About the Line Drawings

Starting when I was a child, I took to collecting old books on natural history.

One of the things I love about these old books is that they were illustrated with line drawings. Many of these were miniature works of art.

Many of these books are now coming out of copyright, and I wanted to share some of these wonderful pictures.

These pages contain images scanned from the books. To do the pictures justice, I have prepared them in a very specific way.

  1. Scan the picture, typically at around 600x600 dpi, in black and white.
  2. Remove unwanted speckles using photo editing software. I use GIMP, but you could use any photo editor.
  3. Convert the scanned images to SVG-based vector graphics. I use the Trace Bitmap function in Inkscape.
  4. Produce images of various sizes, once again using Inkscape.

This gives what I hope you agree are very good results – nice detailed images with smooth lines that can be scaled to any size without going "blocky".

Use of SVG files

To illustrate the use of SVG files, here are two small images of a pig skeleton. The first was created by scaling the TIFF file directly, and the second by generating a small image from the SVG file:

Small image from TIFF Small image from SVG

The image created from the SVG file is much clearer than the other.

As another example, here are two very much enlarged images of the front knee. The first was created by scaling the TIFF file, the second by generating a large image from the SVG file.

Enlarged image from TIFF

Enlarged image from TIFF

Although it does not really contain any more detail, the image created from the SVG file is much smoother.

I have provided the SVG graphics and the original scanned images in TIFF format if you want to repeat the process yourself. Read how to use the line drawings.

I believe these images are out of copyright, and I waive any copyright I have on the prepared images. As far as I know you can use the drawings freely for any purpose, private or commercial, but please see my copyright page before republishing them. I would love to know that other people are enjoying them or finding them useful, so do email me at andrew@stirfrycentral.com to let me know how you get on, or if you want any more details.