I am looking to create a experimental schematic similar to this image, and am wondering what graphic design program I should use.

enter image description here

Here are my criteria:

  • Easy to use for a beginner
  • Easy to modify particular components when the experimental setup changes
  • Saveable in a variety of formats, perhaps including svg

I am curious as to both free and paid options. Thanks all!

  • 1
    This is a perfect candidate for Adobe Illustrator, but Illustrator may not be the easiest (or cheapest) option.
    – Scott
    Apr 8 '13 at 18:22
  • 1
    You can get a single-app membership for Illustrator for around $20 a month, which is not bad at all. There is also a Student and Teacher edition that is cheaper, so maybe you or a student/teacher friend can look into that.
    – Yisela
    Apr 8 '13 at 20:36
  • If you're willing to use 3D for this, Google Sketchup is an easy-to-use 3D modelling program, particularly useful for creating constructions such as these. Anyone can learn to use it in a couple of hours, so you might want to give it a shot. It doesn't match your third criterium, but it does match the first two perfectly.
    – paddotk
    Apr 10 '13 at 9:37
  • As for the saving, you can save it to 3d formats or 2D formats such as .png, .jpg and a few others.
    – paddotk
    Apr 10 '13 at 9:37

"Easy to use" is a bit of a challenge is that's going to depend on a whole lot of criteria.

That said, I'd suggest Inkscape. It's open source, so is no cost to give it a try. It's not as robust as Adobe Illustrator, so would argue that it's simpler to learn. And it can certainly save out in many formats, including it's native format SVG.


Option 1

Inkscape as already suggested if you don't intend to use it often or want to spend several 100 dollars.

Option 2

Buy the design edition of Adobe CS6. I say buy the design package because at the rate of just purchasing Illustrator it is a waste. You can buy the design package which would include Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, and Acrobat. You could always find someone with an old copy or key they are not using and go that route.

Option 3

It would be a great time to learn CSS3 shapes and maybe even add some animation. Just a quick example of shapes here

Any solution may prove timely but it really all depends on what you plan to get out of it or time you want to invest.


I'm surprised that no one mentioned Microsoft Powerpoint.... To me, it looks like that was the program it was made with based on the border thicknesses, that all the shapes are readily available in the insert shape menu, and has the same default font as powerpoint.

Even if it was not made with this program, Powerpoint is a great program for simple graphics like the above. I am a student in the engineering/sciences and Powerpoint is widely used for presentations, posters, and papers. The upside is that it's pretty easy to learn and available all over the place

The downside is that it is limited to simpler graphics and it is pretty expensive if you are not planning to use the rest of the programs in Microsoft Office's bundle.

Just a thought, I know this thread is old, but it might help someone somewhere!

  • Good point. Many may not recommend Powerpoint because it's not suitable for print production, but this may be possible in PowerPoint... output desires may alter that though.
    – Scott
    Jun 15 '15 at 21:47
  • Just as an added point to this comment, you can tweak ppt so that it does export images at 300dpi @ 100% ... see here hos.ufl.edu/meteng/HansonWebpagecontents/… - I have mine upgraded for things like pie charts and graphs for printed presentations, but any image can be exported this way.
    – Mark Read
    Jun 15 '15 at 23:28

Mondrian is a free vector graphics web app like Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape, and runs in your browser http://mondrian.io/.

It's open-source. So if you're into lasers and technical stuff, you can build your own copy via Github.

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