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I have produced some .eps images of graphs (using the Python matplotlib module) and they look very shoddy, e.g. the crosshatching looks like a very rough plaid, but when I compile my document with xetex, all of my images are crisp and clean again. Can anyone explain why my .eps images look poor by themselves, but (magically) look like they're supposed to in my document?

(I tried posting images, but I lacked two reputation points.)

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You can include images with the button; just remove the ! before the generated text and a user with enough rep can reinstate it. What application are you using for viewing the EPS files? However, it's better to convert them into PDF for inclusion in xetex. – egreg Apr 20 '12 at 14:47
What tool do you use to view the eps figures by themselves? – Tim A Apr 20 '12 at 15:19
You don't even have to convert them to pdf from eps, you can just save them from matplotlib as pdf. – Juri Robl Apr 20 '12 at 20:21
I'm using evince. I had been outputting things as .png files, but this paper wanted .eps images, and I'd never used .eps images before. I'll use .pdf images from now on. – cjohnson318 Apr 23 '12 at 17:06
The "rough plaid" phenomenon for crosshatching is commonly a symptom of the lines not matching the screen resolution, and of the PS viewer not doing anything to help out with that. If you can magnify the image in your viewer, and the results begin to look better, or if (as in your case) the image looks better when converted and/or viewed in another viewer, then that is almost certainly the explanation. – Dan Mar 13 '14 at 18:54
up vote 3 down vote accepted

This is likely due to the fact that some eps viewers do not do any kind of line smoothing on vector graphics previews. I have the same issue when using the eps viewer that comes with the TeX Live distribution on my Windows machine. However, when I use the preview application on my mac, the eps files are just as smooth as they are in the final pdf output from xetex. It just depends on the tool you are using to open the eps files.

The way I view "pretty" versions of my eps graphs (that I make in MATLAB) is by running them through acrobat distiller to convert them to a pdf file. By default, adobe acrobat reader (my default pdf viewer) displays vector graphics very nicely. These pdf files can also be used with the graphicx package.

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Maybe you EPS-producer includes a low resolution TIFF-image in the EPS-file.

By the way, IrfanView is a very good program for converting EPS to PDF.

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I'm using the convert utility for all of my conversion tasks, is that not very good? – cjohnson318 Apr 23 '12 at 17:07
@cjohnson318 I did not say that other programs were not good, I said that IrfanView was a good program. There may be hundreds of good programs, but I use IrfanView. – Sveinung Apr 23 '12 at 17:47
Oh, okay, I'll check it out. Thanks! – cjohnson318 Apr 24 '12 at 18:59

A 'better' (more reproducible) way to view images and to include them into xetex: Use epstopdf to convert your images to pdf. Epstopdf is included in your texlive or MikTeX distribution.

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