Graphics tools for scientists and engineers.
See a separalte link for Data Visualisation
Also, tell me if anybody needs a Japanese translation of this page.
Other feedbacks are welcome of course.
Introduction - viewing, modifying and showing graphics
Viewing graphics can be painful if you don't know the right tool for a
right file (or for a file in a poorly chosen format). Fortunately,
there are lots of utilities around that can read and write images in
various formats. Also, format conversion can easy be done either by a
command-line-based or GUI programmes.
Although not popular yet, PNG is the format of my choice for the results
of numerical simulations. PNG files are reasonably compact (NB. GIF
has a patent
issue). Actually, I use PostScript or PDF for the primary outputs
(with publication in mind) and make PNG files for casual viewing and
for the bases of animations. GhostScript works fine for this format
For photographs, I use JPEG because I don't mind loosing minor details
as the drawback of the extremely compact size. Usually, a high-resolution
highly-compressed image looks better than a low-resolution
modarately-compressed version when the file size is similar. Well,
that's the whole point of the smart data compression by JPEG, isn't
Colour adjustment is often most painful. Even (especially ?) when
colorus on your screen look gorgeous, the printer output can be
very disappointing. I gave up on on the colour matching adjustment
for now and simply tune the output for each printer (sigh).
Anyway, colour adjustment can be done with xv or gimp below with
GUI (although I often end up with hand editing PS files with Emacs or
awk for final outputs).
Recent version of gimp-print works quite nicely to do colour matching;
I am very satisfied with the combination of gimp-print and an Epson
Stylus Photo 870 at home after initial colour adjustment. I'm sure
this will be the way to go. See the bottom of this document.
For animations, I found FLI/FLC format very handy.
Finally, don't forget to pick up a free
Viewer and modifier
You can use xv, display, and gimp above to convert images with GUI.
I would like to add some command-line base programmes here.
Making, converting and slicing animations
FLI and FLC animation
FLI (and its cousin FLC) is a light-weight movie format that I
have been using for a number of years. The FLI/FLC animation is not
universally popular, but you can still view it with a standard
viewer such as xamim and Apple's Quicktime
player. The file format is simple and it does not require a lot
of CPU power for play back.
It uses an 8 bit colour map, which is good enough for me and which
saves both memory and disks. There is also full colour extensions,
if you need.
MPEG, DVD, AVI and WMV animations
Despite the patent issue, GIF animation has been widely used.
Fortunately, we can create, view, manipulate or, most importantly,
slice a GIF animation with gifsicle.
I use it's '-Ue' option to obtain unoptimized flames in an animation
GIF file and then reconstruct the entire sequence as a FLI file with
Below are some tips for using
CUPS, which are widely used in recent Linux (eg. RedHat 9,
Debian sarge or later) and other Unix-like systems (including Mac OS X).
At home, I still use Epson Stylus Photo 870 with
This inexpensive 6 colour inkjet produces much better outputs than
older Epsons (eg. 850) or much more expensive Color Lasers,
which I have access to at office. Recent photo-quality inkjets
with 6 or more colour inks make a huge difference, and the
gimp print allows us to do fine tuning of colour
processing so that the printout matches what's on the screen.
The outputs from photo-quality inkjets look much more saturated than
those from the Color LaserJet, although the latter is far easier
to use. It's a pity that these Epsons are fading away in my office.