A Plug-in (or add-on, extension) is a software component that adds a specific feature or tool(s) to an existing computer program e.g. Adobe Illustrator. This is the most popular vector graphics editor that has many features and tools, which might be not enough for certain processes, moreover, not all the tools are easy to use. Plug-ins help us to work in Illustrator faster, more comfortably, and even eliminate the need for use of other applications, such as bitmap editors. Let’s look at some of the must-have features of the plug-ins…
Most often, artists and designers have to work with vector paths and their elements: anchor points and handles. Unfortunately, Adobe Illustrator does not have features that allow precise work with them. Xtreampath has 33 drawing and editing tools that create and edit the shape of paths, keeping us away from the hard work with handles. For example, the Multi-Arc tool creates curved path segments, each arc adding three smooth anchor points to the path. Click to establish the path’s starting point, the click and drag to add an arc.
I am convinced that Pathscribe, Extend Path and Smart Remove Brush Tools of VectorScribe plug-in are the best solutions for work with vector paths. These tools have many intelligent and precision features that ensure absolute control. The Smart Remove Brush Tool is every user’s dream, as it allows you to remove extra points, not significantly changing the shape of paths in accordance with the specified tolerance.
VectorScribe also has many other features and tools that, for sure, will make your work easier.
Although recent releases of Adobe Illustrator have Pattern Maker feature, but it is far from perfection and is not able to create all the possible types of symmetry for seamless patterns. SymmetryWorks plug-in will give you the opportunity to create absolutely all 17 kinds of seamless patterns using multiple tools and panel.
If we are talking about symmetry, we must remember that Illustrator has no reflection feature in the relation to the axes. But you can get this feature, if you install MirrorMe plug-in, which will provide a dynamic symmetry to objects from 1 to 72 axes.
If you use Illustrator to create complex technical drawings, then your work can significantly simplified and speeded up with CADtools. Plug-in has 81 drawing, editing, labeling and dimensioning tools organized in 8 groups.
Many designers have Illustrator’s files that contain thousands of objects. If that is the case, then control over multiple elements can be done with the help of the Nitpicker and Particulayer plug-ins. Nitpicker selects objects according to the specified search parameters, for example, by several colors, by the font size, by the stroke width range, etc. Dozens of presets in the panel help identify exactly those objects needed for further work.
Particulayer allows you to create groups of layers and manage the visibility, locking, and printability of these groups.
What is the most complex object in Adobe Illustrator? You’re right, it is the gradient mesh. You can spend years trying to master the manual techniques of controlling such objects. But this path can be reduced down to a few hours if you are using the free Mesh Tormentor plug-in. Many operations with gradient meshes, which you previously thought were impossible are now achievable using Mesh Tormentor panel. For example, you can paint the mesh points with the colors of the raster image that lies below, using a single click on the Capture Colors button.
Does your workflow require working with raster images? There is no need to use bitmap editors like Photoshop. Several plug-ins allow you to work with such objects while staying in Illustrator. Rasterino has Interactive image cropping, Trim off blank image areas, Relink multiple embedded images, In-line editing of embedded images, Numerically controlled resolution functions.
You can get comfortable work with textures with the help of the annotation system and Texturino plug-in.
Some features of raster editors are now available in Adobe Illustrator thanks to the Phantasm. It is very convenient to manage colors of vector and raster objects using such familiar to Photoshop users Levels, Curves and Hue / Saturation features.
I hope above mentioned plug-ins will help you to work more efficiently.