TransDEM Tools & Techniques

Detailed Google Earth Images as Ground Textures in Trainz

Like many Trainz route builders who use TransDEM to model prototypical lines, I have Google Earth images that I would like to use to help me place items with some degree of accuracy.  As I explored the options for doing so, I found myself unimpressed with the way UTM tiles work in TS12; and basemaps would have required too much effort given the size of my route.  What I really wanted was a way to put a fairly decent representation of my Google Earth images directly on the terrain; and after quite a bit of experimentation I arrived at the solution presented here.

A typical result of the process is shown in the illustration below (a screen shot taken from Satellite View in TS12).  What youíre looking at is 100% ground textures; there are no carrier objects of any kind being used.  The good news is that itís pretty straightforward to make this work; and if you follow the instructions and suggestions presented in the Tutorial contained in the download at the bottom of this page, you should be able to achieve the same results for your own routes.

The next view shows how the ground texture looks when you are close to the ground in Surveyor.  Yes, it's pixelated to some extent; but still you can easily make out where roads and other major features go - I am placing a highway here quite easily - and you can always zoom out to Satellite View and then back in to check your work from time to time.


Legal Stuff

There is no copyright attached to the contents of the download below.  Members of the Trainz community may use it and the associated files for any purpose, personal or commercial; and the Tutorial may be freely reproduced and/or converted into other formats or languages as may be needed for the benefit of the community.  I only ask that I be mentioned as the original author.

Google Earth images, on the other hand, are copyrighted.  This means that you must not distribute your route with any part of the Google Earth image still remaining visible on the terrain.  The Tutorial included in the download describes some ways in which the image can be erased; but it is your responsibility as the route builder to make sure this gets done.


Download the Tutorial and Related Files Here

Download the ZIP file below and extract it to its own folder.  Inside you will find a PDF file that provides a detailed Tutorial describing this technique, as well as additional files required to make the technique work.

Here's the download link.

You can also download the package from this link at the TransDEM web site, courtesy of Dr. Roland Ziegler.

If you're interested in how this tool came about, please take a look at the original post in the Trainz Forums.


The author accepts no liability for damage or lost data arising from the use or misuse
of the tools, tutorials and techniques presented here.
All items are provided in good faith for the benefit of the Trainz community.
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Copyright © 2011.  All Rights Reserved.  Last updated on November 13, 2011.

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