Imagine you have lots of slightly different images of an object like this, all taken from the same distance, with the object only rotating around its center (thus, on all pictures, the fossil will be equally large):

enter image description here

Now, you will want to also have a virtual ruler across two sides of the photographs. But how large is the object?

Fortunately, you also took an image with a real measure, hung such that it would slice the object in half (but next to it)... (also from the exact same distance, thus with the object equally large):

enter image description here

Now, you will want to put a virtual ruler across all images, as such:

enter image description here

Please note that you will first have to scale all the photographs equally (in LaTeX), until you feel that they are all large enough (as in the GIF on top of this post).

It would be possible to load the images as such:

\foreach \i in {1,...,16}{
\includegraphics[scale=0.1, angle=9,origin=c]{./SourcePictures/Fossil\i.jpg}

Once the scale is OK, we would need to figure out how large the image is, in real life centimeters. To then be able to adjust the virtual ruler, such that its scale is correct.

For the virtual scale depicted above, I used \fgruler{upperleft} but I found no way to scale it. I just discovered this post: Axis, real scale, which perhaps describes a better way? Or should we adapt the size of the pages, to match the real life centimeters of the photograph?

Any suggestions on how to create a neat workflow for this?

In this case, I took:

  • 1 picture with a measure
  • 16 pictures of the laying-down rotation (set 1)
  • 16 pictures of the upright rotation (set 2)

Please note that either set 1 and set 2 should be slightly shifted vertically.

Here is an example of a picture from set 1:

enter image description here

Here is an example of a picture from set 2:

enter image description here

2 Answers 2


I guess you want something like that or similar:

The following solution uses TikZ and TikZ-calc.

a. In the first step, I put the image in a node.

b. Then I add a simple coordinate system for that node.

c. With help of a scope-environment I can add any TikZ-stuff to the image inside the coordinate system.

d1. Hint: I use cmHgI.jpg from the startpost here; for users who do not have cmHgI.jpg
it will appear example-image.jpg

d2. The clue is to measure out the 'unitlength' from the ruler, shown in cmHgI.jpg and use it for all drawn TikZ-rulers.

€dit: I added a key \def\ShowHelps{1} % 1 'yes' 0 'no'

In a raw version this looks like: enter image description here

Without the helping stuff:

enter image description here

\documentclass[a4paper, landscape]{article}
\usepackage[margin=2cm, showframe=false]{geometry} 
\usepackage{mwe} % Dummy images

\pgfkeys{/tikz/savevalue/.code 2 args={\global\edef#1{#2}}}

\def\ShowHelps{1} %    1 'yes'        0   'no'
Help/.style={font=\Huge, red}
\node[anchor=south west,inner sep=0pt] (myimage) at (0,0) {    
\begin{scope}[x={(myimage.south east)},y={(myimage.north west)}]
% Restrict the draw area
\clip (0,0) rectangle (1,1);
% Frame around image -  optional
\draw[] (0,0) rectangle (1,1); % optional
% CoSy inside node
  \draw[help lines,xstep=.1,ystep=.1] (0,0) grid (1,1);
  \foreach \x in {0,1,...,9} { \node[anchor=north] at (\x/10,0) {0.\x}; }
  \foreach \y in {0,1,...,9} { \node[anchor=east] at (0,\y/10) {0.\y}; }
\ifnum\ShowHelps=1 \ShowHelpCoSy \fi%
\ifnum\ShowHelps=1\fill[Help] (0.5,0.75) circle(3pt) node[above]{(0.5,0.75)};\fi% <-- Position Test

% Now the stuff:
\path[] (0.705,0.4) coordinate(U1) -- (0.705,0.519) coordinate(U2);
\ifnum\ShowHelps=1 \draw[Help] (U1) circle(2pt) node[label=left:U1]{} -- (U2) circle(2pt) node[label=left:U2]{};\fi % show unitlength line

\path let \p1=($(U2)-(U1)$) in 
\pgfextra{  \pgfmathsetlengthmacro{\unitlength}{veclen(\x1,\y1)}   }
\ifnum\ShowHelps=1 \node[Help] at (0.725,0.25) {unitlength U1U2 = \u}; \fi%<--- show unitlength
\ifnum\ShowHelps=1 \draw[blue, transform canvas={xshift=2mm}] (U1) -- +(0,\u);\fi  % Test

