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.
I’m happy to report that all Graffix plugins (except for ServerLock, for now) are notarized for use with macOS 10.15 Catalina, Apple’s new all 64-bit OS. This applies only to plugins compiled for Illustrator 2019 and 2020.
In the meantime, here’s a workaround for older versions and — temporarily — for ServerLock. I won’t go so far as to say that I recommend this, but both have worked for me and for other users.
The site Der Flounder explains how to turn off Apple’s quarantine flag using the terminal. A variation on this technique goes like this:
1. Open the Terminal app and run the following command (in this example for ServerLock for CC 2019):
sudo xattr -cr /Applications/Adobe\ Illustrator\ CC\ 2019/Plug-ins.localized/ServerLock.aip
2. Press Enter or Return.
3. Enter your password if asked.
4. Repeat for each plugin.
Illustrator should launch and load the plugins normally.
I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience.
One of my favorite tools in Adobe Illustrator is the Free Transform tool, but it does have a few quirks in more recent versions of Illustrator. Say you have a shape made of two rectangles, one of which is rotated 90° from the other, and both rotated some random small amount. With one rectangle selected while using Adobe’s Free Transform Tool, all is well.
Now select the second rectangle and the bounding box is no longer rotated with the selection.
With ToolShed’s new Transform tool, the bounding box is always rotated to match the topmost object, so you can transform these rectangles as though they were one object. One way around this would be to use the Square Up plugin to square the objects along their dominant axis, but that’s now an unnecessary step.
If you press the shift key while rotating, ToolShed’s Transform tool will rotate only the bounding box, which makes it easy to stretch your art along any angle you wish!
Using Adobe’s Free Transform tool, I often grab the handle on a side to stretch it a bit taller or wider, but then it goes all cattywompus. Using the Free Transform tool on more recent versions of Illustrator requires us to first lock proportions by clicking an icon in another tiny palette that, it seems, is always hidden behind other panels. In addition, grabbing a corner to rescale it often seems to rotate the art instead of scaling it. Ain’t nobody got time for that! ToolShed’s Transform tool doesn’t skew and doesn’t rotate from a corner, so for most purposes, you can work more quickly and with fewer surprises.
Remember, you can download ToolShed and try it out with a thousand trial uses that don’t expire before you have a chance to seriously test it. They don’t expire at all!
ToolShed has a new function to fade the fill and/or stroke of a path object. Its appearance would be similar to an object whose opacity has been changed except that the opacity remains unchanged. Only the colors are lightened.
If the object had previously been faded, you can check “Invert fade” to darken the colors , equivalent to undoing a previous fade long after Undo no longer appeared in the Edit menu. Fade is added to the FREE functions of the plugin, and will continue to work even if the plugin is never activated.
This function can be called by selecting Fade… from the Object menu.
You can download it here. Each trial period includes 1,000 free uses of all features which you can use at your leisure, with no time constraints.
If you create technical illustrations, you probably use CADtools. I use it, and wouldn’t consider doing the work that I do without it. There are times, however, when I wish I had tools that are a little less technical and let me work more visually. Then again, I still need precision, especially when it comes to getting the pieces of a technical drawing correctly oriented to each other. I have drawings, of course, that show these spatial relationships in top and side views, but how does one translate that to Illustrator artwork?
I established a couple of rules for my plan. OK, guidelines, but firm guidelines. I really don’t want to measure things and type numbers into dialogs. Even worse, I don’t want to then have to do math on those measurements to account for foreshortening and other factors. Over time, a method of achieving this slowly took shape.
It all hit critical mass when I met Ron Kempke. Actually, he found me, asking if I could write a plugin that simplified entering into Illustrator the equations he’d worked out over decades of doing technical drawings. His samples were definitely cool, but it was a real stretch for me to grasp the meaning of Sigma, Psi, Beta, Gamma, and an assortment of Greek characters he used to define these concepts. After a few conversations and exchanges of annotated diagrams, it looked pretty hopeful for translating those equations into C++ code, then wrapping a user interface around it to let illustrators like lazy me use the math without having to think about it. And not just for isometric, but for any off-axis view one may want.
