6.9.1 XYZ Contour


This tutorial will show you how to create a contour from XYZ data.

Tutorial XYZContour 6.png

Minimum Origin Version Required: 2015 SR0

Prior to Origin 2018 SR0, the application of a custom boundary sometimes generated an imperfect fill at boundary margins. This has been improved in 2018. The user can restore the previous contour-fill behavior using system variable @TCSM.

Tri contour smooth mode.png

What will you learn

This tutorial will show you how to

  • Create a Contour Plot from XYZ data
  • Customize levels, lines, and color mapping
  • Use a Custom Boundary
  • Cutomize the Color Scale
  • Customize the axes of the plot


This tutorial is associated with the 2D and Contour Graphs project:\Samples\2D and Contour Graphs.opj

(Note: Users with Origin 2017 and later will find this data in Origin Central (press F11 to open) under Graph Samples > Contour Plots).

  1. Open the 2D and Contour Graphs: Contour: XYZ Contour folder in the Project Explorer. Activate Book1B and highlight column D and then click Contour-Color Fill button from the 3D and Contour Graphs toolbar.
    Tutorial XYZContour 0.png
    The graph should look like:
    Tutorial XYZContour 1.png
  2. Double-click on the contour plot to bring up Plot Details dialog. Select the Contouring Info tab and set the options in the dialog as the screenshot below:
    Tutorial XYZContour 2.png
  3. Select the Color Map/Contours tab, click the Level heading and set the dialog as the following screenshot shows:
    Tutorial XYZContour 3.png
    • Click the Fill heading, select Load Palette and then select Rainbow from the Palette list and click OK to close dialog.
    • Click the Lines heading, make sure that Show on Major Levels Only is selected. Select the Color check box under Apply to All and choose LT Gray from the drop-down list as contour line color. Click OK to close dialog.
    • Click on the line at value 30 to customize it separately and click OK to close dialog.
    Tutorial XYZContour 3 b.png
  4. Then go back to the Colormap / Contours tab, clear the check box Follow Contour Line under Boundary so that the boundary line could have separate style.
  5. Click OK to close the Plot Details dialog, then select Format: Axes: X Axis... to open the Axis dialog. Then do the following things.
    • Select the Scale tab and make sure the Horizontal axis icon is selected so X axis scale is being updated, set From, To equal to -127, -65.
    • Select the Vertical axis icon to customize the Y axis scale, set From=23, To=50.
  6. Click OK to apply the setting and close the Axis dialog.
  7. Now we are going to change the layer size/aspect ratio and turn off the XY axes and its frame. Make sure the graph window is active and select Format:Layer to open the Plot Details - Layer Properties dialog, first go to the Size/Speed tab and change the values in Layer Area as below:
    Tutorial XYZContour 3 c.png
  8. Go to the Display tab and clear the X Axes and Y Axes check boxes under Show Elements. Click OK to apply the setting and close the dialog.
  9. Right click on the white space in graph layer and select Fit Page to Layers, accept the default dialog settings and click OK to make all elements visible.
  10. In the graph, select the axis title object Latitude and Longitude, hit the Delete key to remove them from the graph.
  11. Now we will customize the color scale object. Double-click on the color scale to bring up the Color Scale Control dialog. Then do the following settings:
    • Tutorial XYZContour 4 1.png
    • Tutorial XYZContour 4 2.png
    • Tutorial XYZContour 4 3.png
    • Tutorial XYZContour 4 4.png
  12. Click OK to apply the settings and close the Color Scale Control dialog.
  13. Right-click above the contour plot and select Add Text to add a graph title 30-Year Mean Temperature for the Month of January. Use the Format toolbar and/or double-click on the completed text label to update the font, font size, etc. The graph should look like
    Tutorial XYZContour 6.png