Plotting Instructions for Various Applications

Wed, 06/12/2013 - 09:54 -- admin

A number of applications have been tested, and some of them require special instructions for good results. Look below for specific instructions for supported applications. If you do not find the application you wish to use in the list, please check with the ARC consultants before sending a job to the plotter. ARC cannot provide refunds for unsupported, untested software or in cases where users did not follow the instructions.

Note: If you encounter problems (such as PostScript errors) when you send your job to a plotter, often it helps to convert to PDF format and send to the plotter using Adobe Acrobat.

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  • Adobe Acrobat - Plotting a PDF file


    1.  Make sure your file is saved as a PDF using one of the three methods.

    • Open the file, click “Save As”, and select “.PDF” as the file type.
    • Open the file, click “Export”, and select “PDF as the file type.
    • Open the file, click “Print”, and select “Adobe PDF” as the printer.

    2.  Select the type of poster paper you would like to print on. If the printer you would like to use is not installed on your computer click here. To view prices for each printer click here.

    • VCP7100 – Regular paper
    • VCP7100G – Glossy paper
    • VCPLTCF – Clear film (similar to an overhead transparency) (These instructions no longer apply to this plotter please see desk for help.)

    3.  Once the printer is installed, open your PDF file in Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat and select “Print” from the File menu. (On Windows 8 machines right click and use the “Open With” option to select Adobe Reader)

    4.  Select the correct printer from the drop-down menu and click “Properties”. See step 2 for selecting a printer. (Note that you may have to exit Adobe and reopen your document if the “Properties” button seems to lag for more than a few seconds)

    5.  In Document Properties, go to the Paper/Quality tab, then click the “Custom…” button under “Paper Options”.


    6.  In the Custom Paper Size window, set the width to 36”, and set the length to the length of your document. (Note that the width of your actual document should be no more than 34 inches to allow for the plotter to print a tag on your plot)


    7.  In the same window change the name of the Paper Size to something descriptive so you can use it the next time you need to print, then hit the “Save” button.

    8.  In the same window, press “OK”. Then press “OK” in the Printer Properties window.

    9.  In the Print window select “Actual Size” under Page Sizing and Handling. If this does not look correct, you can instead select “Fit”. Deselect “Choose paper source by PDF page size”. Select “Auto portrait/landscape” under Orientation.


    10.  Ensure that the preview looks correct, and that the dimensions look correct. Press “Print” to print the poster.

    11.  To make sure the poster has gone been sent to the printer wait to see if a pop-up appears in the lower right hand corner of your screen saying the document has been sent to the printer. If not ask at the Help Desk.

    12.  Posters are printed in the VCC Operations room downstairs, and have to be brought up by staff. Usually, posters will be ready about an hour after they were printed. This can take more time if the Print Queue (seen on the monitor at the Help Desk) is long. (This queue can take some time to update so you may not always see your print in the queue because it has either already printed or has not been updated yet)

    13.  The posters are brought upstairs to bins on the right side of the Help Desk (the MRC side of the building) and are put into bins ordered alphabetically by RCS ID. If you poster is not there after 1-2 hours, feel free to ask at the Help Desk for an update on its status.


  • Word (PC)

    Note that Word restricts the page size to a maximum of 22 inches in either dimension. If you need a larger plot, use another application, such as PowerPoint.

    There are 2 ways to plot in Word:
        You can select a large page size in Word (and a correspondingly large page size in the printer).
        You can keep your page size small in Word, choose a large paper size in the printer, and scale your document when printing.

    Working with a large page size

    1. Select Print from the File menu.
      (You must do this first or the larger page sizes are not available in Word.)
      • Select one of the plotters (e.g., vcp7100)
      • In Properties, choose a large paper size, for example, ANSI C (17"x22") and choose landscape or portrait.
      • Click Close (don't print at this time).
    2. Select Page Setup from the File menu, then select papersize ANSI C (landscape or portrait, as appropriate)
    3. In the Word document, Prepare your file.
      You can view at small size (~25%) to see better what it will look like.
    4. Use Print Preview to see if it looks right. Do not print if it shows parts of your page cut off. In that case, adjust the margins in Page Setup and preview again. (The margins should be at least .75"; 1" is probably safer.)
    5. Print (making sure correct plotter and page size are still in effect).

