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Plotting 101

Plotting is one of the most important parts of CAD design Unfortunately, it can also be one of the trickiest if you're not familiar with the AutoCAD plotting settings.

Plot from Paper Space – Not Model Space

Paper Space is called "Paper Space" for a reason. You should always be plotting from Paper Space – not Model Space. 


Make sure you're setting up your drawings and sheets correctly, including setting up your Paper Space sheets

CTB Plot Styles

Plotting in AutoCAD is controlled by layer colors. The assignments for each color you plot are best controlled by color-dependent, or CTB, plot files. When you create a CTB file, or modify an existing one, you are simply telling AutoCAD which colors and lineweights it will plot for each layer of linework in your drawings.


For information on CTB plot styles, visit our documentation sections on:


Changing Layer and Line Colors

You have complete control of the layer colors, as well as the color and lineweights (thickness) in which each layer of your drawing will appear when plotted. Our software makes it easy to change the default line and layer colors to meet your office standards. For more information, visit our documentation sections on:

A Linetype is Plotting Too Thick or Too Thin

If one of your lines is plotting too thick or thin (heavy or light), you'll need to check the lineweight setting for that line in the CTB plot style you are using. 


If you don't have the Properties panel open already, here's how to open it:

  • Click the arrow in the bottom right corner of the Properties pane on the AutoCAD Home ribbon


  • or type Properties in the Command line



Select the line or object that is plotting incorrectly.



Then look in the Properties panel to check the color assigned to the line, and whether the object's Linetype is set By Color or ByLayer. (In most cases, we recommend setting your linetypes ByLayer.)


In our example, the object we've selected is set to the color Magenta (color 6 in the Land F/X color settings) and is set to Linetype ByLayer.




Now open your plotter settings:



Output ribbon, Plot button





type Plot in the Command line. 

File menu, Plot option




If necessary, expand the Plot dialog box by clicking the right-facing arrow in the lower right corner.




Select a plot style to edit from the Plot style table (pen assignments) pull-down menu (example: LFX.ctb).



Click the Edit button to the right of the menu.




The Plot Style Table Editor dialog box will open. Select the Form View tab to display current pen assignments of your new CTB file. 



To make modifications to your pen settings, select a color from the Plot Styles list and make adjustments accordingly in the Properties panel.



In our example, we'll make a change to Color 6, or Magenta.



The three main settings to check are:


Color: In most cases, this will be set to Black.



Screening: This setting determines the darkness of the plotted color. The higher the screening, the darker the plotted color.



Lineweight: This setting determines the thickness of the selected line color when it plots.


Note that Color 6 is set to an extremely thin lineweight – 0.0300mm – which will cause it to plot as a very thin line.




To change the lineweight in our example, we'll select a new lineweight from the Lineweight pull-down menu (example: 0.35 mm).





Play around with the lineweight setting for the errant linetype until it plots at the thickness you desire.



Examples of Different Lineweights (Plant Outlines)


Here's an example of a drawing with the plant outline layer set to a relatively thick lineweight:




And here's an example of the same drawing with the plant outlines layer set to a thinner lineweight:


Plotting a Colorized Drawing

Need to plot a plan you've created using our Color Render tool? Color drawings have some specific plotting instructions. See our Plotting a Colorized Drawing page for more information.

Plotting to PDF

If you need to plot your drawing to PDF, we recommend using a third-party PDF printer rather than the built-in AutoCAD option. See our recommendations.

Last modified on Thursday, 10 January 2019 16:12

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