: Learning GNU Emacs, 3rd Edition

7.6 Making Simple Drawings

Emacs is not, by any means, a graphics package, but it does provide some limited drawing capabilities. Emacs includes a picture mode that allows you to draw simple pictures using keyboard characters; it also includes artist mode, which enables you to draw quickly using the mouse.

Why would you want to draw with Emacs? Well, Emacs is useful for inserting a quick drawing or diagram in a mail message, something that most graphics packages can't do. It's also good for making block diagrams, timing diagrams (for electrical engineers), timelines, and other simple drawings.

Don't overlook this simple facility! We have seen many papers that were carefully formatted with a simple star-and-bar diagram dropped in the middle. Sure, you can use a graphics package to create a much nicer drawing, but if that's not your area of expertise, an Emacs ASCII drawing might be just the ticket.[40] We discuss picture mode first and then artist mode.

Picture mode turns the area being edited into a kind of drawing board consisting of columns and rows. In picture mode, you can create simple pictures (such as the one in Figure 7-3) using keyboard characters without having them "rearranged" by the word-wrap capabilities of auto-fill mode, for example.

Figure7-3.Drawing in picture mode

To enter picture mode, type M-x edit-picture. The word Picture appears on the mode line, followed by the default drawing direction (more on that shortly). Typing C-c C-c exits picture mode and returns you to whatever major mode you were in before.

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