    Working at a small size and scaling when printing

    1. Prepare your Word file at a small size, such as US letter (8.5"x11"), choosing either portrait or landscape.
    2. Select Print from the File menu.
      • In Properties, choose a large paper size, for example, ANSI C (17"x22"), and choose the orientation to match.
      • Click OK.
      • In the "Scale to Paper Size" box, select ANSI C.
      • Click Cancel
    3. Use Print Preview to see if it looks right. Do not print if parts of your page are cut off. In that case, adjust the margins in Page Setup and preview again. (The margins should be at least .75"; 1" is probably safer.)
    4. Print. (First make sure correct plotter and page size are still in effect, and re-select the scaling, as this will probably have been reset).


  • LaTeX (PC and UNIX)

    Note the two example files at the end of this page.)

    Make your page big enough for the text

    To make a large size page in LaTeX, suitable for sending to the plotter, you need to set the \textwidth and \textheight values to be the width and height used by your text. Make sure at least one dimension is no larger than about 32 inches, to leave room for margins. (The maximum width of the plotter is 36 inches.) The other dimension can be anything from about 10 inches to the maximum plotter paper height (72 inches for the HP DesignJet 1055 CM plotters).

    Set the papersize so the plotter knows

    It is also of crucial importance to set the paper size via the command \special{papersize=xx,yy}, which will get passed to dvips and then to the plotter. If you want "portrait" orientation, the width (xx) should be smaller than the height (yy). This means that you cannot specify a width larger than 36 inches, the width of the plotter. It's possible to plot in landscape orientation by making the width larger than the height. In this case, the maximum width is 72 inches and the height should not be more than 36 inches.

    Suppose you want a page which is 34 inches wide but only 14 inches high. To get portrait orientation, you must specify a papersize where the height is greater than the width, yet you don't want to waste paper by specifying a height of 35 inches. Here's a trick: Use the command \special{papersize=12in,14in}. The plotter still must use its full width of 36 inches, but will cut the paper off at 14 inches high.


    For plotting, it is usually best to use the built-in PostScript fonts, which can be scaled to any size you want. Helvetica is often a good choice.

    If you want to use the Computer Modern fonts (perhaps because you have equations and need the math fonts), first be sure you have configured dvips to use the Postscript Type 1 (scalable) version of the CM fonts (the default on RCS Unix), and also include the command \usepackage{type1cm} in your LaTeX preamble so they can be scaled to a size larger than 25 points, the largest font size built into LaTeX.

    To get color, use the color package. The examples below show how to scale fonts to the size you want and how to specify color. For more information on using the color package, use your previewer to view the file grfguide.dvi. On RCS Unix, this file is in the directory /campus/doc/text/Latex2e/Packages/Graphics; on Windows, use the search/find utility to locate the file.

    Previewing on Windows Computers

    You can use a previewer, such as windvi, to preview your page. (zoom out until the entire page shows on your screen); however, the display will probably be more acurate if you run latex followed by dvips to create a Postscript file and then view it with GSView. To see the entire page as it will appear, select Media -> User Defined... and type in the width and height of your paper size in points (1in=~72pt).

    Previewing on RCS Unix

    You can use xdvi to preview your page. The fonts will not be in color, but if you zoom out (pressing "s" makes the whole page fit in the window), you can see the general layout on the page.

    Using ghostview is usually not satisfactory (unless your paper size is tabloid size or smaller) because you can't set the size of page large enough to include the entire plot.

    Sending to the Plotter from Windows Computers

    In GSView, open the Print window and select the plotter you wish to use from the list. (Note that you must have the correct printer installed.) Be sure "PostScript Printer" is selected, and click OK.

    Sending to the Plotter from RCS Unix

    After running latex to create the .dvi file, you can use dvips to create a .ps file and send that to the plotter using the lpr command. The example below sends to vcp7100:

         dvips myfile.dvi -o
         lpr -Pvcp7100

    If you wish, you may use the -X options available with lpr to specify grayscale or print quality. Do NOT use the "paper" option. (The way to specify paper size is to use \special{papersize=xx,yy} within the LaTeX file, as explained above.)

