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Drawing physics diagram

  1. Apr 15, 2007 #1
    I am working on a project for one of my physics courses and I require some specific illustrations to accompany the manuscript, which will be written in LaTeX. I believe Adobe Illustrator is capable of this, however having never used the program before, I'm not quite sure how to do this. The diagrams I need are very simple, but not simple enough for Microsoft Word to be able to handle. I have actually been able to make several of the diagrams in Adobe Photoshop, however this is highly ineffective and I am running out of time (plus, learning to do this will likely come in handy later). I was wondering if anyone had any experience doing something similar to this - not necessarily specifically for Adobe Illustrator, but on a Windows machine. Thanks
     
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  3. Apr 15, 2007 #2

    ZapperZ

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    Why can't you use Powerpoint? It is simple enough, and has all the basic drawing tools that one would need.

    If you need a more sophisticated program, then try Microsoft Visio.

    Zz.
     
  4. Apr 15, 2007 #3

    robphy

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    What kind of diagram is it?
    Is it something schematic? Or is it something like a scaled-drawing? Or the result of a calculation [like a directed-graph with nodes]?
    Is it a diagram that should be easy to edit or reuse for later?
    Should the output be raster or vector graphics?

    Is the \picture environment is insufficient?
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2007
  5. Apr 15, 2007 #4
    I think that all DVI viewers have a command like:
    \special{isoscale c:/pictures/thepicture.gif, 4.5cm 1.cm}

    You can include almost any format of picture in a document. This is not a TeX or LaTeX command. It is ignored by the TeX compiler.
    Read the "help" of your viewer.
     
  6. Apr 15, 2007 #5

    Danger

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    Illustrator is capable of just about anything, from automatic drawing of basic shapes up to 3-D rendering and animation. The help menu can talk you through anything that you'll need for your project.
    If the illustration is something that you could easily draw on paper, you might want to just use the pencil tool and drag it around with your mouse. If so, make sure that you have the fill set to 'none', or else it will colour inside the various curves and corners.
    Don't worry about messing up part-way through, because you have almost unlimited levels of 'undo' in the edit menu. (Go into Illustrator>Preferences>General to set the minimum number.)
    My approach is to use automatic shapes such as ellipses and rectangles and then add the control points to warp them into whatever shape I want. It can also simplify things for you to make each complete element in its own layer, so it won't be affected by things that you do to others.
     
  7. Apr 15, 2007 #6
    I need to be able to draw specific vectors, springs, dotted lines and whatnot. I'm sure I could do this in powerpoint or word, but it wouldn't reach the level of quality that this manuscript will require.

    I am essentially modeling coupled harmonic oscillations through hook's law. It is not that easy to reuse because I need to make diagrams of the system at several different times, i.e. the springs will be stretched a variety of different lengths.

    I am not sure if it need to be raster or vector, as I am very unfamiliar with illustrator.
     
  8. Apr 15, 2007 #7

    ZapperZ

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    Er.. it doesn't?

    I've published a couple of papers in PRL with schematic diagrams that I drew using powerpoint. They look perfectly alright to me.

    Zz.
     
  9. Apr 15, 2007 #8
    Have you considered PiCTeX? This a free package to draw with TeX. I used it for 20 years. But it is not a "mouse" drawing soft. You must describe all the drawing. In exchange it has a near absolute precision. You can draw any curve giving the coordinates of intermediate points. And it draw ellypses, cercles, arcs, vectors, etc. And you can put formulas and any TeX character where you want. But it is not, as TeX and LaTeX, a WYSIWYG.
     
  10. Apr 15, 2007 #9

    robphy

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    My guess is that the key object to draw is a helix.

    It shouldn't be too hard to draw by computation the apparatus in various stages by writing a computer program... for example, in Maple or in VPython http://vpython.org/ . Although VPython strength in 3D graphics, you can draw things in 2D... or view a 3D scene from an orthographic view.

    To use the VPython approach, you can do a screen capture and obtain a raster graphics output.
    To use the Maple approach, you can export to [vector graphics] postscript.
     
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