Re: Applying Color Ramp to Single-Band Grayscale Images

Eyal Saiet

Hello Brandon,
Thanks very much for the detailed response. Unforetonetly I cannot use a GUI because my project is a software that continuous (not a one-time)  analysis change (basically subtracting DEMs), sometimes the difference will include negative values. Thus I don't think I can use uint8 #option 2. Thus seems I will need to go with option #3. Why is option #3 not recommended?
Apart from options #2 and #3 how do people create spatial figures (.tif) with a consistent color scheme to reflect the quantity of a change?

On Fri, Apr 8, 2022 at 7:22 PM Brandon Victor <interdimensional.cabbage@...> wrote:
Here's my two cents,

The way I see it, you have three options to convert a greyscale image into a colour-mapped version.

  1. You can just import your greyscale data into ArcGIS/QGIS and tell it how to render that using the colourmap you want. In QGIS, this option is called "Singleband Pseudocolor".
  2. You can create your own colourmap dictionary from matplotlib (or another library) and add that to the tif with `write_colormap()`
  3. You can modify the greyscale image to just BE the colours.

``` python
import rasterio
import numpy as np

cmap ='viridis')
data = np.random.uniform(0, 256, (100, 100)).astype(np.uint8)

# Option 1: Just use greyscale, and then interpret it in GIS software
with'greyscale.tif', 'w', width=100, height=100, count=1, dtype=np.uint8) as dst:
    dst.write(data, 1)

# Option 2: Explicitly add a cmap obtained from somewhere else
cmap_dict = {n: np.array(cmap(n))*256 for n in range(256)}
with'mapped.tif', 'w', width=100, height=100, count=1, dtype=np.uint8) as dst:
    dst.write(data, 1)
    dst.write_colormap(1, cmap_dict)

# Option 3: Save the greyscale as a coloured image (not recommended)
colour = (cmap(data)*256).astype(np.uint8) # shaped [100, 100, {RGBA}]
with'coloured.tif', 'w', width=100, height=100, count=3, dtype=np.uint8) as dst:
    for x in range(3):
        dst.write(colour[..., x], x+1)

I think you are asking about option 2. The answer, then, is that you can just use matplotlib's colourmap library to generate your colormap for you.

Most GIS software allow you to do Option 1 very easily, anyway. So if it's a one-off, it's probably easier to create/select your colormap using a GUI.

Good luck.


Eyal Saiet

Project manager
Remote sensing and in-situ measurements

Geophysical Institute 
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Fairbanks, AK 99775
(907) 750 6555 (cell)

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