# Construct colormap for iso / level surface in PGFplots

I am trying to construct a plot of a surface in 3d of which the color of the surface is dependent on the z coordinate. The difficult part is that I need the color to vary 'discretely', not continuously. I believe they call these plots something like iso or level surfaces, if I'm not mistaken.

Examples:  For a color varying continuously with the z coordinate, the construction in PGFplots is easy. The \addplot3[surf,shader=faceted interp] ... works just fine for this.

A minimum working example is

\documentclass{standalone}
\usepackage{pgfplots}
\begin{document}
\begin{tikzpicture}
\begin{axis}
[
surf,
domain=-1:1,
y domain=-1:1,
samples=50, % DECREASE FOR SHORTER COMPILATION.
colormap name={hot}
] {exp(-10*(x^2+y^2))};
\end{axis}
\end{tikzpicture}
\end{document}


which results in . How should I modify this LaTeX code to get discrete color variation like in the first two pictures?

• You can define a colormap like the one given in tex.stackexchange.com/a/232710/2552 – Jake Mar 17 '15 at 13:01
• @Jake. Works great! Do you want to write the answer to the question (wouldn't want to 'steal' your credits) or shall I do it for you? I can add a nice picture of the result. – Adriaan Mar 17 '15 at 13:23
• by all means, please go ahead! I look forward to seeing the result – Jake Mar 17 '15 at 13:43

Conform the suggestion of Jake, defining a 'discrete' colormap, one can construct the desired iso / level surface.

The code in question,

\documentclass{standalone}
\usepackage{pgfplots}

\pgfplotsset
{
colormap={redgreenblue}%
{
[2pt] % colormap steps: 2pt
% blue: from 0000 to 1000
rgb(0000pt)=(0,0,1);
rgb(1000pt)=(0,0,1);
% green:  from 1000 to 2000
rgb(1000pt)=(0,1,0);
rgb(2000pt)=(0,1,0);
% red: from 2000 to 3000
rgb(2000pt)=(1,0,0);
rgb(3000pt)=(1,0,0);
}
}

\begin{document}
\begin{tikzpicture}
\begin{axis}
[
surf,
domain=-1:1,
y domain=-1:1,
samples=50, % DECREASE FOR SHORTER COMPILATION. 