As sophomoric as this question seems, how should I save plots in grayscale in Mathematica?

I generally like eps images for their scalability and I use ghostscript or other third party perl scripts to convert my images to grayscale.


2 Answers 2


One way would be to use ColorConvert to convert the RGB or Hue values to gray scale. Here's an example:

Plot[{Sin[x], Cos[x], Exp[-x^2], Sinc[π x]}, {x, 0, π}] /. 
  x : _RGBColor | _Hue | _CMYKColor :> ColorConvert[x, "Grayscale"]

For 2D plots that accept a ColorFunction, you can simply use GrayLevel to get the plot in grayscale as:

  Sin[x ^2 + y^2], {x, 0, 3}, {y, 0, 3},
  ColorFunction -> GrayLevel,
  PlotPoints -> 100

Typically, these grayscale plots are useful when submitting to journals that charge exorbitant prices just to print in colour. However, just a note of caution that discerning different shades of gray is not easy. For the most effect, it is recommended (at least in the journals I publish in), that you also change the line type for your different curves (and not more than 4 curves/plot). You should also choose the colours (or colourscale, for 2D surface plots) wisely so that they convert well to grayscale. For example:

  • $\begingroup$ Ahh, I was trying to figure out how to use ColorConvert without changing the entire plot to an Image, which then loses it's vector goodness. $\endgroup$
    – tkott
    Commented Mar 20, 2012 at 14:16
  • $\begingroup$ I got this somewhere (may be on Mathematica.SE?) toGrayScale[y_] := y /. x__?(MemberQ[{RGBColor, Hue, CMYKColor}, Head[#]] &) :> ColorConvert[x, "Grayscale"] so that it can be done as an afterthought. e.g. ListLinePlot[RandomReal[{0, 1}, {3, 15, 2}]] // toGrayScale; it works also on ContourPlot etc... (not very different from the solution above though !) $\endgroup$
    – chris
    Commented May 20, 2012 at 16:12
  • $\begingroup$ @chris You probably got that from this answer :) See the edit history... Mr.Wizard simply rephrased that more concisely $\endgroup$
    – rm -rf
    Commented May 20, 2012 at 18:29
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Apart from GrayLevel[], there's also ColorData["GrayTones"]. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 16, 2012 at 10:43

One way would be to roll your own color functions. For continuous use:

grayScale = Blend[{Black, White}, #1] &

ContourPlot[Sin[x + y], {x, 0, 2 \[Pi]}, {y, 0, \[Pi]}, 
  ColorFunction -> grayScale]

Mathematica graphics

For discrete plots:

grayColorList = (Blend[{Black, White}, #] & /@ Range[0, 1, 0.1])

Plot[Sin[x], {x, 0, 2 \[Pi]}, PlotStyle -> grayColorList[[1]]]

Mathematica graphics

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ In what way does your grayScale function differ from the built-in GrayLevel? $\endgroup$
    – celtschk
    Commented Mar 21, 2012 at 16:21
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ It doesn't, I just didn't remember about GrayLevel :) $\endgroup$
    – tkott
    Commented Mar 21, 2012 at 16:40

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.