3-D plots are one of the most popular ways to visualize data. They give us a way to see the relationships between three variables in a way that is impossible with two-dimensional plots. Matlab is a powerful tool for data visualization and analysis. One of its most powerful features is the ability to create beautiful 3-D plots. In this article, we will start by discussing the different types of 3-D plots that Matlab offers and also walk you through the process of creating 3-D plots in Matlab.

Data Scientist Master's Program

In Collaboration with IBMExplore Course
Data Scientist Master's Program

What Is Matlab Graphics?

Matlab graphics is a tool that allows you to create 2D and 3D visualizations of data. It is a powerful tool that can be used to create sophisticated visualizations of complex data sets. Additionally, Matlab graphics can be used to create animations and movies. There are various categories of Matlab graphics; check them out below:

Line Plots

A line plot is a graph that shows how two quantities vary with each other. It is created by plotting a series of data points on a coordinate plane, where the x-axis represents one quantity, and the y-axis represents the other.

Line plots are often used to plot data that has regular, evenly-spaced intervals, such as data from a temperature sensor or a plot of stock prices over time. In Matlab, line plots are created using the plot() function. This function takes two arguments: the x-values and the y-values.

Data Distribution Plots

One popular way to visualize data is with a distribution plot. Distribution plots show the overall distribution of data points and can be used to spot patterns and trends.

In Matlab, there are a few different ways to create distribution plots. One way is to use the "hist" function. This function creates a histogram, a type of bar chart showing the frequency of data points in each group. Another way to generate a distribution plot is to use the "boxplot" function. This function creates a boxplot, a type of plot showing the minimum, maximum, median, and first and third quartiles of data. Which type of plot you use will depend on your data and what you want to show.

Discrete Data Plots

Discrete data is data that can only take on specific values. For example, the number of people in a room can only be a whole number (1, 2, 3, etc.), so it is considered discrete data. Continuous data, on the other hand, can take on any value within a specific range (e.g. the temperature in a room can be any value between 0 and 100 degrees).

There are several ways to plot discrete data in Matlab, and the method you use will depend on the data you have and the message you want to communicate. One common way to plot discrete data is with a bar plot. Bar plots are great for showing comparisons between different groups of data. Another way to plot discrete data is with scatter plots, stem plots, and stairstep plots.

Geographic Plots

Geographic plots are a type of plots that allow you to visualize data on a map. In Matlab, there are several different ways to create geographic plots. The simplest way is to use the plot command with the -geo option. This will create a basic geographic plot using the default Matlab map.

If you want to customize your geographic plot, you can use the geoaxes command to create a more customized plot. With this command, you can control things like the map projection, the scale, the title, and more. You can add other data types to your plots, such as markers, lines, and text.

Surfaces, Volumes, and Polygons

In Matlab, surfaces, volumes, and polygons are all represented as three-dimensional objects. A surface is a two-dimensional object defined by a set of points in three-dimensional space. A volume is a three-dimensional object that is enclosed by a surface. A polygon is a two-dimensional object represented by a group of points in two-dimensional space.


Animation plots in Matlab can be created using the 'animate' function. This function takes in data points and creates an animation from them. The 'animate' function can be used to create animations from various data sets, including those generated from simulations.

Matlab 2-D Plot 

Matlab also has a wide range of 2-D plotting capabilities. 2-D plotting in Matlab is performed using the "plot" command. This command takes two arguments, the x and y values of the data, to be plotted. The data can be entered manually, or it can be imported from a file. Matlab also has a variety of functions that can be used to generate data for plotting.

Eg: x = linspace(0,2*pi);

y = sin(x);


Kickstart Your Dream Career

Data Science Career BootcampExplore Course
Kickstart Your Dream Career

Matlab 3-D Plot

MATLAB 3D plot is a graphical tool that allows us to visualize data in three dimensions. Engineers and scientists use this tool to create models and simulations. 3D plotting lets us see the relationship between three variables in a three-dimensional space. It also allows us to rotate and zoom in on the data to understand the relationship between the variables better. There are different types of 3D plots; check them out here.

  • Mesh Plot

A mesh plot is a 3-D plot that uses mesh lines to connect points. The mesh plot functions in MATLAB can be used to create three-dimensional plots of surface and wireframe. The mesh plot3 function creates a 3-D wireframe plot. The mesh function creates a 3-D mesh surface plot.

