Does anyone have a simple work-flow for drawing cross sections of earth features in QGIS?

My thing is that QGIS is being used to present the plan view, but we have a little interest in some elevations as well. All the data is one set and is simply an elevation value in the attribute table, I don't want to have to move all that to CAD.

One logical workaround is to present the z value as the y.

I am a dunce in paper space in CAD, and would be more comfortable with the QGIS Composer.

  • I'm guessing you want to do it on a vector layer?
    – Nathan W
    Jul 21, 2012 at 1:01
  • I think so, probably anything that is convenient to use in Composer.
    – Willy
    Jul 21, 2012 at 1:04
  • I got going with Excel and some lines in a chart. Once set up I knocked off 6 in 3 hrs. I pasted the crossections pngs at the bottom of the map in QGIS MAP Composer, quite happy in the end.
    – Willy
    Jul 21, 2012 at 11:44

1 Answer 1


First you have to use a DEM, then you have to have installed the terrain profile plugin. Once is active, all you have to do is draw a line over your DEM and the plugin will calculate the profile. A nice thing is that you can play with the vertical exaggeration and also that you can export the profile as a PDF. A minor thing is that the drawing tool of the plugin only allows you trace a straight line...Git it a try!

  • Hmm, tried to get the data into a format for a dem, not suitable for that.
    – Willy
    Jul 21, 2012 at 4:06
  • 1
    Is this because your elevation data is too thin to let you make a meaningful DEM? How about using an SRTM DEM together with the 'profile from line' plug-in. Nick.
    – nhopton
    Jul 21, 2012 at 8:20
  • The elevation data is from two sources, a DGPS survey of points, and from a CAD file containing developed survey data including contours. So it is all vector data.
    – Willy
    Jul 21, 2012 at 11:41
  • If your contours have elevation values you can build a dem using the interpolation plugin. The you can use the terrain profile plugin Jul 22, 2012 at 0:56

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