top surface of the preview cube will be oriented at the same angles as your red guide lines.
You now have an orthographic (top-left) view of your oblique surface! Add your additional details. It’s worth noting that the red guide line at the top corresponds to the upper edge of the surface on the top view.
Now extrude any objects on this surface, along the vertical axis. You can do so visually with the Extrude tool, or numerically with the Extrude panel (be sure to check the Foreshorten option). If you have a left or right view showing the depth of the objects on this view and you’ve placed reference points for these views, you can drag by reference in the side view and the depth will be measured and foreshortened for you. (If you extrude a shape on this surface numerically from the Extrude panel, you should be aware that normally objects at this angle recede, so you’ll have to rotate it 180°.)
If you’re using reference points here, remember to redefine them in your standard ortho views when you’re finished with these details.
Finally, set your projection back to isometric or whatever projection your overall illustration used.
In review, the basic steps are:
Find the plane’s perpendicular from the top view.
Define a projection along the top perpendicular to find the plane’s side perpendicular, which is also its extrusion axis, from a side view.
Spin the oblique surface so that its extrusion axis becomes vertical.
Define another projection based on the rotated guides and un-project the oblique surface.
You now have an ortho view of your oblique surface that you can add details to, and save for future reference.
Project a top-left axo view and extrude any objects on that surface.
Spin the oblique surface back to its original orientation.
Many thanks to Ron Kempke for this useful and fascinating exercise!
Every technical illustrator, it seems, eventually runs into a situation where a surface they’re drawing doesn’t exactly match the top, left, or right views. If one edge of a rectangle that defines that surface coincides with the X or Z axis, there are at least two ways to project that angled face. Let’s say you want to add a dial or knob to this control panel.
In conventional drafting, you’d draw what’s called an auxiliary view for the tilted panel, then mathematically calculate the locations of the panel’s elements in the axonometric (or isometric) view. One way might be called the “rotate and force-fit” method.
Here’s a sequence of steps that shows how that works, and illustrates the reason those four “Rotate” and “Unrotate” items were added to the flyout menu.
Of course, the axis of the ellipse is at a different angle than any axis, so here’s a method that uses axonometric logic to reverse-engineer the projection of that surface in order to use the Extrude tool to accurately draw the cylindrical shape of the knob.
After this technique, be sure to restore your axonometric projection to the previous settings!
New tools are currently in progress for AxoTools, but until they’re available, this should help you get through some of those unusual situations.