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Transparent background for figures

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Daniel Shub
Daniel Shub on 31 Oct 2011
Commented: Richard Quist on 5 Oct 2021 at 12:32
I get the following warning in r2011a
set(gcf, 'Color', 'None')
Warning: Setting the ColorSpec to 'none' for a figure will not be allowed in a future release.
I use the "none" color so that I can print pdf and eps files with transparent backgrounds. How are you supposed to set a transparent background?
  2 Comments
Jose Sosa Lopez
Jose Sosa Lopez on 8 Jul 2020
if your graph is in figure 1, you can put:
figure (1)
set(gcf, 'color', 'none');
set(gca, 'color', 'none');

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Accepted Answer

Oliver Woodford
Oliver Woodford on 14 Nov 2011
You can edit the eps file generated by print, and remove the line which creates the background rectangle, thus making the background transparent.
Or you can use the latest version of export_fig, which will do this for you when the -transparent option is specified, and will allow you to export to pdf as well.
  2 Comments
Daniel Shub
Daniel Shub on 9 Dec 2011
I finally got a chance to dig around in export_fig. For those silly enough not to use export_fig, the line in the eps file can be found with: regexp(l, ' *0 +0 +\d+ +\d+ +rf *[\n\r]+', 'start').

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More Answers (4)

Jan
Jan on 31 Oct 2011
Digging in the source of print I've found the colornone command in 2011b. It has a help section, but is not included in the local or net docs.
But the warning appears also. The print command simply disables the warning:
warning('off','MATLAB:hg:ColorSpec_None')
This does not look very trustworthy.
  2 Comments
Oliver Woodford
Oliver Woodford on 14 Nov 2011
Note that this is not just a warning. The behaviour of print in R2011b has changed over R2011a. You cannot now save an eps or pdf with no background color, and TMW has provided no way around this (to my knowledge).

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Fangjun Jiang
Fangjun Jiang on 31 Oct 2011
What do you mean transparent? Do you mean white background color? Would the pdf or eps file come out the same as set(gcf,'Color','None') as set(gcf,'Color',[1 1 1])?
I used to use whitebg(). But it's not really white background anymore since the default color is [.8 .8 .8]. whitebg() just turns it to [.3 .3 .3]. Same is the function colordef(). I
  10 Comments
Sri Adiyanti
Sri Adiyanti on 15 Apr 2021
I have trouble with preparing jpeg of plots with a transparent background (no colour).
I am using R2019a and can't produce figure with a transparent background when print it using print (gcf,...').
When using 'InvertHardcopy', 'off' it produces a grey background.
Any suggestion?

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Samaneh Manavi
Samaneh Manavi on 1 Sep 2021
In the figure window, select property inspector by double clicking on your plot. There is a box styling section in which you can select the background color, by selecting none you can have it transparent. If you want this setting already in your code, you can select "Generate Code" in the file tab of the figure window and have all your manual settings in code.
Samaneh Manavi

Richard Quist
Richard Quist on 3 Sep 2021
Edited: Richard Quist on 3 Sep 2021
You can use the exportgraphics command, which was introduced in R2020a, to easily generate output with a transparent background if the output format supports it. For example, the following code will export the plot to a PDF file with background transparency.
plot(rand(4));
exportgraphics(gca,'plot.pdf','BackgroundColor','none')
If you also want the background of the axes (the area behind the lines on the plot) to also be transparent in the exported file, set the axes color to 'none':
set(gca, 'color', 'none');
exportgraphics(gca,'plot2.pdf','BackgroundColor','none')
Another benefit of using exportgraphics is that the generated output is closely cropped around the exported content, eliminating excess "white space" around the plot.
  2 Comments
Richard Quist
Richard Quist on 5 Oct 2021 at 12:32
@Sri Adiyanti: From your comment above, it looks like you have another function named exportgraphics (C:\Users\sadiy\OneDrive\Desktop\MATLAB\Spirograph\Yanti\Systematic\exportgraphics.m) that is shadowing (hiding) the exportgraphics function that is provided by MATLAB
Assuming you have R2020a or later, what output do you get when running the following command?
which -all exportgraphics
My guess is that will return both the MATLAB exportgraphics path as well as the path to the one in your Spirograph\Yanti\Systematic\ folder. If that's the case I can think of a couple of approaches to resolve the conflict:
  1. remove the Spirograph\Yanti\Systematic\ from your MATLAB path (see the rmpath command)
  2. rename Spirograph\Yanti\Systematic\exportgraphics.m to something else

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