I need to add some vector graphics to my LaTeX files. I would like to end up with good looking wireframes, such as in Hatcher's book "Algebraic Topology" (for an example take a look here). Which tools would you recommend? Any help would be appreciated, thanks in advance.

EDIT: The best thing would be to use an external tool, such as a 3d editor (just a simple one, which lets you easily model a 3d mesh from scratch) and then export the wireframe as a vector image. I don't know if something like this could exist. Tools like tikz or pstricks could do the job, but they are mainly suitable for flat drawings, and require more effort for 3d (drawing something like this could be very tedious).

  • Welcome to TeX.SE. – Peter Grill Aug 25 '12 at 22:03
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    As you are a math student using Latex, I would say that you need to learn Tikz(as recommended by Ian Thompson) and pgfplots. – hpekristiansen Aug 25 '12 at 23:03
  • In your question you also included 3d tag in which TikZ is not so powerful, I would say that you need to learn PSTricks. PSTricks can do more than what TikZ can do. In addition to this, PSTricks also runs much much much faster than TikZ does. – kiss my armpit Aug 26 '12 at 1:33
  • PSTricks is more mature than TikZ so there are more packages available to download. See laboratory diagrams. – kiss my armpit Aug 26 '12 at 8:51

You can use tikz or pstricks to draw diagrams from within a LaTeX document. Diagram drawing software capable of creating eps or pdf files (e.g. xfig (free) or Adobe Illustrator) will also yield good results.

For examples using TikZ (including 3D), see here.

  • I would strongly suggest using Tikz. Pstricks does the job, of course, but doesn't like pdftex. – rcabane Aug 26 '12 at 6:05
  • @rcabane: TikZ becomes an indispensable weapon if we have an input file which contains cross-referenced stuffs that need annotations or decorations and the input file must be compiled with pdflatex because of the need of microtype package. If we only need to import PDF diagrams, they are practically externalized by a proper compiler. In this case, compiler of choice is not a problem, then PSTricks can be a good choice. :-) – kiss my armpit Aug 26 '12 at 8:38
  • Thanks! After searching a lot I made up my mind, I'll go for TikZ. – wazabit Aug 26 '12 at 12:33
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    so far, Tikz does not handle proper perspective views and the microtype package works well with the usual Latex engine. – pluton Aug 26 '12 at 14:06
  • @WillHunting: = Jasper Loy. – kiss my armpit Aug 26 '12 at 16:52

Ipe is another drawing program you may want to consider. It has very nice TeX integration. Inkscape is yet another option; see this.


Some of the schematics are 3D in which case Asymptote is a quite nice option with very interesting functionalities. Even though the learning curve is quite steep at the beginning, you quickly get very nice 3D results that can later be edited in Illustrator or Inskape for cosmetic changes.

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