Raster conversion tools

There are several ways to think about converting raster data in ArcGIS. You may want to convert nonraster data into raster data or vice versa, such as converting a point file into a raster dataset. You may want to convert raster data into another type of raster data, such as changing the file format from .img to .tif, or you may want to change how it's managed, such as converting from a raster catalog to a mosaic dataset.

The majority of the time, you will be using geoprocessing tools to perform your conversion. Sometimes you might be able to interact with the user interface through shortcut menus to access these geoprocessing tools or other menus. For example, you can export raster data from the ArcMap table of contents to another format using the Export dialog box presented via the raster layer's shortcut menu, whereas, in the Catalog window, you can right-click a raster and choose to export it to another format and this will open the Copy Raster tool.

Converting to and from non-raster data

There are a number of core geoprocessing tools that allow you to convert to and from raster data, which are shown in the table below.

Converting data to a raster dataset

Tool

Description

ASCII to Raster

Converts an ASCII file representing raster data to a raster dataset.

Feature to Raster

Converts features to a raster dataset.

Float to Raster

Converts a file of binary floating-point values representing raster data to a raster dataset.

Point to Raster

Converts point features to a raster dataset.

Polygon to Raster

Converts polygon features to a raster dataset.

Polyline to Raster

Converts polyline features to a raster dataset.

Converting data to a raster dataset using tools in the To Raster toolset
Converting a raster dataset to a vector dataset

Tool

Description

Raster to Point

Converts a raster dataset to point features.

Raster to Polygon

Converts a raster dataset to polygon features.

Raster to Polyline

Converts a raster to polyline features.

Converting a raster dataset to a vector dataset using tools in the From Raster toolset
Converting a raster dataset to a file

Tool

Description

Raster to ASCII

Converts a raster dataset to an ASCII text file representing raster data.

Raster to Float

Converts a raster dataset to a file of binary floating-point values representing raster data.

Converting a raster dataset to a file using tools in the From Raster toolset

Using ArcScan for ArcGIS, you can convert scanned images into vector-based feature layers.

You can also use interpolation to convert data to a raster dataset. This requires the ArcGIS Spatial Analyst extension (or the ArcGIS 3D Analyst extension). To learn more about interpolation, see Understanding interpolation analysis.

There are also a number of ArcGIS 3D Analyst extension raster conversion tools. To use these tools, you need to have the ArcGIS 3D Analyst extension.

Raster conversion tools in ArcGIS 3D Analyst extension

Tool

Description

Raster Domain

Imports one or more files in LAS format, the industry standard for lidar data, into a new multipoint feature class.

Raster to Multipoint

Converts a raster into a new multipoint feature class.

Raster to TIN

Converts a raster to a triangulated irregular network (TIN).

Terrain to Raster

Converts a terrain dataset to a raster dataset.

TIN to Raster

Converts a TIN to a raster.

Converting from a raster dataset format to another format

You can even convert a collection of raster datasets (such as BMPs or JPEG files) to a video file using the Raster To Video tool.

Converting to other raster data file formats

ArcGIS has many supported raster formats. When you are processing your data, you might find some formats perform better than others. For example, MrSID data may have a very small file size, but due to the compression, it is not performing as quickly as an uncompressed TIFF file. Or you have multiple rasters stored within the HDF format, but to perform any processing, you need to extract the rasters you're interested in working with.

Converting from a raster dataset format to another format

Toolset

Tool

Description

Raster

Copy Raster

Makes a copy of a raster dataset, loads raster datasets into a raster catalog, or converts a mosaic dataset into a raster dataset.

To Raster

DEM to Raster

Converts a digital elevation model (DEM) in a United States Geological Survey (USGS) format to a raster dataset.

To Raster

Raster To Other Format (Multiple)

Converts one or more raster dataset formats supported by ArcGIS to a BIL, BIP, BMP, BSQ, ENVI DAT, GIF, ERDAS IMAGINE, Esri Grid, JPEG, JPEG 2000, PNG, TIFF, or to a geodatabase raster dataset format.

To Geodatabase

Raster To Geodatabase

Loads multiple raster datasets into a geodatabase or raster catalog.

Raster

Raster To DTED

Splits a raster dataset into files based on the DTED tiling structure.

Raster

Extract Subdataset

Extracts raster datasets stored within a subdataset raster file.

Converting from a raster dataset format to another format

Converting how the raster is stored

There are three ways to store raster data in ArcGIS: as a raster dataset, within a mosaic dataset, or within a raster catalog. All raster data is essentially a raster dataset, whereas the mosaic dataset and raster catalog are storage mechanisms that allow you to store and manage collections of raster data. Depending on how you intend to use your data, you can use any one of these options for storing your raster data. To understand the distinctions and considerations for each, see Raster data organization.

There are several geoprocessing tools allowing you to convert from each of these options.

Tool

Description

Workspace To Raster Dataset

Mosaics all the raster datasets stored within the specified workspace into one raster dataset.

Raster Catalog To Raster Dataset

Mosaics the contents of a raster catalog into a new raster dataset.

Workspace To Raster Catalog

Loads all the raster datasets stored in the same workspace into an existing raster catalog.

Create Referenced Mosaic Dataset

Creates a new mosaic dataset from an existing raster catalog, a selection set from a raster catalog, or a mosaic dataset.

Alternatively, you can create a mosaic dataset and load the raster catalog into it (using the table raster type).

Converting how raster data is stored

Related Topics

2/11/2014