Continuing on from part 1, another feature I’ve recently pushed to QGIS is the ability to control the hue, saturation and colour of a raster layer. This builds off the excellent work done by Alexander Bruy (who added brightness and contrast controls for raster layers), and it’s another step in my ongoing quest to cut down the amount of map design tweaking required outside of QGIS. Let’s step through these new features and see what will be available when version 2.0 is released in June…

First up is the ability to tweak the saturation of a layer. Saturation basically refers to the intensity of a colour, with low saturation resulting in a more washed out, greyer image, and high saturation resulting in more vibrant and colourful images. Here’s a WMS layer showing an aerial view of Victoria at its driest, least appealing and most bushfire ready state:

Original layer

Raster layer before saturation controls…

Let’s tweak the saturation a bit to see if we can make it more appealing. In the Style tab under raster layer properties, you’ll see a new “Saturation and hue” section. For this layer I’ll bump the saturation up from its default value of zero:

Saturation settings

Saturation settings

Which results in something like this:

Resultant layer!

… and after increasing the saturation!

Ah, much better. This actually looks like somewhere I’d like to live. A bit over-the-top perhaps, but it IS handy to make quick adjustments to raster colours in this way without the need for any external programs.

How about turning an image grayscale? I regularly have to do this with street directory basemaps, and until now couldn’t find a satisfactory way of doing this in QGIS. Previously I’ve tried using various command line utilities, but never found one which could turn an image grayscale without losing embedded georeferencing tags. (I did manage to achieve it once in QGIS using a convoluted approach involving the raster calculator and some other steps I’ve thankfully forgotten.)

But now, you can forget about all that frustration and quickly turn a raster grayscale by using a control right inside the layer properties! You even get a choice of desaturation methods, including lightness, luminosity or average. Best part about this is you can then right click on the layer to save the altered version out to a full-resolution georeferenced image.


Street map in grayscale… woohoo!

Lastly, there’s the colourise option. As expected, this behaves in a similar fashion to the colourise tools in GIMP and Photoshop. It allows you to tint a layer to a specified colour. Let’s take a WMS layer of Melbourne, tweak the brightness and contrast, and colourise it blue…


Tweaking the colourize settings

… and the end result wouldn’t be out of place in Ingress or some mid 90′s conspiracy flick!


Colorized WMS layer

These changes are just a tiny, tiny part of what QGIS 2.0 has to offer. It’s looking to be a sensational release and I can’t wait for final version in June!