Link: Google Earth Pro is Now Free

Over on the Google Lat Long blog, the latest news is that Google Earth Pro is now free. I use it on every single project for my virtual pre-site visits and for lots of contextual research. It helps me get a jumpstart on my design and has been an invaluable tool. It being made available for free is great news. It's better than the previously free version (just called Google Earth) for a few reasons:

  1. You can export super high res satellite imagery and use it as an underlay for your 3d modeling - up to 4800 pixels wide. The extra large exports come in handy when making large format presentation boards. Tip for underlays: turn off Terrain and 3d Buildings layers, and get a straight down view by Command+clicking and aiming straight down with your mouse.
  2. We can see property lines and US Parcel data. It includes lot size as well!
  3. Turn back time and see how neighborhoods have developed by skimming through old satellite photos with the Historical Imagery slider.
  4. Use the Path and Polygon tools to take measurements. Turn on the Ruler in the tool bar to see how long the paths you draw are.

Here are a few other things you can do with Google Earth; either free or pro versions:

  1. Find a 3d building that highlights in blue. You can click on them, and download them with textures from the SketchUp Warehouse. If you use SketchUp, they will come into your project geolocated and can be great 3d context.
  2. Use the heck out of Street View. Just keep double clicking all the way down to a street and you'll get into street view mode. Then click on the street in the direction you want to go, or scroll with your mouse wheel and drive down the street. 
  3. Take a trip to the Moon or Mars and explore. There is some crazy stuff embedded in those models.

These are the most valuable things I use it for on my projects. What do you use it for? Leave a note in the comments. 

✱ Terrain Part Deux: Taking Your Terrain Model from Bonzai3d to Revit & More

Learn something? Please consider supporting us by making a donation. [Learn more…]

Continuing from our last session where we made a terrain model in Bonzai3d from Google Earth and SketchUp, we take the next step by learning how to export varying densities of meshes out to Revit to create a parametric Toposurface. Then we start talking about additional Toposurface tools available to create and manipulate terrain as well as create a schedule that shows us how much cut and fill we moved around.

Topics I cover in Revit include creating the Toposurface from Imported Instance, adjusting contour distance, adjusting contour display, Split Surface, and how to set up a Cut & Fill Schedule after doing a Graded Region.

See Part 1 Here

✱ Creating Smooth Terrain Models Using Bonzai3d, SketchUp & Google Earth

Learn something? Please consider supporting us by making a donation. [Learn more…]

Have you wanted to get some 3d topography into your design files that is actually something you can work with? I mean, don’t you want to be able to add some earth here, and take some away over there?

In this video I show you how to create a smooth, editable terrain model using Bonzai3d’s NURBS tools after getting source geometry from Google Earth and SketchUp.

Google Earth has terrain, which is somewhat accurate, so we want to be able to use that as a starting point for our conceptual designs. The problem is that it’s low resolution, and not very friendly when it comes time to add to it or subtract from it. In this workflow, we end up with a piece of geometry that allows us to manipulate the ground surface. We use three tools to get the final product, but as I always say, use your tools in your toolbox. Sometimes you just can’t do it all in one tool.

See part 2 here!

Get a 30 day trial of Bonzai3d here.

Get SketchUp here.

Get Google Earth here.