Assign Pen Numbers and Virtual Pens in Plot Style Tables

The pen assignments used by the plotter differ depending on whether you use a pen plotter or another kind of printer, such as a laser printer.

Assign Pens to Plot Styles

The Use Assigned Pen Number setting in the Plot Style Table Editor specifies which physical pen to use for each plot style. The physical pens in the plotter are described in the plotter's configuration (PC3) file. If you use a pen plotter, you must provide information about the color, speed, and width of each pen in the Physical Pen Configuration section of the Plotter Configuration Editor.

For example, when you specify pen information in the Plotter Configuration Editor, you might specify that pen #1 is black and 0.010 inches and pen #2 is red and 0.020 inches. In the Plot Style Table Editor you can assign pen #1 to the plot style called WATER PIPES and pen #2 to the plot style called SEWER PIPES.

You can assign a pen to a plot style by selecting from a range of 32 pen numbers in the Use Assigned Pen Number field. The default value is 1. If plot style color is set to Use Object Color, or if you are editing a plot style in a color-dependent plot style table, you cannot change the assigned pen number.

If you specify 0, the field is updated to read Automatic. The information you provided under Physical Pen Characteristics in the Plotter Configuration Editor is used to select the pen closest in color to the color of the object you are plotting.

Assign Pen Settings to Plotters Without Pens

Many plotters that do not use pens can simulate the performance of a pen plotter by using virtual pens. For many devices, you can control the virtual pens in the device with software or, by configuring them from the plotter's control panel, with hardware.

If you allow software to control the pens, the Plot Style Table values for the Lineweight, Linetype, Screening, Line End Style, Line Join Style, and Fill Style settings are effective and override the settings on the plotter's control panel.

If you turn off software control of the pen attributes (typically done on the plotter), then the software can select virtual pens but can't control lineweight, linetype, end style, join style, fill style, or color. In the program, you select hardware (virtual pen) control over software (normal) control by selecting 255 Virtual Pens in the Color Depth area of the Vector Graphics option on the Device and Document Settings tab in the Plotter Configuration Editor. Selecting any other color depth specifies software control.

In the Plot Style Table Editor under Virtual Pen #, you can specify a virtual pen number between 1 and 255. Enter 0 or Automatic to specify that the virtual pen assignment should be made from the ACI.

When you create a plot style table, it is important to remember that it can be used with many different plotters and that the plotter and mode determine what parts of the plot style table are enabled.

NoteIf you use another application to process your plot files after creating them, and you modify the pen attributes, plotting without using virtual pens results in pen numbers in the plot file having no simple relationship to object colors in the program. This makes it difficult to apply additional pen attributes.
To specify a virtual pen number
System Variables
Command Modifiers