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What to use for figures in a paper?

  1. Dec 30, 2005 #1
    I'm not sure if this is really the correct place to be putting this, but I hope that if it isn't someone will be kind enough to move it to the proper location.

    I've just started in on writing my senior thesis, and I have some figures I want to include. I'm writing the paper in LaTeX.

    For previous papers I've written in other classes I've used Inkscape to draw figures "by hand," it's nice because Inkscape uses the SVG vector graphics format which can easily be translated into a PDF or PostScript file so that LaTeX can handle it. This technique works well for 2D figures but can get complicated very quickly for 3D geometries, as I discovered last year when I spent a good three hours creating a figure to demonstrate the rotations involved in Euler angles.

    I've found a LaTeX package called PSTricks which allows you to create fairly sophisticated graphs within LaTeX itself, and even has some great examples, however it is somewhat complicated. I'm hoping to get some advice on what it is that people use for figures in their papers so that I can hopefully decide on what is best for my purposes.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 30, 2005 #2


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    You first draw it using any drawing software that you like, or have access to (any CAD, Powerpoint, etc.), and then save the drawing as a postscript or encapsulated postscript file. This is the file that you include in your LaTex document. This is the format that major physics publications such as The Physical Review use.

  4. Dec 30, 2005 #3
    Sorry, I guess I rambled on a bit too much and wasn't clear on what exactly it is that I'm looking for. I already have drawing software which I can use to export figures to EPS format, I'm just looking for suggestions on software I could use which would make creating complicated 3d figures easier.

    I think two examples of figures which will be about as complicated as I care to get would be the standard figure for the geometry of the differential volume element in spherical polar coordinates and a tangent plane to some curved surface, with normal and basis vectors in the plane.
  5. Dec 30, 2005 #4


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    If you want a free 3d modeler you can find one here:

    http://blender.org/cms/Home.2.0.html [Broken]

    If you need to do any calculations in blender you can write python scripts.

    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
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