Get to Know a Feature: 3D Path Plots

In the previous Gizmo Plot blog post I demonstrated some variations on the generic scatter plot.  In this blog post I’ll use the same data set to illustrate variations on a 3D path plot. If you wish to create these Gizmo objects yourself, you should use the code from the Gizmo 3D Scatter Plot post to create the sample data.

Starting with a new Gizmo window add a path object to the Object List.  Click Do It in the Path Properties dialog and proceed to add a new (default) axes object.  Drag the two objects and drop them on the Display List (order does not matter) and you will see something like this:

Recall that the original data is derived from a Lissajous figure so I'd like to see the two ends of the path connected to each other.  To accomplish that I append a row to data3D and set it equal to the first row:

InsertPoints 25,1, data3D
data3D[25][]=data3D[0][q]

To improve the visibility of the path I'll add a line width attribute to the Attribute List.

and then drag the attribute to the display list dropping it above path0 object.

The new line width attribute draws the path using a heavier line. 

At this point I'd like to add a scatter object to highlight the location of the data points on the path.  Following the same steps as in the previous post I add a scatter object that uses a custom blue sphere.

I can now take advantage of the spheres by replacing the path line with a 3D tube.  The spheres are useful as they fill the tube's joints.

Note that the radius of the tube is equal to the radius of the spheres for a perfect fit.

Modifying the sphere color to match that of the tube and enhancing the plot gives us:

and increasing the number of data points to 100 gives us a smooth path.

In the next blog post I'll show you how to create a 3D path plot with arrows drawn in in the direction of the path.