Surface Plot


Surface plots are one of the useful 3D graphs which you can create using matplotlib. In this post, you will see how to draw a surface plot and customize it with an example that produces 3 figures.

3D plots are awesome to make surface plots. In a surface plot, each point is defined by 3 variables: its latitude, its longitude, and its altitude (X, Y and Z). Thus, 2 types of inputs are possible: 1) A rectangular matrix where each cell represents the altitude.
2) A long format matrix with 3 columns where each row is a point.

This example uses the rectangular format as an input, transforms it to a long format, and makes the plot:

# libraries
from mpl_toolkits.mplot3d import Axes3D
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
import pandas as pd
import seaborn as sns
 
# Get the data (csv file is hosted on the web)
url = 'https://raw.githubusercontent.com/holtzy/The-Python-Graph-Gallery/master/static/data/volcano.csv'
data = pd.read_csv(url)
 
# Transform it to a long format
df=data.unstack().reset_index()
df.columns=["X","Y","Z"]
 
# And transform the old column name in something numeric
df['X']=pd.Categorical(df['X'])
df['X']=df['X'].cat.codes
 
# Make the plot
fig = plt.figure()
ax = fig.gca(projection='3d')
ax.plot_trisurf(df['Y'], df['X'], df['Z'], cmap=plt.cm.viridis, linewidth=0.2)
plt.show()
 
# to Add a color bar which maps values to colors.
fig = plt.figure()
ax = fig.gca(projection='3d')
surf=ax.plot_trisurf(df['Y'], df['X'], df['Z'], cmap=plt.cm.viridis, linewidth=0.2)
fig.colorbar( surf, shrink=0.5, aspect=5)
plt.show()
 
# Rotate it
fig = plt.figure()
ax = fig.gca(projection='3d')
surf=ax.plot_trisurf(df['Y'], df['X'], df['Z'], cmap=plt.cm.viridis, linewidth=0.2)
ax.view_init(30, 45)
plt.show()
 
# Other palette
fig = plt.figure()
ax = fig.gca(projection='3d')
ax.plot_trisurf(df['Y'], df['X'], df['Z'], cmap=plt.cm.jet, linewidth=0.01)
plt.show()

Colors

Interactivity

Animation with python

Animation

Cheat sheets

Caveats

3D

Contact & Edit

👋 This document is a work by Yan Holtz. Any feedback is highly encouraged. You can fill an issue on Github, drop me a message onTwitter, or send an email pasting yan.holtz.data with gmail.com.

This page is just a jupyter notebook, you can edit it here. Please help me making this website better 🙏!

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