All About Geo-Location Snapshots and SketchUp

By Aidan Chopra

When you import a geo-location snapshot into SketchUp, you access Google’s huge repository of geographic data; snapshots are a lot more than just pretty pictures:

  • Importing a snapshot geo-locates your position automatically. This means that the snapshot sets your model’s latitude and longitude and orients itself in the right cardinal direction. Any shadow studies you do with the Shadows feature are automatically accurate for your model’s new geo-location.

  • Everything is already the right size. Perhaps you take a snapshot of a football field; when you measure that football field in SketchUp, it is exactly 100 yards long. That’s because SketchUp scales your snapshot to the correct size as part of the import process.

  • Snapshots look flat but contain terrain data, too. The snapshot that SketchUp imports is more than just a color aerial photo — it also includes a chunk of topography — terrain. The terrain is flat when you first import it because it’s easier to build on that way, but you can toggle between flat and 3D (not flat) views by choosing File→Geo-Location→Show Terrain.

    Don’t fret if you don’t see any difference when you flip between the views — you probably just chose a flat site.