Note

There is now an accompanying numpy tutorial.

This tutorial is based on Mike Müller's tutorial available from the scipy lecture notes.

Sources are available here. Figures are in the figures directory and all scripts are located in the scripts directory. Github repository is here

All code and material is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License (CC-by) http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us

Many thanks to **Bill Wing** and **Christoph Deil** for review and corrections.

Introductory slides on scientific visualization are here

matplotlib is probably the single most used Python package for 2D-graphics. It provides both a very quick way to visualize data from Python and publication-quality figures in many formats. We are going to explore matplotlib in interactive mode covering most common cases.

IPython is an enhanced interactive Python shell that has lots of interesting features including named inputs and outputs, access to shell commands, improved debugging and many more. When we start it with the command line argument -pylab (--pylab since IPython version 0.12), it allows interactive matplotlib sessions that have Matlab/Mathematica-like functionality.

pylab provides a procedural interface to the matplotlib object-oriented plotting library. It is modeled closely after Matlab(TM). Therefore, the majority of plotting commands in pylab have Matlab(TM) analogs with similar arguments. Important commands are explained with interactive examples.

In this section, we want to draw the cosine and sine functions on the same plot. Starting from the default settings, we'll enrich the figure step by step to make it nicer.

First step is to get the data for the sine and cosine functions:

from pylab import * X = np.linspace(-np.pi, np.pi, 256,endpoint=True) C,S = np.cos(X), np.sin(X)

X is now a numpy array with 256 values ranging from -π to +π (included). C is the cosine (256 values) and S is the sine (256 values).

To run the example, you can type them in an IPython interactive session

$ ipython --pylab

This brings us to the IPython prompt:

IPython 0.13 -- An enhanced Interactive Python. ? -> Introduction to IPython's features. %magic -> Information about IPython's 'magic' % functions. help -> Python's own help system. object? -> Details about 'object'. ?object also works, ?? prints more. Welcome to pylab, a matplotlib-based Python environment. For more information, type 'help(pylab)'.

or you can download each of the examples and run it using regular python:

$ python exercice_1.py

You can get source for each step by clicking on the corresponding figure.

Documentation

Matplotlib comes with a set of default settings that allow customizing all kinds of properties. You can control the defaults of almost every property in matplotlib: figure size and dpi, line width, color and style, axes, axis and grid properties, text and font properties and so on. While matplotlib defaults are rather good in most cases, you may want to modify some properties for specific cases.

from pylab import * X = np.linspace(-np.pi, np.pi, 256,endpoint=True) C,S = np.cos(X), np.sin(X) plot(X,C) plot(X,S) show()

Documentation

In the script below, we've instantiated (and commented) all the figure settings that influence the appearance of the plot. The settings have been explicitly set to their default values, but now you can interactively play with the values to explore their affect (see Line properties and Line styles below).

# Import everything from matplotlib (numpy is accessible via 'np' alias) from pylab import * # Create a new figure of size 8x6 points, using 80 dots per inch figure(figsize=(8,6), dpi=80) # Create a new subplot from a grid of 1x1 subplot(1,1,1) X = np.linspace(-np.pi, np.pi, 256,endpoint=True) C,S = np.cos(X), np.sin(X) # Plot cosine using blue color with a continuous line of width 1 (pixels) plot(X, C, color="blue", linewidth=1.0, linestyle="-") # Plot sine using green color with a continuous line of width 1 (pixels) plot(X, S, color="green", linewidth=1.0, linestyle="-") # Set x limits xlim(-4.0,4.0) # Set x ticks xticks(np.linspace(-4,4,9,endpoint=True)) # Set y limits ylim(-1.0,1.0) # Set y ticks yticks(np.linspace(-1,1,5,endpoint=True)) # Save figure using 72 dots per inch # savefig("exercice_2.png",dpi=72) # Show result on screen show()

Documentation

First step, we want to have the cosine in blue and the sine in red and a slighty thicker line for both of them. We'll also slightly alter the figure size to make it more horizontal.

... figure(figsize=(10,6), dpi=80) plot(X, C, color="blue", linewidth=2.5, linestyle="-") plot(X, S, color="red", linewidth=2.5, linestyle="-") ...

