th 455 - Exporting Transparent Plots in Matplotlib - A How To Guide

Exporting Transparent Plots in Matplotlib – A How To Guide

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th?q=How To Export Plots From Matplotlib With Transparent Background? - Exporting Transparent Plots in Matplotlib - A How To Guide

Are you tired of creating plots in Matplotlib only to have the background cover up part of your data? The solution is to export a transparent plot! In this ‘how-to’ guide, we will show you step-by-step how to create and export a plot with a transparent background using Matplotlib.

The first step is to import the necessary libraries, including Matplotlib. Once we have our data and plot ready, we can set the alpha value to make the background transparent. Next, we will save the plot as either a PNG or PDF file, ensuring to set the transparent parameter to ‘True’. Voila! Your plot now has a clear background, making it much easier to present and analyze your data.

But wait, there’s more! We’ll also provide some tips on how to further customize your transparent plot, such as adding a legend or changing the axis labels. And if you’re feeling extra adventurous, we’ll even show you how to create a plot with a partially transparent background for a unique visual effect.

So, if you’re ready to take your Matplotlib plots to the next level, read on for our comprehensive guide on exporting transparent plots. Don’t let a busy background distract from your data any longer – it’s time to make those plots shine!

th?q=How%20To%20Export%20Plots%20From%20Matplotlib%20With%20Transparent%20Background%3F - Exporting Transparent Plots in Matplotlib - A How To Guide
“How To Export Plots From Matplotlib With Transparent Background?” ~ bbaz


Matplotlib is a robust visualization library in Python used to create professional-grade plots. It contains various functionalities to customize the visualizations and export them for specific uses. However, the transparency feature can be tricky to handle when exporting plots for publications or presentations. This blog will compare different ways of exporting transparent plots in Matplotlib and provide a how-to guide for it.

Setting up a sample plot

To demonstrate different techniques of exporting transparent plots, let’s first create a sample plot using Matplotlib’s built-in datasets.

“`pythonimport matplotlib.pyplot as pltfrom sklearn.datasets import load_digitsdigits = load_digits()fig, ax = plt.subplots()ax.imshow(digits.images[0],“`


The code imports necessary packages, loads a digits dataset, sets up a figure and axis object using Matplotlib’s subplots function, and displays an image in grayscale in the axis object.

Exporting a PNG file with transparency using savefig

The simplest way to export a transparent plot in Matplotlib is to use the savefig() function and set the transparency to the desired level.

“`pythonfig.savefig(‘plot.png’, transparent=True, dpi=300)“`


This code uses the savefig function to store the figure as a PNG file, sets the transparency to True, and the resolution to 300 dpi. The PNG format supports transparency by default, and the output file will have a transparent background.

Exporting a PDF file with transparency using savefig

When exporting plots for publications or presentations, PDF files are commonly used as they preserve high-quality images and vector graphics. However, they don’t support transparency. In such cases, we can use a workaround by exporting the figure to a temporary PNG file, then converting it to PDF using an external software.

“`pythonfig.savefig(‘plot_temp.png’, transparent=True, dpi=300)!convert -density 300 -alpha remove plot_temp.png plot.pdf“`


This code stores the figure as a temporary PNG file with a transparent background. Then, using the ImageMagick convert command, the PNG file is converted to a PDF file while removing the alpha(transparency) channel.

Exporting a PDF file with transparency using ghostscript

If we do not have access to external software, we can use the ghostscript package, which is available in most Linux and Unix-based systems.

“`pythonfig.savefig(‘plot_temp.pdf’, transparent=False, dpi=300)!gs -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -dCompatibilityLevel=1.4 -dPDFSETTINGS=/default -dNOPAUSE -dQUIET -dBATCH -sOutputFile=plot.pdf plot_temp.pdf“`


This code stores the figure as a PDF file without transparency because ghostscript cannot handle it. Then, we use the ghostscript command to convert the output PDF file to another PDF file while preserving the transparency level. The -dPDFSETTINGS flag sets the compression level of the output file – /default for default compression level.

Comparison of techniques

Here’s a comparison table summarizing the methods mentioned above:

| Method | Pros | Cons ||——–|——|——|| PNG with savefig | Simple and straightforward. | Limited image quality and vector graphic capabilities. || PDF with savefig + conversion software | Preserves high-quality images and vector graphics. | Requires external software for conversion. || PDF with savefig + ghostscript | No need for external software. | Reduced image quality and potentially larger file size than the conversion software method. |


Exporting transparent plots in Matplotlib requires handling transparency levels and choosing the appropriate output format. This blog compared three methods – PNG with savefig, PDF with savefig + conversion software, and PDF with savefig + ghostscript – for exporting transparent plots and provided a how-to guide for each. The method you choose depends on your particular requirements, such as image quality, vector graphics, file size, and available software.

Thank you for taking the time to read this guide on exporting transparent plots in Matplotlib. We hope that the instructions provided have been helpful in your future endeavors with creating and sharing your own graphs and figures. Remember that transparency can add a layer of visual appeal and sophistication to your work, so don’t be afraid to experiment with this feature.

If you encounter any issues or have any further questions about exporting transparent plots, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Matplotlib community for assistance. They are a knowledgeable and supportive group who are invested in helping users achieve their goals. Additionally, be sure to check out other tutorials and guides on the Matplotlib website to further improve your skills and understanding of this powerful data visualization library.

Once again, thank you for choosing to read this tutorial on exporting transparent plots in Matplotlib. We wish you the best of luck in your data analysis and presentation endeavors, and hope that you continue to find success and satisfaction in your work.

When it comes to exporting transparent plots in Matplotlib, there are a few common questions that people tend to ask. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions, along with their answers:

  1. How do I export a transparent plot in Matplotlib?

    To export a transparent plot in Matplotlib, you can use the `savefig()` function and specify the desired file format (e.g. PNG or PDF) as well as the alpha value for transparency. For example:

    • For PNG format: `plt.savefig(‘myplot.png’, alpha=0.5)`
    • For PDF format: `plt.savefig(‘myplot.pdf’, alpha=0.5)`
  2. What does the alpha value control in Matplotlib?

    The alpha value in Matplotlib controls the opacity or transparency of the plotted elements. An alpha value of 1.0 means fully opaque, while an alpha value of 0.0 means fully transparent. Values between 0.0 and 1.0 represent varying levels of transparency.

  3. Can I adjust the alpha value of specific elements on my plot?

    Yes, you can adjust the alpha value of specific elements on your plot by specifying the alpha parameter when creating the element. For example, to create a scatter plot with partially transparent markers:

    • `plt.scatter(x, y, alpha=0.5)`
  4. What other file formats support transparency in Matplotlib?

    In addition to PNG and PDF formats, Matplotlib also supports transparency in SVG, EPS, and PS formats. To export a transparent figure in one of these formats, simply specify the alpha value when using `savefig()`. For example:

    • For SVG format: `plt.savefig(‘myplot.svg’, alpha=0.5)`
    • For EPS format: `plt.savefig(‘myplot.eps’, alpha=0.5)`
    • For PS format: `plt.savefig(‘’, alpha=0.5)`
  5. Can I adjust the background color of my transparent plot?

    Yes, you can adjust the background color of your transparent plot by setting the `facecolor` parameter when creating the figure. For example:

    • `fig = plt.figure(facecolor=’white’, edgecolor=’black’)`