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

Reykjavík Center Map


Reykjavík Center Map

One of the more unique interactive city maps I have seen to date is the Reykjavík Center Map, an online map of Iceland’s capital. Yes, it’s a pushpin map, but it uses an isometric projection (which I’ve seen in some Chinese maps) and the base map is a veritable work of art — it’s not at all computer generated, and it looks like a watercolour. Snorri Þór Tryggvason, who worked on the map with some friends and sent me the link, wrote, “The mapmaking took two years and over 3,000 hours to complete,” and I believe him.

Excellent updates to Brazil’s "Christ the Redeemer" statue

GEB reader ‘Peter’ recently wrote to tell us about some updates he made to the “Christ the Redeemer” statue in Rio de Janerio, Brazil. It was already a great model in Google Earth, but now it’s even more impressive.


The statue itself is largely unchanged, but the surrounding area is quite complete. It now includes the train cars up near the statue, an improved parking structure, individual umbrellas for guests to enjoy, and even some of the interior work inside the base of the statue.


As of today, the new model is not yet part of the base layer in Google Earth. However, you can download it from the 3D Warehouse here to see it for yourself.

Peter has made a nice video to show off all of the features in the new model, which you can see here:

Have you seen any other very well-crafted 3D models lately?