Review: the Adobe Illustrator SubScribe plug-in

Astute Graphics’ SubScribe Designer is a plugin for Adobe Illustrator CS3 to CS5.1 for both Mac OS X and Windows. It adds important common features such as drawing tangents from curves, straightening path segments and orientating (correcting the angle) or artwork.

SubScribe Designer is the first product by Astute Graphics to result from their recent acquisition of PointExp’s IP. It’s a tool that once again will save designers a lot of time while filling in gaps in Illustrator’s functionality matrix — even after 14 or 15 version iterations.

IT Enquirer rating


  • time saver
  • ease-of-use
  • accuracy
  • integration with VectorScribe and DrawScribe
  • none
Price (exactly): €00.00

Quick and dirty overview of SubScribe on YouTube link icon

With SubScribe you can easily create a circle that fits exactly in a square, a triangle, or another primitive. The way you do it is by clicking the centre points on the primitive’s axis; the plug-in finds that centre point and you can thus create the circle by adding two more points.

SubScribe seems to be have more of that such intelligence in store for you. For example, creating a perpendicular to a circle or oval is just as easy. You just click on the line and the plug-in automatically finds the right angle to draw the perpendicular line from (or towards to).

Especially technical drawing will be much easier with SubScribe than without. The SubsScribe plug-in lets you draw circles that perfectly align with points or paths of other shapes. For example, drawing a circle that is perfectly centred inside a triangle is as easy as selecting the circle by tangent icon, clicking a point in the centre of one of the triangle’s connecting lines and changing the size of the circle in the dialogue — while keeping an eye on the redrawn shape.

Circles can be created in three different ways: by selecting 2 or 3 points, tangent-wise, and following curvatures.

You can also do other things with SubScribe, such as connecting two lines — straight or curved, or mixed — and deciding whether the connection should be abrupt (the Illustrator way) or smooth. When dragging while connecting, you can adjust the curvature, helped by an axis with “running control points” that move as you increase or decrease the curve.

Lines and curves can also be straightened. You can straighten objects with Illustrator’s native tools, too, but SubScribe is a bit more advanced in that you just click on the line and it will straighten it to the nearest level position.

Arcs can be created by using 3 points, or by creating the first point and then dragging the arc until you’re satisfied with the result. Orient is a tool that lets you rotate objects along an axis you set by clicking. It’s better than Illustrator’s rotate feature because it can quickly level type and images that have been slightly rotated — as in scanned art that wasn’t really well aligned on the scanner bed in the first place.

Holding down the Shift key will immediately level the object, while holding down the Command key will also resize it.

Finally, there are two sets of line drawing tools: tangent to or from a path and perpendicular to or from a path — and to/from 2 paths. The tangent will connect let’s say a circle with an open path by drawing a straight line that is parallel to the circle’s side where you started to drag. There’s no need to drag all the way to the path — SubScribe will intelligently draw it to completion.

Perpendicular lines do the same but the lines will be drawn perfectly perpendicular to the side where you started. If you select from a path, for example, you can quickly create a circle, add perpendicular lines without thinking of different lengths and presto: you have the basics for a sun with rays coming out from it in perfect line-up.

SubScribe will certainly make your day a lot sunnier. It’s available free to people who have purchased Phantasm CS, VectorScribe or DrawScribe.

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J.D. – Copywriter – Tech. Writer – Editor at Visuals Producer – Contributor at Photoshop User, Studio Daily – Sub-editor at RedShark News