How to View Imagery in QGIS

QGIS is powerful Geographic Information System (GIS) software that also happens to be free! This tutorial shows how to display imagery aquired via DroneDeploy in QGIS. Start showing off those flights like a pro!

Download Othomosiac from DroneDeploy

  1. Select the Map you wish to import from the DroneDeploy dashboard.
  1. Choose 2D Map as your map type, and then Export the map.
  1. Enter an email address to receive the exported map. You'll want Native Resolution for the best image quality. For the Map Projection, we'll choose Custom as we'll be overlaying with USDA Farm Service Agency field boundaries with a NAD83 UTM Zone 14 Coordinate system (EPSG 3721).

Whoa there! EPSG? Huh?

If you have no idea what all the coordinate system stuff means, choosing "Desktop" will get you compatible with most web maps such as those found on Google and Bing maps. SpatialReference.org is a great place to lookup those coordinate systems!

Select Single Image to deliver the map as one cohesive mosaic, and select GeoTIFF as the file type. Finally, click Export to submit your request. Depending on the mosaic size and image quality, image export may take a bit (You can learn about the UTM grid while you wait!).

  1. Upon receipt of your exported mosaic in your email inbox, click the download link to procure a zipfile containing your mosaic. When prompted, save the zipfile to your computer.
  1. Upon notification in your browser that the download is complete, locate the downloaded orthomosaic on your computer (in the Chrome browser, you’re looking for Show in Folder on the drop-down on the file link off the downloads bar).
  1. Using the file extraction method of your choice, extract the orthomosaic from the zipfile.


Most modern operating systems have extraction tools built-in.

With the imagery extracted, it’s time to open QGIS Desktop

To View imagery in QGIS

  1. Click Add Raster Layer from the sidebar or the right,
  2. navigate to the exported image on the Browser Panel to right-click and Add Layer.

Pretty simple, huh? You'll notice that we've added our field boundary from the browser panel as well, and it all lines up!

Psst... Here's a Pro-Tip!

Want to add background imagery from the web? Check out the QGIS OpenLayers Plugin!