All About Plotting
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All About Plotting

Aug 27, 2021
Video Length:  52:40
Presented By:  Jeremiah Farmer

Plotting from AutoCAD is an imperative step in achieving the all-important final product. Unfortunately, plotting is often among the most challenging and frustrating tasks within CAD. We'll cover all aspects of plotting, including best practices in choosing and using physical plotters, managing page setups and plotter configurations, and producing the best possible PDF plots of your designs.

Webinar Contents:

Note: The following catalog of content covered in this webinar is time stamped to allow you to follow along or skip to sections of the video that are relevant to your questions. You can also search for content on this page using the FIND command in your browser (CTRL + F in Windows, Command + F in Mac OS.)


  • Intro/TOC
  • Choosing a Plotter
  • Network Configuration
  • Plotter Drivers
  • AutoCAD Plotter Configuration (PC3)
  • Plot Style Files (CTB)
  • PDF Output
  • Page Setup
  • Plot Troubleshooting
  • Into AutoCAD

0:00 – 3:24: Intro/TOC

3:25 – 7:49: Choosing a Plotter

Plotter recommendations (3:25)

7:50 – 10:47: Network Configuration

The importance of hard-wiring your plotter to your network and assigning it a static IP (7:58)


What to do if your plotter doesn't have an Ethernet port (8:46)


Why a print server can be a good thing to have (but why you shouldn't repurpose your oldest workstation as a print server) (9:17)

10:48 – 18:49: Plotter Drivers

The importance of downloading the latest driver from the manufacturer's website (11:22)


Setting a repeating calendar reminder to download the latest driver each year (11:38)


Driver vs. utility software (and why we generally don't recommend downloading the utility software) (12:32)


Setting up a download location for the driver and other hardware drivers you need to download (14:23)


Creating a text file to store important information about the driver (15:08)


Installing the driver (15:44)

It doesn't matter which INF file you pick when installing the driver.


Printing a test page (17:43)

Printing a test page outside of AutoCAD should be your first troubleshooting step when you run into plotting issues.

18:50 – 22:14: AutoCAD Plotter Configuration (PC3)

Configuring the PC3 file (19:09)

  • Creating the PC3 file (19:09)
  • Enabling the Lines Merge setting (20:11)
  • Why Transparency isn't a better option than Lines Merge (20:49)
  • Filtering paper sizes (21:08)
  • Backing up the PC3 file (21:46)

22:15 – 26:04: Plot Style Files (CTB)

The Land F/X Pens document (23:08)


Opening and editing a CTB file (24:00)


Why you should ignore the legacy settings in a CTB file (24:11)


Settings to pay attention to when editing a CTB file (24:28):

  • Output color
  • Screening percentage
  • Lineweight


Why we recommend setting each color in a CTB file to black with the grayscale controlled by the screening percentage (24:36)

If you want anything in color, just set a True Color value to that object or that layer. As a result, you'll have fewer CTB files to maintain.


The importance of adding a description for each color (25:15)


Backing up a CTB file (25:44)

26:05 – 28:09: Page Setup

Steps and recommendations:

  • Xref your design files into sheet files (one sheet per DWG)
  • Create layouts from templates
  • Use the Publish command to plot multiple sheets

28:10 – 29:58: PDF Output

Why we recommend not using the built-in Autodesk DWG to PDF driver or Adobe's Acrobat PDF generator (28:15)


Our recommendations for 3rd-perty PDF generators (28:37):

  • AcroPlot
  • PDF995
  • Nitro
  • Foxit PDF Editor

29:59 – 32:12: Plot Troubleshooting

Troubleshooting steps:

  • Use our XLayer tool.
  • Create a new viewport.
  • If assessing a PDF, actually print it.


Most common mistakes:

  • Plot Transparency setting
  • Viewport override
  • Not looking at the layer within a block

32:13 – end: Into AutoCAD

Creating Layout tabs (32:33)


The importance of only printing to PC3 files (33:38)


Troubleshooting layer lineweight issues within Xrefs using our XLayer tool (example: when one plant type is bolder than another type) (34:20)


Different CTB file options for heavier or lighter line printing (35:59)


Layer overrides (37:03)


Example of setting a True Color for a layer to print in color rather than assigning the color to the layer in the CTB file (and why we recommend this practice) (40:08)


Example of the Lines Merge setting (42:19)


Example of modifying a layer description in a CTB file (42:58)


Differences between driver setup in Windows vs. Mac environments (44:16)

If you're on a Mac using Parallels, we recommend printing directly from Parallels rather than trying to share the print from Parallels to the Mac side.


Demonstration troubleshooting using XLayer and without using it (and we think XLayer is the much better option) (47:11)


The importance of keeping your plotting process as simple as possible, with the fewest possible breaking points (50:22)


The importance of cleaning up your list of CTB files (51:29)

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