Until now, my focus has been building my terrain mesh and adding roads. Now, I would like to take the model to the next level and add realistic terrain and images from Google Earth. One of my major tasks for this project is to assist the developers with siting residences for the most optimal views, and the hilltop is surrounded by some very dramatic terrain. For this tutorial, I will take advantage of Sketchup 8's "Add Location" feature to pull in terrain from Google Earth. First, here is the current state of my model:
Looks pretty lonely, doesn't it? To add some terrain features, in SketchUp I go to View > Toolbars > Google. Once the Google toolbar appears, I click on the "Add Location" icon and enter my location:
The window will display an aerial image of the location I entered. I zoom in to an aerial that matches the location of my model, and click "Select Region".
Handles now appear, and I can modify my image selection. when I am happy with the selection, I click "Grab".
Nice! The Google Earth image now appears under my terrain model.
However, I do not yet see the actual terrain elevation. To adjust this, I go to the Google toolbar and click on "Toggle Terrain."
If I look at different angles, I can see that the terrain matches the model pretty closely. However, there are some areas where the terrain mesh of my model isn't accurate - it is flat and falls off suddenly, as if it were a cliff. This is due to the fact that I didn't have any elevation data outside of the property boundary, and so when I previously created my terrain mesh, it guessed what to put outside of the property lines. I'll fix this in a later tutorial; for now, I am focusing on building my contextual terrain map. Below are some images from a couple of angles:
One of the most amazing things about this process is that each time you grab an image from Google, it accurately geo-locates the image. This means that I can easily add more terrain images without having to align them - SketchUp does everything. Now I am grabbing the terrain next to the first image:
My goal is build a large contextual terrain mesh for my model, showing nearby mountains. Now I start grabbing more images, building outward:
Even further outward:
Finally, I have the dramatic mountainous backdrop to my terrain mesh:
You'll notice that the resolution of some of the terrain is quite low and blurry, and Google's logo appears to be stamped onto the earth. I'll want to improve the quality of the terrain imagery, which I will take care of in a future post.