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Σάββατο, 23 Νοεμβρίου 2013

Making your Own Map by Stitching Google Images

In case you are interested in making a larger Google Earth map of an area of particular interest, there is a way!

One can combine successive caption of GoogleEarth/GoogleMaps but stitching them together is impossible.
The reason is that Google, and any other topo service,e projects earth’s curvature in a flat plane (your screen, a map or a photo image). And that makes for some distortion around the edges and the corners in particular.
So if you are to import the captured images into a photo editing software with the hopes of making a larger map you are out of luck. You can try it but you will soon be disappointed with your nerves wrecked, just like we did!

 
A demo of the conflict areas

Enter the photographic Panorama stitching software.

These apps search for similar areas in consecutive images and distort, cut and paste them together. If you are careful with your images and they have some good overlapping areas, you gonna get a seamless final product.

Important Note: this is final “map” will be for sight reference and visual orientation. It is not for compass and GPS use, since it will be somehow distorted.
The are many too choose form but we suggest the simplest of them all, Autostitch.

The Process

You enter googlemaps/earth and you find the area of interest.
Higher magnification is always preferable so you will start making incremental views of your area. Take care to leave a margin of about 10-15% around each image that will be expendable. This will be used by the stitching software to merge the images and will take care of all the not needed details that are on the fringes.

Note: we did not have good luck with stitching many partial views. The curvature and distortions add up. We suggest you limit your stitching to 4 pieces (2 up and 2 down) only.

Now, there are two ways to capture your partial images.

1.  Use Google Earth’s own feature

 
 Google Earth’s screen capture in .jpeg

2. Use the PrintScreen button on your keyboard and paste the capture in a photo editing software. This gives a better quality image but you will get the screen frindges too which you will have to crop out with the photo editor.
For reference you can use Photoshop, ACDSee or the freeware Irfanview software for cropping and image adjustments

 
A print screen capture or our area of interest. We have also indicated the button that allows Google captures in Google earth

Once you have the parts ready, you apply the stitching software and you get your raw map


Enhancing your map

There are many things you can do with the use of a photo editor.
Trace lines, color a route, add water landmarks, adjust image color, insert legends and photos of important crossroads.

This is the end map with the unneeded areas cropped out


Then we chose to make our map Black&White but we also enhanced the final (grey) colors, and retraced ALL the roads of the area which is wooded mostly and not all roads are showing. 


 This is a comparison image of our enhancements. On the right is a color adjusted section, on the middle is a simple B&W conversion and on the left we tinkered with the B&W adjustments in Photoshop to improve the shaded areas.

 

 In this image there is a comparison of the line work we did with the Photoshop drawing tool. We traced new road lines on the image. In the top left corner you can see the original, on the right the new lines and on the lower left the lines readjusted to show less.

And this is the final product, ready to trace in color our selected routes and landmarks by hand.

 

We hope you found this demo useful and not too technical. Try it yourself!

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