Documentation

Current limits of the figure are a bit too tight and we want to make some space in order to clearly see all data points.

... xlim(X.min()*1.1, X.max()*1.1) ylim(C.min()*1.1, C.max()*1.1) ...

Current ticks are not ideal because they do not show the interesting values (+/-π,+/-π/2) for sine and cosine. We'll change them such that they show only these values.

... xticks( [-np.pi, -np.pi/2, 0, np.pi/2, np.pi]) yticks([-1, 0, +1]) ...

Documentation

Ticks are now properly placed but their label is not very explicit. We could guess that 3.142 is π but it would be better to make it explicit. When we set tick values, we can also provide a corresponding label in the second argument list. Note that we'll use latex to allow for nice rendering of the label.

... xticks([-np.pi, -np.pi/2, 0, np.pi/2, np.pi], [r'$-\pi$', r'$-\pi/2$', r'$0$', r'$+\pi/2$', r'$+\pi$']) yticks([-1, 0, +1], [r'$-1$', r'$0$', r'$+1$']) ...

Documentation

Spines are the lines connecting the axis tick marks and noting the boundaries of the data area. They can be placed at arbitrary positions and until now, they were on the border of the axis. We'll change that since we want to have them in the middle. Since there are four of them (top/bottom/left/right), we'll discard the top and right by setting their color to none and we'll move the bottom and left ones to coordinate 0 in data space coordinates.

... ax = gca() ax.spines['right'].set_color('none') ax.spines['top'].set_color('none') ax.xaxis.set_ticks_position('bottom') ax.spines['bottom'].set_position(('data',0)) ax.yaxis.set_ticks_position('left') ax.spines['left'].set_position(('data',0)) ...

Documentation

Let's add a legend in the upper left corner. This only requires adding the keyword argument label (that will be used in the legend box) to the plot commands.

... plot(X, C, color="blue", linewidth=2.5, linestyle="-", label="cosine") plot(X, S, color="red", linewidth=2.5, linestyle="-", label="sine") legend(loc='upper left') ...

Documentation

Let's annotate some interesting points using the annotate command. We chose the 2π/3 value and we want to annotate both the sine and the cosine. We'll first draw a marker on the curve as well as a straight dotted line. Then, we'll use the annotate command to display some text with an arrow.

... t = 2*np.pi/3 plot([t,t],[0,np.cos(t)], color ='blue', linewidth=2.5, linestyle="--") scatter([t,],[np.cos(t),], 50, color ='blue') annotate(r'$\sin(\frac{2\pi}{3})=\frac{\sqrt{3}}{2}$', xy=(t, np.sin(t)), xycoords='data', xytext=(+10, +30), textcoords='offset points', fontsize=16, arrowprops=dict(arrowstyle="->", connectionstyle="arc3,rad=.2")) plot([t,t],[0,np.sin(t)], color ='red', linewidth=2.5, linestyle="--") scatter([t,],[np.sin(t),], 50, color ='red') annotate(r'$\cos(\frac{2\pi}{3})=-\frac{1}{2}$', xy=(t, np.cos(t)), xycoords='data', xytext=(-90, -50), textcoords='offset points', fontsize=16, arrowprops=dict(arrowstyle="->", connectionstyle="arc3,rad=.2")) ...

The tick labels are now hardly visible because of the blue and red lines. We can make them bigger and we can also adjust their properties such that they'll be rendered on a semi-transparent white background. This will allow us to see both the data and the labels.

... for label in ax.get_xticklabels() + ax.get_yticklabels(): label.set_fontsize(16) label.set_bbox(dict(facecolor='white', edgecolor='None', alpha=0.65 )) ...

So far we have used implicit figure and axes creation. This is handy for fast plots. We can have more control over the display using figure, subplot, and axes explicitly. A figure in matplotlib means the whole window in the user interface. Within this figure there can be subplots. While subplot positions the plots in a regular grid, axes allows free placement within the figure. Both can be useful depending on your intention. We've already worked with figures and subplots without explicitly calling them. When we call plot, matplotlib calls gca() to get the current axes and gca in turn calls gcf() to get the current figure. If there is none it calls figure() to make one, strictly speaking, to make a subplot(111). Let's look at the details.

