Fixing Figures with OmniGraffle

Sometimes, someone sends you a figure or image of some kind that you need, but it doesn’t look good — the resolution is too low, the background was trimmed off poorly, whatever. You could ask them to fix it, but often they won’t know how, or it won’t be possible to obtain a higher-resolution version.

When this happens to me, I use OminiGraffle to fix it. OmniGraffle is the main thing that keeps me from going back to using only Linux. There’s nothing remotely comparable to OmniGraffle in either the Windows or Linux worlds. Now that I’ve gushed about it, here’s the general approach to fixing a figure with OmniGraffle (or an inferior vector illustration program).

  1. Load the original figure and lock it down, so that you can use it as an alignment and placement guide and draw on top of it.
  2. Load the original figure in an image editor and cut out anything useful, pasting it in over the background into the vector editor right where it was before.
  3. Draw in the rest of the figure. Often this includes coordinate axes, numbers, labels, whatever.
  4. Hide or delete the background layer and export your new, clean figure.

I also like to do fun things like snipping out sequential images and animating them to make a movie for presentations (with citations of course), but that requires different tools.