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You may be wondering why it's necessary to select a Plot Style table when printing your AuoCAD drawings. We certainly don't need a plot style when we print from Microsoft Word or Adobe Photoshop. Remember that AutoCAD is a vector-based program, which means that the information that we see on screen is mathematically-based lines and curves and not pixels. Each color choice that we have represents a virtual pen that can be configured to plot our line-work however we like. Let's talk about Plot Styles.
I am going to open up the Layer Properties Manager, and then I will move over to the Color column and I will select one of these swatches. This brings up AutoCAD's Color Selector and in reality, we are not really choosing a color here, we are actually choosing a virtual pen. Watch this, if I place my Cursor over the color Red, I can see just above it that it has a number. number 1. I am going to hover over the color Yellow, that's number 2, I will hover over the color Green, that's number 3.
You know only these first seven colors have real color names, the rest of the colors in this box are only referred to by number. These numbers represent the pen number that's assigned to each color. Here is the way to look at it. Any layer that's set to pen number one, will appear Red. any layer that's set to pen number 2, will appear Yellow. pen number 3 will appear Green and so on. There are 255 unique pens available in AutoCAD and each of these pens can be configured to plot different way.
I am going to close this box and then I will move up and launch the Plot command. We assign our Plot Style tables right here. Notice this even says pen assignments. I am going to open this up and I will select the monochrome pen table, and I will click Yes. This pen table is configured such that all pens plot as Black. I am going to click the Edit button, so we can take a closer look at this table. Now there are two ways to view our table data.
There is Table View, this is very similar to Microsoft Excel and there is Form View. This is the method that I prefer to use. On the left side, I can see a listing of all of the pens that are in this table. If I grab this Slider and drag down, we can see there are 255 pens. If I select a pen, I can then configure how this pen is going to print by adjusting these settings on the right. But right now, notice this pen is going to print as Black.
Pen number 2 will print as Black, pen number 9 will print as Black. They are all going to print as Black, because this is the monochrome pen table. Let's make a change. I am going to select pen number 2, then I will click this Color fly-out, and I'd like pen number 2 to plot as Red. This is the only change I am going to make. Let's save this pen table, I will do that by clicking Save As, because I don't want to overwrite my original. And I am going to call this, my custom pens, and I'll click Save, then I can close this.
I'll click the Pen Table fly-out and I will select my new pens, and now let's finish this plot. I am going to select my Printer first. Since I am not connected to a physical printer, I am going to select the DWG To PDF virtual printer. You can select any printer that's connected to your machine. I am going to go with the 8.50-11.00 ANSI A size paper, also known as Letter Size. For my plot area, I will click this fly-out and I will select Window, and I will define my plot boundary by clicking this corner and I will come down and click this one.
I'd like to center my plot on the sheet. Finally we will take care of Plot scale. I'd like to print this to a measurable scale. So I am going to turn off Fit To paper. Then I will click the Scale fly-out and let's see if this drawing will fit on the paper at a scale of 1:1. Based on the Preview, looks like it's not going to work, let's open up the Scale fly-out again, I will try half scale or 1:2. It looks like that will work, now at this point, I am ready to click Preview, but before I do that, I am going to pull this dialog box down.
And take a look at the drawing. Remember, that in our pen table, we said pen number 2 will plot as Red. Pen number 2 corresponds to Yellow. Notice the geometry in this drawing that appears Yellow. Let me pull this back up and I will click Preview and notice that we can see that change on screen. We will also see this change on the printed page. To finish this plot, I am going to show you a shortcut, rather than closing the Preview, and going back to the Plot Dialog Box, I am going to right-click and select Plot from this menu.
Now, if you have sent your drawing to a physical printer, it's probably already coming out. Since I am printing mine to a PDF, I am going to give mine a filename. I am going to save mine to the Desktop, and I will call this fuel pump bracket and I will click Save. On my screen is an example of the finished plot. 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 your line-work will plot using the color Black.
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