A figure is the windows in the GUI that has "Figure #" as title. Figures are numbered starting from 1 as opposed to the normal Python way starting from 0. This is clearly MATLAB-style. There are several parameters that determine what the figure looks like:

Argument | Default | Description |
---|---|---|

num | 1 | number of figure |

figsize | figure.figsize | figure size in in inches (width, height) |

dpi | figure.dpi | resolution in dots per inch |

facecolor | figure.facecolor | color of the drawing background |

edgecolor | figure.edgecolor | color of edge around the drawing background |

frameon | True | draw figure frame or not |

The defaults can be specified in the resource file and will be used most of the time. Only the number of the figure is frequently changed.

When you work with the GUI you can close a figure by clicking on the x in the upper right corner. But you can close a figure programmatically by calling close. Depending on the argument it closes (1) the current figure (no argument), (2) a specific figure (figure number or figure instance as argument), or (3) all figures (all as argument).

As with other objects, you can set figure properties also setp or with the set_something methods.

With subplot you can arrange plots in a regular grid. You need to specify the number of rows and columns and the number of the plot. Note that the gridspec command is a more powerful alternative.

Axes are very similar to subplots but allow placement of plots at any location in the figure. So if we want to put a smaller plot inside a bigger one we do so with axes.

Well formatted ticks are an important part of publishing-ready figures. Matplotlib provides a totally configurable system for ticks. There are tick locators to specify where ticks should appear and tick formatters to give ticks the appearance you want. Major and minor ticks can be located and formatted independently from each other. Per default minor ticks are not shown, i.e. there is only an empty list for them because it is as NullLocator (see below).

There are several locators for different kind of requirements:

Class | Description |
---|---|

NullLocator |
No ticks. |

IndexLocator |
Place a tick on every multiple of some base number of points plotted. |

FixedLocator |
Tick locations are fixed. |

LinearLocator |
Determine the tick locations. |

MultipleLocator |
Set a tick on every integer that is multiple of some base. |

AutoLocator |
Select no more than n intervals at nice locations. |

LogLocator |
Determine the tick locations for log axes. |

All of these locators derive from the base class matplotlib.ticker.Locator. You can make your own locator deriving from it. Handling dates as ticks can be especially tricky. Therefore, matplotlib provides special locators in matplotlib.dates.

Hints

You need to use the fill_between command.

Starting from the code below, try to reproduce the graphic on the right taking care of filled areas:

from pylab import * n = 256 X = np.linspace(-np.pi,np.pi,n,endpoint=True) Y = np.sin(2*X) plot (X, Y+1, color='blue', alpha=1.00) plot (X, Y-1, color='blue', alpha=1.00) show()

Click on figure for solution.

Hints

Color is given by angle of (X,Y).

Starting from the code below, try to reproduce the graphic on the right taking care of marker size, color and transparency.

from pylab import * n = 1024 X = np.random.normal(0,1,n) Y = np.random.normal(0,1,n) scatter(X,Y) show()

Click on figure for solution.

Hints

You need to take care of text alignment.

Starting from the code below, try to reproduce the graphic on the right by adding labels for red bars.

from pylab import * n = 12 X = np.arange(n) Y1 = (1-X/float(n)) * np.random.uniform(0.5,1.0,n) Y2 = (1-X/float(n)) * np.random.uniform(0.5,1.0,n) bar(X, +Y1, facecolor='#9999ff', edgecolor='white') bar(X, -Y2, facecolor='#ff9999', edgecolor='white') for x,y in zip(X,Y1): text(x+0.4, y+0.05, '%.2f' % y, ha='center', va= 'bottom') ylim(-1.25,+1.25) show()

Click on figure for solution.

Hints

You need to use the clabel command.

Starting from the code below, try to reproduce the graphic on the right taking care of the colormap (see Colormaps below).

from pylab import * def f(x,y): return (1-x/2+x**5+y**3)*np.exp(-x**2-y**2) n = 256 x = np.linspace(-3,3,n) y = np.linspace(-3,3,n) X,Y = np.meshgrid(x,y) contourf(X, Y, f(X,Y), 8, alpha=.75, cmap='jet') C = contour(X, Y, f(X,Y), 8, colors='black', linewidth=.5) show()

Click on figure for solution.

