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colormap

View and set current colormap

Description

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colormap map sets the colormap for the current figure to one of the predefined colormaps. If you set the colormap for the figure, then axes and charts in the figure use the same colormap. The new colormap is the same length (number of colors) as the current colormap. When you use this syntax, you cannot specify a custom length for the colormap. To learn more about colormaps, see What Is a Colormap?

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colormap(map) sets the colormap for the current figure to the colormap specified by map.

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colormap(target,map) sets the colormap for the figure, axes, or chart specified by target, instead of for the current figure.

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cmap = colormap returns the colormap for the current figure as a three-column matrix of RGB triplets.

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cmap = colormap(target) returns the colormap for the figure, axes, or chart specified by target.

Examples

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Create a surface plot and set the colormap to winter.

surf(peaks)
colormap winter

Figure contains an axes object. The axes object contains an object of type surface.

First, change the colormap for the current figure to summer.

surf(peaks)
colormap summer

Figure contains an axes object. The axes object contains an object of type surface.

Now set the colormap back to your system's default value. If you have not specified a different default value, then the default colormap is parula.

colormap default

Figure contains an axes object. The axes object contains an object of type surface.

Starting in R2019b, you can display a tiling of plots using the tiledlayout and nexttile functions. Call the tiledlayout function to create a 2-by-1 tiled chart layout. Call the nexttile function to create the axes objects ax1 and ax2. Specify a different colormap for each axes by passing the axes object to the colormap function. In the upper axes, create a surface plot using the spring colormap. In the lower axes, create a surface plot using the winter colormap.

tiledlayout(2,1)
ax1 = nexttile;
surf(peaks)
colormap(ax1,spring)

ax2 = nexttile; 
surf(peaks)
colormap(ax2,winter)

Figure contains 2 axes objects. Axes object 1 contains an object of type surface. Axes object 2 contains an object of type surface.

Specify the number of colors used in a colormap by passing an integer as an input argument to the built-in colormap. Use five colors from the parula colormap.

mesh(peaks)
colormap(parula(5))

Figure contains an axes object. The axes object contains an object of type surface.

Create a custom colormap by defining a three-column matrix of values between 0.0 and 1.0. Each row defines a three-element RGB triplet. The first column specifies the red intensities. The second column specifies the green intensities. The third column specifies the blue intensities.

Use a colormap of blue values by setting the first two columns to zeros.

map = [0 0 0.3
    0 0 0.4
    0 0 0.5
    0 0 0.6
    0 0 0.8
    0 0 1.0];

surf(peaks)
colormap(map)

Figure contains an axes object. The axes object contains an object of type surface.

Create a surface plot of the peaks function and specify a colormap.

mesh(peaks)
colormap(autumn(5))

Figure contains an axes object. The axes object contains an object of type surface.

Return the three-column matrix of values that define the colors used in the plot. Each row is an RGB triplet color value that specifies one color of the colormap.

cmap = colormap
cmap = 5×3

    1.0000         0         0
    1.0000    0.2500         0
    1.0000    0.5000         0
    1.0000    0.7500         0
    1.0000    1.0000         0

Return the colormap values for a specific axes by passing the axes object to the colormap function.

Create a tiling of two plots using the tiledlayout and nexttile functions, which are new functions starting in R2019b. Call the tiledlayout function to create a 2-by-1 tiled chart layout. Call the nexttile function to create the axes objects ax1 and ax2. Then display two filled contour plots with different colormaps.

tiledlayout(2,1)
ax1 = nexttile;
contourf(peaks)
colormap(ax1,hot(8))

ax2 = nexttile;
contourf(peaks)
colormap(ax2,pink)

Figure contains 2 axes objects. Axes object 1 contains an object of type contour. Axes object 2 contains an object of type contour.

Return the colormap values used in the upper plot by passing ax1 to the colormap function. Each row is an RGB triplet color value that specifies one color of the colormap.

cmap = colormap(ax1)
cmap = 8×3

    0.3333         0         0
    0.6667         0         0
    1.0000         0         0
    1.0000    0.3333         0
    1.0000    0.6667         0
    1.0000    1.0000         0
    1.0000    1.0000    0.5000
    1.0000    1.0000    1.0000

Load the spine data set that returns the image X and its associated colormap map. Display X using the image function and set the colormap to map.

load spine
image(X)
colormap(map)

Figure contains an axes object. The axes object contains an object of type image.

Input Arguments

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Colormap for the new color scheme, specified as a colormap name, a three-column matrix of RGB triplets, or 'default'. A colormap name specifies a predefined colormap with the same number of colors as the current colormap. A three-column matrix of RGB triplets specifies a custom colormap. You can create the matrix yourself, or you can call one of the predefined colormap functions to create the matrix. For example, colormap(parula(10)) sets the colormap of the current figure to a selection of 10 colors from the parula colormap.

A value of 'default' sets the colormap to the default colormap for the target object.

Colormap Name

The following table lists the predefined colormaps.

