This will be a [probably] brief tutorial for how I made Figure 1 in this paper (preprint here). Fig. 1 shows sway paths for example young and older adults from my dissertation work, while they were asked to balance under 4 different sensory conditions: eyes open, eyes closed, eyes open on foam, and eyes closed on foam. This (or rather, various version of this) test are called the Clinical Test of Sensory Interaction on Balance or CTSIB. In this case, I used ADPM’s Opal inertial measurement unit (IMU) sensors and MobilityLab program to measure postural sway during these conditions.

the figure

Now, for the paper, I want to show example sway trajectories for two participants for each sensory condition.

First, in MobilityLab, I navigated to my example subject’s profile:

I first navigated to subject 1037’s profile in MobilityLab.

Next, I opened their CTSIB trials, and asked for print view of their sway plots. [I personally encountered some problems with ‘Save visualization as SVG’, though this may have been fixed in a later MobilityLab update, and I haven’t played with this option since. Save as SVG would potentially be the preferable option, to immediately get an editable vector file to work with.]

I then asked for print view.

As a last step in MobilityLab, I asked to save the file as a PDF.

And finally, in MobilityLab, I asked to save the file as a PDF.

Next, I left MobilityLab and headed to Adobe Acrobat, where I opened my PDF. In Adobe, I went to Tools -> Edit PDF.

Tools -> Edit PDF in Adobe Acrobat

Then, I hit CMD+A (or ctrl+A on a Windows computer) to select everything in the PDF (this is important; if you’re not selecting everything you want, you’ll carry over nothing to Illustrator).

Next, I headed to the righthand panel of Adobe, to Edit Using… Open with… and selected Adobe Illustrator. This then gave me an editable PDF inside of Adobe Illustrator to work with. If I had instead just directly opened the PDF inside of Illustrator, it would not have been editable (i.e., I couldn’t just start deleting components of the PDF I didn’t want). I’m still new to Illustrator and sure that there are TONS of ways to accomplish this task both inside and outside of Illustrator, so I’ll stress that this is just one example of how to get this done.

Open with… Adobe Illustrator!

Once I got the editable PDF into Illustrator, I was able to manipulate the image however I wanted — so e.g., I changed all the font sizes, resized the plots, deleted the gray shading (which is normative data, and not what I wanted to highlight in this figure), etc. I won’t go into details on Illustrator because I’m still a newbie to it, and there are SO many tutorials out there. BUT I will stress that Illustrator can be SO helpful for quickly accomplishing tasks like this — i.e., for just tweaking little things on software-generated figures.

Here is my ongoing post with Illustrator tips for new users.

After putting everything together in Illustrator, I saved it as a PDF. In my case, I was able to stop at PDF, as the journal accepts PDFs for figures. However, I could’ve also exported from Illustrator as a high-res JPG, PNG, etc., depending on what the journal wanted.