I have 35 large sized .ecw images that I need to change to greyscale and then export as .tiff for someone else to use in AutoCAD.

In QGIS I can display the images in greyscale and then Save As and choose the 'rendered' option.

Is there a way that I can do this as a batch? My images are 500-700Mb each and can take an hour each to save. I'd like a way to do this as a batch process.

Any suggestions?

  • Use gdal_translate.
    – user30184
    Oct 4, 2017 at 4:39
  • Can you be more specific so that this answer is more instructive?
    – Johanna
    Oct 4, 2017 at 4:55
  • Read gdal.org/gdal_translate.html and if there is something that is not clear edit your question to be more specific.
    – user30184
    Oct 4, 2017 at 8:34
  • You must also define what do you mean with "change to greyscale". How would you construct the greyscale: by picking just one band from the ecw or perhaps by taking them all and computing the average, or maybe a somehow weighted average?
    – user30184
    Oct 4, 2017 at 9:02

2 Answers 2


I have found a workaround.

My plan had been to convert the .ecw files to .tiff and then use XnConvert to .jpg. I have discovered that there are other versions of my .ecw files that are already in .tiff format so I am able to use XnConvert to change them to greyscale and save as .jpg in one process.


Forgive me for butting in, but let me give it a try.

Given I have GeoTiffs in C:\GIS\Tiff_folder.

  1. Create new folder to store output files (e.g. "C:\GIS\MyOutputs")
  2. Start OSGeo4W Shell
  3. Type cd "C:\GIS\Tiff_folder" to move to the input folder.
  4. Type for %f in (*.tif) do gdal_translate -of GTiff -ot Byte -scale 100 500 1 255 -co BIGTIFF=IF_NEEDED "%f" C:/GIS/MyOutputs/%f

If successful, your converted grey images will appear in newly created MyOutputs folder, with the same filename as original GeoTiffs.

[EDIT] I have just realized you have .ecw files... so it has to be like below, and you might have to adjust filenames afterwords:

  1. Type for %f in (*.ecw) do gdal_translate -of GTiff -ot Byte -scale 100 500 1 255 -co BIGTIFF=IF_NEEDED "%f" C:/GIS/MyOutputs/%f.tif

Please change -scale 100 500 1 255 according to your input file. (My example case was DEMs within 100m-500m). As commented by user30184, it is probably difficult part of this task... how best you can define the greyscale range.

  • In QGIS, I have used the Layer Properties dialogue box to set the Color Rendering to Grayscale 'By Average'. Then, I can right click the image, choose Save As and set the Output Mode to Rendered Image to save as a greyscale [my Australian spelling] .tiff Each image takes over half an hour to save. I was hoping to find a way to process the 35 images as a batch.
    – Johanna
    Oct 4, 2017 at 21:31
  • G'Day @Johanna, I understood you need to include color rendering as a part of the batch process, to which I do not have answer. (and sorry I do not know what is By Average method). As you might have to continue working one-by-one on your dataset while waiting for solutions, I would suggest stop displaying [1] your layers, by ticking-off on the Layers Panel; and [2] saved raster, by not to add saved file to map. It may help lessen a burden.
    – Kazuhito
    Oct 4, 2017 at 22:33

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