[SciPy-user] surface plotting

Joe Harrington jh@physics.ucf....
Sun Nov 4 10:53:01 CST 2007

I'm in search of either Python or an open-source, standalone image
viewer that can visualize surface plots.  A surface plot is a rendering
of a 2D image as a 3D surface using the image values as the Z
coordinate.  The new wiremesh in matplotlib is way too slow to be of
practical use.  It takes over a minute to plot a 1024**2 image, and for
my purposes I need to move the surface around and look at it from
different angles, which requires many re-renderings.

Previously, I had used IDL, which has two routines called surface and
shade_surface.  The first is a wiremesh, the second is the same but adds
shading according to viewing angle.  These routines ran at decent speeds
in IDL even when they were introduced about 20 years ago.  IRAF also has
them (or at least the wiremesh), but its size and klunkiness make it a
poor solution as well.  I'm not sure what's up with matplotlib, but this
is a very new feature and it just might not be doing its thing in the
most efficient way.  In the long run, perhaps the source code for the
IRAF routine could be a guide for doing it efficiently.

In the short run, any ideas?  It would make a good cookbook recipe.


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