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Note: A new GRASS GIS stable version has been released: GRASS GIS 7.4, available here.
Updated manual page: here


d.rast.arrow - Draws arrows representing cell aspect direction for a raster map containing aspect data.


display, map annotations, raster


d.rast.arrow --help
d.rast.arrow [-a] map=name [type=string] [color=name] [grid_color=name] [null_color=name] [unknown_color=name] [skip=integer] [magnitude_map=string] [scale=float] [--help] [--verbose] [--quiet] [--ui]


Align grids with raster cells
Print usage summary
Verbose module output
Quiet module output
Force launching GUI dialog


map=name [required]
Name of raster aspect map to be displayed
Type of existing raster aspect map
Options: grass, compass, drainage, agnps, answers
Default: grass
Color for drawing arrows
Either a standard color name or R:G:B triplet
Default: green
Color for drawing drawing grid
Either a standard color name, R:G:B triplet, or "none"
Default: gray
Color for drawing null values (X symbol)
Either a standard color name, R:G:B triplet, or "none"
Default: black
Color for showing unknown information (? symbol)
Either a standard color name, R:G:B triplet, or "none"
Default: red
Draw arrow every Nth grid cell
Default: 1
Raster map containing values used for arrow length
Scale factor for arrows (magnitude map)
Default: 1.0

Table of contents


d.rast.arrow is designed to help users better visualize surface water flow direction, as indicated in an aspect raster map layer. There are two ways to specify the aspect layer the program is to use. The first is to display the aspect map layer on the graphics monitor before running d.rast.arrow. The second method involves setting the map parameter to the name of the desired aspect map. This allows the arrows to be drawn over any other maps already displayed on the graphics monitor.

d.rast.arrow will draw an arrow over each displayed cell to indicate in which direction the cell slopes. If the aspect layer has a category value denoting locations of "unknown" aspect, d.rast.arrow draws a question mark over the displayed cells of that category. Cells containing null data will be marked with an "X". You can disable drawing of null data and unknown aspect values by setting its color to "none".

When specifying the magnitude_map option, arrow lengths denoting magnitude will be extracted from the cell values of the specified map. In this case the tail of the arrow will be centered on the source cell. You may adjust the overall scale using the scale option. d.rast.arrow will ignore NULL and negative magnitudes, and will warn you if the debug level is set at 5 or higher. Be aware. If your application uses negative values for magnitude, you can use r.mapcalc to prepare the magnitude map to suit your needs (absolute value, inverted direction and so on).


By default, arrows are drawn at the size of a cell and cannot be seen if the raster map is relatively close in scale. You can use the skip option to draw arrows every n-th cell in both directions if you are working with relatively high resolutions. It may be useful to disable the grid in this case, which is accomplished by setting its color to "none".

For GRASS and Compass type aspect maps, the cell values of the aspect map will determine the corresponding direction in 360 degrees. ANSWERS type aspect maps will be plotted in multiples of 15 degrees counterclockwise from east, and AGNPS and Drainage type aspect maps will be displayed in D8 representation, i.e. the eight multiples of 45 degrees. Cell values are 1 to 8 clockwise from north for AGNPS and 1 to 8 counterclockwise from north east for Drainage. See r.watershed for more details about the Drainage aspect.

GRASS aspect maps are measured using Cartesian conventions, i.e. in degrees counterclockwise from east. e.g.:

90  North
180 West
270 South
0,360 East
They can be created from a raster elevation map with r.slope.aspect.

Compass type aspect maps are measured in degrees clockwise from north.

This module uses oceanographic conventions, i.e. arrows point downslope or direction "to", as opposed to atmospheric conventions (direction "from").


Convert U,V velocity component maps into magnitude,direction maps for use with d.rast.arrow:
r.mapcalc "magnitude = sqrt(U_map^2 + V_map^2)"
r.mapcalc "direction = atan(U_map, V_map)"
d.rast.arrow map=direction type=grass magnitude_map=magnitude skip=3 grid=none

Sea wind speed (magnitude) and direction shown in the Tasmanian Sea


d.frame, d.rast, d.rast.edit, d.rast.num, g.region, r.slope.aspect, r.watershed


Original author
Chris Rewerts
Agricultural Engineering,
Purdue University

Magnitude and 360 arrow code
Hamish Bowman
Department of Marine Science,
University of Otago, New Zealand

Align grids with raster cells and Drainage aspect type
Huidae Cho

Last changed: $Date: 2016-10-31 03:49:51 -0700 (Mon, 31 Oct 2016) $


Available at: d.rast.arrow source code (history)

Note: A new GRASS GIS stable version has been released: GRASS GIS 7.4, available here.
Updated manual page: here

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© 2003-2018 GRASS Development Team, GRASS GIS 7.2.3svn Reference Manual