Hints

You need to take care of the `origin` of the image in the imshow command and
use a colorbar

Starting from the code below, try to reproduce the graphic on the right taking care of colormap, image interpolation and origin.

from pylab import * def f(x,y): return (1-x/2+x**5+y**3)*np.exp(-x**2-y**2) n = 10 x = np.linspace(-3,3,4*n) y = np.linspace(-3,3,3*n) X,Y = np.meshgrid(x,y) imshow(f(X,Y)), show()

Click on figure for solution.

Hints

You need to modify Z.

Starting from the code below, try to reproduce the graphic on the right taking care of colors and slices size.

from pylab import * n = 20 Z = np.random.uniform(0,1,n) pie(Z), show()

Click on figure for solution.

Hints

You need to draw arrows twice.

Starting from the code above, try to reproduce the graphic on the right taking care of colors and orientations.

from pylab import * n = 8 X,Y = np.mgrid[0:n,0:n] quiver(X,Y), show()

Click on figure for solution.

Starting from the code below, try to reproduce the graphic on the right taking care of line styles.

from pylab import * axes = gca() axes.set_xlim(0,4) axes.set_ylim(0,3) axes.set_xticklabels([]) axes.set_yticklabels([]) show()

Click on figure for solution.

Hints

You can use several subplots with different partition.

Starting from the code below, try to reproduce the graphic on the right.

from pylab import * subplot(2,2,1) subplot(2,2,3) subplot(2,2,4) show()

Click on figure for solution.

Hints

You only need to modify the `axes` line

Starting from the code below, try to reproduce the graphic on the right.

from pylab import * axes([0,0,1,1]) N = 20 theta = np.arange(0.0, 2*np.pi, 2*np.pi/N) radii = 10*np.random.rand(N) width = np.pi/4*np.random.rand(N) bars = bar(theta, radii, width=width, bottom=0.0) for r,bar in zip(radii, bars): bar.set_facecolor( cm.jet(r/10.)) bar.set_alpha(0.5) show()

Click on figure for solution.

Hints

You need to use contourf

Starting from the code below, try to reproduce the graphic on the right.

from pylab import * from mpl_toolkits.mplot3d import Axes3D fig = figure() ax = Axes3D(fig) X = np.arange(-4, 4, 0.25) Y = np.arange(-4, 4, 0.25) X, Y = np.meshgrid(X, Y) R = np.sqrt(X**2 + Y**2) Z = np.sin(R) ax.plot_surface(X, Y, Z, rstride=1, cstride=1, cmap='hot') show()

Click on figure for solution.

Hints

Have a look at the matplotlib logo.

Try to do the same from scratch !

Click on figure for solution.

Matplotlib benefits from extensive documentation as well as a large community of users and developpers. Here are some links of interest:

- Pyplot tutorial
- Introduction
- Controlling line properties
- Working with multiple figures and axes
- Working with text

- Image tutorial
- Startup commands
- Importing image data into Numpy arrays
- Plotting numpy arrays as images

- Text tutorial
- Text introduction
- Basic text commands
- Text properties and layout
- Writing mathematical expressions
- Text rendering With LaTeX
- Annotating text

- Artist tutorial
- Introduction
- Customizing your objects
- Object containers
- Figure container
- Axes container
- Axis containers
- Tick containers

- Path tutorial
- Introduction
- Bézier example
- Compound paths

- Transforms tutorial
- Introduction
- Data coordinates
- Axes coordinates
- Blended transformations
- Using offset transforms to create a shadow effect
- The transformation pipeline

- User guide
- FAQ
- Installation
- Usage
- How-To
- Troubleshooting
- Environment Variables

- Screenshots

The code is fairly well documented and you can quickly access a specific command from within a python session:

>>> from pylab import * >>> help(plot) Help on function plot in module matplotlib.pyplot: plot(*args, **kwargs) Plot lines and/or markers to the :class:`~matplotlib.axes.Axes`. *args* is a variable length argument, allowing for multiple *x*, *y* pairs with an optional format string. For example, each of the following is legal:: plot(x, y) # plot x and y using default line style and color plot(x, y, 'bo') # plot x and y using blue circle markers plot(y) # plot y using x as index array 0..N-1 plot(y, 'r+') # ditto, but with red plusses If *x* and/or *y* is 2-dimensional, then the corresponding columns will be plotted. ...

