File Exchange

image thumbnail

Plot 3D Color Line

version (2.66 KB) by Daniel Ennis
Plots a 3D line with color encoding along the length using the patch function.


Updated 31 Mar 2016

View License

This function plots a 3D line (x,y,z) encoded with scalar color data (c). This function is an improvement over the CLINE function previously made available on TMW File Exchange. Rather than using the LINE function a PATCH surface is generated. This provides a way to change the colormapping because the surface patches use indexed colors rather than true colors. Hence changing the COLORMAP or CAXIS of the figure will change the colormapping of the patch object.
DEMO: clinep;

SYNTAX: h=clinep(x,y,z[,c,W]);

x - mx1 vector of x-position data
y - mx1 vector of y-position data
z - mx1 vector of z-position data


c - mx1 vector of index color-data (uses current colormap or DEFAULT)
W - 1x1 specifies the line thickness (DEFAULT is 3)


h - Graphics handle to the patch object.

DBE 2005/09/29

P.S. The code is modified from code that generates a 3D tube, rather than a line, but that needs more work still.

Cite As

Daniel Ennis (2021). Plot 3D Color Line (, MATLAB Central File Exchange. Retrieved .

Comments and Ratings (13)

Guowei Tu

For normal use, modify 'N=3;' to 'N=1;' !!!

Andrew Diamond

Apparently, when consecutive x,y points are the same dl will be [0,0,1] and so you end up with alpha and cross(Nz,dl) being 0 yielding a rotation matrix R that is just NaNs and nothing will be plotted for that segment.

There may be more elegant fixes but checking for that and using R=eye(3) if it is nan seems to solve this.


Richard Arlow

This works great! Is there any way to change the color mapping in terms of intensity and/or using other colormaps?


Wrong window, sorry ...

Nikola Toljic


John McArthur

With vector color data (input arg 'c') it seems to divide up the line into 3rds. This is on 2008b

Any thoughts?

rose Campbell

Thanks very useful!

Felix Huang

Are cylinder commands really necessary? This is a high performance way to get a color mapped line of zero thickness:

y=patch([q1; q1(end:-1:1)], [q2; q2(end:-1:1)], [[1:length(q1)], [length(q1):-1:1]] ,'EdgeCo', 'none');

Peter Gurk

The idea is good, but performance is unacceptable (slow)

Neil King

This is great! Just what i was after. Thanks

riki vela

muy bueno, gracias

anon anon

sas fgagfsg


MATLAB Release Compatibility
Created with R14
Compatible with any release
Platform Compatibility
Windows macOS Linux

Inspired by: cline.m

Community Treasure Hunt

Find the treasures in MATLAB Central and discover how the community can help you!

Start Hunting!