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I have a vector floorplan (DXF) that I've added to a blank project in QGIS using the Dxf2Shp plugin. I've been reading tutorials and StackExchange threads, but I can't seem to find out how to "georeference" my layer.

I'm assuming I can somehow select the corners of the building and set the lat/long.

My goal is to export a shapefile that I can use with TileMill and TileStache.


I realized that the project coordinates were actually lat/long coordinates:

enter image description here

And I need to use the "Affine (Rotation, Translation, Scale)" plugin to "place" my CAD drawing (Thanks @nhopton).

If anyone knows of a good tutorial for using that plugin, I'd be grateful!

share|improve this question
if you want to move,rotate,and scale that would be called geo-referencing. If the data needs to be stretched, that would be called rubbersheeting. It sounds like you are trying to rubbersheet. – Brad Nesom Jul 30 '12 at 14:59
You might have to reproject the data to match the final format (WGS84 lat/lng) – Mapperz Jul 30 '12 at 15:05
Hi, you georeference raster images and "affine" vectors. Georeferencing is simple, affine transformations are more difficult. To affine your shapefile you will need to have accurate coordinates for at least three points. These could be for three corners of the building. You will also need to know the coordinates for the same three points, from your shapefile. If you are new to QGIS I think you might struggle with the process. Could you post three corner coordinates for the building and their corresponding shapefile coordinates? – nhopton Jul 30 '12 at 15:45
similar question:… – underdark Dec 28 '14 at 20:24
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Using OpenJump to calculate the affine transformation parameters yields:

Scale x: 0.02550720529745378
Scale y: 0.025669710194697357
Rotation: -88.6538203230914
Dx: 357101.9 (Translation x)
Dy: 4512814.6 (Translation y)

These parameters when properly applied should transform your shapefile from the local CRS that it uses to WGS84/UTM Zone 17 North (EPSG:32617). In QGIS the transformed data could then be exported ("saved as") to any required CRS; Google Mercator or lat/lon, for example.

The bad news is that I have never once been able to use successfully the QGIS affine plug-in for transformations that include rotation. By some accounts it works for other people but not for me, so it must be something I'm doing wrong. If anyone could tell me what this is I'd be grateful.

There was a thread here on affining vectors that is well-worth reading. The method I use for affining vectors is explained here at the bottom of the first page.

If you get really stuck you could post a link to the shapefile and we could all have a go at getting it transformed.

An afterthought. If you decide to try the OpenJump method you'll need the WGS84/UTM Zone 17 North (EPSG:32617) coordinates for your lat/lon points:

EPSG:32617: 361154.4 4513930.1
lat/long: 40.764622,-82.645056
shapefile coor: 947.3,1242.8

EPSG:32617: 361152.2 4513850.3
lat/long: 40.763903,-82.645064
shapefile coor: 4050.3,1035.7

EPSG:32617: 361246.5 4513886.7
lat/long: 40.764247,-82.643956
shapefile coor: 2710.5,4765.2

Regards, Nick.

share|improve this answer
there does not seem to exist a consistent, easy to explain workflow for affine transformation in QGIS. The forum link in your explanation is dead. All searches how to use OpenJump for this task end up here again. Do you maybe have any updates on this? – Bernd V. Aug 21 '13 at 10:21
You can now use GRASS v.transform from the Sextante tool kit to carry out vector affine transformations. The documentation for this can be found here: but in truth all you'll need to look at is the format of the text file. N. – nhopton Aug 21 '13 at 19:29

First you need to project your geographic coordinates to a cartesian 2D coordinate system, since affine transformations don't apply to geographic coordinate systems.

You can apply an affine transformation from control points or from transformation parameters. The QGIS plugin asks you transformation parameters, but it is much more common for a user to have control points.

From control points you can calculate transformation parameters. For an affine transformation there are 6 transformation parameters, so you need at least 3 control points (each control point implies 4 coordinates: Xsource, Ysource, Xtarget, Ytarget), but more control points are recommended to have redundancy and thus be able to apply Least Squares, which would give you an estimation of the transformation's quality. Remember that affine transformations can rotate, shift, scale (even applying different factors on each axis) and skew geometries.

Control points must have the form:


Parameters are:

a: Scale X 
e: Scale Y
d: Rotation X
b: Rotation Y
c: Translation X
f: Translation Y

And we know:

Xt = X*a + Y*b + c
Yt = X*d + Y*e + f

So, you need to solve this system of equations (for 3 control points):

¦ Xs1 Ys1 1 0 0 0 ¦ | a ¦   ¦ Xt1 ¦
¦ Xs2 Ys2 1 0 0 0 ¦ ¦ b ¦   ¦ Xt2 ¦ 
¦ Xs3 Ys3 1 0 0 0 ¦ ¦ c ¦ = ¦ Xt3 ¦ 
¦ 0 0 0 Xs1 Ys1 1 ¦ ¦ d ¦   ¦ Yt1 ¦ 
¦ 0 0 0 Xs2 Ys2 1 ¦ ¦ e ¦   ¦ Yt2 ¦ 
¦ 0 0 0 Xs3 Ys3 1 ¦ ¦ f ¦   ¦ Yt3 ¦

Where parameters a, b, c, d, e, and f are unknown.

Once you calculate parameters a, b, c, d, e, and f, (for example with this online equation solver) place them into the QGIS plugin interface like this:

X' = a*x + b*y + c
Y' = d*x + e*y + f


Affine transformation parameters

I think this solves your two questions, if something is not clear, just tell me.

share|improve this answer
Thank you for your details explanation. It solves my problem. – user17817 Dec 28 '14 at 2:10
great answer @gcarrillo .. i hope somebody would take up this and implement an auto transformation using control points in QGIS much like the spatial adjustment in ArcMap.. – vinayan Jan 1 '15 at 5:46

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