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AutoCAD is a computer-aided drafting and design program that is the industry standard for a wide variety of 2D and 3D work. AutoCAD 2008 features several improvements over previous versions, but the core functionality and workflows have remained consistent for years. Users who have any of the more recent editions of the software will find AutoCAD 2008 Essential Training to be a valuable resource. Instructor Jeff Bartels has taught and used AutoCAD for a decade, and in this course he focuses on the difficult to master concepts that matter most to professional AutoCAD users. Exercise files accompany the course.
You may be wondering why it's necessary to select a plot style table when printing your AutoCAD drawings. We certainly don't need a plot style table when we print for Microsoft Word or Adobe Photoshop. Remember that AutoCAD is a vector based program, which means that the information we see on our screen is mathematically based lines and curves and not pixels. Each color choice we have available in AutoCAD represents a virtual pen that can be configured to plot however we like. Let's talk a little about plot style tables. So I'm going to open up a drawing, I'm going to click Open and I'm going to come down and open up drawing number 2, the 90s Game Controller.
I will highlight him and click Open. Now to talk about plot style tables I first want to go to our Layer Properties Manager. Let me come up and click the icon and notice in the Properties Manager I can take and select a color for each of my layers. For the sake of science, I'm going to come up and click the color selector for Layer 0. This brings up AutoCAD's Color Picker. As I move my cursor around on top of these colors notice in the lower left hand corner right down here it says Index color and it gives me a number.
Technically speaking this is not a color picker, it's a pen picker. Each one of these colors that we see on screen represents a pen in AutoCAD. It's kind of like a box of crayons. We have 255 choices available and each one of these pens can be configured to plot a different way. Now here is the way we look at it. I'm going to bring my cursor down and I am going to move over the red color swatch. If I hover over this guy I can see he's index Color1 or he's Pen1.
That means that if I select Pen1 for my layer, the layer will appear red on the screen. If I select Pen2, Pen2 happen to appear yellow on the screen. Pen3 happens to appear green and so on. What we are really doing here is we are selecting pens and not colors. Let me close this dialog and I will close this one too and I want to go into our Plot dialog box. Let me come up and click Plot. This is right where we left off we selected the monochrome pens.
What I'm going to do is I'm going to come over and click the Edit button. Let's edit this pen table. And when the plot style table Editor comes up and notice I have a list on the left. They're all labeled Color. They should be labeled Pen1, Pen2, Pen3. Notice we can drag all the way down to Pen255. Now if I highlight a pen, I can come over and adjust the properties on the right. This will control how that particular pen is going to plot on paper. Since this is the monochrome pen table each one of these pens that I highlight is going to plot black. Alright, that's the way it works.
Now pen tables are a little bit beyond our scope, but when has that ever stopped me in the past? I'm going to close this and we are going to make a change to our pen table. In our drawing let me click the Layer Properties Manager. Notice I have a layer, the dark grey plastic layer, is set to pen number 252, which happens to appear grey on our screen. Remember that number, Pen252. Let's close the Layer Properties Manager and let's go back and plot this drawing. I'm going to come up and click Plot. Let's go to our pen table. I'm going to click Edit, and what I'm going to do is I'm going to come down and change my pen table.
I'm going to come down and say you know what Color252, let me highlight that pen, I want that pen to plot red so I will select a color from this dropdown. These aren't the only choices. We can always click Select Color and get more than we know what to do with. Let me hit Cancel. I'm just going to select Red. Now I don't want to overwrite my monochrome pens so I'm going to come up and click Save As and I'm going to call this test pens and we'll click Save.
Here we go. Now I can close my dialog and let's select our new pens. Let me click the dropdown. We'll select the test pens file. Once again I will click Yes. Alright let's pick our plotter. I'm going to grab Adobe PDF. You can grab a plotter on your machine that can accommodate an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper. I'm going to leave the letter size paper. I'm going to click the dropdown and then define my window. Let me click my first corner and my second corner.
We will center the plot and lastly we will set this to 1 to 1. So I will remove the check from Fit to paper and on the Scale list I will select 1 to 1. Let's come down and click Preview. Let me zoom in and notice the difference. Everything that was on the grey plastic layer was assigned Pen252. I said Pen252, which should appear red. That is how a pen table works. Let's finish the plot. When I close my preview and click OK. Once again since I'm printing to a PDF I'm going to click Save. Your paper is probably already coming out of your printer and here is the copy of my final print.
One of the benefits of having a pen table is that you can customize AutoCAD to your own office standards. Most offices will configure a pen table to be used for all of their plotting needs. For now as a beginning student, it's probably best to stick with the monochrome pen table such that all of our line work with plot using the color black.
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