Changing the stacking order of objects has been addressed in ToolShed’s free menu items to arrange them by location or size, but many people simply wanted to reverse the order in which objects were layered. They also wanted to preserve the objects’ original locations across different layers and with other art objects between them. ToolShed’s new Reverse Stacking Order menu item provides that in this new free function.
Object > Arrange > Stacking Order> Reverse Stacking Order
ToolShed contains a few tools that require activation to continue to work after the trial period, but like most of the functions in ToolShed, this menu item is entirely FREE. You can download it now for Mac and Windows, CC 2019 through 2023.
ToolShed has added three new items, all of which are FREE.
Replace with Top Object
The first new item is a function to replace selected art with a different art object. For example, say you have six blue circles that you want to replace with gold stars. Make sure that the star is the topmost object, located above the others in the layer panel.
Select the menu item Object > Replace with Top Object. The blue circles will be replaced with gold stars, like this:
Here you see six stars, but in the Layers panel, there are seven. What’s up with that?
The star was identified as the reference art, and the six circles below it became target art. Each target object was replaced, so you now have a duplicate star under the original reference art. Your reference art could be something used in some other part of your illustration, so this behavior is often useful. This time, however, press Alt or Option as you select the menu item, and the reference art will be deleted after all substitutions have been made. The new art will be positioned centered over the target art.
This menu item is FREE, no activation required.
Bust Up Paragraphs
We quite often have a text file with a list of callouts or labels to add to an illustration. We can re-type them in Illustrator, copy and paste each item one at a time, or paste the text into Illustrator and run a script to separate each line into individual point text objects. I wrote an AppleScript for this about 30 years ago (really) and later made an InDesign version for my colleagues doing page design. I’m guessing it’s probably not too soon 😉 to incorporate this into a plugin menu item. If you select one or more text objects, either point text or area text, it will divide them into several point text objects which you can then move individually as needed.
Paragraph alignment, paragraph styles, character styles, and character formatting are supported.
This menu item is FREE, no activation required.
This one could have been called a “Brace” tool, but that could be taken in other ways.
For way too long, I’d made these braces/brackets by separating the four bezier curves of a circle and rearranging them as needed. Now ToolShed has a tool that does essentially that same process. Just select the tool and drag to create it to the size you need.
As you drag, you can hold the Alt/Option key to flip it the opposite direction, and/or Shift to constrain it to the nearest 45° angle. Your curve radius is displayed in the on-screen help text, but you can adjust it dynamically by pressing the Up/Down keys. The increments it uses, in combination with Shift and Alt/Option, can be set in ToolShed’s Preferences. There you can also set the default stroke width for this path, as well as the Radiant and Latitude Lines that ToolShed draws. That dialog can be called in the same menu area as other Illustrator and plugin preferences, or by double-clicking the Bracket tool.
This tool is FREE, no activation required.
You can download the free update to ToolShed now. It’s available for Adobe Illustrator CC 2019 through 2023, for Windows and Mac (Apple processor support for 2022-23).
As an Adobe Illustrator user, you’re probably aware that in the Attributes panel you can add notes to selected art objects. That’s a useful feature, but what do you do if you have many art objects in an illustration and you later need to find objects with notes? Especially art with a specific note?
The free SelectMenu plugin for Adobe Illustrator has been updated to address just that. In the menu Select > Object > Art with Notes… you’ll be presented with this dialog.
You can choose to select all art with notes or only art whose notes contain certain phrases. The search matches notes regardless of capitalization.
You can download it here for Adobe Illustrator CC 2019 through 2023, for Windows or Mac (Intel, or Apple silicon on 2022-23). Documentation on all supported art types and attributes are available online, and through a Documentation button in the plugin’s AboutBox. It’s entirely FREE!
If you adjust the Tilt value of your projections using the dial control to the right of the proxy cube image, you’ve possibly found that it now allows you to tilt far enough to show the bottom of the cube. You could also just enter negative values for the left and right axes, or a negative Tilt value.
When that happens, the projection buttons change their orientation to make sense for the inverted view, including moving the “top” buttons to below the sides for “bottom” projections.
The left and right axes will now both show as negative values.
In this example, how many of you had one of these in your living room growing up? Stereo consoles were quite the rage in 1970, but were replaced with component-style equipment not long afterward. It provides a good example of an underside view, to show the location of the four feet.
