Do you need a way to integrate flexible display into your plots? For example, you may want to produce draft plots that use less ink. Or you may want to plot all in black, or shades of gray. You may want to change solid fills to hatches for some plots.
The way to create multiple plot variations is to use plot styles. You can create as many variations as you want, save them, and use them for any drawing. Plot styles are saved in plot style table files.
There are two kinds of plot style tables: named (*.stb) and color-dependent (*.ctb). Named plot styles are more flexible, but are not the default type of plot style. Your choice of plot style table type is saved in the Windows registry, not in the drawing. To switch, you change the type and then open a new drawing.
In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to create and use a color-dependent plot style that sets the lineweight to 0.05 and the screening to 25%. Screening specifies the amount of ink used for a color and the default is 100%. Setting the screening to 25% is a useful technique for saving ink for a draft plot.
Set the plot style type
To set the plot style type, follow these steps:
- Right-click in the drawing area and choose Options top open the Options dialog box. Then click the Plot and Publish tab.
- Click the Plot Style Table Settings button.
- In the Plot Style Tables Settings dialog box, choose Use Color Dependent Plot Styles or Use Named Plot Styles. You can also specify a default plot-style table other than the standard acad.ctb (color-dependent) or acad.stb (named) plot style. For this tutorial, choose Use Color Dependent Plot Styles, if it isn’t already selected.
- Click OK.
Create a color-dependent plot style table
You’re now ready to create a color-dependent plot style table.
- Choose Application button>Print> Manage Plot Styles to open the Plot Style Manager. You’ll see a Windows Explorer window, like the one you see here. Notice the Add-A-Plot Style Table Wizard shortcut and the other plot style table files that come with AutoCAD — including one that sets screening to 25%.
- Double-click the Add-A-Plot Style Table Wizard shortcut to open the Add Plot Style Table wizard.
- Click Next.
- On the Begin screen, choose the source for your plot style table. For this tutorial, choose Use an Existing Plot Style Table and click Next.
- In the Browse File Name screen, choose acad.ctb, which is the default plot style table. Your new plot style table will be based on this one. Click Next.
- In the File Name screen, enter a file name. I used Draft-screen-lwt. Click Next.
- On the Finish screen, click the Plot Style Table Editor button. The Plot Style Table Editor opens.
You’ve now created a color-dependent plot style table and you’re ready to define a plot style for that table.
- In the Plot Style Table Editor, click the Form View tab. On the left you see all the colors from 1 to 255. You can select more than one color and make changes on the right to apply those changes to all selected colors.
- Click Color 1 (red). Use the scroll bar to scroll down to the last color, Color 255 (white). Press and hold Shift and click Color 255. This selects all the colors.
- For the Screening item, change the value to 25.
- For the Lineweight item, choose 0.0500.
- Click Save & Close. You’re now back in the last screen of the Add Plot Style Table wizard.
- Click Finish.
You’ve now created a plot style. If you need to edit it, you can access it from several places. One option is to open the Options dialog box as described above and click the Plot and Publish tab. There you can choose Add or Edit Plot Style Tables. You’re now ready to apply your plot style.
Here’s the drawing. You can see that it uses solid fills in two places and a heavy lineweight around the window shutters.
Attach a plot-style table to a layout
You need to attach a plot-style table to a layout. You can attach different plot-style tables to different layouts to easily create plot variations. Follow these steps:
- Open a new drawing and draw some objects. In this case, draw an object with a wide lineweight and fill a closed area with a solid fill, so you will see the contrast when you apply the plot style. Choose a layout tab in your drawing and set up one or more viewports. (If the layout tabs are not displayed, right-click the current layout’s button on the status bar and choose Display Layout and Model Tabs, as shown here.)
- Right-click the layout tab and choose Page Setup Manager.
- In the Page Setup Manager dialog box, choose an existing page setup, if you have one, and click Modify. Otherwise, click New, name the page setup and click OK. You now see the Page Setup dialog box for the layout.
- In the upper-right corner, choose your plot-style table from the Plot Style Table (pen assignments) drop-down list. For this tutorial, you choose Draft-screen-lwt.ctb.
- Just below, check the Display Plot Styles check box. With this box checked, you’ll see the effect of your plot styles on your layouts. (If the Display Plot Styles check box is already checked, you’ll need to use the REGEN command to display the plot style.)
- Click OK.
- In the Page Setup Manager, make sure that the page setup is selected and click Set Current.
- Click Close to return to your layout.
You should now see the results of your page style. Compare the layout below with the drawing I showed earlier.
You can see that the solid fills are much lighter and the lineweight is lighter as well. That will save lots of ink!
