Saving High-Resolution ggplots: How to Preserve Semi-Transparency
This article describes solutions for preserving semi-transparency when saving a ggplot2-based graphs into a high quality postscript (.eps) file format.
Create a ggplot with semi-transparent color
To illustrate this, we start by creating ggplot2-based survival curves using the function ggsurvplot() in the survminer package. The ggsurvplot() function creates survival curves with the 95% confidence bands in a semi-transparent color.
First install (if needed) survminer as follow:
Then type, this:
# Fit survival curves require("survival") fit<- survfit(Surv(time, status) ~ sex, data = lung) # Visualize library("survminer") p <- ggsurvplot(fit, data = lung, surv.median.line = "hv", # Add medians survival pval = TRUE, # Add p-value and tervals conf.int = TRUE, # Add the 95% confidence band risk.table = TRUE, # Add risk table tables.height = 0.2, tables.theme = theme_cleantable(), palette = "jco", ggtheme = theme_bw() ) print(p)
In the plot above, the confidence band is semi-transparent. It can be saved to a PDF file without loosing the semi-transparent color.
If you try to export the picture as vector file (EPS ), the 95% confidence interval will disappear and the saved plot looks as follow:
The problem is that EPS in R does not support transparency.
A simple alternative is to export the plot into SVG file format. In the following sections, we’ll describe convenient solutions to save high-quality ggplots by preserving semi-transparency.
Save ggplots with semi-transparent colors
Use cairo-based postscript graphics devices
You can use the ggsave() function in [ggplot2] as follow:
ggsave(filename = "survival-curves.eps", plot = print(p), device = cairo_eps)
Or use this:
cairo_ps(filename = "survival-curves.eps", width = 7, height = 7, pointsize = 12, fallback_resolution = 300) print(p) dev.off()
Note that, the argument fallback_resolution is used to control the resolution in dpi at which semi-transparent areas are rasterized (the rest stays as vector format).
Export to powerpoint
You can export the plot to Powerpoint using the ReporteRs package. ReporteRs will give you a fully editable vector format with full support for transparency as well.
We previously described how to Create and format PowerPoint documents from R software using the ReporteRs package. We also described how to export an editable ggplot from R software to powerpoint.
Briefly, to export our survival curves from R to powerpoint, the script looks like this
library('ReporteRs') # Create a new powerpoint document doc <- pptx() # Add a new slide into the ppt document doc <- addSlide(doc, slide.layout = "Two Content" ) # Add a slide title doc <- addTitle(doc, "Survival Curves: Editable Vector Graphics" ) # Print the survival curves in the powerpoint doc <- addPlot(doc, function() print(p, newpage = FALSE), vector.graphic = TRUE # Make it editable ) # write the document to a file writeDoc(doc, file = "editable-survival-curves.pptx")
The output looks like this:
Edit the plot in powerpoint. See the video below: Editing ggplots Exported with ReporteRs into PWPT
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