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Programs used for creating scientific diagrams/illustrations

  1. Apr 20, 2016 #1
    Would anyone happen to know what programs out there could be used to make this type of diagram/illustration?

    (image was found on this thread, btw)

    I've been wondering for a while as to how people make stuff like this, like the graphs they have in my math and science textbooks. I think knowing how to make these types of things would be helpful for me if I ever want to illustrate a point when discussing science-y stuff with others.

    I'm guessing Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop could be used, but maybe there are programs out there made specifically for creating scientific diagrams? Like ones that allow you to create sine waves and write math equations out easily, etc. Apologies in advance for my ignorance, any help would be appreciated :confused:
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 21, 2016 #2
    Inkscape is a program you can use.
  4. Apr 21, 2016 #3


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    Illustrator or Inkscape would be my choice to produce a figure like that. Inkscape is somewhat clunkier than Illustrator, but it does have the benefit of being free.

    ETA: I *wouldn't* use photoshop or GIMP, however. Illustrator and Inkscape are designed for vector graphics, whereas photoshop is designed for raster images.

    ETA2: As far as I've seen inkscape or illustrator would be the choice of most of my colleagues, so I'll be keen to see if there are any other choices.
  5. Apr 21, 2016 #4
    I've messed with both Illustrator and Inkscape for making vector graphics before, but I didn't know they'd be ideal for this type of thing. I'll look into it again (seriously this time :rolleyes:). Thank you both! :smile:
  6. Apr 21, 2016 #5
    Whats a razpad?

    And, AutoCAD is the best. You can make 2D images with it really quickly.
  7. Apr 21, 2016 #6
    For simple graphics in a LaTeX file I usually used tikz.
    For the picture you showed it would work very well.

    The caveat is that it takes some time to get used to it. The advantage is that you can create new commands to quickly build images.
    The manual has some very cool stuff in it, http://www.texample.net/media/pgf/builds/pgfmanualCVS2012-11-04.pdf
    Take for example a look at section 6 (page 71-85), it shows how the usage of commands can help you.
    Once those commands are defined you can use them every time you do something similar.
  8. Apr 21, 2016 #7


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    I think in this context it means "decay" or more specifically "pair production".


    It might be some other Slavic language besides Slovenian. However, the first several hits in a Google search for the word are from from the Slovenian version of Wikipedia.
  9. Apr 21, 2016 #8


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    Powerpoint is surprisingly good for creating some simple scientific diagrams. For figures that actually make it into papers, however, I mostly use Illustrator (sometimes creating the first draft of the diagram in powerpoint then copy-pasting into Illustrator).
  10. Apr 21, 2016 #9
    MS Visio is also an option
  11. Apr 21, 2016 #10
    Oh! I've heard of tikz before, sounds like exactly what I need. (I was suspecting that the sample image I posted was made with LaTeX because of the font the labels are in.) Thanks!
  12. Apr 21, 2016 #11


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    Just for the record, you can use the LaTeX font (cmr) anywhere if you have it installed on your system. You can either make a figure normally, or with something like inkscape, you can output a pdf with the text in a .tex file.
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