AxoTools 23.0.2 adds a new tool that acts as both an axonometric ruler as well as a protractor. It allows you to measure distances and angles in any of the three axonometric axes, scaled for the foreshortening factor of that plane, whether its projection is isometric, dimetric, or trimetric. Measurements are displayed for all axo planes as well as orthographic.
The tool is automatically constrained along your current axonometric axes, or press Shift to constrain to the nearest 45°, or press Alt/Option for no constraints at all.
In the Info panel, choose a set of measurements to display, or choose “Auto” to let the tool guess what you’re measuring based on the direction you drag the mouse. Choose “All” to see all results in fields where you can copy values to paste elsewhere.
To use the tool, simply click and drag to measure a distance and an angle. To measure the difference between two angles on an axonometric plane, click once to set an anchor point, then drag an arc from one point to another.
The free update is available for Adobe Illustrator CC 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022.
With the latest update to AxoTools, you can enter measurements in whatever units you’re comfortable with. Here’s an example:
Say your document ruler units is set to inches, but you need to extrude something to a distance you have in mm. Illustrator supports that within the app, but it’s not automatically there for plugins. Measurement fields in AxoTools now do that conversion for you. I really hadn’t planned at first on adding that — there’s a back story here.
First, all art in Adobe Illustrator is measured internally in points. Fortunately, Adobe’s interface for plugins includes a function that takes measurements from text typed by the user in the current ruler units and converts it to a numeric value calculated as points. Then another function converts numeric point values used within the plugin to text that plugins can give back to the user, calculated and formatted using their current ruler units. That’s great, but there are a lot of users in other parts of the world that use a comma as a decimal separator. Fortunately, Adobe added a variation of these functions that support international number formats. Unfortunately, the one that parses text with commas in decimals doesn’t see the commas, and the values get multiplied by ten, a hundred, or a thousand! Adobe’s bug became my bug.
To support my European customers, I wrote a function that parses the numbers typed, and honors commas as decimal separators, and wondered “Why not look at the units specified, as well?” All values need to be converted to points anyway for the plugin to work with, so it wasn’t a great leap code-wise.
As an extension of that, I wrote a function to convert values back to text with a caveat of my own. In AxoTools’ Draw Settings panel, users can specify standard stroke weights, but we don’t all use points for strokes — many use mm. Stroke measurements have little to do with our current ruler units, so the plugin lets you specify pt or mm, does the math when needed, then remembers your preference to always display it your way.
It can be frustrating dealing with bugs, but sometimes bugs can become butterflies!
The CORE developer libraries used for the 2022 version of all Graffix plugins for Adobe Illustrator no longer support Illustrator versions older than CC 2019, so new and updated plugins will require CC 2019 and above. Plugins for CS6 through CC 2018 will remain available so new users with older systems can still use the latest legacy releases, then update whenever they’re ready.
CS6 – CC 2018 (Legacy) = plugin version 16
CC 2019 – AI 2021 = plugin version 16, will be replaced with version 23 as updates are made
AI 2022 = plugin version 23
All v.23 plugins honor v.16 licenses, so simply install as always, no special steps are required.
Updates to plugins for Adobe Illustrator 2022 (v. 26) are complete. Updated plugins now include:
Apple M1 processors are also supported in the AI 2022 build.
Graffix plugins compiled with CORE libraries which supported Adobe Illustrator versions back to CS6 have plugin versions 16.x (the minimum version of AI required). The latest CORE libraries for AI 2022 support only Illustrator CC 2019 (AI 23) and later, so new plugin releases will have plugin version 23.
If you purchased a license for a version 16 plugin, the 2022 compatibility update is free (as has been since CS6-to-CC) and the v. 16 activation code will continue to work in your v. 23 plugin.
If you’re running Graffix plugins under Illustrator 2021 or earlier, those plugins may occasionally get maintenance updates and will alert you when a v. 16 update becomes available. New features will be limited to the v 23 plugins on CC 2019 and later. For now, users will need to manually download and install the v. 23 version of the plugin, since the v 16 plugins only look for v. 16.x updates.
