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Using our world map in Google Earth Pro


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  • Want to see our planet as a globe?
  • Want to measure accurate distances without complicated mathematics?
  • Want to crash your computer with heavy software?

You are in luck! Because now you can, by following this tutorial. You will learn how to take our flat world map and turn it into a functional layer with Google Earth Pro. In this tutorial, I'll take you through each step of this process. Let me know in the comments if you are experiencing any issues.

1. Download Google Earth Pro

At the time of this writing, you can download this free software package from https://www.google.com/earth/desktop/ . There are versions available for PC, Mac, or Linux. Follow the instructions on the aforementioned website, install the software, and open the program. If things go wrong with the installation, find your answer in Google. In case this installation fail to work, I cannot provide support on how to debug your computer. Sorry about that.

2. Add image overlay

The interface may look somewhat different for each operating system (PC, Mac, or Linux). But the basic operation is the same. Menu bar > Add > Image Overlay.

Google Earth Pro: add image overlay

3. Image overlay settings

Step three, and we're almost finished already. You are doing great there!

  • Name. Give your custom overlay a name. You can call it "map of Europa" or "map of nationstates" or "home sweet home". This is something you can always change later. The next two steps are much more important.
  • Link. You can either (a) link to an online file as shown in the screenshot, or (b) browser to a local file on your computer. Keep in mind: if you choose (b) to work with a local file, and then move this file, your image overlay won't work anymore. But you can easily fix this by linking to the new file location.
  • Location. This is in the tabs (see screenshot). With these settings, we can stretch the image to fit onto a complete globe. You want to stretch the image all the way, in all directions. Meaning: 90°N, 180°E, 90°S, and 180°W. In the screenshot this is much longer, including minutes are seconds. But if you just add 90°N, and hit enter/return, then the program will add the right data anyway. Easy!

You can safely ignore all the other settings and options. Just enter the settings as explained above, and you should get this to work. Click "Ok" when you are done.

Screen Shot 2017-09-30 at 17.08.59.png

4. Done

Enjoy playing with your new ball. :)


5. "Wait I messed up!"

No worries there, buddy. Just right-click on your custom map overlay, go to "Get info" and change your settings. If that still doesn't work, go back to step #2 and try again.

Screen Shot 2017-09-30 at 17.17.02.png

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  • 4 months later...

Part Deux: measuring up

So you've figured out how to set a custom image overlay.

But now you wonder: how big is my nation? Because, when you think about it, isn't everything about size? (Answr: no, it isn't.)

Nonetheless, should you wish to start measuring your stuff, you can.

1. One button to rule them all

Click the ruler icon at the top. This will open a nice dialog box. This includes several options:

  • Line
  • Path
  • polygon
  • Circle
  • 3D path
  • 3D polygon

You'll want to select "polygon".

Screen Shot 2018-02-06 at 14.13.19.png

2. Draw around the edges

Now this becomes tricky. Like any 3-year-old knows, colouring inside the lines is already hard enough. But now you'll actually have to draw on the lines. On the lines of your borders and/or coastline.

The more detailed you draw, the more accurate your result will be.

Once you're done with that, you'll get two nice numbers:

  • the perimeter of your nation (how long is the border), and
  • the area of your nation (how much dirt is there).

Sidenote: if your nation contains a lake or other body of water, you should probably go and subtract that.

Screen Shot 2018-02-06 at 14.15.19.png

Now isn't that neat.

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