    Ignore the message from dvips: "no match for special paper size found; using default"

    Example 1: Portrait orientation with wide text (32") and small height (10")

    \usepackage{helvet}             % Selects Helvetica PS font for sans serif 
    \renewcommand{\rmdefault}{phv}  % Helvetica for roman type as well as sf
    \renewcommand{\ttdefault}{pcr}  % use Courier for fixed pitch, if needed
    \usepackage{color}              % enable use of color commands
    \textwidth=32in                 % real width of latex text 
    \textheight=10in                % height of latex text
    \special{papersize=12in,14in}   % small width ensures portrait orientation
    \thispagestyle{empty}           % no page numbers
    \parindent=0pt                  % paragraphs are not indented
    \color{blue}                    % basic color for document text is blue
    \fontsize{120}{140}\selectfont  % 120pt font (~1.6in high); 140pt linespace
    \bfseries                       % begin using boldface type
    \textcolor{red}{The Text Inside These Braces is Red} \\ % use red temporarily
    This Text is Blue \\
    So is This \\
    Because Blue is the Basic Color

    Example 2: Portrait orientation (text area 30"x32"), with included EPS graphic

    \usepackage{helvet}              % PostScript font Helvetica for sans serif 
    \renewcommand{\rmdefault}{phv}   % Helvetica for roman type as well as sf
    \renewcommand{\ttdefault}{pcr}   % use Courier for fixed pitch, if needed
    \usepackage{graphicx}            % graphicx package for including ps files
    \textwidth=30in \textheight=32in % size of latex text
    \special{papersize=34in,36in}    % portrait orientation
    \pagestyle{empty}                % no page numbers
    \fontsize{80}{90}\selectfont     % fontsize 80pt, linespace 90pt
    \bfseries                        % begin boldface
    This is a test of plotting an encapsulated ps figure inside a latex file.
    \includegraphics[scale=4]{somefile.eps} % include an eps file of your choosing, scaled up 
    This text is below the graphic, and can be considered its caption. 
  • Pro/Engineer (PC and UNIX)

    When creating a drawing pick one of the standard Sizes (in inches):

            A       8 1/2 x 11
            B       11    x 17
            C       17    x 22
            D       22    x 34
            E       34    x 44
            F       28    x 40

    or a metric size (in mm):

            A4      210   x 297
            A3      297   x 420
            A2      420   x 594
            A1      594   x 841
            A0      841   x 1189

    If you want a size other than those listed, choose "variable", and fill in your values for the dimensions.

    Create your drawing using Pro/Engineer and then, when you are ready to print, select Print... from the File menu. In the Print window, select "Generic Color Postscript" as the Destination and then click Configure.... From the drop down choices for Size, select the same height and width you chose when you created the drawing. Select the Printer tab, and under Rotation (at the bottom), select "Spin 90".

    Finally, in the box for Plotter Command, type the command to send to the plotter. What you type depends on the platform you are using and the plotter you are selecting. For example, to send to vcp7100, you would type the following.

    On Windows:  print  /d:\\\vcp7100
    On Unix:         lpr  -Pvcp7100

    On Windows, don't forget to connect to sambasrv (using the RCS Files and Printer Sharing icon) before printing.


  • Photoshop (PC)

    (These instructions apply to version 7 and higher.)

    Preparing the Image for Plotting | Sending to the Plotter | Troubleshooting

    Preparing the Image for Plotting

    1. Determine the dimensions of your image (so you can later select the correct paper size) and check the resolution:
    From the Image menu, select Image Size

    • Take note of the document height and width (in inches). You can change the size if you want. You may need to zoom out to see the entire image on the screen.
    • Check the resolution; it should not be larger than 300 pixels/inch. Larger resolutions result in huge files that almost always have trouble plotting.

    2. Next, orient the image appropriately within Photoshop, as described below. Depending on the dimensions, you may need to rotate the image before printing. To switch the orientation of the image, use the Photoshop Image menu to rotate the entire image by 90 degrees.

