Importing terrain from Google Earth to Rhinoceros

By edvin. Updated 2 years, 3 months ago. 22,364 unique views.

How to create contour lines from Google Earth's terrain model via Google SketchUp Pro 7.

  1. Open Google Earth zoom in to the area you want to export
  2. Open SketchUp Pro go to Tools > Google Earth > Toggle Terrain then Tools > Google Earth > Get Current View
  3. File > Export > 3D Model and under format choose .3ds
  4. Open Rhinoceros 3D and import the .3ds mesh
  5. Drape the mesh with a spacing value of 1 This step is done since the mesh you get from SketchUp often results in messy contour lines, especially if you have imported multiple views from Google Earth
  6. Turn the surface into a mesh. Make sure to refine the mesh. Some times Rhino can work directly with the drape, if that is the case for you, this step is unnecessary.
  7. Use the Contour tool on the surface or mesh

After these procedures you should have a nice looking 3D contour model in Rhino.

Comments (9)

AThulin: (3 years, 4 months ago)
Appears to require Google Sketchup *Pro*.

edvin: (3 years, 2 months ago)
True, only the professional version allows one to export ".3ds" files. I'll add that.

Paul Zed: (2 years, 6 months ago)
Hi, I have installed the latest versions of Google Earth and Sketch-up Pro but I can't see anything under about Google Earth under "Tools" of Sketch-up Pro. I'm not able to get any terrain out of Google Earth. What am I doing wrong please? I only the Eval version of Sketch-Up Pro.. it says it is fully function and the only limitation seems to be that it will expire after 8 hours use. I don't want to buy it if I can't work out how to import terrain. Can anyone help please??

edvin: (2 years, 6 months ago)
Hi Paul!

When I wrote the tutorial I was using SketchUp 7, so if nothing else works, just download that instead.

In the description of SketchUp 8 on [their official blog](http://sketchupdate.blogspot.se/2010/09/geo-modeling-features-in-sketchup-8.html). There it seems as if you can still import the maps but in a different manner. I'll look in to it myself in a few days. If you get it to work for you, please write about it here.

Paul Zed: (2 years, 6 months ago)
Hi, I have installed the latest versions of Google Earth and Sketch-up Pro but I can't see anything under about Google Earth under "Tools" of Sketch-up Pro. I'm not able to get any terrain out of Google Earth. What am I doing wrong please? I only the Eval version of Sketch-Up Pro.. it says it is fully function and the only limitation seems to be that it will expire after 8 hours use. I don't want to buy it if I can't work out how to import terrain. Can anyone help please??

Paul Zed: (2 years, 6 months ago)
Edvin, thanks for confirming the methodology has changed. I looked at both these tutorials. My subject is part of the South Island of New Zealand (a large area about 100 miles square), where I live & where thousands of buildings were demolished after earthquakes last year. Please see next comment..

Paul Zed: (2 years, 6 months ago)
The first tutorial (Building Maker) doesn't offer a city in that area. In the second tutorial (SketchUp8) I tried adding a contextual geolocation. But maximum area is restricted to only about a mile square. Any advice how I can get a much larger area of terrain? Maybe Google won't allow it and I need some other service?

Paul Zed: (2 years, 6 months ago)
The first tutorial (Building Maker) doesn't offer a city in that area. In the second tutorial (SketchUp8) I tried adding a contextual geolocation. But maximum area is restricted to only about a mile square. Any advice how I can get a much larger area of terrain? Maybe Google won't allow it and I need some other service?

Paul Zed: (2 years, 6 months ago)
The first tutorial (Building Maker) doesn't offer a city in that area. In the second tutorial (SketchUp8) I tried adding a contextual geolocation. But maximum area is restricted to only about a mile square. Any advice how I can get a much larger area of terrain? Maybe Google won't allow it and I need some other service?

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