I have used an R script to calculate the distance from a point within a polygon to the edge of the polygon at 1-degree increments. This has been saved as a CSV file. I am now wanting to create a shapefile of vector data to represent this information in QGIS. Is there a way to draw vectors of a given length, angle (0-360) and starting point using a function or script rather than drawing each line manually? For context this is the distance of a buoy in a lake to the lake edges.

enter image description here

The first 5 lines of the CSV are below:

line.distance thetas
4669.310681 1
4644.783120 2
4630.030523 3
4614.497676 4
4621.2902638 5

@Spacedman your answer was what I needed. Could you help me with trying to correctly centre the line? when using the script I end up with the below image. The difficulty I'm having is correctly identifying the coordinates between lat and long for the R script and my QGIS project projection NZTM 2000 EPSG:2193.

enter image description here


1 Answer 1


Loads of ways of doing this. Easiest may be to compute the X and Y coords of the start and finish points in R and create a GeoPackage and load that into QGIS instead - use the sf package in R to do this. You can compute the X and Y coords given start coordinate, distance, and angle using trigonometry.

Or to do in QGIS from the CSV, create a virtual layer which creates a line geometry using trigonometry.

I loaded a test CSV into a layer using "Add Layer" "Delimited Text Layer" and got a layer with no geometry called d. This has two columns, line.distance and thetas. Then "Create Layer" "New Virtual Layer" and use some SQL like this:

select makeline(
 st_point(1234, 5678),
) as geometry from d

Note the central point is coordinate (1234, 5678) in whatever coordinate system you are using, and the numbers appear twice here. The conversion from degrees to radians uses pi=3.14 as an approximation, maybe put in another couple of decimal places for pi. The resulting virtual layer should have line geometry and for my test data looks like this:

enter image description here

since it was created with increasing line.distance with thetas from north (thetas=0) going clockwise round.

You may also need to set a CRS on the layer to get it in the right place, my test data is in the ocean only a few km from (0,0) ("Null Island") in Web Mercator coordinates.

  • Hi Spacedman, thank you very much this worked well in QGIS. The only issue I am currently having is that I can't get the correct projection and centre point coordinate from my R script (long, lat) in this code (the 1234, 5678 is off centre to my project and vector shapefile for the lake outline). When I run it the line geometry is slightly of the centre of where the distances were created. Do you have any suggestions for how to get the correct CRS/projection? Sep 4, 2023 at 1:52

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