R/Contour Plots

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Bad contour plot

Contour Plots

R has two built-in functions for contour plots, contour, and filled.contour. Examples of their use can be seen from the code below:

x <- 1:50
y <- 1:70
z <- matrix(expand.grid(x,y)$Var1^2 + expand.grid(x,y)$Var2^2,50,70)

# plain
contour(x,y,z) 

# adjusting levels
mylevels <- seq(0,7500,500) 
contour(x,y,z,levels=mylevels,xaxs='i',yaxs='i')

# filled contours
filled.contour(x,y,z,color.palette=heat.colors)
filled.contour(x,y,z,col=grey(seq(0,1,length=length(mylevels))))
# add this to line above and see bad match
contour(x,y,z,levels=mylevels,add=T)

However, it can be frustrating to realize that the way filled.contour was implemented does not allow removing the key or overplotting with lines and labels. To realize this, try the following:

filled.contour(x,y,z,col=grey(seq(0,1,length=length(mylevels))))
# add this to line above and see bad match
contour(x,y,z,levels=mylevels,add=T)
Good contour plot

A solution is to use the modified function, filled.contour2, as follows

# filled.contour function modified to not have key
filled.contour2(x,y,z,col=grey(seq(0.3,1,length=length(mylevels))))
# now we can successfully add lines and values
contour(x,y,z,levels=mylevels,add=T)

Download the modified function Rlogo.jpg filled.contour2.R

Good contour plot

Better yet, Carey McGilliard and Bridget Ferris made further modifications to allow multiple filled contours per page and the addition of the legend on the side to makes figures like the one at right. Rlogo.jpg filled.contour3.R Rlogo.jpg filled.legend.R



See also

R tips

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