Fix Python – How do I tell Matplotlib to create a second (new) plot, then later plot on the old one?

Question

Asked By – Peter D

I want to plot data, then create a new figure and plot data2, and finally come back to the original plot and plot data3, kinda like this:

import numpy as np
import matplotlib as plt

x = arange(5)
y = np.exp(5)
plt.figure()
plt.plot(x, y)

z = np.sin(x)
plt.figure()
plt.plot(x, z)

w = np.cos(x)
plt.figure("""first figure""") # Here's the part I need
plt.plot(x, w)

FYI How do I tell matplotlib that I am done with a plot? does something similar, but not quite! It doesn’t let me get access to that original plot.

Now we will see solution for issue: How do I tell Matplotlib to create a second (new) plot, then later plot on the old one?


Answer

If you find yourself doing things like this regularly it may be worth investigating the object-oriented interface to matplotlib. In your case:

import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
import numpy as np

x = np.arange(5)
y = np.exp(x)
fig1, ax1 = plt.subplots()
ax1.plot(x, y)
ax1.set_title("Axis 1 title")
ax1.set_xlabel("X-label for axis 1")

z = np.sin(x)
fig2, (ax2, ax3) = plt.subplots(nrows=2, ncols=1) # two axes on figure
ax2.plot(x, z)
ax3.plot(x, -z)

w = np.cos(x)
ax1.plot(x, w) # can continue plotting on the first axis

It is a little more verbose but it’s much clearer and easier to keep track of, especially with several figures each with multiple subplots.

This question is answered By – simonb

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