Placing Colorbars

Colorbars indicate the quantitative extent of image data. Placing in a figure is non-trivial because room needs to be made for them.

The simplest case is just attaching a colorbar to each axes:

import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
import numpy as np


# Fixing random state for reproducibility
np.random.seed(19680801)

fig, axs = plt.subplots(2, 2)
cmaps = ['RdBu_r', 'viridis']
for col in range(2):
    for row in range(2):
        ax = axs[row, col]
        pcm = ax.pcolormesh(np.random.random((20, 20)) * (col + 1),
                            cmap=cmaps[col])
        fig.colorbar(pcm, ax=ax)
plt.show()
colorbar placement

The first column has the same type of data in both rows, so it may be desirable to combine the colorbar which we do by calling Figure.colorbar with a list of axes instead of a single axes.

fig, axs = plt.subplots(2, 2)
cmaps = ['RdBu_r', 'viridis']
for col in range(2):
    for row in range(2):
        ax = axs[row, col]
        pcm = ax.pcolormesh(np.random.random((20, 20)) * (col + 1),
                            cmap=cmaps[col])
    fig.colorbar(pcm, ax=axs[:, col], shrink=0.6)
plt.show()
colorbar placement

Relatively complicated colorbar layouts are possible using this paradigm. Note that this example works far better with constrained_layout=True

fig, axs = plt.subplots(3, 3, constrained_layout=True)
for ax in axs.flat:
    pcm = ax.pcolormesh(np.random.random((20, 20)))

fig.colorbar(pcm, ax=axs[0, :2], shrink=0.6, location='bottom')
fig.colorbar(pcm, ax=[axs[0, 2]], location='bottom')
fig.colorbar(pcm, ax=axs[1:, :], location='right', shrink=0.6)
fig.colorbar(pcm, ax=[axs[2, 1]], location='left')
plt.show()
colorbar placement

Colorbars with fixed-aspect-ratio axes

Placing colorbars for axes with a fixed aspect ratio pose a particular challenge as the parent axes changes size depending on the data view.

fig, axs = plt.subplots(2, 2,  constrained_layout=True)
cmaps = ['RdBu_r', 'viridis']
for col in range(2):
    for row in range(2):
        ax = axs[row, col]
        pcm = ax.pcolormesh(np.random.random((20, 20)) * (col + 1),
                            cmap=cmaps[col])
        if col == 0:
            ax.set_aspect(2)
        else:
            ax.set_aspect(1/2)
        if row == 1:
            fig.colorbar(pcm, ax=ax, shrink=0.6)
plt.show()
colorbar placement

One way around this issue is to use an Axes.inset_axes to locate the axes in axes coordinates. Note that if you zoom in on the axes, and change the shape of the axes, the colorbar will also change position.

fig, axs = plt.subplots(2, 2, constrained_layout=True)
cmaps = ['RdBu_r', 'viridis']
for col in range(2):
    for row in range(2):
        ax = axs[row, col]
        pcm = ax.pcolormesh(np.random.random((20, 20)) * (col + 1),
                            cmap=cmaps[col])
        if col == 0:
            ax.set_aspect(2)
        else:
            ax.set_aspect(1/2)
        if row == 1:
            cax = ax.inset_axes([1.04, 0.2, 0.05, 0.6], transform=ax.transAxes)
            fig.colorbar(pcm, ax=ax, cax=cax)
plt.show()
colorbar placement

Total running time of the script: ( 0 minutes 7.340 seconds)

Keywords: matplotlib code example, codex, python plot, pyplot Gallery generated by Sphinx-Gallery