Tip of the Week: Model the underwater world

Friday, February 27, 2009 at 4:00 PM

[Cross-posted with the SketchUp blog]

A few weeks ago, you saw the tour of 3D models under the ocean for the Google Earth 5.0 launch. With the SketchUp maintenance software that released yesterday, you too can model your very own underwater world! The first thing you'll have to do is to download the latest version of SketchUp here. Once installed, a few simple options in SketchUp enable you to select whether your model is above or below the water:

  1. Go to 'Window' then 'Preferences'
  2. Choose 'Extensions' in the left column
  3. Toggle on 'Google Earth Ocean Modeling'
  4. Hit OK

This will give you the option to place your model wherever you want it. Next import your desired terrain from Google Earth by finding the area you want and choosing 'Get Current View' in SketchUp. Underwater terrain will import just like above water terrain. It's easy to lose your sense of scale in the ocean, and if you get a warning that reads 'Camera altitude too high...' just move closer to the ocean floor. With your terrain imported into SketchUp, you can start your model.

Once complete, decide whether your model will be on the ocean floor or on the surface. You can find that option under the 'Plugins' menu. If you're modeling on the land, or wish to model on the surface of the water, toggle it off, like this:

If you're modeling under the surface of the water, toggle it on, like this:

If you want your model to be somewhere in-between the ocean floor and the surface of the water, simply choose 'Model on Ocean Floor' and place your model above the terrain:


Last, view your model in Google Earth by choosing 'Place model', and see how it looks. If you are satisfied, load your model onto the 3D Warehouse by selecting 'Share Model' and it may show up in the 3D Buildings layer. The same terms that apply to buildings on land also apply to underwater models. Your submissions must be real, accurate, and correctly located. There are lots of opportunities for geo-located models underwater; ship wrecks, diver destinations and offshore structures! Don't forget to fill out the appropriate information on the upload page, and to check 'Google Earth ready'. And that's it! Piece of cake. Sponge cake.