AxoTools now includes an Axo Shear tool that will allow you to shear artwork that’s already been projected onto an axonometric plane. It functions similar to Adobe’s Shear tool in that its default anchor point is the center of the selection, but you can click to place the anchor anywhere you’d like.
The plugin will display a cube annotation with one of the three axonometric faces highlighted. Simply tap the Alt/Option key to choose the plane you’re working on. Drag to shear the art, and the current shear angle will be shown near the cursor. Press the Shift key while dragging to constrain the shear to increments of 15°.
To shear art numerically on a projected plane, Alt/Option click on a location for the anchor point of the operation. In the dialog box that appears, fill in the shear amount, the axis angle to shear on, and the face upon which to shear.
The new tool is available in the current version of AxoTools for Adobe Illustrator 2019 – 2022. You can download it here for either Mac or Windows.
Some of you may recall using a free “Isometric Line Tool” plugin for Adobe Illustrator. I wrote it in 1997 to simply draw straight lines constrained to isometric angles. When I rewrote my plugins for CS6 and CC, it was renamed simply “IsoTool.”
The plugin was discontinued after it was included in AxoTools, but remained free to use after the trial had expired. As AxoTools gained new features, the free tool could seem buried amid nine tools and six panels. Now AxoTools includes a “Free” mode to accommodate those users. Unlicensed installation of the plugin have a menu item File > AxoTools > Show only free AxoTools features. If you choose this item, the next time you launch Adobe Illustrator, AxoTools will load only the free features. As part of AxoTools, the free parts go beyond the old line tool.
The Projection panel gives you any axonometric projection you choose, not just isometric. The Projection buttons won’t do anything and the Options are irrelevant, but the preset menu will allow you to save and quickly recall your favorite settings.
Now you can choose to automatically apply either of two line weights as you draw, as well as to automatically concatenate lines. The stroke widths you choose will be saved in your plugin’s preferences.
The multi-purpose Axo tool now retains its Move functions for selected artwork for Free mode users to easily move artwork along the current axonometric paths. This includes selected anchor points within a path.
The Axo Measure tool is also available for free. It measures distances and angles, including the delta between two angles, as measured on any of the axonometric or orthographic planes.
And if you later decide to go for a license (annual licenses are currently on sale for only $5/year), that remains an option as well. You can download it here for Adobe Illustrator 2019 – 2022 for either Mac or Windows.
Measuring and then entering distances and angles can be a lot of busywork, which AxoTools Measure tool can help streamline. Just click and drag with the Measure tool. These values are entered into the AxoTools Information panel as measured on your artboard in orthographic projection, as well as the three axonometric planes of your current document projection, plus the depth axis of any currently-defined auxiliary projection.
In addition, many of the text fields in AxoTools panels have shortcuts to import values from that panel. For example, you can drag the tool along an edge of an extrude art object to measure its length and angle. Then in the Extrude panel, double-click the Distance and Angle field labels to automatically enter the last-measured values, then simply click the Extrude button. It’s so fast and easy, it almost feels like we’re cheating!
The double-click trick also works for the Projection panel’s X and Z axis fields and the Transformation panel’s Extrude distance field. To auto-enter values into the Transformation’s Move/Rotate field, just type an “a” for angle or “d” for distance as appropriate for your current operation. In the transformation panel’s two fields, you can also type “=” to toggle the value between positive and negative.
You may want to measure the difference between two angles on an axonometric drawing. Using Illustrator’s built-in Measure tool, you would measure one angle, write down the result, measure another angle, write down that result, then do the math to find the difference, and it would still only be accurate for the flattened view. AxoTools’ Measure tool can work as an axonometric protractor — just click on an anchor point, then drag between two points. You’ll see the corresponding angle from your axonometric plane.
Now you can also now do simple math operations in many of AxoTools’ panels’ fields. For example, you can enter “.25 in + 2mm” and the Extrude panel will calculate the equivalent distance in your current document ruler units (e.g., 23.6693 pt). You can also do math on angles, such as “90 – 32.48” for “57.52°.” Division is done with a “/” character and multiplication with a “*” character.
You can download AxoTools and try it out with 1,000 trial operations. It’s on sale for 1/3 off through May 2022, with annual subscriptions 1/2 off, starting as low as $5!