A welcome development for matplotlib

Here is a great video, describing viridis, the new default colourmap for matplotlib in the programming language Python. This has some great features – It’s perceptually uniform across its range, it’s pretty, and it works for the colourblind. Oh, and you’re free to use it.

The last five minutes or so describe the process and thinking behind the new colourmap, while the first part of the video is a great description of background colour theory. Many thanks to Nathaniel Smith and Stefan van der Walt. Ed Hawkins has already plotted up some UK climate data, comparing viridis with other colour maps in a simulation of colourblindness. g52 Kevin Anchukaitis (@thirstygecko) has put the colourmap for matlab users up here.



  1. […] UK mean temperature data for both normal vision and a simulation of colour blindness. Viridis is a new colour map developed for Python (MATLAB code here) with lots of nice […]

  2. The problem is that science needs to lose more than 10% of its white men. OK, so we can use this colour blindness idea of yours to hinder the progress of a fair bunch of them, but you offer no suggestions on how we might outweigh the inherent prejudices in favour of the other 20% or so that are also surplus to requirements.

    Unfortunately, however, I do agree with the accessibility issue of being able to get good results by printing in greyscale, and I am a matplotlib user, so I’m sure I will try out some of these colour maps next time I upgrade. The actual one they name “viridis” could be reversed for precipitation, but those wanting to emphasise future warming might not like it being so blue-heavy. In their video, they also have some more fiery red and yellow ones, which some climate alarmists might very much enjoy.

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