I have been using R to maintain a rather large stack of raster layers (over 700 layers of data for sub-Saharan Africa). Each layer looks as follows http://hcapi.harvestchoice.org/v2.0/core/?varCode=SALUM&format=tif

I need to batch generate PNG images for print media, as well as thumbnails of the layers.

Using R raster package, I can easily plot each layer and apply custom color tables and legends. I run into problems when trying to generate small thumbnails with no title and axis (see an example below). I cannot find any option to have the raster plot occupy the full size of the graphic device, regardless of any graphic parameter I pass to par().

Here is reproducible code:


url <- "http://hcapi.harvestchoice.org/v2.0/core/?varCode=SALUM&format=tif"
download.file(url, "./r.zip", "curl")
r <- raster("./SALUMSSAtif.tif")
cc <- c("#AFF1E9", "#9ddfa3", "#87CD58", "#CDAF19", "#761200", "#94725F", "#D61F00")

png("./SALUMSSAtif.png", width=200, height=200)
par(mar=c(0,0,0,0), oma=c(0,0,0,0), xaxs="i", yaxs="i")
plot(r, col=cc, main=NULL, legend=F, axes=F)

This produces the attached plot that's badly off-center and too small. Any idea how to remove all the plot margins using raster::plot or another method?


Thanks, --Mel.

  • 1
    Never mind, I seem to have found a solution using raster::image instead. image(r, ylim=c(-40, 28), xlim=c(-20,58), xaxs="i", yaxs="i", col=cc)
    – mbacou
    May 29, 2014 at 12:26
  • The difference is the defaults for asp.
    – mdsumner
    May 29, 2014 at 13:26

1 Answer 1


As long as you've got a working installation of the gdalUtils package, you could use gdal_translate(), its thin wrapper around the GDAL function of the same name.

To make thumbnails that are 15% as large as the original image, for instance, you would do the following:

gdal_translate("SALUMSSAtif.tif", "SALUMSSA_thumb.tif", outsize=c("15%","15%"))

enter image description here

  • Also, if you want to enforce a certain width or height while keeping the aspect ratio constant, you should be able to do that with a bit of computation using the results of gdalInfo(), as in: "unlist(gdalinfo("SALUMSSAtif.tif", raw_output=FALSE)[c("rows", "columns")])" May 29, 2014 at 17:56

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