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How to Create Plot Styles in AutoCAD 2014

If you’re lucky, someone will provide you with the AutoCAD plot files you need. If that’s the case, you must put the CTB or STB files in the Plot Styles folder for AutoCAD to recognize them. (To find the location of the Plot Styles folder, open the Options dialog box, select the Files tab, and look for the Printer Support File Path→Plot Style Table Search Path setting.)

If you’re unlucky, you need to be smart enough to know how to create your own plot style table files. Here’s how to create plot style table files:

  1. Click the Application button to open the Application Menu, click Print, and then choose Manage Plot Styles.

    Use the tiny down arrow at the bottom of the list to scroll farther down, if necessary. The Plot Styles folder opens in a separate Windows Explorer window.

  2. Double-click the Add-a-Plot Style Table Wizard program shortcut.

  3. Read the opening screen and then click Next.

  4. On the Add Plot Style Table – Begin page, choose the Start from Scratch option or one of the other three options if you want to start with settings from another file. Then click Next.

    The remaining steps assume that you chose Start from Scratch. If you chose another option, simply follow the wizard’s prompts.

    If the creator of a drawing provides you with an AutoCAD R14/AutoCAD LT 98 PC2 (version 2) or AutoCAD R12/AutoCAD LT 95 PCP (version 1) file, choose the Use a PCP or PC2 File option. With this option, the wizard imports color-to-plotted-lineweight settings automatically.

  5. On the Add Plot Style Table – Pick Plot Style Table page, choose whether you want to create a color-dependent plot style table (CTB file) or a named plot style table (STB file). Then click Next.

    Choose Color-Dependent Plot Style Table to map screen colors to plotted lineweights. Choose Named Plot Style Table to create named plot styles that you can apply to layers or objects.

  6. On the Add Plot Style Table – File Name page, type a name for the new CTB or STB file and then click Next.

  7. Click the Plot Style Table Editor button on the Add Plot Style Table – Finish page.

    The Plot Style Table Editor dialog box opens to the Form View tab if you’re creating a color-dependent plot style table, or to the Table View tab if you create a named plot style table.

    If you choose a named plot style, the Plot Style Table Editor dialog box opens in Table view, with one plot style named Normal in the first data column, a blank column to its right, and Add Style and Delete Style buttons at the bottom. New named plot styles that you create continue to be added in columns to the right of the previous column.

  8. If you created a color-dependent plot style table, assign Lineweight, Screening, or other plot properties to each color that’s used in the drawing. If you created a named plot style table, click the Add Style button and then assign plot properties to each of the named styles you create.

    To determine which colors are used in a drawing, switch to the AutoCAD window and open the Layer Properties Manager palette by clicking the Layer Properties button, located on the Layers panel of the Ribbon’s Home tab.

    To change a setting for all colors or named styles, select them all first by clicking the first color or named style, holding down the Shift key, scrolling to the end of the list, and then clicking the last color or named style. Any subsequent changes you make are applied to all the selected colors or named styles.

  9. Click the Save & Close button to close the Plot Style Table Editor dialog box. Then click Finish to complete the steps in the wizard.

    The Plot Styles folder now displays the new CTB or STB file.

  10. Close the Plot Styles folder by clicking the X on its title bar.

Creating a plot style table the first time can be a harrowing experience because you have many options. Just remember that the most likely reason for creating one is to map screen colors to plotted lineweights. Also remember that you may be able to minimize your effort by getting a CTB or STB file from the person who created the drawing you want to plot.

For systematic testing of CTB files, you can download the file named plot_screening_and_fill_patterns.dwg from the AutoCAD 2010 Sample Files group. This drawing shows an array of color swatches for all 255 AutoCAD colors. The layouts (such as Grayscale and Screening 25%) demonstrate how different CTB files attached to the same layout produce radically different results.

Named plot styles hold a lot of promise, but in at least a couple of places (such as dimensions and tables, for example), they don’t work as well as traditional color-based plotting. Dimension properties allow you to assign different colors to dimension lines, extension lines, and text. The purpose is to allow different parts of a dimension object to print with different lineweights.

For example, you can have dimension text print with a medium lineweight, the same as the annotation text, while retaining the fine lineweight of extension and dimension lines. But because named plot styles are based on objects or layers, you don’t have that lineweight control over individual dimension components. The same limitation applies to tables, where you can set text to be one color and grid lines to be another.

If you decide to take advantage of the 16 million colors in the AutoCAD True Color or Color Book modes, you won’t control lineweights with color-dependent plot styles. CTB plot styles affect the lineweights only of objects that use the traditional 255 colors of the AutoCAD Color Index set. If you want True Color or Color Book colors, use object lineweights or named plot styles to control the plotted lineweight.

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