Plot styles are assigned to a drawing. The type of plot style is chosen when the drawing file is created in AutoCAD 2000. When drawings from earlier releases are initially opened in AutoCAD 2000, a plot style type is also assigned. So be sure to configure AutoCAD to use color plot style tables first, if you wish to use them. To choose the plot style type for these drawings, run the OPTIONS command, and go to the plotting tab. Under Default Plot Style Behavior for New Drawings, select Use Color Dependent Plot Styles. Then, create your new drawings or open R14 drawings. The order of these procedures is very important because it is difficult to switch plot style types in existing drawings.
To find out what type of plot style the current drawing is using, run the PROPERTIES command to get to the AutoCAD 2000 Object Property Manager. Make sure nothing is selected when running this command. In the Properties window, look at the Plot Table Type. Also, you can look at the Plot Style Table row to see if the list of plot style tables that can be assigned to the current space in the drawing. If the list shows CTB files, color-based plot tables have been assigned to the drawing. If the list shows STB files, named plot styles have been assigned to the drawing.
Creating a CTB File
Once all drawings you use have color-based plot styles assigned to them, then it is time to create or edit a Color-based plot style table. To create a plot style table, run the Add A Plot Style Table Wizard from the File ->Plot Style Manager command. Click on the Next button to start the wizard. This will bring up the Begin dialog box:
This dialog box determines which plot style file to start from. You may start from scratch, start from an existing style file, or import R14 settings stored in a CFG, PCP, or PC2 file. Importing from R14 settings is discussed in the bottom section of this document. Choose Start From Scratch and click on Next to display the Pick Plot Style Table dialog box:
Here, you can choose to create a color-dependent plot style table (CTB file) or a named plot style table (STB file). In this section, choose CTB file, and click on the next button to go to the File Name dialog box:
Enter a file name for the CTB file you are going to save. By default, this file will be located in the Plot Styles directory of AutoCAD 2000, although this may be changed. This name will appear in the pop-up list of plot style tables to assign to layouts when you run the Pagesetup or Plot commands. After entering a file name, click on the Next button to display the Finish dialog box:
Click on the Plot Style Table Editor button to make adjustments to your CTB file. This will run the Plot Style Table Editor program. Click on the Form View tab to display the current pen assignments of your CTB file:
To make edits to your pen settings, select one or more colors in the Plot Styles list, then make changes to one of the settings on the right hand side. The most common settings (other than color and linetype) are displayed in the image above. The Color determines the color that the object will plot to. For color plots, select "Use Object Color". For black and white drawings, select black. If you wish to apply shading, modify the screening number. 100 is full-intensity (no screening - darkest lines), and 0 is full screening (lightest lines). Adjust the lineweight of the selected plot style by selecting a value in the lineweight pop-up list. Try to avoid "Use Object's Lineweight", as this option makes it difficult to manage lineweights in drawings. The default unit system is millimeters. However, if you wish to work in inches, or if you do not like the list of existing lineweight values, click on the Edit Lineweights button to display the list of lineweight values:
Choose the unit system you want to work with. If you choose inches, most of the values will not be rounded to the nearest thousandth of an inch. If you wish to change a lineweight value, select the existing value you want to change, choose Edit Lineweight, then enter a new width. Repeat for all desired lineweights you want to change, then click on OK. The new lineweight values will now appear in the lineweight pop-up menu in the Plot Style table Editor. Once you are finished adding pen colors, screen values, and lineweights, click on the Save and Close button, then click on the Finish button. You now have a CTB file to use when plotting.
Editing CTB Files
To edit a CTB file, run the File -> Plot Style Manager. A list of configured CTB and STB files will appear in a new window. Just double-click on the desired CTB file, and the Plot Style Table Editor will appear. The editing process uses exactly the same dialog box that appears in the Plot Style Table Editor. Just change the desired colors, screens, and lineweights for the plot styles you want to adjust, and click on the Save and Close button.
Assigning CTB Files to a Layout
After the CTB file has been configured correctly for plotting, then the next thing to do is to assign it to the layouts you will plot. To set the CTB file for all layouts in the drawing, right-click on the model tab in the AutoCAD drawing, and choose Page Setup. In the Plot Device tab, under Plot Style Table (pen assignments), choose the CTB file you created. You will be asked if this CTB file should be applied for all layouts; click on the Yes button to do this. Then click on OK. To set the CTB file for an individual layout, right-click on the layout tab you wish to assign the CTB file to, and select Page Setup. Go to the Plot Device tab, and choose a CTB file to assign only to the selected layout. Note that it is possible to select multiple pen assignment tables to a drawing, one for each layout, although it is a rare occasion that you will do this.