angels and devils

tikzsymbols defines a series of symbols which can be used in text (or nested in larger pictures) and which can be customised in various ways e.g. scaling size, choice of colours etc.

For example:




    \node (yellow) {\color{yellow}\Innocey};
    \node [right=5pt of yellow] {\color{purple}\Innocey[13][][pink]};


two innocents

What is the best way to set up symbols of this kind? In particular, what is the best way to code symbols not covered by such existing packages? I intend this question to be a general one but I am especially interested in symbols which are designed to complement those provided by such existing solutions.

For example, suppose that I wanted to create a 'devil' symbol to complement the 'angel' symbol above. What is the best way to go about this?

Initially, I did this by modifying the code tikzsymbols uses to produce the haloed smiley. However, this depends on internal macros which disappeared or were renamed when the package was updated. So I had to recode my symbol to reflect the changes.

On the other hand, if I do not use these macros, I'm not certain how to ensure that my extension complements the symbols provided by the package. For example, I want the two smileys to be based on circles of the same size if I specify the same scaling factor in each case. And I want the basic line widths to match and so on. If I code my symbol from scratch, I worry that, although the code will be less susceptible to breaking when tikzsymbols is updated, it will be less likely that the style of my symbol will continue to match that of the package's symbols.

For completeness, here is my updated code:

  \tkzsymbls@Declare@Robust@Commandx{Devilish}[3][1=1,2={opacity=0},3=red,usedefault]{% based on \Innocey from tikzsymbols - updated 2014-11-15 due to changes in tikzsymbols (untested here but tested in scratch)
          \begin{tikzpicture}[x=2.4ex, y=2.4ex, line width=0.12ex*\tkzsymbls@scl,scale=#1]
                \fill [line width=0.05ex*\tkzsymbls@scl, #2, even odd rule] (0.25,0.47) arc (52:-52:0.17 and 0.14) (0.25,0.47) arc (50:-50:0.20 and 0.19) (-0.25,0.47) arc (128:232:0.17 and 0.14)  (-0.25,0.47) arc (130:230:0.20 and 0.19);
                \draw [line width=0.05ex*\tkzsymbls@scl, #3] (0.25,0.47) arc (52:-52:0.17 and 0.14) (0.25,0.47) arc (50:-50:0.20 and 0.19) (-0.25,0.47) arc (128:232:0.17 and 0.14)  (-0.25,0.47) arc (130:230:0.20 and 0.19);
                \fill [#2] (0,0) circle (0.33);
                \draw (0,0) circle (0.33);
                \fill (-0.1,0.075) circle (0.075);
                \fill (0.1,0.075) circle (0.075);
                \draw (-0.2,-0.1) .. controls (-0.1,-0.2) and (0.1,-0.2) .. (0.2,-0.1);
                \draw [line cap=round] (0.075,0.12) -- (0.175,0.2) (-0.075,0.12) -- (-0.175,0.2);
                \draw [line width=0.075ex*\tkzsymbls@scl, #3, -{Stealth[bend,length=#1*.4ex]}] (0.1,-.325) to [out=-90, in=-125] (.3,-.3) to [out=55, in=125] (.45,-.15) to [out=-55, in=-60] (.4,-.25) to [out=120, in=-160] (.5,-.2) to [out=20, in=-155] (.4,.175) to [out=25, in=-80] (.45,.3);

    \node (green) {\color{green}\Devilish[5][][green]};
    \node (red) [right=5pt of green] {\color{red}\Devilish[13][][red]};
    \begin{scope}[on background layer]
      \node [draw, fill=black, fit=(green) (red)] {};


two devils

Or is there really no best way in a case like this i.e. any method will be fragile just because I'm building on something provided by a package? That is, is the only real solution in this kind of case to code all of the symbols I want from scratch? (Or to fork tikzsymbols's code and to then build on my copy of that code, which of course would not be vulnerable to future changes made to the original package.)

  • P.S. If I include 'best' in the title, I am warned that my question is likely to be closed even though there is a best-practices tag and a range of questions on this topic!
    – cfr
    Commented Nov 16, 2014 at 22:17
  • 1
    Current best method: (1) Create the characters any which way, (2) Propose them for inclusion in Unicode and get them added to the next revision of the standard, (3) Wait for a font like Symbola to support them. The process can be automated with a package I’m writing, but the compilation time for a document with a new character will necessarily be on the order of a few years. 😈 Commented Nov 23, 2014 at 0:59
  • @J.C.Salomon (+1) For perfectionism but I think it would overburden unicode somewhat. That is, it seems unreasonable to expect all possible symbols to be officially included however idiosyncratic their use. Plus, (1-3) would not actually suit me since I want a solution I can use with (pdf)LaTeX ;). (There is just no pleasing some people....)
    – cfr
    Commented Nov 23, 2014 at 1:21
  • Somebody down-voted without comment? Because of the content (fraternising with the Devil)? Or for some technical reason? If the latter, I'd like to try to address the concern. If the former, there's not much I can say.
    – cfr
    Commented Dec 18, 2014 at 16:43

2 Answers 2


Tikzpeople package provides evil and good option to convert into a Saint or Devil corresponding symbol. Some examples:

enter image description here


\begin{tikzpicture}[every node/.style={minimum width=1.5cm}]
\foreach \i [count=\ni] in {priest, nun, judge}
    \node[\i] (\i) at (0,-2.5*\ni) {};
    \node[\i, evil] (\i-evil) at (2,-2.5*\ni) {};
    \node[\i, good] (\i-saint) at (4,-2.5*\ni) {};

Possibly the pic syntax provides one fairly easy way to go:

\documentclass[varwidth, border=5]{standalone}
    \draw circle [radius=1/2] (225:1/3) arc (225:315:1/3) 
      (135:1/4) circle [radius=1/32] (45:1/4) circle [radius=1/32];
\tikzsymbol[ultra thick, line cap=round]{smiley}

enter image description here

  • 2
    I suppose to answer the OP's question: this would require reimplementing all the tikzsymbols as I don't think it uses the pic syntax. Commented Nov 17, 2014 at 11:36
  • Thanks very much but, yes, that is the problem. I do like the pic stuff and it is very useful. I certainly use it in many other cases. This question is really more specifically about wanting to create symbols to complement existing ones in a way which is as robust as possible.
    – cfr
    Commented Nov 17, 2014 at 21:44

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