    • If the longer side of your image is over 35 inches, you will need to orient the image such that it looks "portrait" on the screen. For example, the Photoshop  dimensions might be width 30in and height 44in.
    • If the longer side of your image is under 35 inches, you will use the smallest amount of paper if you orient the image such that it looks "landscape" on the screen. For example, the Photoshop dimensions might be width 32in and height 20in. (Note that you will need to select a custom page size when printing.)

    3. Important Tip:  If you flatten the image before printing, it will shrink the file size significantly and increase your chances of success in plotting. Flattening reduces file size by merging all visible layers into the background and discarding hidden layers. If you want to edit the image after the conversion, either do not save the flattened version or first save the file with all layers intact. To flatten the image:
    -  Make sure that all the layers you want to keep are visible.
    -  Choose Layer > Flatten Image

    Sending the Image to the Plotter

    From the File menu, select Print with Preview...
    the Print window will appear.

    • In the pull-down menu under More Options, do the following:
      - First select Output, then at the bottom of the window, for "Encoding" select JPEG. If Photoshop uses JPEG when printing, the print jobs will go much faster, be much smaller, and will be more likely to print successfully.
      - Next select Color Management. The window will change; if the option is available, select PostScript Color Management. If this option is not available, stay with the default.
    • Click button labelled Page Setup...; the Page Setup window will open.
      - Do not select landscape orientation; you should have taken care of any needed rotation from within Photoshop.
      - Click button labelled Printer...
    • Select the name of the plotter (e.g., vcp7100) from the pull-down menu. (Note that the correct printer driver must be installed.)
    • Click on the Properties... button. The Paper Source should be Roll Feed.
    • Click on Advanced... and under "Paper Size" select an appropriate paper size, for example, Arch E (36" X 48"), making sure it's about 2 inches larger than the size of your image. Note the maximum width of the plotters is 36in. To choose a custom size, click on Custom Postscript Page Size near the bottom of the pop-up window. Fill in 36 for the width and an appropriate number for the height.
      Note that if you want a paper height smaller than the width (to save paper), you must choose a custom size (e.g., width 36 and height 22), and you must also select Long Edge First.
    • Click OK until you get back to the Page Setup window. The boxes should display the size of the paper you chose and "Roll Feed".
    • Click OK.
    • In the Print window, if the preview image in the upper left looks correct, click Print...,
      then in the next window, click OK to send to the plotter.


    Most plotting problems are due to sheer size of the Photoshop file. Here are some ways to reduce the size of your file:

    1. Reduce the resolution. Be sure it is not greater than 300 (using Image > Image Size). If your file is extremely large, you may need to reduce it to 150 in order to get a successful plot.
    2. Have you flattened the image layers? (See step 3 in the first section above.)
    3. If the above fails, try converting to PDF and take note of the "Reduce File Size" option in Acrobat Pro.


  • Photoshop (Macintosh)

    Preparing the Image in Photoshop

    If the longest side of your image is under 35 inches, it works best to to print the image such that the long size is the width of the image. If you want to switch the orientation of the image, then you should rotate the entire image in photoshop just before printing.

    Sending the Image to the Plotter

    1. From the File menu, first select "Page Setup..."
      • In the dialog box that appears, always select portrait orientation. Do not click on the icon that would select landscape orientation (even if your actual image is wider than it is tall).
      • There is a pop-up list of paper sizes that will probably say "US Letter" initially. Click on that, and at the bottom of the list of paper sizes, select the "Custom" paper size.
      • Once "Custom" is selected, you can type a paper size into the box on the left. For the width, choose a number a little larger (about a half-inch) than the width of your image. The maximum width you can enter is 36 inches. For the height, choose a number about 1.5 to 2 inches larger than the real height of your image.
      • Click OK in the Page Setup box.
    2. From the File menu, now select "Print..."
      • In the dialog box, select "JPEG" from the list of options on the lower right. This will produce a much smaller print job, and is much more likely to work.
      • Note that there is an "Options" button in the Print dialog box. One significant option is "Print Color as Gray". If you do not need color in your output, selecting "yes" for this option will cost less and cause the job to print faster. When you are finished selecting options in this dialog box, click OK.
      • You can now select the "Print" button in the Print dialog box.