There are many packages to do pictures in (La)TeX itself (rather than
importing graphics created externally), ranging from simple use of
picture environment, through enhancements like
sophisticated (but slow) drawing with PicTeX. Depending on your type
of drawing, and setup, here are a few systems you may consider:
pictureenvironment provides rather primitive drawing capabilities (anything requiring more than linear calculations is excluded, unless a font can come to your help). The environment's tedious insistence on its own
\unitlength, as the basic measurement in a diagram, may be avoided by use of the picture package, which detects whether a length is quoted as a number or as a length, and acts accordingly.
pictureenvironment. It therefore suffers only from the rather eccentric drawing language of the environment, and is a far more useful tool than the original environment has ever been. (Note that pict2e supersedes David Carlisle's stop-gap pspicture.)
\specials are by default specific to
dvips, but there is a Pstricks “driver” that allow Pstricks to operate under XeTeX. pdfTeX users may use pst-pdf, which (like epstopdf - see pdfLaTeX graphics) generates PDF files using an auxiliary program, from PSTricks commands (pst-pdf also requires a recent installation of the preview package).
There is a PSTricks mailing list (<a href=“mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org”
>email@example.com</a>) which you may
join](https://tug.org/mailman/listinfo/pstricks), or you may just browse the list archives. - pgf: while pstricks is very powerful and convenient from “traditional” TeX, using it with pdfLaTeX is pretty tiresome: if you simply want the graphical capabilities, pgf, together with its “user-oriented” interface tikz, may be a good bet for you. While PDF has (in essence) the same graphical capabilities as PostScript, it isn't programmable; pgf provides LaTeX commands that will utilise the graphical capabilities of both PostScript and PDF equally. Pgf has extensive mathematical support, which allows it to rival PSTricks' use of the computation engine within PostScript. The pgf manual is enormous, but a simple introduction which allows the user to get a feel for the capabilities of the system, is available at http://cremeronline.com/LaTeX/minimaltikz.pdf - MetaPost; you liked MetaFont, but never got to grips with font files? Try MetaPost - all the power of MetaFont, but it generates PostScript figures; MetaPost is nowadays part of most serious (La)TeX distributions. Knuth uses it for all his work…
Note that you can
"embed" MetaPost source in your document (i.e.,
keep it in-line with your LaTeX code).
- You liked MetaFont (or MetaPost), but find the language difficult?
Mfpic makes up MetaFont or MetaPost code for you using
familiar-looking (La)TeX macros. Not quite the full power
of MetaFont or MetaPost, but a friendlier interface, and with MetaPost output
the results can be used equally well in either LaTeX or pdfLaTeX.
- You liked PicTeX but don't have enough memory or time? Look
at the late Eitan Gurari's dratex: it is just as powerful,
but is an entirely new implementation which is not as hard on
memory, is much more readable,
as well as in the author's book
“TeX and LaTeX: Drawing and Literate Programming”,
which remains available from on-line booksellers.
In addition, there are several means of generating code for your
graphics application (
MetaPost, at least) in-line in your document, and then have them
processed in a command spawned from your (La)TeX run. For details,