The matplotlib gallery is also incredibly useful when you search how to render a given graphic. Each example comes with its source.

A smaller gallery is also available here.

Finally, there is a user mailing list where you can ask for help and a developers mailing list that is more technical.

Here is a set of tables that show main properties and styles.

Property | Description | Appearance |
---|---|---|

alpha (or a) | alpha transparency on 0-1 scale | |

antialiased | True or False - use antialised rendering | |

color (or c) | matplotlib color arg | |

linestyle (or ls) | see Line properties | |

linewidth (or lw) | float, the line width in points | |

solid_capstyle | Cap style for solid lines | |

solid_joinstyle | Join style for solid lines | |

dash_capstyle | Cap style for dashes | |

dash_joinstyle | Join style for dashes | |

marker | see Markers | |

markeredgewidth (mew) | line width around the marker symbol | |

markeredgecolor (mec) | edge color if a marker is used | |

markerfacecolor (mfc) | face color if a marker is used | |

markersize (ms) | size of the marker in points |

Symbol | Description | Appearance |
---|---|---|

- |
solid line | |

-- |
dashed line | |

-. |
dash-dot line | |

: |
dotted line | |

. |
points | |

, |
pixels | |

o |
circle | |

^ |
triangle up | |

v |
triangle down | |

< |
triangle left | |

> |
triangle right | |

s |
square | |

+ |
plus | |

x |
cross | |

D |
diamond | |

d |
thin diamond | |

1 |
tripod down | |

2 |
tripod up | |

3 |
tripod left | |

4 |
tripod right | |

h |
hexagon | |

H |
rotated hexagon | |

p |
pentagon | |

| |
vertical line | |

_ |
horizontal line |

Symbol | Description | Appearance |
---|---|---|

0 | tick left | |

1 | tick right | |

2 | tick up | |

3 | tick down | |

4 | caret left | |

5 | caret right | |

6 | caret up | |

7 | caret down | |

o |
circle | |

D |
diamond | |

h |
hexagon 1 | |

H |
hexagon 2 | |

_ |
horizontal line | |

1 |
tripod down | |

2 |
tripod up | |

3 |
tripod left | |

4 |
tripod right | |

8 |
octagon | |

p |
pentagon | |

^ |
triangle up | |

v |
triangle down | |

< |
triangle left | |

> |
triangle right | |

d |
thin diamond | |

, |
pixel | |

+ |
plus | |

. |
point | |

s |
square | |

* |
star | |

| |
vertical line | |

x |
cross | |

r'$\sqrt{2}$' |
any latex expression |

All colormaps can be reversed by appending `_r`. For instance, `gray_r` is
the reverse of `gray`.

If you want to know more about colormaps, checks Documenting the matplotlib colormaps.

Name | Appearance |
---|---|

autumn | |

bone | |

cool | |

copper | |

flag | |

gray | |

hot | |

hsv | |

jet | |

pink | |

prism | |

spectral | |

spring | |

summer | |

winter |

Name | Appearance |
---|---|

gist_earth | |

gist_gray | |

gist_heat | |

gist_ncar | |

gist_rainbow | |

gist_stern | |

gist_yarg |

Name | Appearance |
---|---|

BrBG | |

PiYG | |

PRGn | |

PuOr | |

RdBu | |

RdGy | |

RdYlBu | |

RdYlGn | |

Spectral |

Name | Appearance |
---|---|

Blues | |

BuGn | |

BuPu | |

GnBu | |

Greens | |

Greys | |

Oranges | |

OrRd | |

PuBu | |

PuBuGn | |

PuRd | |

Purples | |

RdPu | |

Reds | |

YlGn | |

YlGnBu | |

YlOrBr | |

YlOrRd |

Name | Appearance |
---|---|

Accent | |

Dark2 | |

Paired | |

Pastel1 | |

Pastel2 | |

Set1 | |

Set2 | |

Set3 |

Name | Appearance |
---|---|

afmhot | |

binary | |

brg | |

bwr | |

coolwarm | |

CMRmap | |

cubehelix | |

gnuplot | |

gnuplot2 | |

ocean | |

rainbow | |

seismic | |

terrain |