The gist of the idea is that illustrators identify common reference points in each view of their drawings that refer to the same point in 3D space as well as a point in the axonometric view that’s comprised of those drawings. As a result, we can make some otherwise cumbersome things happen quite easily.
- Artwork projected to a corresponding plane can be created in place so that the adjoining surfaces automatically meet where they should.
- Artwork can be created wherever it’s convenient, then moved or modified by dragging a tool a corresponding distance and direction on an ortho view.
- When one reference point is moved, all other reference points are automatically moved accordingly so relationships between them last.
A few other tools are included to round out the package:
Axo Rotate tool allows you to rotate an object within the axonometric plane it’s in. The tool displays a protractor for that plane, and allows you to press Shift to constrain the rotation to increments of 15 degrees.
Axo Scale tool can scale an object along the X, Y, or Z axis.
Axo Draw tool draws lines constrained to the current axes, automatically concatenating them as you go.
The Axo Tool that defines and moves reference points also moves selected art or individual anchor points constrained to the nearest axis.
I have too many panels hogging my screen space, so I don’t want to add still more. No problem, you can collapse the panel to just the projection options and do your projections with menu commands.
Navigating menus is too slow, and I want to work quickly. No problem, part of the purpose of having menu counterparts is to enable keyboard shortcuts. This makes the process very quick!
Scrolling around a large artboard between the various views is cumbersome with or without AxoTools. No problem, AxoTools adds menus for quickly going to any of your defined views, and using keyboard shortcuts, that’s now very fast.
Can I define my axonometric view in CADtools and use AxoTools to project and position my art? Yes, AxoTools can import the axonometric settings from CADtools 11.01 or later. AxoTools was designed to complement CADtools by providing a more fluid way to work, alongside the precision of CADtools.
Can AxoTools export my projected art to a 3D file format? Sorry, no, AxoTools is not real 3D for Adobe Illustrator, but its tools for projecting and moving art make it a lot easier for technical illustrators who need to think 3D in a 2D environment.
AxoTools is now available on the plugin download page, available for Illustrator CS6 and CC for Mac and Windows. I hope you find it as indispensable in your workflow as I find it in mine!
Have you ever placed dozens, maybe even hundreds, of text objects in an illustration, then found that many of them needed to be edited and replaced? That situation just got a lot easier!
A new plugin is now available for beta testing, code-named TextSync.
To be honest, it would be nice to have something for Illustrator like Adobe’s InCopy for InDesign, and this isn’t that. But if you frequently place callout text into Illustrator documents and then find that editors without access to Illustrator want to change it, this plugin can save a lot of time and hassle.
Say you’ve created a map or diagram with many callouts, all carefully located and even formatted with character styles. Maybe it’s just too crowded and the item descriptions need to be rewritten by an editor to be more concise or just using a different approach. Normally, our best option would be to copy and paste each item, then reformat character styles for every one.
With the TextSync plugin, you can export all text objects or only the selected ones, either point text or area text. The tab-delimited text file it creates can then be opened in a word processor or spreadsheet for editing. If each text object contains a bold head, italic subhead, and description, your spreadsheet would show each callout as a row. The first column can be ignored by the editor, as it contains the XMLID of the text object the text belongs to. The next column would be the bold head, then the italic subhead, then the description. Tabs and returns from the text objects are indicated by “<t>” or “<r>” markup and can be freely added to or removed from the text.
When the text is imported back into the Illustrator document, the plugin first locates the text object with the item’s corresponding XMLID. Then the object’s text is divided into blocks based on its character formatting, and replaced with the blocks of text extracted using the same method.
If there is no corresponding XMLID, all format blocks in the text are combined and a new point text object is created in the visible document view.
To try TextSync, just download it here for Mac CC 2019 or Windows CC 2019. Please let me know if you have any problems, suggestions, observations, or even an idea for a final plugin name! If the plugin happens to crash, please include your computer’s crash report. All who respond will be given a free license to the release version.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this!
Update (9-10-19): TextSync is now released, available for Illustrator CS6 through CC 2019 on Mac and Windows (32- and 64-bit).