5

When writing descriptions of general trends, orders of magnitude, change over time, etc, it is often useful to include simple trend graphs like this:

enter image description here

What tool can I use to create professional looking line graphs without having to provide underlying data?

I'm envisioning a web-app where I can add axes and data series, and drag the lines to appear how I want them. I don't want to draw the lines with a mouse -- they always end up looking choppy. I want something that looks like it was produced with a nice smooth data trend.

Requirements:

  • Free
  • Ideally web-based or platform-independent
  • Produce a *.png (preferred) or *.pdf file (or at the very least a table of the resulting data, so I can reproduce the graph in excel)
  • 1
    In other words, you're looking for an image editor that can draw Bézier curves, lines, and text. – sondra.kinsey Apr 6 at 16:28
6

Inkscape is:

  • free
  • cross platform
  • excellent
  • produces .svg files (best for vectors) but can also produce numerous other formats.

Use

By using the Line & Curves tool Line & Curve to place the start, turning and end points then the point edit Point Edit to select the path and selecting make the selected points into a smooth curve Smooth Curve, (plus of course setting the colours and adding the text).

Like many tools Inkscape requires a little practice and familiarity. The results of a couple of minutes: Cropped Curves

Of course you have more than a little choice of format: Save As

  • I've used Inkscape, but would this solution require me to draw lines with a mouse? Or is there something more sophisticated? I removed "freehand" from the title as that's not really what I want. I want something that generates curves. – LShaver Apr 1 at 19:57
  • 2
    Inkscape has Bezier lines. Acceptable for unscientific graphs, and certainly easier to "shape" than if you had to modify fake data in order to generate a nice curve. – Nicolas Raoul Apr 2 at 3:37
  • @LShaver: You do not need to draw smooth freehand lines with the mouse - see expanded answer. – Steve Barnes Apr 2 at 4:52
  • This is minor, but... could you crop that image of the plot? – LShaver Apr 5 at 13:35
  • @LShaver - Yep done by simply selecting the original contents (Ctrl-A) then Export Selected Area. – Steve Barnes Apr 5 at 17:25

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