How can we make xkcd style graphs?

Cover Image for How can we make xkcd style graphs?
Matheus Mello
Matheus Mello
published a few days ago. updated a few hours ago

How to Create XKCD Style Graphs in R: A Fun and Quirky Approach 📊✏️💻

Do you love the witty and hand-drawn graphs from the famous webcomic xkcd? Have you ever wondered if you can create similar quirky graphs in R, specifically using the popular ggplot2 package? Well, you're in luck! In this blog post, I'll show you some easy and fun ways to make xkcd style graphs in R. 🎉📈

The Challenge: Replicating the xkcd Style in R 🤔

Many R users have successfully recreated xkcd style graphs in other software, such as Mathematica and LaTeX. But what about R? Can we achieve the same whimsical and hand-drawn aesthetic with our beloved ggplot2 package?

The Jitter Trick: A Simple Starting Point 🖊️📏

Let's start with a simple technique using ggplot2 that emulates the hand-drawn look. We can add a touch of randomness to our lines using the "jitter" argument in the geom_line function. Here's an example:

ggplot(mapping=aes(x=seq(1,10,.1), y=seq(1,10,.1))) +
  geom_line(position="jitter", color="red", size=2) + theme_bw()

This code will generate a line graph with a hand-drawn appearance. The "jitter" argument introduces small random variations to the position of each point, mimicking the imperfections of freehand drawing. Play around with different colors and line sizes to add your personal touch! 🎨🖌️

Dealing with Axes and Fonts: Tricky, but Not Impossible 📏✒️🧮

While adding jitter to lines is relatively straightforward, replicating the xkcd style for axes and fonts is a bit trickier. In our initial example, the axes are not quite what we want, and the fonts are not in the xkcd style either. Fear not! There are solutions for these challenges.

Modifying Fonts 👀✍️

To achieve the signature irregular and hand-drawn font style of xkcd, you can use the extrafont package in R. This package allows you to import and use custom fonts. You can find a selection of xkcd fonts, such as "Humor Sans," available for download.

Once you have installed extrafont and imported your desired xkcd font, you can use it in your ggplot2 graphs by specifying the family parameter:

theme(text = element_text(family = "Humor Sans"))

Customizing Axes 📏🔧

If you want to go all the way and replicate xkcd's style for axes, you'll need to resort to a more manual approach. A possible solution involves blanking out the axes and drawing them by hand, using the geom_segment function with custom positions and stylings.

For example, you can create custom xkcd-style axes with slight wiggles by adding segments as follows:

xkcd_axes <- data.frame(
  x_start = c(0.5, 0.5),
  x_end   = c(10.5, 0.5),
  y_start = c(0.5, 0.5),
  y_end   = c(0.5, 10.5)

ggplot() +
  geom_segment(data = xkcd_axes, aes(x = x_start, y = y_start, xend = x_end, yend = y_end),
               color = "black", size = 1, lineend = "butt") +
  theme_bw() +
  xlim(0.5, 10.5) + ylim(0.5, 10.5)

With some creativity and tinkering, you can create axes that closely resemble the hand-drawn style of xkcd's graphs! 🎨📐

Your Turn: Get Creative! 🚀🎉

Now that you have a starting point and some tricks up your sleeve, it's time to let your imagination run wild! Explore different graph types, experiment with lines, points, and labels, and see how close you can get to the beloved xkcd style.

Don't forget to share your creations with the R community! Post your xkcd-inspired graphs on social media using the hashtag #XKCDStyleGraphsR and tag fellow R enthusiasts to spread the joy. Let's see who can come up with the quirkiest and most entertaining graphs! 🎨✨

Remember, creating xkcd style graphs in R is all about having fun and embracing imperfections. Enjoy the journey, and before you know it, you'll be creating graphs that make Randall Munroe proud! Happy coding! 😄📊💻

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