SketchUp geolocation

by Design Workshop Sydney

When working with models for town planning in SketchUp we will want to gather relevant geolocation resources from Google Earth, Google Maps and the 3D Warehouse. In our SketchUp courses we explore these procedures in detail.  sketchup-geolocation
In early 2013 Google changed how they created 3d models of buildings for Google Earth, however at this stage this may only be for US cities, not worldwide. Aeroplanes take pictures using lasers and whilst these 3d buildings are ok from a distance they are not so good close up. The quality was better before, but you can go back to the better quality images, if you have Google Earth Pro. Windows > Tools > Options (Mac: Google Earth > Preferences). On the 3D View tab > Terrain > untick Use 3D images > OK. And Google Earth reloads with better buildings. This works as long as you have Layers on the left in GE (only with GE Pro at $500 pa) > 3D Buildings > tick Photorealistic. These buildings were made by SketchUp users – click on one for Model Info and a link to the file (again only for GE Pro users).
Now go to Google Maps for a different visualization. To go to the same location: in GE > Edit > Copy View Location (Latitude & Longitude) > Paste into the search field in Google Maps > go to the Satellite view of the location (right). The reason for going here: GM gives you 45º imagery (again only for the US at present but this may change in future) – you can get a lot more imagery from this than you can from GE. You also have a lot of extra layers & information, for instance you can click on a 3d building for Model Info and a link to the file.
Having said that, we can still do a lot with the standard free Google Earth: go to the basic Google site & punch into the search field a proposed site > then click on Maps > and click on Earth (top right). We can see our site and also that some buildings may have been modeled already.
Navigate around the site using the Orientation Dial (top left), or the mouse button to pan and the mouse wheel to orbit (the orbit & pan controls work a little bit differently from those of SketchUp. Another great resource is the Street View data – in GE drag the orange Pegman onto a blue road & we enter Street View > look around – this data is captured by Google’s street view vehicles, with the date in the centre (eg. July 2011) > Exit SV (top right) > the aerial view is also handy.
In SketchUp: View > Toolbars > make sure Google is ticked. Bring in a geo-snapshot: on the Google toolbar > click on the Add Location button > copy in your location. Then Zoom out > Select Region (top right) > adjust the blue pins (not too small an area though) > Grab – it places this geo-map into your SketchUp file. Note that the human figure Derek is at the axes zero point. Also the model is at the correct scale and accurate to North. Click on the Toggle Terrain button to see the land mass – it depends on how flat it is whether you’ll see it or not (or File > Geo-location > Show terrain). Create a box to test the shadows: Rectangle tool, then Push/Pull upwards. Window > Shadows > turn on Shadows (top left) > scrub the slider to change time of day – you can see the shadows will be accurate because the coordinates came in at the
same time as the aerial imagery.
Especially in cities & town centres people may have already created models around our site – this saves us modeling them ourselves. Window > Components > click on the Navigation drop-down arrow > Nearby Models. SketchUp then looks in the 3d Warehouse for any models geo-located in the vicinity of the snapshot. It takes a few seconds & brings in all the models in the vicinity. At the bottom of the panel note there may be more available. Note also there’s some information on building heights. Double-click on a model & hit Download – it takes a few seconds & is placed in the correct position.

More useful tips and techniques can be found at the SketchUp website. And see many examples of our own clients’ work on our Facebook page.

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