Line Styles and Line Weights


The Line Styles palette.


The Line Weights palette.


An object displayed with Show Line Styles and Weights on.


The Line Styles menu.

Lines used to delineate surface and solid objects can be of different styles and weights. These are assigned when objects are created, using the active weight and style from the Line Style and Line Weight palettes. Line styles and weights can be changed through the Attributes tab of the Pick tool options palette, as for other attributes, or they can be dragged and dropped from their palettes onto objects. Layer override for line weights and styles is also available.


Display of the line styles and weights is controlled by checkboxes in the Display Options palettes for Wire Frame, Shaded Work, Shaded Full, and Hidden line, as follows:


Show Line Styles: When on, lines are drawn with their assigned style (default). When off, all lines are drawn solid. When the Accurate option is also selected, the lines are drawn using a method that generates a more accurate pattern at the expense of performance. When this option is Accurate is off, a hardware technique is used that results in faster, but less accurate display. This option is not available for Hidden Line.


Show Line Weights: When on, lines are drawn with their assigned weight (default). When off, all lines are drawn as a single pixel. 


Line Scale: This popup menu contains two items: Screen and Print. They determine if the displays of the lines follow screen or printing units. With Screen (default), the line styles and weights appear the same regardless of the level of zooming applied to the image. When Print is selected, the line patterns and weights scale as you zoom in and out of the image, which allows to preview how they will print. Note that in rendering modes that offer the Accurate option, when it is off, screen display is used because of the hardware acceleration.


The Line Styles and Line Weights palettes have the usual palette controls, including the menu that pops up from the arrow button at their upper right. This menu contains the usual items that allow you to add a new, delete, or edit an entry, etc.


Clicking on the New Line Style... or Edit... item of the Line Styles menu invokes the Line Style Editor dialog. It offers the tools for defining the parameters of a new line style, or for editing those of a previously defined style, through either graphic or numeric input. The dialog also contains a preview showing the currently defined style.


A line style has a Name, entered at the top of the dialog. There are two types of lines: Solid, which is a continuous line, and Dashed Line. They are selected from this dialog.


Dashed lines consist of two types of components: solid pieces and gaps. These can be of the same or different lengths and can be arranged in any order. Dashed line styles are defined through a pattern or module, which is repeated to produce the complete line. A style pattern may be of any length appropriate for the description of its composition. A style pattern must start with a dash and end with a gap. If the design entered does not satisfy this condition, an adjustment is made.


In form•Z, a dashed line pattern may consists of at most 32 parts (dashes and gaps). In the EPS and Illustrator formats there is a limit of 11, and in DXF there is a limit of 12. form•Z line styles exceeding these limits default to a solid line, when exported to EPS, Illustrator, or DXF. Thus, it is advisable to limit the number of parts used in a dashed style definition to 10, when it is to be exported to EPS, Illustrator, or DXF.


The Line Styles Editor dialog..


Pattern Length specifies the size of the pattern or module that will be used to define the line style. It is complemented by the Unit pop up menu. When this value is changed, a message is posted warning that this change will affect the line style. Clicking OK on the warning dialog will scale the parts of the pattern proportionally to the new pattern length.


Line style patterns can be defined graphically using the pattern ruler, or numerically by entering values in the Start, Length, or End fields, located under the ruler, or by a combination of these two methods. The ruler is subdivided according to the selected unit. To define a pattern in the ruler you use vertical sliding markers, which you extract from its right end. The Start markers are shorter than the End markers. They all have diamonds at the top. You click in a diamond and drag it to reposition the marker. Between the Start and End markers there is a horizontal line that represents a dash of the pattern. Clicking on this line selects it and highlights it. Clicking on a diamond while pressing the shift key allows you to move the whole dash group together


Each time you select a dash bar or one of its parts, the number in the Start, Length, and End fields are updated to reflect the values corresponding to the selected dash bar. Any of these values can be changed, resulting in a move which is executed through numeric input. The graphics in the pattern ruler are updated as soon as you click in another text field.


When you Edit... a previously defined line style, the pattern of that style is displayed in the pattern ruler, when the Line Style Editor dialog is invoked. When you use the New... button, Solid is selected and a solid line is displayed by default. To define a dashed line, first select the Dashed Line option, then slide markers to specify the patterns you wish. When Snap To Ruler is selected (default) the markers will snap to the ruler subdivisions.



The Line Weights menu.


The Line Weights editor dialog.

The value entered in the Screen Display field determines the number of pixels that will be used to construct and display on the screen the pattern defined in the pattern ruler. That is, if pattern length is 1 inch, and 100 pixels are entered in this field, the line style will be displayed using 100 pixels per module. If 200 is entered then each module will be 200 pixels, resulting in a larger dash line pattern. That is, the second time the dash pattern will appear scaled by 200%. Note again that this option affects only the screen display and has absolutely no effect on how line styles are printed.


As for the styles, the arrow button on the upper right of the Line Weights palette pops up a Line Weights menu, with all the typical palette commands. Clicking on the New Line Weight... or Edit... item of the Line Weights menu invokes the Line Weight Editor dialog. It offers options for defining line weights.


The Name field displays the name of the line weight that is being edited. For new line weights, a name is initially defaulted by the system and can be changed by the user.


The value in the Print Width, which is interpreted according to the selection from the Unit menu next to it, determines the width of a line, when it is printed or plotted on paper. This parameter has no effect on how lines are displayed on the screen.


The value entered in the Screen Width field is in always pixels and determines the width of a line when displayed on the screen. It has no effect on how lines are printed or plotted.