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I feel intimidated in learning TikZ. I was wondering if there are some nice materials (or just your replies) at different level:

  1. for providing big picture, which is important to beginners to not lose direction during learning.
  2. for comprehensive reference.

Examples are important, but only examples are not always clear for understanding the big picture and organization.

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10 Answers 10

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I learned through just the manual. It starts with great tutorials. I highly recommend it.

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TikZ, in common with Beamer and Memoir, is a very, very rich, and, as a result, intimidating, package, so don't feel too bad about it.

The way I learned all three was basically demand-driven --- "learning by doing". Whenever I needed something "new", I'd dig into the manual and try stuff until either it worked (not always most elegantly), or in desperation go to the examples website, or moan here on TeX-'n-Friends. Occasionally supplemented by trying to answer "challenging" questions here.

After what --- one or two years --- that additional effort has worked like a savings account, and I now have the three tools on my belt, with which I can do almost everything I need. I still need to go back to the manuals, but it's a lot easier now.

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You could also try to learn by example: http://www.texample.net/tikz/ after having a look at the manual first.

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In addition to the excellent manual, try M R C van Dongen's LaTeX and Friends. It not only introduces you to pgf, but also pgfplots and beamer. It is available on Amazon.

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  • Thanks! How does learning pgf, pgfplots and beamer help learning Tikz? Or how are they related to Tikz?
    – Tim
    Apr 14, 2011 at 2:38
  • Thanks! (1) What is the difference between "graphics" and "plots"? (2) how does Tikz fit into the suite: pgf, pgfplots and beamer? Is Tikz "graphics", "plot", "presentations", or something else?
    – Tim
    Apr 14, 2011 at 2:50
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    To quote from van Dongen's website: "Due to copyright restrictions I had to remove the preliminary version of my book on LaTeX and Friends. ...". Amazon shows a print version available at the end of 2011
    – mas
    Aug 6, 2011 at 14:18
  • 2
    One may find part of the book still at csweb.ucc.ie/~dongen/LAF/LAF.pdf
    – ilakast
    Jul 11, 2012 at 23:27
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If you read French, there's an excellent guide for the impatient at http://math.et.info.free.fr/TikZ/index.html. And in the Cahiers Gutenberg there's a tutorial by Yves Soulet, and another by Till Tantau himself.

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  • 1
    (+1) Thanks for sharing this great resource.
    – chl
    Jul 3, 2011 at 21:42
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If you are intimidated the Tikz manual then I would suggest a much shorter PDF by Mertz and Slough from TUGboat volume 30 at: http://www.tug.org/TUGboat/tb30-2/tb95mertz.pdf and another example, a little bit longer with more depth is a "Minimal Introduction to Tikz" that you can find on the CTAN site here. But really, the Tikz manual is excellent and authoritative. Thanks to Jasper Loy for the manual he pointed out and, finally, let me mention the excellent site for PGFPlots for those interested in examples of mathematical plots that can be downloaded (a la TEXample.net) at: http://pgfplots.sourceforge.net

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PDF VisualTikz

Visual help for TikZ based on im­ages with min­i­mum text: an im­age per com­mand or pa­ram­e­ter. For example, see this illustrations for line junctions:

enter image description here

This document is still 200 pages large!

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As a simple starting point, I would like to add Quack Guide No. 2 The Morse code of TikZ, section 3 from the second DuckBoat by prof. van Duck, TUGboat, Volume 39 (2018), No. 3.

Errata corrige: text dept of Figure 2 should have been text depth, of course.

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I share @Martin opinion, you could try to learn by example.

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  • My embarrassing university blocks the second site as having ‘inappropriate content.’ I will try to educate them about the meaning of LaTeX…
    – Thérèse
    Dec 13, 2019 at 15:58
  • @Thérèse Lol, I am not sure they will change their mind. Dec 13, 2019 at 16:52
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There is a book that seems beginner-friendly called Tikz CookBook. It focuses on "Diagrams in Economics", but I'm guessing you do not need to know much about economics to learn TikZ from it.

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