All Graffix plugins for Adobe Illustrator are now optimized for Illustrator 2020 for both Mac and Windows, and available for download, with the exception of ServerLock. That update is in progress. IsoTool is not updated, but its functions are now built into AxoTools — The drawing tool from IsoTool will continue to work for free in AxoTools without licensing.
Graffix plugins for Adobe Illustrator CS3, CS4, and CS5 are no longer supported, but can be activated for free!
Name: Creative Suite User
Until you’re ready to move on to CS6 and the Creative Cloud, this ought to make work in the older versions a bit easier.
We’ve come to pretty much take for granted how quickly plugins work, regardless of the complexity of the calculations and manipulations they may do. Concatenate is designed to handle everyday small jobs, but also take on tasks that simply aren’t practical otherwise. Sometimes imported files can contain many layers and a gazillion paths. Seriously, I’ve worked with files containing over 200 layers and over 2,000,000 objects. Yes, two million paths! I kid you not.
Pre-CS6 versions of Concatenate had a progress bar and could be cancelled if things were moving too slowly, or if you’re just impatient like me. When the developers’ landscape changed with CS6 and CC, there were a few things that took a while to work around, and the progress/cancel feature is now back. The progress bar is nice, but the option to cancel an operation that’s taking longer than expected can be a lifesaver, like an emergency brake, escape pod, ejection seat, or special super-powers when life gets complicated.
Helpful tip no. 1: If you have a very complex file, it’ probably helpful to select one area at a time to concatenate.
Helpful tip no. 2: You can simplify the assimilate process by hiding or locking layers that aren’t relevant.
Concatenate 16.1.1 is recommended for all users, especially those who may forget to save before trying ludicrously reckless things. You can trust me on this…
Newer versions of Illustrator CC have tools that allow you to draw casual rectangles and it automatically converts them to nice, square objects. But what if you’re working with customer-supplied art or something that had been distorted by previous transformations? You probably won’t start with something as sorry as the image shown here, but it’s not a problem if you did.
Using the Square Up plugin for Adobe Illustrator, simply select “Vertical and horizontal” from the popup menu and click the Go button.
Almost instantly, your path(s) will become nice and square!
What if your art is rotated, and you want it to stay that way? No problem…
Just select “Object’s dominant axis from the popup menu and the plugin will calculate the general angle of your art.
If several objects are selected, all of them will be squared to the same angle.
When placing many rectangular shapes where several may need to be at the same arbitrary angle or each a bit different, the Free Transform tool is really helpful.
After dragging duplicates of the same rectangle around, you may notice it’s a bit skewed. I found with the newer versions of Illustrator that constrained transformations are no longer a given, and accidentally distorting a rectangle is unfortunately easy.
It’s no problem with Square Up, though. With the click of a button, the art is re-squared and the bounding box’s rotation is set to match the rotation of the art. If you do technical or production art, this could be a real timesaver. Go ahead and give it a test run. The trial period is based on usage, not time, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to put it through its paces and try out the other modes, such as aligning to the AI Preferences constrain angle or just collapsing the control handles to remove all curves from the path.
You can find it here, and download the one for your platform and AI version. Can this be made easier to use, or more flexible? Feel free to say so. Your comments and suggestions are always welcomed. I’m an illustrator, too, so as Red Green says, “we’re all in this together.”
Some of you may recall a plugin called Proof Block. It ranked even below the Alien Palette in popularity, although I’ve used it myself at my day job for over 20 years. For the most part, it was little more than a small form to be initialed by people proofing various drafts of artwork prior to publishing. I was inspired to write it by the recurring problem we had of a copy-and-paste version that would sometimes peek back at us from a QuarkXPress graphic frame. My solution was to create a “proof block” layer, place the form on it, then the plugin set it to printable when opened in Illustrator, but non-printing and not visible when closing the document. Crisis solved!
Perhaps you’d still like something like that. It’s really not that difficult to write a script to draw the lines, boxes, and text, but I’m a staunch advocate of using a script, not a plugin, for that now. My proof block script today does everything that the plugin did, and much more. First, we have a document naming convention so the script can discern the magazine name, date, story code, and even look up the editors on its staff. It handles dates, keeps track of proof iterations, and even stores a record of the revision history in the document. When I save the document to the art server, the script saves a copy to the correct folder on the editorial server. If it’s a first draft, it fetches the illustrator’s name from Outlook, looks up the designer’s email and alerts her that art is available to place in InDesign. When the art is approved, it’s marked as such and the related editors, art director, and designer are notified.
In addition, scripts check for missing fonts, placed art that should be embedded, look for RGB colors in a CMYK document, and more. It’s also much easier to revise than a plugin. Since everybody’s needs and workflow are quite different, it wouldn’t be useful to anybody to share my script, but I will share my enthusiasm for scripting it as one component of a larger process. I promise that once your custom script is used, you won’t look back.