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, 18.104.22.168.
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
Sometimes we need to create a projected drawing to fit a particular space. Many of us know the sinking feeling of finding too late that our usual projection (think isometric) just doesn’t fit, and we either live with an orientation that looks like a mistake or we start over. Fortunately AxoTools makes it easy to find out ahead of time what projection is likely to work for us.
An example of dodging that bullet is a cutaway drawing of a steam locomotive I did for Trains magazine’s special publication on Union Pacific’s newly-restored “Big Boy” locomotive no. 4014.
It had to fit into a 3-page foldout, 24.5×11 inches, with room for a headline on the left side and additional information somewhere on the right. I immediately imagined the head in the upper left, with the locomotive facing the lower-left corner. Oh oh. The only detailed reference drawings we had, from the company’s Steam Locomotive Cyclopedia, showed the right side of the locomotive. The two sides are a bit different, so we can’t just reflect it.
This locomotive is a monster, so I couldn’t risk going too far down the wrong road. In addition to the company’s own previously-published scale drawings, they had some detailed shop drawings from the Union Pacific Railroad itself, so there were strong advantages to drawing it to a real scale (with CADtools) rather than just stretching one reference drawing to fit. Since any axonometric drawing will be foreshortened to some extent, I tried a scale of 3/16″ = 1 foot. For the sake of planning, I placed a rough scanned image in the artboard, then tried various projections.
As I expected, isometric wouldn’t work well at all.
Dimetric with angles of 15 and 45 degrees seemed to work better, but you’ll need to repeat these steps with the top and end views to be sure if there’s really room for them.
AxoTools offers an interactive alternative to the trial-by-error approach, which takes all three faces into account. Position placeholders for the three planes like surfaces of a cardboard box, and note the corner where they all meet.
Select the top view and, in the Transformations, panel, click “Create Transformation Object.” With the Axo (move) tool, click in the corner where the three views meet to set its anchor there. Next choose the orientation Axo Top-Left or Axo Top-Right as is appropriate for your drawing. Your art will immediately conform to your current document projection in the Projection panel.
Now do the same for the left and right views, placing the anchor in the common point and setting their orientation to Axo Left and Axo Right.
Now select the three faces and choose the menu item View > Hide Edges. In the Projection panel you can try different preset projections from the menu at the bottom of the panel, or for more fine-tuned results, change values in the axes or tilt/turn values, or drag the dial controls to find your best settings.
Now that you’ve established a projection that will fit, you can delete the placeholder art and begin drawing and projecting your final art with confidence.
It seems that everyone running Tag72a needs something unique in their document information reporting. The settings panel has grown considerably trying to address as many user requests as possible, but along with flexibility comes the appearance of complexity!
One more preference has now been added, however, that should serve the purpose of countless additional items: the option to automatically run user scripts along with its own updates.
Why would you want to run a custom script? Well, for example:
Reformat a date to any of the many alternatives to the two formats in Tag72a.
Parse a filename to derive additional information such as version, language, region.
Re-order the spot color list so that certain colors are always shown first.
Simply check the “Run user scripts” option and Tag72a will look for and run any found scripts by these names.
You only need to use the script (or scripts) that are relevant to you. Some things to keep in mind are:
Doc Changed event happens every time a user switches from one document to another, including when a new document is opened or sometimes when a document is closed. You may not want to use both Doc Opened and Doc Changed events if one or the other does what you want. If both Doc Opened and Doc Changed run, it is not a bug, because Adobe Illustrator signals to the plugin that both events took place.
Doc Print and Doc Save happen just before the actual save or print takes place.
Doc Save Copy As happens just after you have saved a copy as, which enables the data to be updated from the saved version back to the currently-open version.
Update happens only when you click the Update button in the panel.
Every Event happens right after any of the other scripts runs, and works for all events regardless of what other scripts are there. You may want to put some scripting in Every Event and other scripting in specific events, depending on your needs.
All scripts run after Tag72a makes its own updates.
Your scripts may need to check the contents of the document to determine whether the script needs to run, because another event may have just run the script. Then again, it may not hurt anything if your script happens to run twice.
If you write a custom script for one or more of these events, please share your idea with other users!