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Basic Drawing Using TikZ

To see the corresponding video for this blog post click here.
In the next few blog posts were going to show you some of the interesting things you can do using the TikZ
package. The TikZ package is a package that allows you to draw high quality and often quite complex diagrams.
In this post were going to show you some of the basics and show you how to draw simple shapes and lines.
To get started with TikZ we need to load up the TikZ package:
Now whenever we want to create a TikZ diagram we need to use the tikzpicture environment.
<code goes here>

Basic Shapes
One of the simplest and most commonly used commands in TikZ is the \draw command. To draw a straight line
we use this command, then we enter a starting co-ordinate, followed by two dashes before the ending coordinate. We then finish the statement by closing it with a semicolon.
\draw (0,0) -- (4,0);
We can then add more co-ordinates in like this to make it a
\draw (0,0) -- (4,0) -- (4,4) -- (0,4) -(0,0);
However this isnt particularly good style. As we are
drawing a line that ends up in the same place we started,
it is better to finish the statement with the keyword cycle
rather than the last co-ordinate.
\draw (0,0) -- (4,0) -- (4,4) -- (0,4) -cycle;
To simplify this code further we can use the rectangle
keyword after the starting co-ordinate and then follow it
with the co-ordinate of the corner diagonally opposite.
\draw (0,0) rectangle (4,4);
We can also add lines that arent straight. For example,
this is how we draw a parabola:
\draw (0,0) parabola (4,4);
To add a curved line we use control points. We begin


with our starting co-ordinate, then use two dots followed by the keyword controls and then the co-ordinates of
our control points separated by an and. Then after two
more dots we have the final point. These control points
act like magnets attracting the line in their direction.
\draw (0,0) .. controls (0,4) and (4,0)
.. (4,4);
We can then add a circle like this. The first co-ordinate is
the circles centre and the length in brackets at the end is
the circles radius.
\draw (2,2) circle (3cm);


This is how we draw an ellipse. This time the lengths in the brackets separated by an and, are the x-direction
radius and the y-direction radius respectively.
\draw (2,2) ellipse (3cm and 1cm);

This is how we draw an arc. In the final bracket we enter the starting angle, the ending angle and the radius. This
time they are separated by colons.
\draw (3,0) arc (0:75:3cm);
To customise the way these lines are drawn we add extra arguments into
the \draw command. For example we can edit the circle we drew so that
the line is red, thick and dashed.
\draw[red,thick,dashed] (2,2) circle (3cm);


Very often when drawing diagrams we will want to draw a grid. To do this we use the \draw command followed
by by some additional arguments. For example we specify the grid step size using step= and a length. Weve
also specified the colour gray and told it to make the lines very thin. After these arguments we enter the coordinates of the bottom left corner, followed by the keyword grid and then the co-ordinates of the top right corner.
\draw[step=1cm,gray,very thin] (-2,-2) grid (6,6);

If we want to remove the outer lines around this grid we can crop the size slightly like this.
\draw[step=1cm,gray,very thin] (-1.9,-1.9) grid (5.9,5.9);


Colour Filling
Now lets add a shape onto our grid and colour it in. To do this we use the \fill command instead of the \draw
command. Then in square brackets we enter a colour. For example this specifies a colour that is 40% blue
mixed with 60% white. Then we just specify a closed shape as we would normally.
\fill[blue!40!white] (0,0) rectangle (4,4);


If we wanted to add a border around this shape we could change it to the \filldraw command and then alter
the arguments so that we have both a fill colour and a draw colour specified.
\filldraw[fill=blue!40!white, draw=black] (0,0) rectangle (4,4);

If instead of one solid colour we want a colour gradient, we could change it to the \shade command. Then in
the square brackets we specify a left colour and a right colour.
\shade[left color=blue,right color=red] (0,0) rectangle (4,4);


Instead of doing it from left to right we could do it from top to bottom.

\shade[top color=blue,bottom color=red] (0,0) rectangle (4,4);

Or we could even change it by specifying an inner and outer colour like this.
\shade[inner color=blue,outer color=red] (0,0) rectangle (4,4);


Finally we could also add a border to this by using the \shadedraw command and adding a draw colour.
\shadedraw[inner color=blue,outer color=red, draw=black] (0,0) rectangle (4,4);

Lets finish this post by adding some labeled axes to our grid. To do this we draw two normal lines both from


(0,0), but well make them thick and add arrowheads using a dash and a pointed bracket.
\draw[thick,->] (0,0) -- (4.5,0);
\draw[thick,->] (0,0) -- (0,4.5);

We can also label our axes using nodes. To do this we add the keyword node into both draw statements next to
the end co-ordinates, followed by an anchor specification in square brackets and the text in curly brackets. Every
node we create in TikZ has a number of anchors. So when we specify the north west anchor for the x-axis node,
we are telling TikZ to use the anchor in the top left hand corner to anchor the node to the co-ordinate.
\draw[thick,->] (0,0) -- (4.5,0) node[anchor=north west] {x axis};
\draw[thick,->] (0,0) -- (0,4.5) node[anchor=south east] {y axis};


To finish our axes we can add in ticks and numbering like this:
\foreach \x in {0,1,2,3,4}
\draw (\x cm,1pt) -- (\x cm,-1pt) node[anchor=north] {$\x$};
\foreach \y in {0,1,2,3,4}
\draw (1pt,\y cm) -- (-1pt,\y cm) node[anchor=east] {$\y$};


This clever piece of code uses two for each loops to systematically go along the axes adding the ticks and
numbers. In each one, the variable x or y takes on all of the numbers in the curly brackets, each in turn and
executes the \draw command.
This concludes our discussion on basic drawing in TikZ. If you want to play around with the document we created
in this post you can access it here. In the next post well look exporting TikZ code from GeoGebra. Please do
keep in touch with us via Facebook, Twitter & Google+.

Other posts in this series

Generating TikZ Code from GeoGebra
Creating Flowcharts with TikZ
Circuit Diagrams Using Circuitikz
Creating Mind Maps Using TikZ
Posted by Josh Cassidy on 27 Aug 2013