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Plot Digitizer allows the user to calibrate an image using any three non-collinear points. The calibration is

actually a transformation of the image data between two reference frames. Call the reference frame of the

scanned image the S' frame and the reference frame of the computer monitor the S frame (see Figure 1 below).

To make the transformation completely general, consider the possibility that the scanned image may be rotated

( θ ≠ 0 ) and that the axes of the image may be non-orthogonal ( φ ≠ 90o ) .

y' •P

G

S frame (computer monitor) r'

φ x'

y θ

G

r

G

O

G

Now consider some point P. The position of this point in the S' frame is given by the position vector r ' where

G

r ' = x 'iˆ '+ y ' ˆj' . Writing the unit vectors î ' and ĵ' in terms of the S frame we get:

ˆj' = cos(φ + θ) ˆi + sin ( φ + θ ) ˆj

G

This allows us to rewrite r ' in terms of the S frame unit vectors. This gives us:

G

r ' = [ x 'cos(θ) + y 'cos(φ + θ) ] ˆi + [ x 'sin(θ) + y 'sin(φ + θ) ] ˆj

G G G G

Notice from Figure 1 that the position of the point P in the S frame is given by r = O + kr ' where O is a vector

pointing to the origin of the S' frame, and k is a scale factor to transform the physical units of the scanned

image to the dimensionless pixels of the computer monitor.

Finally, we can write the equations for transforming the ( x ', y ') image coordinates of the point P to the

( x, y ) coordinates of the computer monitor.

x = O x + kx 'cos(θ) + ky 'cos(φ + θ)

y = O y + kx 'sin(θ) + ky 'sin(φ + θ)

Note that we have 2 equations with 6 unknowns ( O x , O y , cos(θ), cos(φ + θ),sin(θ),sin(φ + θ) ) . To solve for the

6 unknowns, we therefore must calibrate the image by selecting 3 points. This will give us 6 equations and 6

unknowns.

x1 = O x + kx1 'cos(θ) + ky1 'cos(φ + θ)

y1 = O y + kx1 'sin(θ) + ky1 'sin(φ + θ)

x 2 = O x + kx 2 'cos(θ) + ky 2 'cos(φ + θ)

y 2 = O y + kx 2 'sin(θ) + ky 2 'sin(φ + θ)

y3 = O y + kx 3 'sin(θ) + ky3 'sin(φ + θ)

The points ( x1 ', y1 ') , ( x 2 ', y 2 ') , and ( x 3 ', y3 ' ) are the physical values (entered by the user during the

calibration procedure) of the three calibration points. The points ( x1 , y1 ) , ( x 2 , y 2 ) , and ( x 3 , y3 ) are the pixel

coordinates of the mouse as recorded by the computer when the user clicks the point during the calibration.

To make solving this set of equations a bit less cumbersome, I performed a change of variable:

a = k cos(θ)

b = k cos(φ + θ)

c = Ox

d = k sin(θ)

e = k sin(φ + θ)

f = Oy

This gives:

x1 = x1 'a + y1 'b + c

y1 = x1 'd + y1 'e + f

x 2 = x 2 'a + y 2 ' b + c

y 2 = x 2 'd + y 2 'e + f

x 3 = x 3 'a + y3 ' b + c

y3 = x 3 'd + y3 'e + f

Writing the set of equations as a matrix equation ( Ax = B ) in terms of the redefined variables gives:

⎡ x1 ' y1 ' 1 0 0 0 ⎤ ⎡ a ⎤ ⎡ x1 ⎤

⎢ 0 0 0 x1 ' y1 ' 1 ⎥⎥ ⎢ b ⎥ ⎢⎢ y1 ⎥⎥

⎢ ⎢ ⎥

⎢ x 2 ' y2 ' 1 0 0 0⎥ ⎢ c ⎥ ⎢ x 2 ⎥

⎢ ⎥•⎢ ⎥ = ⎢ ⎥

⎢ 0 0 0 x 2 ' y 2 ' 1 ⎥ ⎢d ⎥ ⎢ y 2 ⎥

⎢ x 3 ' y3 ' 1 0 0 0⎥ ⎢ e ⎥ ⎢ x 3 ⎥

⎢ ⎥ ⎢ ⎥ ⎢ ⎥

⎣⎢ 0 0 0 x 3 ' y3 ' 1 ⎥⎦ ⎣ f ⎦ ⎣⎢ y3 ⎦⎥

⎢b⎥ ⎢ − x 1 ' x 3 − x 3 ' x 2 + x 2 ' x 3 + x 3 ' x1 + x1 ' x 2 − x 2 ' x1 ⎥

⎢ ⎥ ⎢ ⎥

⎢ c ⎥ 1 ⎢ y1 ' x 3 ' x 2 − x1 y 2 ' x 3 '− y3 ' x1 ' x 2 + y3 ' x 2 x1 + x 3 y 2 ' x1 '− y1 ' x 2 ' x 3 ⎥

⎢ ⎥= ⎢ ⎥

⎢d ⎥ D ⎢ y3 ' y 2 + y 2 ' y1 + y1 ' y3 − y3 ' y1 − y 2 ' y3 − y1 ' y 2 ⎥

⎢e⎥ ⎢ − x 2 ' y1 + x 2 ' y3 + x 3 ' y1 − y3 x1 '− y 2 x 3 '+ y 2 x1 ' ⎥

⎢ ⎥ ⎢ ⎥

⎣f ⎦ ⎢⎣ − x 2 ' y1 ' y3 + x 2 ' y3 ' y1 − x 3 ' y 2 ' y1 + y3 y 2 ' x1 '− y 2 y3 ' x1 '+ x 3 ' y1 ' y 2 ⎥⎦

where D = − y 2 ' x 3 '+ y 2 ' x1 '− y3 ' x1 '− y1 ' x 2 '+ y 2 ' x 2 '− y1 ' x 3 ' .

The variables a − f are calculated at the end of the calibration procedure when the user clicks the “Calibrate”

button in the calibration pop-up window.

Finally, to get the physical values ( x ', y ') of a clicked point ( x, y ) , I solve the pair of equations

x = x 'a + y 'b + c

y = x 'd + y 'e + f

for ( x ', y ') to get:

a(y − f ) − d(x − c)

y' =

ea − db

x − by '− c

x'=

a

These equations calculate ( x ', y ') as the mouse is moved in the calibrated image and the results are displayed in

the status bar at the bottom of the screen. When the user clicks a point to digitize, the value ( x ', y ') is copied to

the data table.

Although it is not necessary to know the values of φ and θ for Plot Digitizer to work, this information is given

to the user as a tool to assess the quality of the scanned image and its calibration.

From the definitions of a − f , θ = tan −1 d −1

⎛ ⎞ ⎛ ⎞

the trig. identities tan −1 (x) = sin −1 ⎜ x 2 ⎟

and tan −1 (x) = cos −1 ⎜ 1 2 ⎟

to finally get:

⎝ 1+ x ⎠ ⎝ 1+ x ⎠

⎛ ⎞ ⎛ ⎞

θ = sin −1 ⎜ d 2 2 ⎟ and

φ = cos −1 ⎜ b 2 2 ⎟

−θ .

⎝ a +d ⎠ ⎝ e +b ⎠

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