Astute GraphicsPlease join me in welcoming The Graphic Mac’s latest site sponsor, Astute Graphics. The first time I heard of Astute Graphics was back in 2008 when I reviewed Phantasm CS, a new plugin suite for Adobe Illustrator. In that review, I called Phantasm CS “the most useful plugin set I’ve ever come across for any version of Adobe Illustrator.”

Today I want to introduce you to VectorScribe, the latest plugin from Astute Graphics. VectorScribe allows you to quickly and easily create and manipulate vector paths in Adobe Illustrator CS3 to CS5 through the use of several new tools and panels.

VectorScribe by Astute Graphics

VectorScribe makes complex path operations easy

Because there are two versions of VectorScribe, Designer and Studio, and the tools are so incredibly powerful and in-depth, I’m just going to briefly overview them here. But before I do, let me just say that if you’re the type of Illustrator user who only opens AI once or twice per month to quickly edit an existing logo, VectorScribe probably isn’t for you. But if you spend a good amount of time in Illustrator, working as a logo designer, architect, illustrator, or cartographer, then you’ll definitely enjoy this plugin!

VectorScribe Designer

At approximately $65 (foreign currency conversion involved in purchase, which PayPal will handle for you), VectorScribe Designer gives you three powerful tools to work with: PathScribe, Dynamic Measure, and Protractor.

  • PathScribe is the backbone of the Designer Suite, and allows you to manipulate vector paths without the need to create additional vector points. Dragging staight lines into co-operative curves, converting one or more points into smooth curves, removing redundant points only scratches at the surface of this tool.
  • Dynamic Measure aims to take the guesswork out of creating precise objects and paths, from simple lengths and angles, to advanced distances along paths
  • Protractor allows you to define custom angles at which artwork can be drawn and lines/handles extended.

VectorScribe Studio

With a price tag of approximately $120, VectorScribe Studio includes the three tools described above, as well as two additional tools – the best two, in my opinion.

  • VectorScribe sample shapeDynamic Shapes allows you to create a shape, and continue to edit it as a complete shape, not just random paths and points. Also found in this tool is the ability to slice and otherwise alter the shape after it’s already created. For example, how many steps would you need to recreate the simple object pictured at the right? With VectorScribe’s Dynamic Shapes tool it was a click & drag to create the shape, and a second click & drag to cut out the slice in the shape – and the best part is it all remains editable as a shape.
  • Dynamic Corners brings precise and dynamic control to the corners of your vector paths – something Illustrator still lacks after all these years. Corners can be dragged out on any path corner point, including lines and curves and remain dynamic shapes.

As I stated earlier, VectorScribe is really made for serious Adobe Illustrator users, in my opinion. If you’re in doubt, I encourage you to visit the VectorScribe Movies page where you can view 45 brief videos that cover all aspects of the plugin suites. You can get a 5 minute overview by viewing the video below.

If after viewing the videos and reading the full description of features found in VectorScribe you determine it’s not for you, I encourage you to check out their other plugin suite, Phantasm CS – which caters to a much broader audience. Either suite of plugins is superb for what it does!