I need to color a DEM that I have loaded in QGIS 2.2. I'd like the DEM colors to represent different elevations, something like:


None of the color ramps that come with QGIS are related to elevation, so can anyone point me to pre-existing ramps that I can load in to QGIS? Thanks!

1 Answer 1


QGIS comes with a lot of colorramps but not all are enabled by default. It's covered in the User Guide:

You can create a custom color ramp choosing New color ramp... from the color ramp drop-down menu. A dialog will prompt for the ramp type: Gradient, Random, colorBrewer, or cpt-city. The first three have options for number of steps and/or multiple stops in the color ramp. You can use the checkbox Invert option while classifying the data with a color ramp. See figure_symbology_3 for an example of custom color ramp and figure_symbology_3a for the cpt-city dialog.

enter image description here

Update for QGIS 2.18: I have not found the updated link in the documentation, but cpt-city color ramp type are available:

First add a new ramp color as shown below:

enter image description here

Then, select the cpt-city option and you will find the many predefined palettes enter image description here

  • Thank you, this answered my question. The topography ramps are hidden, and I probably wouldn't have found them without your assistance!
    – Stu Smith
    May 8, 2014 at 7:40
  • 2
    Has the Color ramp dropdown menu been eliminated from QGIS 2.12? I cannot find this menu. (Using QGIS 2.12 on a Macbook Pro running OS X 10.10.5).
    – Catlike
    Nov 8, 2015 at 20:26
  • 3
    @Catlike: in 2.12.3, you can get there by Settings > Style Manager > Color ramp tab > green plus symbol on right (tooltip says "add item").
    – jbaums
    Feb 21, 2016 at 5:33
  • 1
    You would think for GIS, topography and bathymetry color maps would be an "in your face" option Dec 25, 2021 at 21:10

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