matplotlib.pyplot.pcolormesh(*args, alpha=None, norm=None, cmap=None, vmin=None, vmax=None, shading=None, antialiased=False, data=None, **kwargs)[source]#

Create a pseudocolor plot with a non-regular rectangular grid.

Call signature:

pcolormesh([X, Y,] C, **kwargs)

X and Y can be used to specify the corners of the quadrilaterals.


pcolormesh is similar to pcolor. It is much faster and preferred in most cases. For a detailed discussion on the differences see Differences between pcolor() and pcolormesh().

C2D array-like

The color-mapped values. Color-mapping is controlled by cmap, norm, vmin, and vmax.

X, Yarray-like, optional

The coordinates of the corners of quadrilaterals of a pcolormesh:

(X[i+1, j], Y[i+1, j])       (X[i+1, j+1], Y[i+1, j+1])
                      |     |
    (X[i, j], Y[i, j])       (X[i, j+1], Y[i, j+1])

Note that the column index corresponds to the x-coordinate, and the row index corresponds to y. For details, see the Notes section below.

If shading='flat' the dimensions of X and Y should be one greater than those of C, and the quadrilateral is colored due to the value at C[i, j]. If X, Y and C have equal dimensions, a warning will be raised and the last row and column of C will be ignored.

If shading='nearest' or 'gouraud', the dimensions of X and Y should be the same as those of C (if not, a ValueError will be raised). For 'nearest' the color C[i, j] is centered on (X[i, j], Y[i, j]). For 'gouraud', a smooth interpolation is caried out between the quadrilateral corners.

If X and/or Y are 1-D arrays or column vectors they will be expanded as needed into the appropriate 2D arrays, making a rectangular grid.

cmapstr or Colormap, default: rcParams["image.cmap"] (default: 'viridis')

The Colormap instance or registered colormap name used to map scalar data to colors.

normstr or Normalize, optional

The normalization method used to scale scalar data to the [0, 1] range before mapping to colors using cmap. By default, a linear scaling is used, mapping the lowest value to 0 and the highest to 1.

If given, this can be one of the following:

vmin, vmaxfloat, optional

When using scalar data and no explicit norm, vmin and vmax define the data range that the colormap covers. By default, the colormap covers the complete value range of the supplied data. It is an error to use vmin/vmax when a norm instance is given (but using a str norm name together with vmin/vmax is acceptable).

edgecolors{'none', None, 'face', color, color sequence}, optional

The color of the edges. Defaults to 'none'. Possible values:

The singular form edgecolor works as an alias.

alphafloat, default: None

The alpha blending value, between 0 (transparent) and 1 (opaque).

shading{'flat', 'nearest', 'gouraud', 'auto'}, optional

The fill style for the quadrilateral; defaults to 'flat' or rcParams["pcolor.shading"] (default: 'auto'). Possible values:

  • 'flat': A solid color is used for each quad. The color of the quad (i, j), (i+1, j), (i, j+1), (i+1, j+1) is given by C[i, j]. The dimensions of X and Y should be one greater than those of C; if they are the same as C, then a deprecation warning is raised, and the last row and column of C are dropped.

  • 'nearest': Each grid point will have a color centered on it, extending halfway between the adjacent grid centers. The dimensions of X and Y must be the same as C.

  • 'gouraud': Each quad will be Gouraud shaded: The color of the corners (i', j') are given by C[i', j']. The color values of the area in between is interpolated from the corner values. The dimensions of X and Y must be the same as C. When Gouraud shading is used, edgecolors is ignored.

  • 'auto': Choose 'flat' if dimensions of X and Y are one larger than C. Choose 'nearest' if dimensions are the same.

See pcolormesh grids and shading for more description.

snapbool, default: False

Whether to snap the mesh to pixel boundaries.

rasterizedbool, optional

Rasterize the pcolormesh when drawing vector graphics. This can speed up rendering and produce smaller files for large data sets. See also Rasterization for vector graphics.

Other Parameters:
dataindexable object, optional

If given, all parameters also accept a string s, which is interpreted as data[s] (unless this raises an exception).


Additionally, the following arguments are allowed. They are passed along to the QuadMesh constructor:




a filter function, which takes a (m, n, 3) float array and a dpi value, and returns a (m, n, 3) array and two offsets from the bottom left corner of the image


array-like or scalar or None



antialiased or aa or antialiaseds

bool or list of bools


(M, N) array-like or M*N array-like


CapStyle or {'butt', 'projecting', 'round'}


(vmin: float, vmax: float)






Patch or (Path, Transform) or None


Colormap or str or None


color or list of rgba tuples

edgecolor or ec or edgecolors

color or list of colors or 'face'

facecolor or facecolors or fc

color or list of colors






{'/', '\', '|', '-', '+', 'x', 'o', 'O', '.', '*'}




JoinStyle or {'miter', 'round', 'bevel'}



linestyle or dashes or linestyles or ls

str or tuple or list thereof

linewidth or linewidths or lw

float or list of floats




Normalize or str or None

offset_transform or transOffset



(N, 2) or (2,) array-like




None or bool or float or callable






(scale: float, length: float, randomness: float)


bool or None






list of str or None





See also


An alternative implementation with slightly different features. For a detailed discussion on the differences see Differences between pcolor() and pcolormesh().


If X and Y are each equidistant, imshow can be a faster alternative.


Masked arrays

C may be a masked array. If C[i, j] is masked, the corresponding quadrilateral will be transparent. Masking of X and Y is not supported. Use pcolor if you need this functionality.

Grid orientation

The grid orientation follows the standard matrix convention: An array C with shape (nrows, ncolumns) is plotted with the column number as X and the row number as Y.

Differences between pcolor() and pcolormesh()

Both methods are used to create a pseudocolor plot of a 2D array using quadrilaterals.

The main difference lies in the created object and internal data handling: While pcolor returns a PolyCollection, pcolormesh returns a QuadMesh. The latter is more specialized for the given purpose and thus is faster. It should almost always be preferred.

There is also a slight difference in the handling of masked arrays. Both pcolor and pcolormesh support masked arrays for C. However, only pcolor supports masked arrays for X and Y. The reason lies in the internal handling of the masked values. pcolor leaves out the respective polygons from the PolyCollection. pcolormesh sets the facecolor of the masked elements to transparent. You can see the difference when using edgecolors. While all edges are drawn irrespective of masking in a QuadMesh, the edge between two adjacent masked quadrilaterals in pcolor is not drawn as the corresponding polygons do not exist in the PolyCollection.

Another difference is the support of Gouraud shading in pcolormesh, which is not available with pcolor.