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Plugins from Astute Graphics for Illustrator review

astute graphics review plugins and guide for Illustrator

A quick guide / review to all the plugins from Astute Graphics such as VectorScribe and MirrorMe and InkScribe and Phantasm

Plugins sets

There are currently 13 plugin sets (though some have more than one plugins) as well as a selection of freebie plugins from Astute Graphics. Astute Graphics is a UK company based in Hereford and the founder and managing director is Nicholas van der Walle.

 

AutosaviourPro v2

A tool to save your work, have to say a useful tool (but luckily for me, Illustrator has never crashed though there are times I felt it was struggling with a lot of artboards) but the tool has a lot more and keeping a nice backup history of previous versions is always useful. It is a feature that I am surprised has not been added into the CC libraries


ColliderScribe v2

colliderscribe plugin from astute graphics

I like all the plugins from Astute Graphics and I could say this or that one is the best, but this is still a really decent tool especially for the space fill tool which works on a selected object and fills that in a number of ways such as scaling and rotating items but it can be used for textures and overlays (and of course any of the artworks generated can be exported for use in Photoshop and Affinity Photo etc) but the rotate to collision and snap to collision tools are pretty decent for moving objects around a particular object and spacing options

 

DynamicSketch

A vector sketch tool and in many ways, a lot nicer sketching tool than the brushes included in Illustrator (my favourite brush tools are in other applications such as Clip Studio Paint and PaintStorm Studio) but this is great for some really neat artwork and like all the plugins for Illustrator, would be a wonderful addition for Photoshop as well (but at least you can still copy the artwork to that application). It also has other features such as quickly drawing circles etc though this has been sort of superseded by a similar feature in Illustrator (perhaps it could be extended to a whole range of other shapes such as hexagons, crosses etc)

 

InkQuest

Sadly, one of the plugins I have yet to use as I have no use for swap channels and ink coverage temperature maps (certain super useful for certain areas of Illustrator and industry)

 

InkScribe plugin

A neat plugin for drawing vector paths and it does include some nice reshape tools, I have certainly found them easier to use than many of the tools in Illustrator (though that has recently has improved in a number of areas such as the curvature tool). The smart remove feature is really super useful. The distance and angle feature is a gem as well and can be used to create some very unusual designs in a few simple clicks, a pleasure to use

 

MirrorMe

mirrorme plugin from astute graphics

OK, this is my favourite (as is ColliderScibe and InkScribe) plugin from Astute Graphics. It is not packed with many options (it is crying out for a number of features that would make it even more super useful such as a repeat mirror feature and erase mirror) but it can be used to create truly awesome mirrored designs from any selected paths and can be used to create beautiful rosettes and more, which of course can all be cropped and modified in even more ways)

 

Phantasm v3

halftone phantasm astute graphics plugin Illustrator

A really nice colorful plugin set (one of the first from Astute Graphics that I tried and tested) and it is a plugin with a number of plugins that match a number of adjustments in Photoshop but as vectors instead. Illustrator has the nice color guide and a few color features but combining Illustrator with the Phantasm, and you can manipulate the color in 1000s of ways.

 

Really like the vector halftones and also the duotone etc.

 

The plugin set is great for tinting, inverting, levels etc. Would love to see Camera raw filter or Color lookup or HDR toning features to be added as well as random settings so the hue / saturation / brightness etc can be modifed and randomized for a selected set of artworks

 

Rasterino

Nice plugin for cropping (along with reduced file sizes instead of just the image clipped or masked), a really useful tool for all kinds of designs (especially for my comic work). The image resolution feature is great as well

 

Stipplism

stipplism effect from astute graphics plugins for Illustrator

Great live stipplism effect with spots and dots.

 

However, for me, the other plugin 'Symbol Stipplism' is king as I have created so many wonderful symbols over the years, it is really great to be able to use them fill vector designs in numerous ways and still have the effect live. OK, it can great pretty messy as well as generate some really hefty files but I really love the stipplism and also combining it with the original image.

 

You can use the symbol stipplism with all the symbols on this site

 

Stylism plugin

stylism plugin from astute graphics for Illustrator

Nice but not used as much as perhaps I should but it does allow for instant and responsive live effects such as shadows and transformations and glows in Illustrator. The features are available in Illustrator but manually applying the effect and combining them can be slow, the stylism combines them all and gives some amazing styles to all kinds of paths

 

Texturino

A really lovely tool but one that can be manually recreated but as with all the wonderful Astute Graphics plugins, it is just the speed and efficiency and quick ability to change something and keep it all live. Add organic brush strokes and textures to paths in seconds as well as being able to paint on opacity and texture.

 

VectorScribe v3

vectorscribe plugin from astute graphics

This is probably the King of all the plugin sets on the site, it has loads of wonderful features such as point removal or smart remove brush (a feature that should be truly in Illustrator) as well as extend paths (love this for spirals and much more) and also some nice path editing features such as reshaping and connecting curves to lines etc.

 

The shapes are neat but sort of superseded (other than stars and polygons) by the additions of live shapes in Illustrator and I would love to see the tool add a load of new shapes (I mean, look at Affinity Photo and the vast range of shapes there). The corners tool is pretty neat for changing paths.

 

Dynamic measurements plugin is neat but of little use with my work but for any one in technical drawing / illustration then the set is pretty decent. I have yet to upgrade to V3 but perhaps I will shortly, V2 is pretty amazing plugin set

 

WidthScribe v2

radial widthscribe plugin effect astute graphics

This is a powerful tool set that manipulates the beautiful strokes or width profiles in Illustrator and does it a lot quicker and easier than the width tool itself. You can select multiple lines with strokes and change the width as well as erase width and so much more. Actually really neat for all kinds of textures and backdrops and illustrations as well as more random artwork (which is surprising by the lack of random features in many of the others).

 

Might not particularly look like a great tool but with a little tryout, I am certain the WidthScribe can be seen to have a lot of uses.

 

Certain there will be many more plugins to follow, please check them out and they have a neat 14 day trial set for the pc and mac as well as a set of bundles if you don't want to buy any of the tools individually (and cheaper, which is always great).

 

I have enjoyed using the plugins in number of versions of Illustrator such as CS5 CS6 2017 2015 etc but always check out your version is supported as plugins are always being updated (as is Illustrator)

 

Free plugins

Autosaviour FREE v2
DirectPrefs
SubScribe

 

Sources and references

1. official website for plugins etc

 

Other resources

1. exciting mixed symbols and colorful designs for Illustrator

2. abstract and decorative symbols and shapes for Illustrator CC 2017 2015 CS6 CS5 CS4

 

Other tutorials on plugins and Illustrator

You can find a number of reviews of the plugins with more details as well as tutorials on Illustrator such as

1. Illustrator drawscribe plugin tool for artworks review

2. Mirrorme plugin for Illustrator review and tutorial

3. Astute Graphics' VectorScribe plugin set with erase and path tools for Illustrator review

4. Symbol Stipplism plugin set from Astute Graphics for use in Illustrator with paths and symbols

5. how to use the brush tool 'blob' in Illustrator to create amazing artwork tutorial

6. Extend path tool plugin for Illustrator (part of VectorScribe) tutorial

 

Video tutorials

You can find many tutorials and review videos about the plugins from Astute Graphics on our youtube video channel.