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Sketchup-ur-space Magazine - June 14

Author : Debarati Nath

Geo Modeling And SketchUp

In today’s world when we are all resides into the Global Village, it has become very difficult to know our neighbor. But the World Wide Web helps us to be familiar with the fellow citizen of the global village. And geo modeling lends a hand in this mission. But first of all we need to know what geo modeling is? Before that we must have a clear concept about Google Earth. It is an online application from the house of Google. It is a virtual globe, map and geographical information program that was originally called EarthViewer3D. It maps the Earth by the superimposition of images obtained from satellite imagery, aerial photography and GIS 3D globe. And how geo modeling is helping the Google Earth? Google wants to make this virtual earth more realistic and geo modeling is the only answer to this.

The process of making 3D models of real life buildings that will appear in Google Earth is called geo-modeling. And this way Google wants to populate the Google Earth with 3D buildings. There are two ways of geo modeling on Google Earth. One is Geo modeling with Building Maker and the most popular way is geo modeling with SketchUp. SketchUp is a tool you can use to build 3D models of anything you like – including buildings for Google Earth. You should use SketchUp for geo-modeling if you can't use Building Maker, or if the buildings you want to model are very complex or unusual. But how do you add the 3D model by SketchUp in Google earth?

Follow these steps to build a geo-model with SketchUp:

  • Open a new SketchUp file.
  • Import a geo-location snapshot by geo-locating your model.
  • Make sure that you look at the flat version of your terrain.
  • Choose File, Geo-location from the menu bar; make sure Show Terrain is deselected.
  • Trace the footprint of the building you want to model directly on the color snapshot.
  • Use Push/Pull to extrude the footprint to the correct height.
  • Model until you’re satisfied with what you have.
  • The key of building a great Google Earth model is to combine clean photo-textures with simple geometry to produce a model that’s both detailed and lightweight.
  • Flip to the 3D version of your snapshot (choose File, Geo-location, Show Terrain) and then move your building up or down until it sits properly, poking through the ground just a little bit.
  • Select everything you want to move, and then use the Move tool to move it up or down. You can press the up- or down-arrow key to constrain your move to the blue axis if you want.
  • Preview your model in Google Earth to make sure it looks right.
  • Upload your model to the Google 3D Warehouse.

The 3D Warehouse is the source for every user-generated (not modeled by Google) geo-model that’s added to the 3D Buildings layer in Google Earth. By selecting the checkbox to indicate that it’s Google Earth-ready and then uploading it, you’re submitting your model for consideration.

But just uploading the SketchUp model on Google Earth is not enough. All models submitted for inclusion to Google Earth must adhere to a set of standards to ensure a high-quality experience for all users. The majority of the criteria ensure the photorealistic 3D Buildings layer in Google Earth is accurate and represents the real world we live in. The remaining criteria ensure that 3D models do not hinder Google Earth’s performance. To be accepted to the photorealistic 3D Buildings layer in Google Earth, models should:

  • Represent real and permanent structures
  • Be better than all other alternatives
  • Be textured with photographs
  • Be correctly aligned with the imagery in Google Earth
  • Not include more than one discrete structure
  • Not float above or be sunken under the ground
  • Not include an excess of constructed terrain
  • Not include bundled entourage
  • Be the correct height and scale
  • Not exhibit Z-fighting
  • Not contain advertising or spam
  • Be complete
  • Not be too complex

However, your model can be sent back for review and judged according to the updated acceptance criteria if one of the following occurs:

  • Another user clicks the Report a problem link in the Google Earth pop up balloon for your model.
  • Another model is submitted in the same location as your model.
  • Terrain and imagery is updated in Google Earth.
  • You make an edit to your model.

After placing the geo model of SketchUp on Google Earth, you have to optimize your SketchUp model on Google Earth. The key to optimizing a SketchUp model that you are going to place in Google Earth is to keep the model complexity as light as possible. A model's complexity is directly related to its polygon count (number of faces).

Face count can increase rapidly. If you have a square, you have one face; if you pull it up into a cube, you have six faces. If you have a standard 24-sided circle, you have one face; if you pull it up into a cylinder, you have 26 faces.

Model a complex structure like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and you can easily end up with thousands of faces. Rendering a model with heavy geometry in Google Earth can take a lot of graphics resources. And that's just one structure. Imagine the number of faces in an entire neighborhood.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to reduce the number of faces, but still end up with a model that presents well.

We all know that SketchUp has two versions: one is free another is pro with more features. Depending on your level of proficiency with SketchUp, you might choose one of two following modeling methods:

SketchUp Beginner: If you're new to SketchUp, you should use the Extruded Footprint method. This method is the easiest to follow and it produces very good results.

SketchUp Advanced: If you've been using SketchUp for awhile and are comfortable with how it works, you should try the Matched Photo method of geo-modeling. This technique uses SketchUp's photo-matching feature to build a model based on one or more perspective photographs of your building. Note that this method only works well with uncropped photographs taken from certain angles – if you're not able to photograph the building yourself, you should use the Extruded Footprint method, above.

More information:

The process of geo-modeling with SketchUp involves photo-texturing (painting) your models with photographs of the structures you're modeling. These photographs can come from a few different sources:

  • You can take them yourself. If you're within range of the buildings you want to model, you can use any camera to take photographs for geo-modeling.
  • You can find them online. If you can't take your own photographs, it's sometimes possible to find useful pictures online – particularly if the building you're modeling is well-known.
  • You can use Street View imagery. Street View in Google Maps is street-level imagery we've gathered for cities and towns all over the world. If the building you're modeling is visible in Street View, SketchUp makes it very easy to access the imagery and use it to build geo-models.

With the inclusion of direct import/export function for Google Earth, SketchUp can quickly generate 3D building models for Google earth. In order to communicate the model inside the Google Earth 3D building layer, the SketchUp users can upload their geo-located 3D models directly into the 3D warehouse. After being evaluated by Google, if those models fulfill the requisites they can be included in the 3D buildings layer in Google Earth.

Geo modeler will be highly benefitted by creating their design quickly and perfectly tracing their project geographically on the Google earth for perfect sun studies, context studies, fast massing studies, city planning. They can also gather various types of geographic or demographic information and bring these into your design. By applying SketchUp geo-modelers can tag geo-referenced information to a 3D model.

The SketchUp users can follow a simple process like downloading terrain data from Google Earth into SketchUp. Model their 3D building with SketchUp and Google building maker with accessible aerial photography. Put in details, texture and then upload 3D model to Google Earth/3DWarehouse. While designing a new building, utilize building Maker right within SketchUp for generating context models around your site. Just Add Location to geo-locate the model, and then press the Add Building button.

The latest version of SketchUp like SketchUp 8 contains some advice features like model geo-location with Google Maps, color imagery and more precise terrain, match photo enhancements, Building Maker incorporation, and scene thumbnails.

SketchUp plays an important for architecture by providing images with three-dimensional visualizations & rendering to demonstrate and ensure the building designs concerning their future surroundings. The procedure of geo-modeling with SketchUp contains photo-texturing (painting) the models with photographs of the structures to be modeled. These photographs are obtainable from various sources - snapping photographs of any building with a camera, gather useful images from online, go with street view imagery in Google maps to collect the imagery and form geo-models with it (but the modeled building should be visible in street view).

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