I am looking for recommendations on software that can create orbit sketches such as the image below. Adding an informative sketch to an article can help readers better understand the idea.

I am familiar with Tikz but I did not manage to create too complex plots without getting lost in the code.

Open source is better but I don't mind paying a bit for a good solution. I will also apprentice a nice GUI :) Any suggestion?

Source: https://adcsforbeginners.files.wordpress.com/2015/07/a1.png


  • $\begingroup$ Yeah... SketchUp is terrible when it comes to drawing anything round or curved, and I'm not too fond of taking screenshots in Kerbal Space Program after preparing the set of orbits through hyperedit, then maneuvers through PreciseNode. $\endgroup$ – SF. Nov 19 '18 at 9:56
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    $\begingroup$ Graphics like this you can do quite easily in any vector graphics program. Inkscape is one quite popular free software for that. $\endgroup$ – asdfex Nov 19 '18 at 11:27
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    $\begingroup$ I use Mathematica, which is commercial (and probably too expensive), but wolfram.com (not Wolfram Alpha) allows you to access some Mathematica features for free online. $\endgroup$ – user7073 Nov 19 '18 at 20:50
  • $\begingroup$ @barrycarter How much learning is required to make diagrams like this using Mathematica, starting from zero experience? What kind of syntax would be used? I'm intrigued. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Nov 20 '18 at 1:09
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    $\begingroup$ Wow, didn't expect anyone to actually take me up on it :) I'd like to clean it up, but, in ugly form: go to github.com/barrycarter/bcapps/tree/master look for any subdirectory with files like image* (STACK has the most, QUORA, REDDIT, MATHEMATICA also have a few), and then find the .m file referencing that image. Somewhere in all the clutter in the .m file are the graphics that draw the image. I do want to clean this up, but I thought it'd be good to at least give a sample. Feel free, as always, to contact me directly (contact info in profile) $\endgroup$ – user7073 Nov 20 '18 at 16:47

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