I have encountered a categorised polygon file representing geological units (hundreds of unique categories). The polygon file contains two fields, one for controlling a simple fill colour, the other for controlling an overlying textural pattern. There are symbol sets for each.

The intended cartographic representation of this in a project is to have the same data as duplicated layers, with the simple fill below the textured layer and thus a combined appearance is the intended output on a published map.

While this works in terms of a map output it creates a couple of issues including the problem of creating a legend showing the combined symbology for each geological category.

An obvious solution is to combine the two component symbologies into a new symbol set. However, this would be a big task to do manually as I am not aware of a tool to simply merge symbols. Does anyone know of a simple solution for this problem?

1 Answer 1


A PyQGIS solution:

The layer tree

It contains the 'simple fill' (or background) layer, the layer with the overlaying symbol, and a third layer (duplicate of 'simple fill' layer) which will receive the merged symbol - this layer should have Single Symbol symbology to start.

enter image description here

The script
# the current project
p = QgsProject.instance()

# the layer with the simple fill symbology - change the name according to your project
lyr1 = p.mapLayersByName('polygons (simple fill)')[0]

# the layer with the overlaying symbology - change the name according to your project
lyr2 = p.mapLayersByName('polygons (overlay)')[0]

# a duplicate of either lyr1 or lyr2 (set to single symbol) - will receive the merged symbology - change the name according to your project
lyr3 = p.mapLayersByName('polygons (target symbol)')[0]

# get the renderer to merge
source_renderer = lyr2.renderer()

# clone the renderer from 'simple fill' layer ready to accept merged symbol
target_renderer = lyr1.renderer().clone()

# get categories of source and target renderers
cats_source = source_renderer.categories()
cats_target = target_renderer.categories()

# loop through categories and merge symbols
for i,cat in enumerate(cats_target):
    # the symbol of the source layer
    sym_source = cats_source[i].symbol()
    # the symbol of the target layer
    sym_target = cats_target[i].symbol()
    # append the symbol layer from source to target
    # update the category's symbol
    target_renderer.updateCategorySymbol(i, sym_target)

# apply the merged renderer to the target layer

# propogate changes to QGIS GUI

enter image description here

⚠️ Warning ⚠️

Run the script only once. Running it again will crash QGIS due to mismatches between the original and new symbols.

  • Hi Matt, many thanks for your help. Your instructions are very clear. I have got down to the loop and all 3 layers are set up correctly. However, I am having trouble once I enter the loop and get the following error: File "<string>", line 28, in <module> TypeError: list indices must be integers or slices, not tuple. Line 28 code is: sym_source = cats_source[i].symbol(). Could you please check whether there is a typo or something incorrect? Thanks again, Colin Commented Dec 10, 2022 at 10:58
  • Hi Colin, I am currently away from my computer, but I will gladly check later today
    – Matt
    Commented Dec 10, 2022 at 11:13
  • Hi Matt, problem solved and works a treat. My issue related to not having the duplicate layer symbolised as single symbol before I ran the script. Thank you very much, you are a gem! Commented Dec 10, 2022 at 22:27
  • I should have made that more clear in my preamble. I'm glad you got it working.
    – Matt
    Commented Dec 12, 2022 at 19:47

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