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There are plenty of plugins out there designed to improve your workflow - here are some of the best.
While Illustrator doesn't have as many plug-ins as its raster brother Photoshop, developers take the application very seriously when it comes to building new tools,effects and workflow solutions.
Extending the abilities of Illustrator isn't usually necessary, but, as with Photoshop, plug-ins can save time and effort. These plug-ins won't cause a mini-revolution in your studio, but they will enable you to do certain tasks quicker. Plus, many of these are designed for older versions of Ai, adding some functionality of newer versions without the additional expense of upgrading.
Learn more with these 100 brilliant Illustrator tutorials
We kick off with a collection, so there are actually WAY more than 14 Adobe Illustrator plugins here! But we've barely scratched the surface – share your favourite plugins with the design community in the comments.
01. Andrew's Vector Plug-ins Collection
Compatibility: CS to CS5
The collection is a set of 40 or so plug-ins, plus hundreds of symbols, brushes, styles and patterns. Individual plug-ins include Zigzag, Warp, Lattice and Starburst – all doing exactly what you'd think. While the collection isn't going to win any awards for quality, the price isn't bad for the sheer volume of extras you get. And if you find a gem in there that suits your needs, it will be money well spent.
02. Graffix Path Area
Price: Free download
Compatibility: Ai 7/8/9, CS, CS2, CS3, CS4, CS6
If you need to calculate the length or area of interlocking or singular Illustrator paths, there is an inbuilt option, but it involves accessing the debugging dialog box and scanning for the appropriate info. Graffix Path Area makes the process speedier. Users access it via the Filters menu, and it gives the length of a selected path, or area of conjoined paths and shapes, making precise calculations for printed graphics far snappier to retrieve.
03. EskoArtwork Data Exchange Plug-in
Compatibility: CS6 to CC2014
ArtiosCAD is a mainstay application in the packaging design industry, and this Illustrator plug-in acts as the perfect bridge. It enables users to open native ArtiosCAD files in Illustrator without the need to convert and flatten them, position them on the artboard and then apply swatches, objects and full Ai files upon the ArtiosCAD design. You can then manipulate guides and paths of the Illustrator artwork directly on the ArtiosCAD object.
04. CADtools 9
Compatibility: CS5 to CC2014
As the name suggests, CADtools adds CAD functionality to Illustrator.Very useful features include the ability to snap objects and project art onto isometric grids, which can save hours on its own. CADtools also adds many tools to the Illustrator toolbox. It's a well-thought-out plug-in that can boost efficiency dramatically. Download the free trial and see if it suits your needs, because it's not cheap.
05. MultiPage 4
Compatibility: Ai 9 to CS4
MultiPage is about as simple a plug-in as you'll find. But, as is often the case, this simplicity makes it very effective and very usable. MultiPage cleverly uses layers, in combination with its own palette, to set up the effect of having multi-page documents in Illustrator. You can even use master pages. The plug-in is handy for the occasional longer print job and very inexpensive. But if longer print jobs come your way more often, you might as well get your hands on InDesign.
06. Path Styler Pro 1.5
Compatibility: CS to CS5
Bevels are the name of the game with this plug-in. While it's true that Path Styler Pro isn't likely to feature prominently in your day-to-day creative work, it does have its uses. It's handy for coming up with logo concepts, and will come in very useful if you ever have an interface to design. Easy to use and with a fluid interface of its own, it's an interesting if somewhat gimmicky addition to your arsenal.
Compatibility: CS3 to CS5
Concatenate is a plug-in filter that connects multiple paths into one continuous path, similar to the Merge Path command when using the Blob Brush tool in Illustrator CS4 and CS5. However, Concatenate adds a few extra features including an 'assimilate' function, which scans a selected area or layer for unselected paths, and adds them to the merge. The 'connect' function then enables users to subsequently add lines or extra segments between open paths.