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AutoCAD 2900 introduces a new feature called plot style tables. Plot style tables are settings that give you control over how objects in your are translated into hard copy plots. You can control how colors are translated into weight and how area fills are converted into shades of gray or screened corers, as well as many other output options. You can also control how the plotter treats each individual object in a drawing.

If you don’t use plot style tables, your plotter will produce output as close as possible to what you see in the drawing editor, including colors. You can, however, force your plotter to plot all colors in black, for example. You can also assign a fill pattern or screen to a color. This can be useful for charts and maps that require area fills of different gradations.

The following set of exercises will show you firsthand how plot style tables can be used to enhance your plotter output. You’ll look at how you can adjust the line weight of the walls in the Plan file and make color changes to your plotter output.

Choosing between Color and Named Plot Style Tables

AutoCAD offers two types of plot style tables: color and named. Color plot style tables allow you to assign plotting properties to the colors. For example, you can assign a 0.50 mm pen width to the color red so that anything that is red in your drawing is plotted with a line width of 0.50 mm. You can, in addition, set the pen color to black so that everything that is red in your drawing is plotted in black.

Named plot style tables let you assign plotting properties directly to objects in your drawing, instead of relying on their color property. They also allow you to assign plotter properties directly to layers. For example, with named plot styles, you can assign a black pen color and a 0.50 mm pen width to a single circle in a drawing, regardless of its color.

Named plot styles are more flexible than color plot styles, but if you already have a library of AutoCAD drawings set up for a specific set of plotter settings, the color plot styles would be a better choice when opening those older files in AutoCAD 2000. This is because color plot styles are more similar to the older method of assigning AutoCAD colors,to plotter pens, You may also want to use color plot style tables with files that you intend to share with an individual or office that is still using earlier versions of AutoCAD.

The type of plot style table assigned to a drawing depends on the settings in the Plotting tab of the Options dialog box at the time the file is-created. In the case of drawings ·created in earlier versions of AutoCAD, the type of plot style table used depends on the settings of the Output tab of the Options dialog box the the time the file is opened in AutoCAD 2000. Once a choice is made between color or named plot styles, your drawing cannot change to the other type of plot style. So choose wisely.

Here’s how to set up the plot style type for new and pre-AutoCAO 2000 files.

  1. Open the.Options dialog box and select the Output tab.
  2. In the Default Plot Style Behavior button group, click Use Color Dependent Plot Styles. In a later exercise, you’ll use the Use Named Plot Styles option.
  3. Click OK to return to the drawing.

Once you’ve set up AutoCAD for color plot style tables, any new drawings you create are only allowed to use color plot style tables. You can change this setting at any time for new files, but once a file is saved, the type of plot style that is current when the file is first created is the only type of plot style available to that file; If you find that you need to change it color plot style to a named plot style drawing, the AutoCAD Migration Assistance utilities offer a tool for just this purpose. See Appendix Before more information on Migration Assistance.

Next, you’ll set up a custom color plot style table. Plot style tables are stored as files with the .CTBor 5TB filename extension. The tables that end with .CTB are color plot style tables. The table files that end with STB are named plot style tables.

Creating a Color Plot Style Table

You can have several plot style table files on hand to quickly apply plot styles to any given plot or Layout tab. Each plot style table can be set up to create a different look to your drawing. These files are stored in the Plot Styles directory off of the main AutoCAD directory. Take the following steps to create a new plot style table. You’ll use an existing file that was created in Release 14 as an example to demonstrate the plot style features.

  1. Open the sample file from the companion CD called Plan – color drawing, then click the Layout 1 tab ..
  2. In the Page Setup dialog box click the Plot Device tab. Notice that the Page Setup dialog box is similar to the Plot dialog box. The main difference is that the Page Setup dialog box has an extra button at the bottom labeled Plot.
  3. In the Plot Style Table button group, click the New button to the right. This opens the Add Color-Dependent Plot Style Table wizard.
  4. Select the Start From Scratch radio button, then click Next. The next page of the wizard asks for a file name. You can ,also specify whether this new plot style table you are creating will be the default for all drawings from now on, or whether .you want to a~ply this plot style table just to the current drawing .
  5. Enter Mystyle for the filename, then click Next. The next page of the wizard lets you edit your plot style and assign the plot style to your current, new, or old drawings. You’ll learn about editing plot styles a bit later.
  6. Go ahead and click Finish. You return to the Page Setup dialog box.

With the Add Color-Dependant Plot Style Table wizard, you can create a new plot style table from scratch, or you can create one based on an AutoCAD R14 CFG, PCP or PC2 file. You can also access the Add Color-Dependent Plot Style Table wizard by choosing File > Plot Style Manager, then double-clicking the Add Color- Dependent Plot Style Table Wizard icon.

The steps shown here are the same whether your drawing is set up for color plot styles or named plot styles.

Editing and Using Plot Style Tables

You now have your own plot style table. In the next exercise, you’ll get to edit the plot style and see firsthand how plot styles affect your drawing.

  1. While in the Page Setup dialog box, make sure the Plot Device tab is selected.
  2. The filename Mystyle. ctb should appear in the Name drop-down list of the Plot Style Table group. If it isn’t, open the Name drop-down list, then locate and select Mystyle.ctb.
  3. Click the Edit button to the right of the drop-down list. The Plot Style Table Editor appears. Make sure the Form View tab is selected.
    The Plot Style Table Editor < dialog box offers three tabs that give you control ever hew each color in AutoCAD is plotted. The Form View tab lets you select a color from a list box, then set the properties of that color using the options on the right side of the tab.
  4. select a color from a list box, then set the properties of that color using the options on the right side of the tab.
  5. Click the Lineweight drop-down list and select 0.50 mm .
  6. Click Save & Close. You return to the Page Setup dialog box ..
  7. Click the Display Plot Styles check box in the Plot Style Table group, then click OK.
  8. Zoom into the plan ‘to enlarge the view of a unit bathroom and entrance as shown here .

