I am new to QGIS or any GIS software. I have been using a totalstation to measure a hillside and I am trying to convert the point cloud to a 16bit png heightmap that I can use in Unreal Engine 4.

I have tried using interpolation and print composer in QGIS but the landscape in UE4 looks blocky, like minecraft.

What am I doing wrong?

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I'm guessing that you're seeing quantization - the output comes out looking "terraced", like rice fields. If that's the case it's because you're outputting 8 bit png, which only has 256 possible values.

you can do this with the command line tool gdal_translate. You should be able to run this from the terminal (linux/mac) or the osgeo4w shell (windows). I don't think you can do this from QGIS (correct me if I'm wrong)

assuming you've got a 1-band raster with float values in the range MIN to MAX, you can use

gdal_translate -of PNG -ot UInt16 -scale MIN MAX 0 65535 "source.tiff" "output.png"

replace MIN and MAX in that command with the minimum/maximum values in your raster. Make sure you set the MAX value to the full range, or the heightmap will be clipped, giving an appearance of mesas.

That will output a Unsigned Integer 16 bit png, with your float values mapped across the full 16-bit range of values.

You can find the real min/max using QGIS, or use the gdalinfo command line

gdalinfo -mm "source.tiff"

... and look at the metadata section for the minimum and maximum values. (-mm forces it to calculate the true range of values, rather than an estimate)

  • When I used gdal_translate I got a 16-bit png, but the png have the wrong proportions. Do you know why? – Gisnoob123 Jun 8 '17 at 8:09

Your Answer


By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.