How to use Google Earth to define your model scene

by: GIS / Cartographer: Jeff Klittich


One of the most important decisions to be made when designing a Solid Terrain Model is determining the scene or the Area of Interest (AOI).  When choosing your AOI you will definitely want to include your subject area, be it a park, land development, or city boundary.  You will also want to include any surrounding areas which provide context for the story you telling with the model.

Google Earth is an excellent tool to visualize and define your model extents.  This preliminary step will help to define the size shape and scale of the model to be produced.

For this example I will use YosemiteNational Park as my subject area.

After opening Google Earth, search for the area to be modeled.

GE-AOI-Search  GE-AOI-Yosemite


Once you have located your subject area click on the “Add Polygon” button located at the top of the screen. GE-AOI-Polygon


This tool will allow you to draw any shape you please by clicking where you want to place corner points.

When you click on the “Add Polygon” button, a dialog box will pop up.  This is where you can name your project, add any description of the project, and define the appearance of the polygon.



The next step is to draw the polygon, to define the AOI.  Simply click at the four corners of the approximate location of where you would want the AOI to be placed.



Don’t worry if the shape isn’t exactly even, this is only a preliminary sketch.  If you are not satisfied with the placement of the points, right clicking on them will delete the last point added.

Once you are satisfied with your sketch, click “OK” in the dialog box.  Notice that your shape was added to the “Places” menu, under “My Places”.



Next, right click on the shape name in the “Places” menu, and click “Save Place As”.  Save the shape as a KMZ, in a location easy to find.



Send the KMZ to us here at Solid Terrain Modeling, and we will be well on our way to making your project a reality.