Global overlays with KMZmaps

We’ve seen global overlay files before on Google Earth, including items such as the popular blue marble overlay. The folks at have created a variety of very high-quality overlays for use in Google Earth. They’re not free, but they’re reasonably priced and quite impressive. Here are few of them:

Natural Globe: A more realistic view of Google Earth, very similar to the blue marble overlay but of considerably higher quality.

natural.jpgNight Lights: Very similar to the NASA “Earth City Lights” layer.

night.jpgColored Edges: There are a variety of Photoshop-edited overlays in here as well; various blurs and effects. Here is one called “colored edges” that is pretty neat.

colored-edges.jpgThey also have a collection of solid color overlays. These overlays are completely solid, effectively hiding the base imagery so that roads, borders and other items are more well-defined. Here is the dark red version of that, with the “Borders and Labels” and “Roads” layers turned on.

dark-red.jpgLike most maps of this variety, it fades away as you zoom in closer to reveal the base imagery. This allows you to run your favorite overlay all the time, as it will automatically hide itself when you zoom in close enough to look at the details of a specific location. The exception is a special version of the “solid black earth”, which is set to never turn off when you zoom in. They offer both versions, so the choice is up to you.

As I said at the beginning, the big drawback to these files is that they’re not free. They cost roughly $6/each (some vary a bit), with the full collection available for $24.95. However, they also offer a demo map so you can get a feel for how it works. It’s covered with “” text, but you can get a feel for the quality of the imagery and the way the “auto-hide on zoom” works. You can download the sample KMZ file here. To see more of what they have to offer, visit their site at

New labels in Google Earth


Google has just made some subtle changes to the way the “borders and labels” layers behave, but it makes them a lot more useful.

Back in April, Google made some great changes to the Mountains layer that included new photos, video tours, cross-section views and more. They’ve now added more items to that layer, including mountain ranges, deserts and plains.

The best new addition is the mouseover extents for each of these areas; hover over the name of a mountain range or desert, and the area of that item becomes outlined in Google Earth. For example, here are the Blue Ridge Mountains in the eastern United States.



Google has also allowed for items to be nested, when appropriate. Using the example of the Blue Ridge Mountains, you can zoom out and hover on the Appalachian Mountains label and notice that it covers the entire area of the Blue Ridge Mountains (and a lot more).

As I found myself browsing around the globe looking at various items, I realized that this was another great little piece that helps make Google Earth useful in educational settings. StrataLogica,  certainly adds a lot of data to Google Earth, but this is a simple way to make exploring those areas more useful.

(via Google Lat Long Blog)

More cities and coverage in Building Maker

Hot on the heels of the new 3D buildings feature for Android, Google has now made it easier to add 3D buildings to Google Earth with the expansion of a few cities in their excellent Building Maker tool.

In particular, the coverage area for Fresno, Lake Tahoe, Austin, Phoenix, Sacramento, San Diego and St. Louis have all been expanded to allow you to model more of the sub-urban areas around the cities. For example, look at the map of Phoenix below; the blue outline shows the previous coverage, while the white outline shows the new coverage — a major increase!


To try it for yourself, simply head over to the Building Maker site and give it a shot.