In this case, I’ve defined the four zones, which now need to include options for bottom-left and bottom-right zones, as well as bottom reference points. In most cases, you really won’t need to define zones, but if you have large or complex ortho views that you move or extrude by reference, it can save you from some unexpected behavior later.
While revising the Zone tool and zone creation, it seemed a good time to make other improvements to the Zone tool and its functions to make the process easier and more intuitive. Reference points are now visible while the Zone tool is active, and they can be created here now, as well. Rather than draw a rectangle every time, you now have the option of selecting art from an ortho view, and the tool will draw a rectangle to enclose it. Other details are available in the updated documentation for the tool.
To summarize, the Projection panel now supports Tilt and Turn values that show many combinations of the left and right planes, plus the top or bottom.
Now, this may be going kind of crazy, but it would be possible to add the option to project art to a back surface. This might look like a sign painted on a window, but appearing backward as viewed from inside the building. Would that be useful?
Illustrators all over the world have been creating amazing work with AxoTools. You can see a sampling of them in the new AxoTools Gallery. Many thanks to all who contributed. One of the entries is shown below.
Library book shelf modules, Vladivostok, Russia
These bookshelves in the form of Cyrillic letters were designed by Egor Chistyakov. He started with the shelf front surface as a compound path, then extruded with multiple line weights and shaded color. Shadows and other details were added.
FontSafe is a plugin for Adobe Illustrator that can store a document’s font files embedded inside of the document itself. When the Illustrator document is opened again at some other time or place, the needed fonts can be extracted, so they will always be available. Most users will first think of this as a prepress utility to package the fonts prior to delivering the document to a printer for output, but it can be equally useful for preparing a file for archiving. When reopened for repurposing years later, fonts may no longer be installed on the computer the document was created on, and specialty fonts may no longer be available anywhere!
Unlike Adobe Illustrator’s native Package function, it even works with most Asian fonts!
Fonts can be embedded automatically every time you save your document, or manually added as needed.
Fonts are extracted as a zip archive in the same directory as your Illustrator document. You can optionally require a password to extract the font archive.
This is an update to FontSafe from Worker72a, now available for Windows and Apple M-series processors. Evaluate the full version with 500 free trial uses, or use it in extract-only mode for free. Licenses start at $20 and is on sale for half price through May 2023.
The purpose of AxoTool’s Zone tool is not intuitively obvious, and most of the time you really won’t even need it. Here’s an example of a situation, though, where it’s really helpful. Say you want to move the chimney in the isometric view away from the house, using “move by reference” where you drag in the corresponding right ortho view. This function only works when reference points are enabled (you set this in AxoTools’ preferences, or more easily with the icon in the Projection panel).
Select the Axo Tool, which is used for moving art along various axes, and for editing reference points.
With this tool selected, reference points will be visible. Note the locations of the left and right reference points (see the online docs for instructions on locating reference points). Select the chimney art that you want to move, then drag horizontally in the right view as indicated by the arrow.
But look what happens when you drag. The art moves the wrong direction!
Why is that? By default, the tool senses that the closest reference point is the left one, so it assumes that must be the view you’re dragging in. The solution is the use the Zone tool to draw rectangles around the left and right ortho views, as shown here.
After each zone is drawn, just click the button in the dialog to indicate which zone you defined.
With left and right zones defined, and the Axo tool again selected, drag in the right view and it correctly moves the art along the axis you had intended.
You don’t need to define zones for every view, only those where the problem described here is likely to happen. Leaving more space between views will also help avoid this situation, but then it’s nice to have your ortho views close enough that you can see where things line up. For best results, be sure you’re using the latest version of AxoTools, 184.108.40.206.
SelectMenu has been updated to add more art types, as well as a new select-by-name function.
Select art by name
Now you can select objects by their name, as displayed in the Layers panel. In the menu item Select > Object > Art by Name and you will see this dialog:
Choose whether the art name should contain the text you enter or if it should match exactly. Text is not case-sensitive, so the common rectangle, for example, with the name “<Rectangle>” would include “rect” entered in lower case. Please note that non-ASCII characters like accented characters and traditional Chinese are not currently recognized.
Menu selections can be recorded as Actions and played back to be included as part of other automations.
By user request, the long, long menu has been divided into groups to make items easier to find. Here are the menu groups:
Adobe’s Select > Object menu ends with Area Type. SelectMenu plugin adds the following items:
Path Text Objects
Legacy Text Objects