Colormap NameColor Scale
parula

Colorbar showing the colors of the parula colormap. The colormap starts at dark blue and transitions to lighter blue, green, orange and yellow. The transitions between colors are more perceptually uniform than in most other colormaps.

turbo

Colorbar showing the colors of the turbo colormap. The colormap starts at dark blue and transitions to lighter blue, bright green, orange, yellow, and dark red. This colormap is similar to jet, but the transitions between colors are more perceptually uniform than in jet.

hsv

Colorbar showing the colors of the hsv colormap. The colormap starts at red and transitions to yellow, bright green, cyan, dark blue, magenta, and bright orange.

hot

Colorbar showing the colors of the hot colormap. The colormap starts at dark red and transitions to bright red, orange, yellow, and white.

cool

Colorbar showing the colors of the cool colormap. The colormap starts at cyan and transitions to light blue, light purple, and magenta.

spring

Colorbar showing the colors of the spring colormap. The colormap starts at magenta and transitions to pink, light orange, and yellow.

summer

Colorbar showing the colors of the summer colormap. The colormap starts at medium green and transitions to yellow.

autumn

Colorbar showing the colors of the autumn colormap. The colormap starts at bright orange and transitions to yellow.

winter

Colorbar showing the colors of the winter colormap. The colormap starts at dark blue and transitions to bright green.

gray

Colorbar showing the gray colormap. The colormap starts at black and transitions to white.

bone

Colorbar showing the bone colormap. This colormap has colors that are approximately gray with a slight blue color tint. The colormap starts at dark gray and transitions to white.

copper

Colorbar showing the copper colormap. This colormap starts at black and transitions to a medium orange, similar to the color of copper.

pink

Colorbar showing the pink colormap. This colormap starts at dark red and transitions to dark pink, tan, and white.

jet

Colorbar showing the colors of the jet colormap. The colormap starts at dark blue and transitions to light blue, bright green, orange, yellow, and dark red.

lines

Colorbar showing the colors of the lines colormap. The colormap contains a repeating pattern of colors: dark blue, dark orange, dark yellow, dark purple, medium green, light blue, and dark red.

colorcube

Colorbar showing the colors of the colorcube colormap. The colormap is a course sampling of the RGB colorspace.

prism

Colorbar showing the colors of the prism colormap. The colormap contains a repeating pattern of colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.

flag

Colorbar showing the colors of the flag colormap. The colormap contains a repeating pattern of colors: red, white, blue, and black.

white

Colorbar showing the white colormap, which is entirely white.

Three-Column Matrix

To create a custom colormap, specify map as a three-column matrix of RGB triplets where each row defines one color. An RGB triplet is a three-element row vector whose elements specify the intensities of the red, green, and blue components of the color. The intensities can be double or single values in the range [0, 1], or they can be uint8 values in the range [0, 255]. For example, this matrix defines a colormap containing five colors.

map = [0.2 0.1 0.5
    0.1 0.5 0.8
    0.2 0.7 0.6
    0.8 0.7 0.3
    0.9 1 0];

This table lists the RGB triplet values for common colors.

Colordouble or single RGB Tripletuint8 RGB Triplet
yellow[1 1 0][255 255 0]
magenta[1 0 1][255 0 255]
cyan[0 1 1][0 255 255]
red[1 0 0][255 0 0]
green[0 1 0][0 255 0]
blue[0 0 1][0 0 255]
white[1 1 1][255 255 255]
black[0 0 0][0 0 0]

Data Types: char | double | single | uint8

Target, specified as one of these values:

  • Figure object. The figure colormap affects plots for all axes within the figure.

  • Axes object, PolarAxes object, or GeographicAxes object. You can define a unique colormap for the different axes within a figure.

  • Graphics object that has a Colormap property. For example, you can change or query the colormap for a HeatmapChart object.

Output Arguments

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Colormap values, returned as a three-column matrix of RGB triplets. Each row of the matrix defines one RGB triplet that specifies one color of the colormap. The values are in the range [0, 1].

More About

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What Is a Colormap?

A colormap is a matrix of values that define the colors for graphics objects such as surface, image, and patch objects. MATLAB® draws the objects by mapping data values to colors in the colormap.

Colormaps can be any length, but must be three columns wide. Each row in the matrix defines one color using an RGB triplet. An RGB triplet is a three-element row vector whose elements specify the intensities of the red, green, and blue components of the color. Typically, the intensities are double or single values in the range [0, 1]. A value of 0 indicates no color and a value of 1 indicates full intensity. For example, this command creates a colormap that has five colors: black, red, green, blue, and white.

mymap = [0 0 0
    1 0 0
    0 1 0
    0 0 1
    1 1 1];

To change the color scheme of a visualization, call the colormap function to change the colormap of the containing axes or figure. For example, the following commands create a surface plot and set the colormap of the figure to mymap.

surf(peaks)
colormap(mymap)

Surface plotted with a custom colormap containing five colors: black, red, green, blue, and black.

Tips

  • To control the limits of the colormap, and how those limits relate to the range of your data, use the caxis function.

Compatibility Considerations

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Behavior changed in R2020b

Behavior changed in R2018a

Behavior changed in R2014b

Introduced before R2006a