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Matplotlib.pyplot.barbs() in Python

  • Last Updated : 21 Apr, 2020

Matplotlib is a library of Python bindings which provides the user with a MATLAB-like plotting framework. Matplotlib can be used in Python scripts, the Python and IPython shell, web application servers, and various graphical user interface toolkits like Tkinter, awxPython, etc.

Note: For more information, refer to Python Matplotlib – An Overview


matplotlib.pyplot.barbs method is used to plot a 2D field of barbs.

What are barbs?

Barbs are used majorly in meteorology to plot the speed and direction of winds, but can be used to plot any two-dimensional vector quantity. Barbs are able to provide more precise and quantitative information about vector magnitude when compared to arrows. This is mainly because arrows use their length to give a sense of the magnitude of the vector, while barbs use triangles or slanted lines as shown below:

                   /\    \
                  /  \    \
                 /    \    \    \
                /      \    \    \
  • The largest increment in magnitude is denoted by a triangle (or flag)
  • The smallest increment is a half-line

Syntax : matplotlib.pyplot.barbs(x_coordinate, y_coordinate, x_direction, y_direction, [colour])

x_coordinate : x-coordinate of the barb location
(may be a 2-dimensional array in case of multiple barbs)
y_coordinate : y-coordinate of the barb location
(may be a 2-dimensional array in case of multiple barbs)
x_direction : x-component of the direction of barb shaft
(may be a 2-dimensional array in case of multiple barbs)
y_direction : y-component of the direction of the barb shaft
(may be a 2-dimensional array in case of multiple barbs)
colour (optional): specifies the colour of the barb in the graph

Optional Parameters
length : length of the barb in points, other parts of the barb are scaled against this
pivot : part of the barb anchored to the grid; the barb rotates about this point. Maybe a number, which shifts the barb that many points away from the grid point

Return Value : Returns a 2D graph with arrows plotted

Note :

  • If the x-coordinate and y-coordinate of the barb locations are not given, they will be generated as a uniform integer meshgrid based on x_direction and y_direction
  • If x-coordinate and y-coordinate are one-dimensional but x_direction and y_direction are two-dimensional, then x-coordinate and y-coordinate would be expanded to a two-dimensional meshgrid using x, y=numpy.meshgrid(x, y). In this case, the lengths of x-coordinate and y-coordinate must match the row and column dimensions of x_direction and y_direction

Sample Code:

import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
import numpy as np
x = np.linspace(-5, 5, 5)
X, Y = np.meshgrid(x, x)
U, V = 12 * X, 12 * Y
data = [(-1.5, .5, -6, -6),
        (1, -1, -46, 46),
        (-3, -1, 11, -11),
        (1, 1.5, 80, 80),
        (0.5, 0.25, 25, 15),
        (-1.5, -0.5, -5, 40)]
data = np.array(data, dtype=[('x', np.float32),
                             ('y', np.float32),
                             ('u', np.float32), 
                             ('v', np.float32)])
plt.barbs(X, Y, U, V)

Output :


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