Syntax: mesh(Z)

Function: (z= f(x, y))

  • Surface Plot

A surface plot is a three-dimensional graph showing how a function changes as you change the values of x and y. Surface plots help visualize functions that have more than one input variable.

To create a surface plot, you must have three variables: x, y, and z. The values of x and y will determine the position of each point on the graph, and the value of z will determine the height of each point.

You can use a surface plot to visualize all sorts of functions, including those that are impossible to plot on a two-dimensional graph. Surface plots can also be used to visualize data sets that have three variables.

Syntax: surf(Z)

Function: (z= f(x, y)

  • Surface Plot (With Shading)

The surf function creates a surface plot with shading from a data matrix. The data matrix must have three columns. The first two columns contain the x- and y-coordinates, and the third column contains the z-values. The z-values can be any real number. The data matrix can have any number of rows.

Syntax: surfl(z)

Function: (z= f(x, y)

  • Contour Plot

Contour plots are a way of representing three-dimensional data on a two-dimensional surface. They are created by using the 'contour' function in Matlab. This function takes in a set of x, y, and z values and creates a set of line segments that connect the points. The result is a set of curves that can be used to visualize the shape of the data.

Syntax: contour(Z)

Function: (z= f(x, y)

  • Quiver Plot

A quiver plot is a type of 3-D plot that shows vector lines as arrows. The lines start at a point and extend in a direction based on the vector values. Quiver plots help visualize vector fields.

To create a quiver plot in MATLAB, you must use the quiver3 function. This function uses six arguments: x, y, z, u, v, and w. The first three arguments are the x, y, and z coordinates of the starting point of the vectors. The u, v and w arguments are the vectors' x, y, and z components.

Syntax: quiver3(X, Y, Z, U, V, W)

Learn From The Best in The Data Science Business!

Caltech Data Science BootcampExplore Course
Learn From The Best in The Data Science Business!


1. Which command is for plotting a 3D surface in MATLAB? 

A few different commands can be used for plotting a 3D surface in MATLAB. The most common one is the surf command. This command will create a 3D surface plot of the data you provide. Other commands that can be used for plotting 3D surfaces include mesh and plot3.

2. How do you Draw a 3D curve in MATLAB?

plot3( X, Y, Z ) command is used to draw a 3D curve in MATLAB.

3. How do you plot a 3D graph?

There are a few different ways to plot a 3D graph in Matlab. The most common way is to use the plot3 command. This will create a basic 3D plot of your data. If you want to add labels or change the appearance of your plot, you can use the optional arguments of the plot3 command.

Another way to plot a 3D graph is to use the surf command. This will create a 3D surface plot of your data. You can also use the mesh command to create a 3D wireframe plot.

Finally, you can use the contour3 command to create a 3D contour plot of your data. This is a great way to visualize your data if you have a lot of points.

4. Which MATLAB command is used to plot a 3D plot and a 2-D scatter plot?

The MATLAB command for plotting a 3D plot is 'plot3'. For a 2D scatter plot, the command is 'scatter'.

5. How do you plot a 3D surface from a data file in MATLAB?

To plot a 3D surface from a data file in MATLAB, you will need to have the data file open in MATLAB. Once you have the data file available, you can use the plot3 command to plot the data. The plot3 command will create a 3D plot of the data. You can also use the surf command to create a 3D surface plot.

6. How do you convert a 2-D graph to 3D in MATLAB?

To convert a 2-D graph to 3D in MATLAB, you must use the 'plot3' function. This function will allow you to plot data in three dimensions. To use this function, you will need to provide three vectors: one for the x-axis, one for the y-axis, and one for the z-axis. You can also specify other parameters, such as the color of the plotted data, the line style, and the marker type.

Our Data Scientist Master's Program covers core topics such as R, Python, Machine Learning, Tableau, Hadoop, and Spark. Get started on your journey today!


Matlab 3-D plots are a great way to visualize data. This article provided a complete guide to Matlab graphics, including the different types of Matlab 3-D plots. With Matlab, you can create publication-quality graphics that can be exported to various formats. Along with mastering Matlab 3-D plots, you can also upskill your Data Science skills with our brand-new Data Scientist Masters Program training from industry experts.

About the Author


Simplilearn is one of the world’s leading providers of online training for Digital Marketing, Cloud Computing, Project Management, Data Science, IT, Software Development, and many other emerging technologies.

View More
  • Disclaimer
  • PMP, PMI, PMBOK, CAPM, PgMP, PfMP, ACP, PBA, RMP, SP, and OPM3 are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.