Mayavi tvtk

Date:2017-02-26 (last modified), 2006-02-20 (created)

||\<#80FF80> This page is not the main source of documentation. You are invited to refer to the Mayavi2 home page for up-to-date documentation on TVTK. In particular, bear in mind that if you are looking for a high-level Python 3D plotting library, Mayavi also provides the right API, and can be embedded (see the user guide). ||

What is tvtk?

tvtk is a traits <> enabled version of VTK <> for 3D graphics and visualization.

It provides an exact match to the VTK objects, but with a Pythonic feel, unlike Mayavi <>_ which aims to provide new APIs

Most important features are

  • All VTK classes are wrapped.
  • Support for traits.
  • Elementary pickle support.
  • Pythonic feel.
  • Handles numpy/Numeric/numarray arrays/Python lists transparently.
  • Support for a pipeline browser, ivtk
  • High-level mlab module.
  • Envisage plugins for a tvtk scene and the pipeline browser.
  • MayaVi2 is built on top of tvtk

See the enthought TVTK page <> for more details, in particular the tvtk introduction <>.

tvtk examples


The following example displays a cone which can be rotated/scaled/... with the mouse.


A more interesting example is the generation of some contour surfaces of an implicit function.

This displays the following scene on screen and also saves it to a file.


The module tools.ivtk makes VTK/TVTK easier to use from the Python interpreter. For example, start IPython with::

ipython -wthread

(if you have both wxPython 2.4 and wxPython 2.6 installed you will need a recent IPython and do ipython -wthread -wxversion 2.6).

Then you can paste the following lines:

In [ ]:
from import ivtk
  from enthought.tvtk.api import tvtk
  # Create a cone:
  cs = tvtk.ConeSource(resolution=100)
  mapper = tvtk.PolyDataMapper(input=cs.output)
  actor = tvtk.Actor(mapper=mapper)

  # Now create the viewer:
  v = ivtk.IVTKWithCrustAndBrowser(size=(600,600))
  v.scene.add_actors(actor)  # or v.scene.add_actor(a)

You can then explore the visualization pipeline and modify any settings.


For creating the viewer there are different options:

  • v = ivtk.viewer() - this one does not need the and the size=(600,600)
  • v = ivtk.IVTK()
  • v = ivtk.IVTKWithCrust()
  • v = ivtk.IVTKWithBrowser()
  • v = ivtk.IVTKWithCrustAndBrowser)

For viewers with Crust you can use the python command line window to modify the pipeline.

Section author: ArndBaecker, Unknown[128], GaelVaroquaux, Unknown[6], Pauli Virtanen