Archive for the 'Illustration' category

Hannibal, Napoleon, and Joseph Charles Minard

 | February 22, 2010 5:49 pm

Charles Minard - Railroad Routes

No study of the history of scientific communication can be complete without mention of Joseph Charles Minard, a 19th Century French civil engineer and cartographer.

At the end of his life, Minard created two very famous examples of statistical charts, called flow maps, that every scientist, engineer and student should be familair with.  The first showed Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps (218 BC, Second Punic War), and the second describes Napoleon’s disastrous invasion of Russia (1812-1813).

Both examples are beautiful works of art and masterful examples of evidence.  But they are also more than that, they tell cohesive and interesting stories.  In this post, I thought it might be interesting to take a closer look at the history of Hannibal and Napoleon, and highlight the ways which Minard’s charts help us to explain their eventual outcome.

(Note: High resolution, PDF versions of the two maps are available for download.  These versions have been translated from the original French.  To download, either click on the images, or here for the Hannibal invasion of Northern Italy, and here for the French Invasion of Russia.)

Show me more... »

WPF – SVG Graphics and XAML – Part 3

 | December 16, 2008 6:49 pm

As described in part 1 of this article, vector graphics offer a tremendous number of advantages over their raster counterparts. These benefits include the ability to enlarge the image to any size without a loss of detail or quality and better reproduction in both print and online form. Combined with the existence of many high quality icon libraries, vector graphics represent a valuable source of art for desktop applications.

In part 2 of this article, we looked at a way to convert vector graphics using Adobe Illustrator. While useful, the XAML export plug-in has a number of limitations and is not always able to faithfully convert the image to XAML. Thus, while Adobe Illustrator is a good conversion method when working directly with artists and graphic designers who are able to provide art files in Adobe Illustrator (AI) format, it is not so well suited to existing OpenSource libraries which tend to be distributed in the SVG format.

Due to their use of alpha transparency, Adobe Illustrator is always able to read the images from other editors, though it contains basic SVG support. This is unfortunate as these icon libraries, such as the Oxygen Icon Set, are freely available under permissive licenses. Fortunately, there is a way to overcome some of these limitations. In this article, I will look at how to convert SVG icons to XAML using the stand-alone utility XamlTune. We will also be using the OpenSource SVG editor, Inkscape.

Show me more... »

WPF – SVG Graphics and XAML – Part 2

 | December 14, 2008 1:34 am

In part 1 of this article, I introduced some of the difficulties in converting SVG graphics to WPF XAML. These included inconsistent implementations across SVG editors and the lack of a high quality XAML export. I also introduced two methods for the conversion of vector graphics to XAML. The first uses Adobe Illustrator and the second makes use of free standalone program called XamlTune. In this article will take a detailed look at the first of these methods. In part 3, we will look at the second method.

Show me more... »

WPF – SVG Graphics and XAML – Part 1

 | December 13, 2008 7:35 pm

In a perfect world, most would be judged on the quality of their ideas and depth of character. However, more often they are judged by looks and dress.  What is true in the world of people is also true in the world of software. More than one website, computer program, or presentation has suffered because it is unattractive. In the inevitable fight between style and substance, substance often exerts more than its fair share of influence.

Given the importance of stylistic presentation, it is somewhat ironic that one of the most neglected components of many software projects it that of the artwork. While the code may be carefully vetted and analyzed, often icons and other artwork are chosen at the last stage of the design. While this might be unfortunate, it is due to an important reality: high quality artwork can be very, very expensive.

Fortunately, there are a number of beautiful graphics libraries that are either cheap or free of charge. Most are available under permissive or OpenSource licenses and can even be used in commercial products. There is just one problem; nearly all of these libraries are available in formats which don't play nicely with WPF and XAML. With a little bit of planning and strategy, however, it isn't too difficult to use these resources in your own applications.

Show me more... »