Add colorbar to existing axis


I'm making some interactive plots and I would like to add a colorbar legend. I don't want the colorbar to be in its own axes, so I want to add it to the existing axes. I'm having difficulties doing this, as most of the example code I have found creates a new axes for the colorbar.

I have tried the following code using matplotlib.colorbar.ColorbarBase, which adds a colorbar to an existing axes, but it gives me strange results and I can't figure out how to specify attributes of the colorbar (for instance, where on the axes it is placed and what size it is)

import matplotlib
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
from import coolwarm
import numpy as np

x = np.random.uniform(1, 10, 10)
y = np.random.uniform(1, 10, 10)
v = np.random.uniform(1, 10, 10)

fig, ax = plt.subplots()

s = ax.scatter(x, y, c=v, cmap=coolwarm)

matplotlib.colorbar.ColorbarBase(ax=ax, cmap=coolwarm, values=sorted(v),

Using fig.colorbar instead ofmatplotlib.colorbar.ColorbarBase still doesn't give me quite what I want, and I still don't know how to adjust the attributes of the colorbar.

fig.colorbar(s, ax=ax, cax=ax)

enter image description here

Let's say I want to have the colorbar in the top left corner, stretching about halfway across the top of the plot. How would I go about doing that?

Am I better off writing a custom function for this, maybe using LineCollection?

This question is tagged with python matplotlib

~ Asked on 2015-09-08 16:32:40

The Best Answer is


The colorbar has to have its own axes. However, you can create an axes that overlaps with the previous one. Then use the cax kwarg to tell fig.colorbar to use the new axes.

For example:

import numpy as np
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

data = np.arange(100, 0, -1).reshape(10, 10)

fig, ax = plt.subplots()
cax = fig.add_axes([0.27, 0.8, 0.5, 0.05])

im = ax.imshow(data, cmap='gist_earth')
fig.colorbar(im, cax=cax, orientation='horizontal')

enter image description here

~ Answered on 2015-09-08 17:21:13


This technique is usually used for multiple axis in a figure. In this context it is often required to have a colorbar that corresponds in size with the result from imshow. This can be achieved easily with the axes grid tool kit:

import numpy as np
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
from mpl_toolkits.axes_grid1 import make_axes_locatable

data = np.arange(100, 0, -1).reshape(10, 10)

fig, ax = plt.subplots()
divider = make_axes_locatable(ax)
cax = divider.append_axes('right', size='5%', pad=0.05)

im = ax.imshow(data, cmap='bone')

fig.colorbar(im, cax=cax, orientation='vertical')

Image with proper colorbar in size

~ Answered on 2016-10-08 22:27:36

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