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Customizing Location of Subplot Using GridSpec

How to create grid-shaped combinations of axes.

specifies the geometry of the grid that a subplot will be placed in. The number of rows and number of columns of the grid need to be set. Optionally, the subplot layout parameters (e.g., left, right, etc.) can be tuned.
specifies the location of the subplot in the given GridSpec.
a helper function that is similar to subplot() but uses 0-based indexing and let subplot to occupy multiple cells.
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
import matplotlib.gridspec as gridspec

Basic Example of using subplot2grid

# To use :func:`~matplotlib.pyplot.subplot2grid`, you provide geometry of
# the grid and the location of the subplot in the grid. For a simple
# single-cell subplot

fig = plt.figure()
ax = plt.subplot2grid((2, 2), (0, 0))

# is identical to

fig = plt.figure()
ax = plt.subplot(2, 2, 1)
  • ../../_images/sphx_glr_gridspec_001.png
  • ../../_images/sphx_glr_gridspec_002.png

Note that, unlike Matplotlib’s subplot, the index starts from 0 in GridSpec.

To create a subplot that spans multiple cells:

fig = plt.figure()
ax2 = plt.subplot2grid((3, 3), (1, 0), colspan=2)
ax3 = plt.subplot2grid((3, 3), (1, 2), rowspan=2)

For example, see the output of the following commands:

ax1 = plt.subplot2grid((3, 3), (0, 0), colspan=3)
ax2 = plt.subplot2grid((3, 3), (1, 0), colspan=2)
ax3 = plt.subplot2grid((3, 3), (1, 2), rowspan=2)
ax4 = plt.subplot2grid((3, 3), (2, 0))
ax5 = plt.subplot2grid((3, 3), (2, 1))

GridSpec and SubplotSpec

You can create GridSpec explicitly and use them to create a subplot.

For example:

fig = plt.figure()
ax = plt.subplot2grid((2, 2), (0, 0))

# is equal to:

fig = plt.figure()
gs = gridspec.GridSpec(2, 2)
ax = plt.subplot(gs[0, 0])

# A GridSpec instance provides array-like (2d or 1d) indexing that
# returns the SubplotSpec instance. For a SubplotSpec that spans multiple
# cells, use slice.

ax2 = plt.subplot(gs[1, :-1])
ax3 = plt.subplot(gs[1:, -1])
  • ../../_images/sphx_glr_gridspec_005.png
  • ../../_images/sphx_glr_gridspec_006.png

The above example becomes

fig = plt.figure()
gs = gridspec.GridSpec(3, 3)
ax1 = plt.subplot(gs[0, :])
ax2 = plt.subplot(gs[1, :-1])
ax3 = plt.subplot(gs[1:, -1])
ax4 = plt.subplot(gs[-1, 0])
ax5 = plt.subplot(gs[-1, -2])

Adjust GridSpec layout

When a GridSpec is explicitly used, you can adjust the layout parameters of subplots that are created from the GridSpec.

fig = plt.figure()
gs1 = gridspec.GridSpec(3, 3)
gs1.update(left=0.05, right=0.48, wspace=0.05)

This is similar to subplots_adjust(), but it only affects the subplots that are created from the given GridSpec.

For example, see this code and the resulting figure:

fig = plt.figure()
gs1 = gridspec.GridSpec(3, 3)
gs1.update(left=0.05, right=0.48, wspace=0.05)
ax1 = plt.subplot(gs1[:-1, :])
ax2 = plt.subplot(gs1[-1, :-1])
ax3 = plt.subplot(gs1[-1, -1])

fig = plt.figure()
gs2 = gridspec.GridSpec(3, 3)
gs2.update(left=0.55, right=0.98, hspace=0.05)
ax4 = plt.subplot(gs2[:, :-1])
ax5 = plt.subplot(gs2[:-1, -1])
ax6 = plt.subplot(gs2[-1, -1])
  • ../../_images/sphx_glr_gridspec_009.png
  • ../../_images/sphx_glr_gridspec_010.png

GridSpec using SubplotSpec

You can create GridSpec from the SubplotSpec, in which case its layout parameters are set to that of the location of the given SubplotSpec.

fig = plt.figure()
gs0 = gridspec.GridSpec(1, 2)

gs00 = gridspec.GridSpecFromSubplotSpec(3, 3, subplot_spec=gs0[0])
gs01 = gridspec.GridSpecFromSubplotSpec(3, 3, subplot_spec=gs0[1])

A Complex Nested GridSpec using SubplotSpec

Here’s a more sophisticated example of nested GridSpec where we put a box around each cell of the outer 4x4 grid, by hiding appropriate spines in each of the inner 3x3 grids.

import numpy as np
from itertools import product

def squiggle_xy(a, b, c, d, i=np.arange(0.0, 2*np.pi, 0.05)):
    return np.sin(i*a)*np.cos(i*b), np.sin(i*c)*np.cos(i*d)

fig = plt.figure(figsize=(8, 8))

# gridspec inside gridspec
outer_grid = gridspec.GridSpec(4, 4, wspace=0.0, hspace=0.0)

for i in range(16):
    inner_grid = gridspec.GridSpecFromSubplotSpec(
      3, 3, subplot_spec=outer_grid[i], wspace=0.0, hspace=0.0)
    a, b = int(i/4)+1, i % 4+1
    for j, (c, d) in enumerate(product(range(1, 4), repeat=2)):
        ax = plt.Subplot(fig, inner_grid[j])
        ax.plot(*squiggle_xy(a, b, c, d))

all_axes = fig.get_axes()

# show only the outside spines
for ax in all_axes:
    for sp in ax.spines.values():
    if ax.is_first_row():
    if ax.is_last_row():
    if ax.is_first_col():
    if ax.is_last_col():

# GridSpec with Varying Cell Sizes
# ================================
# By default, GridSpec creates cells of equal sizes. You can adjust
# relative heights and widths of rows and columns. Note that absolute
# values are meaningless, only their relative ratios matter.

fig = plt.figure()
gs = gridspec.GridSpec(2, 2,
                       width_ratios=[1, 2],
                       height_ratios=[4, 1]

ax1 = plt.subplot(gs[0])
ax2 = plt.subplot(gs[1])
ax3 = plt.subplot(gs[2])
ax4 = plt.subplot(gs[3])
  • ../../_images/sphx_glr_gridspec_012.png
  • ../../_images/sphx_glr_gridspec_013.png

Total running time of the script: ( 0 minutes 3.318 seconds)

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