Making Your Plot Styles Visible

You won’t see any changes in your drawing yet. You’ll need to make one more change to your drawing options.

  1. Choose Format > Lineweight. The Lineweight Settings dialog box appears.
    The Lineweight Settings dialog box lets you control the appearances of line weights in the drawing editor. If line weights are not showing up, this is the place to look to make them viewable. You can find out more about the Lineweight Settings dialog box in Chapter 12.
  2. Click the check box labeled Display Lineweight in Model Space to turn on this option.
  3. Cick OK, then click OK in the Options dialog box.
  4. Choose View > Regen All. Notice that now the green lines have a width or line weight .

Lineweights Past and Present

In Editing and Using Plot Style Tables, you learned how you can assign a line weight to an  AutoCAD .color. In fact, this is the method used in earlier versions of AutoCAD for controlling line weight. But prior to AutoCAD 2000. there was no way to view the effects of line weight settings until you produced a printout, nor was there a tool like the Plot Style Manager to help you take control over how AutoC.AD colors were plotted. The plot style table not only gives you a higher degree of control over the translation of AutoCAD colors to final plot but it adds some additional features. And the Layout tabs let you “proof” your color settings before you commit your drawing to paper.

With AutoCAD 2000. you can also assign line weigh’ts through the Layer Properties Manager. You may recall in Chapter 3 that layers have a line-weight property that can be set inside the Layer Properties Manager dialog box. You can also assign line weights directly to objects through the properties dialog box. If you assign line weights through .layers or object properties then you can use the Use Object Lineweight option in the Plot Style Table Editor to display and plot the line weights as you intend them.

Making Changes to Multiple Plot Styles

Chances are, you’ll want to plot your drawing in black and white for most of your work. You can edit you color plot style table to plot one or all of your AutoCAD colors as black instead of the AutoCAD colors.

Yell saw how you can open the Plot Style Table Editor from the Page Setup dialog box to edit your color plot style table. In this exercise, you’ll try a different route.

  1. Choose File > Plot Style Manager. The Plot Styles window appears. This is a view to the Plot Style directory under the \AutoCAD2000\ directory.
  2. Locate the file Mystyle.ctb and double-click it. The Plot Style Table Editor appears.
  3. In the Plot Style Table Editor dialog box, make sure the Form View tab is selected.
  4. Click Color_3 in the Plot Styles list box.
  5. Click the Color drop-down list and select Black.
  6. Click Save & Close, then close the Plot Styes window.
  7. Choose View > Regen All to view your drawing. Now the green objects appear black in the Layout tab.
  8. Click the Model tab to view your drawing in Model Space. Notice that the objects are still in their original colors. This shows you that you haven’t actually changed the colors of your objects or layers. You’ve only changed the color of the plotted output.

Next try changing all of the output colors to black.

  1. Follow steps 1 and 2 of the previous exercise to open the Mystyle.ctb file again.
  2. Make sure the Form View tab is selected, then click Color_l in the Plot Styles list box.
  3. Shift-click Color_9 in the Plot Styles list box. All of the plot styles from Color_1 to Color_9 are selected.
  4. Click the Color drop-down list and select Black.
  5. Click Save & Close, then click OK to close the Page Setup dialog box.
  6. Choose View > Regen All. Now all of the colors have changed to black.

Now when you plot your drawing, you will get a plot that is composed entirely of black lines.

Setting Up Line Corner Styles

You may notice that the comers of the wall lines appear to be notched instead of having a crisp, sharp corner.

You can adjust the way AutoCAD draws these comers at plot time through the Plot Style Table Editor..

  1. Once again, open the Mystyle .ctb plot style table, as you did in the previous exercise.
  2. Make sure the Form View tab is selected, then click color_3 in the Plot Styles list box.
  3. Click the Line End Style drop-down list and select Square .
  4. Click Save & Close, then click OK to close the Page Setup dialog box.
  5. Choose View > Regen All to view your changes. Notice that now the corners meet in a sharp angle.

The Square option in the Line End Style drop-down list extends the endpoints of contiguous lines so that their comers meet in a clean comer instead of a notch. The Line Join Style drop-down list offers a similar set Of settings for polylines. For example, you can round the comer of polyline comers using the Round option in the Line Join Style drop-down list.

Setting Up Screen Values for Solid Areas

The last option you’ll look at is how to change a color into a screened area. Frequently, you’ll want to add a gray or colored background to an area of your drawing to emphasize that area graphically, as in a focus area in a map or to designate functions in a floor plan. The setting you’re about to use will allow you to create shaded backgrounds.

  1. Go to the Page Setup dialog box-again and open the Plot Style Table Editor,By now you should be able to do this easily on your own.
  2. Select Color_3 from the Plat Styles list box,
  3. Go to the Screening list box and double-click the number 100. The number becomes highlighted.
  4. Type 50
  5. Click Save & Close, then click OK in the Page Setup dialog box.
  6. Choose View > Regen All. Notice that now the walls are a shade of gray instead of solid black.

As you can see from these exercises, you turned a wide black line into a gray one. In this example, the Screening option lets you “tone down” the chosen color from a solid color to a color that has 50 percent of its full intensity

You can use the Screening option in combination with color to obtain a variety of to:f\es.If you need to cover large areas with color, you can use the Solid hatch pattern to fill those areas, then use the Screening option in the Plot Style Table Editor to make fine adjustments to the area’s color.

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