I have a raster image (elevation map from DEM) where I have limited the rendered elevation to only 3,500' and higher. I would like to convert the boundary/extent of this rendered image into a vector file, so that I can upload as a shapefile into other programs. I have not been able to do so yet after much Googling and experimentation.

Among other things, I have attempted to clip a large vector by the raster (I get an error saying "Could not load source layer for OVERLAY."). I have attempted to polygonize a two color raster (black and white) and keep only one of those. I believe they are all on the same CRS. I can convert it into a vector, but that converts all the contours, which is not my goal. I only want the boundaries.

Picture below of the raster extent (in white) that I want in vector form.

How do I clip out the black portion?

  • FYI, a layer's extent is always a rectangle. It's bounded by the xmin, xmax, ymin and ymax coordinates.
    – csk
    Apr 18, 2019 at 18:03

1 Answer 1


You're on the right track by polygonizing the raster. Currently you're trying to polygonize the elevation raster, and the tool is trying to create a separate polygon for every elevation value (ie a polygon for 3500', another polygon for 3501', etc.) You could select and merge all the polygons with values > 3500, but there's a much faster method. First create a raster with only values of 0 and 1 (0 where elevation < 3500, 1 where elevation > 3500). Then you can polygonize that raster, and it will have create a polygon of the area above 3500 feet.

  1. Use the raster calculator with this expression (substitute the name of your raster band):

    "rastername@1" * ("rastername@1" > 3500)
  2. Polygonize the output from step 1.

  3. The output should be a polygon layer with two polygons. Select and delete the polygon with 0 value.

  • Thanks for your help. I'm close but haven't yet been able to make that final separation between the two when it comes time to polygonize. When I enter the formula, the result is a raster w/ only 0 and 1. But when I do step 2 and polygonize, both 0 and 1 remain, with the border in the middle. Any idea how to keep only #1? Appreciate it.
    – jhquest
    Apr 18, 2019 at 19:27
  • Select and delete the unwanted polygon.
    – csk
    Apr 18, 2019 at 20:59
  • Genius, thank you for your help.
    – jhquest
    Apr 18, 2019 at 21:58

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