VectorScribe Updated for Creating and Editing Adobe Illustrator Paths

While hundreds of plugins are available for Photoshop, those for Illustrator are much less common and are typically designed for particular tasks, such as creating bar codes, managing dynamic content or generating patterns. In contrast, Astute Graphics originally made a name for itself with its Phantasm plugin, which improves on Illustrator's basic color adjustment capabilities and works with gradients, meshes, tweens, bitmaps, Live Trace and Live Paint, with all color adjustments available as Filters and Live Effects.

The firm has also released DrawScribe, which includes the InkScribe and Dynamic Sketch vector artwork creation tools, for saving time during the initial drawing process; SubScribe, which makes it possible to perform such tasks as defining circles and arcs with two or three points; WidthScribe, which allows Illustrator users to complete complex stroke width alterations with the ease of using a brush; ColliderScribe, which adds several tools to provide improved object positioning within Illustrator; MirrorMe, which can mirror artwork on single or multiple reflective axes; and Texturino, which allows users to employ a Texture tool to add multiple raster-based textures as Live Effects to filled paths, live text, gradient meshes and raster objects.

The firm's VectorScribe plugin also seeks to enhance the core functionality of Illustrator but this time in the area of creating and editing the actual vector outlines of an illustration. Users can employ its PathScribe tool to refine and enhance the task of vector path editing — specifically, it will "take the pain out of editing with the Pen tool." PathScribe allows users to drag straight lines into co-operative curves, convert one or more points into smooth curves and remove redundant points. The Dynamic Measure tool is geared for those working to user-defined scaled artwork, and ensures that all measurements, from simple lengths and angles, to advanced distances along paths, remain dynamic and don't affect the artwork. Finally, the Protractor tool allows users to define custom angles at which artwork can be drawn and lines or handles extended.

Then there's the Dynamic Shapes tool, which makes it possible to drag out a dynamic shape and continue to edit it as a shape, in contrast it it being merely a collection of points on a path. Users can dynamically add sides/points, introduce rounded corners to one or all corners,slice any shape and change the shape type. With Dynamic Corners, users can add a rounded corner to one or more points on a path, with such dynamic corners able to be dragged out on any path corner point, including lines and curves.

The only word that can truly do justice to the Smart Point Remove brush tool (shown at right) is "inspired," since it allows users to quickly remove excess artwork points simply by brushing over them. Also extremely nifty is the Extend Path tool, which can be employed to quickly extend or trim paths either in a freehand manner or with more precision. The PathScribe tool, which improves on Illustrator's rather basic abilities to edit and refine vector paths, employs Ghost Handles for quickly changing segments from straight to curved and Smart Smooth, for automatically changing points to smooth status. You can have fun creating spirals with the Extend Path tool. And those with a Wacom tablet can use its pressure sensitivity to zap unwanted points with Smart Point Remove. VectorScribe can automatically select multiple dynamic shapes, making it possible to modify them simultaneously.

Is there really anything left to add to Illustrator? Apparently so, given the new functionality in version 3. Say hello to a Reposition Point tool, which gives uses the ability to slide points along a path to reposition them, optionally snapping to tangencies (which Astute calls the clockwork vector design method). Then there are seven new dynamic shapes; Arrow, Cloud, Crescent, Cross, Gear, Heart and Speech Bubble. A Dynamic Measure tool speeds the quick calculation of a closed path area via hovering.

VectorScribe 3 for Mac and Windows Illustrator CS6-CC can be purchased on the Astute Graphics site for $84.48. Trial versions are available for download.