That said, only the 2022 versions are new v. 23 builds. AI23 – AI25 plugins will be replaced in the downloads section later, and those on the Support mailing list will be notified when they’re all ready.
If you do much freehand drawing with the pencil tool, I’m sure you’ll appreciate the Illustrator 25.3 update with the new canvas rotation feature. In preliminary testing, most Graffix plugins seem to work fine, with one notable exception.
In AxoTools under macOS Mojave, some panel controls such as dials, the Projection panel’s proxy cube, and the list in the Transformations panel appear blank. I’ll address these as soon as possible, but it will likely have to wait an update to the CORE libraries these plugins are based on. If this affects you, you may want to either update your OS or hold off on updating to AI 25.3, or also keep a second older version of Illustrator on your hard drive for when you need to use those AxoTools controls.
Compatibility with Apple’s new M1 processors is also expected in a new CORE update, but no availability date is available.
This is not an animation, but a screen recording right out of Adobe Illustrator! Each face of this dodecahedron is a live Transformation object created from the same pentagon shape, with movements and rotations added in the AxoTools Transformations panel.
Sure, it’s unlikely you’ll ever need a shape like this, but we often need art rotated away from our usual three planes. This demonstrates how, whether it’s a skylight, an instrument panel, or graphics on a milk carton, that task is now a whole lot easier!
You can download this file from the link at the end of this post and with AxoTools installed, even in demo mode, examine how this crazy “disco ball” was built.
Each facet is made from a pentagonal path, turned into a live object that specifies its movements and rotations. The orientation is set relative to the current AxoTools projection, so in the AxoTools Projection panel you can adjust the settings with the dial controls to see the dodecahedron rotate as a unit in real time!
When Ron Kempke built this, he used his math superpowers to determine the angles and offsets.
But fear not! For those who would rather not break out a scientific calculator, it’s possible to let Illustrator do most of the heavy lifting. First, make a copy of your base pentagon to create some guide art. Imagine the dodecahedron as two “tulip” shapes placed face-to-face. We know that the shape across the “shoulders” of the tulip would be equal to five segments equal to the width across the base pentagon. That will allow us to draw a top view of the shape.
The offset from the base pentagon to the section at the shoulders tell us the foreshortening of the slope of each “pedal.” Draw vertical guides this distance apart. Draw a vertical line from the base of the pentagon to the height of its shoulders. Rotate this line until its width matches the offset distance in the top view. Measure the angle of this line (26.56° in this case) for use in the Transformation objects later. Draw a horizontal guide at the top of this rotated line.
Copy the pentagon and rotate the copy 180°, then position it so each pentagon’s tip and shoulders match as shown below. Select the pentagons and scale them vertically, using the foreshortened height of the rotated line as a guide.
This art, of course, isn’t a real side view, since the upper and lower pieces would be horizontally scaled and sheared differently. We’re only interested in finding the foreshortened vertical dimensions in order to create our Transformation objects.
With these principles in mind, click the link below to download Ron’s file and examine the settings in each piece.
The new Transformations panel allows you to add a series of rotations and movements to art. The resulting art is then projected to any of eight orientations shown at the bottom of the panel. Items in the list can be edited and rearranged as needed. Enter a value or drag the dial control to watch your art rotate or move in real time.
When you’re done, you can leave the object as-is in your illustration, click the Expand button to convert it to editable art to color and stylize it, or click the Release button to revert to the original art.
Your live Transformation object can be projected to your axonometric view, where items will appear correctly projected, with offset distances mathematically scaled to place them correctly into your illustration.
Artwork oriented to an axonometric view updates as you adjust your current projection. If, for example, you’re adding a skylight or control panel that’s angled 15°, you need only enter the 15° rotation and AxoTools orients it into whichever plane you need.
This is not a true 3D application, but uses time-tested mathematical formulas to orient your art to match whatever view you need, all within Adobe Illustrator. Illustrations with components that tilt, turn, swivel, and spin are now easier than ever. No more guesstimating to scale and place artwork! There’s much more information at the new online documentation page.