% Small Ruler
\draw[very thick] (0.3,0.35) coordinate(A) -- +(0,3*\u);
\foreach \n in {0,1,...,3}{%%
\draw[very thick] ([yshift=\n*\u]A) -- +(-3mm,0) node[left]{\n} 
\ifnum\n=0 node[anchor=west, right=3mm]{cm}\fi;
\foreach \n in {0.1,0.2,...,3}{%% 
\draw[] ([yshift=\n*\u]A) -- +(-1.5mm,0);

% Image Ruler y
\draw[very thick] (0,0) coordinate(B) -- +(0,10*\u);
\foreach \n in {0,1,...,10}{%%
\draw[very thick] ([yshift=\n*\u]B) -- +(3mm,0) node[right]{
\ifnum\n=0 \else \ifnum\n=1 \n\,cm \else \n \fi\fi}; 
\foreach \n in {0.1,0.2,...,10}{%% 
\draw[] ([yshift=\n*\u]B) -- +(1.5mm,0);

% Image Ruler x
\draw[very thick] (0,1) coordinate(C) -- (15*\u,1);
\foreach \n in {0,1,...,15}{%%
\pgfmathsetmacro\Color{\n<9 ? "black" : "white"}
\draw[very thick, \Color] ([xshift=\n*\u]C) -- +(0,-3mm) node[below, text=\Color, inner sep=1pt]{
\ifnum\n=0 \else \ifnum\n=1 \n\,cm \else \n \fi\fi}; 
\foreach \n in {0.1,0.2,...,15}{%% 
\pgfmathsetmacro\Color{\n<9 ? "black" : "white"}
\draw[\Color] ([xshift=\n*\u]C) -- +(0,-1.5mm);
  • 🚀🚀🚀 This is really beautifully done! Love how you automated the rulers scaling based on the length between U1 and U2. 🚀🚀🚀 ➡️ How do you advise going about the scaling of an image? ➡️ Also, I am interested in, when compiling the final PDF, in having the pagesize cropped to the size of the image only (I will have to have many such pages, 1 page per photograph). How could this be done please? ➡️ Please note that the ruler-size should stay the same for all photographs. Thus, only in the first picture/page the ruler-size should be calculated.
    – O0123
    Aug 28, 2020 at 19:34
  • 1
    That's not easy to answer / add here; but it is aways better to break down tasks in single steps. I would open a new question like: 'How to scale several images to the same size' or similar.
    – cis
    Aug 28, 2020 at 19:56
  • I have made a follow-up quesiton here: tex.stackexchange.com/questions/560515/… It asks for a workflow which remembers the scale determined in the first picture, so to be able to output multiple pictures, 1 per page.
    – O0123
    Aug 29, 2020 at 15:15
  • How would be able to put the rulers outside of the picture, instead of inside of the picture? Since you currently have \clip (0,0) rectangle (1,1); this seems difficult? I find that, now that the rulers are on the inside, this sometimes gets in the way of the image.
    – O0123
    Aug 29, 2020 at 18:56

Currently, I am doing the zooming and cropping via the following code:


\geometry{paperwidth=10cm, paperheight=10cm, margin=0cm}








\foreach \i in {0,...,0}{ %%%% First picture
    \centerline{    \hspace{\DisplaceHorizontallySetA}
    \includegraphics[scale=\ScaleImages, angle=0.7]{./Pictures/2020-08_Object-1_(51-208North_4-383South)_Picture-\i.jpg}


\foreach \i in {1,...,16}{ %%%% First rotation (picture 1 until 16)

\foreach \i in {17,...,32}{ %%%% Second rotation (picture 17 until 32)



It yields a .PDF as such:

enter image description here

I then use the following terminal command line, to convert these to .PNGs:

convert -density 400 CropperXYZ.pdf CroppedXYZ.png

Because we well aligned the first image with the physical ruler, we can now know the real size of the square.

Now remains the part to overlay virtual rulers.

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