Using Adobe Illustrator to Create A Sine Wave

When working on the AddOhms video on the difference between AC and DC, I needed a vector diagram with a sine wave.  Using Adobe Illustrator, I tried with a Bézier tool, but it didn’t look quite right.   Here’s two methods I found to create a better line sine.

The Quick (but not Accurate)

This method will give you something that looks sort of like a sine wave, but isn’t actually a sine wave.  So if you just need a quick wavy line, this is pretty simple.

Step1:  Draw a line

The first step is to simply draw a line like this:

line_only

Step 2:  Use an Effect (Zig Zag)

Next select the “Zig Zag” effect from the Effects Menu.

select_zig_zag.png

Step 3:  Enable Smooth

The default waveform will look like a triangle wave.  Change the Points to “Smooth” in the Zig Zag dialog and you end up with a rounded out “waveform.”  (Don’t forget to enable “Preview”!)

triangle_round_with_smooth

That’s not quite a Sine Wave but for many purposes it’ll work just fine.  So if you need a mathematically correct sine wave, check out this code example.

Using Postscript for a (more) correct Sine Wave

Using Illustrator’s Postscript interpreter, you can insert a better approximation of a sine wave as the images from Telegraphics show how:

sine6

Toby Thain offers this GPL Postscript code, which will generate the sine wave below using Illustrator’s Postscript Interpreter.

Once you download sine1.ps, use File -> “Place…” to place the sine1.ps into your document.  I recommend checking Telegraphics.com.au for some cool tools.

sine_placed

Conclusion

Whether you use the Zig Zag effort or Toby’s code, either way you can get some amazing results for the most elementary wave shape.

Question: What other tools or methods have you used to generate waveforms for documentation? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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