I am new to ogr and vector data manipulation.

I am interested to cut an image (in this case a DEM file) using gdal.Warp() with the '-cutline' option to used the borders of a rectangular polygon to cut the underlying image. I saw good examples here

I wonder if it is possible to provide a "polygon object" instead of a "vector file"(.kml, .shp etc.) as the input to "cutlineDSName"?

  • 1
    A polygon object as for example the Shapely.Polygon will not work, but an opened vector dataset (ds = ogr.Open(vectorfn)) should work.
    – Johan
    Dec 4, 2019 at 15:36

1 Answer 1


I did that a few days ago. I am not an expert in Python so perhaps there are other ways to achieve that. Don't forget to import all the modules you need.

  • First, you can convert your DEM into an array of value 1 representing the extent of your DEM:
# input (dem)
dem = dem.tif

# output (dem extent)
extent = extent.tif

# convert the dem into an array of value 1
dem = gdal.Open(dem)
band = dem.GetRasterBand(1)
array = band.ReadAsArray()
array[:,:] = 1
x_pixels = array.shape[1]
y_pixels = array.shape[0]
driver = gdal.GetDriverByName("GTIFF")
dataset = driver.Create(extent, x_pixels, y_pixels, 1)

# georeferencing using the spatial reference of the input DEM
world_file = dem.GetGeoTransform()
proj = dem.GetProjection()
  • Secondly, you can convert the resulted raster (extent.tif) into a polygon (.shp):
# input (dem extent)
extent = extent.tif

# output (polygon in .shp)
shp = polygon.shp

# generating the shapefile
extent = gdal.Open(extent)
band = extent.GetRasterBand(1)
driver = ogr.GetDriverByName("ESRI Shapefile")
dataset = driver.CreateDataSource(shp)

# georeferencing and layer generation
srs = osr.SpatialReference()
layer = dataset.CreateLayer("", srs)
field = ogr.FieldDefn("ID", ogr.OFTInteger)
gdal.Polygonize(band, None, layer, 0, (), None)
  • Finaly, you can use the previous polygon to clip the DEM:
# input 1 (dem)
dem = dem.tif

# input 2 (polygon in .shp)
shp = polygon.shp

# output (clipped dem)
clipped_dem = clipped_dem.tif

# clipping the DEM
with fiona.open(shp, "r") as shapefile:
    geometry = [feature["geometry"] for feature in shapefile]

with rasterio.open(dem) as src:
    out_image, out_transform = mask(src, geometry, crop=True)
    out_meta = src.meta.copy()
    out_meta.update({"driver": "GTiff",
                     "height": out_image.shape[1],
                     "width": out_image.shape[2],
                     "transform": out_transform})

with rasterio.open(clipped_dem, "w", **out_meta) as output:

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