Hot on the heels of the SketchUp 7.1 launch a couple of weeks ago, we’re pleased to announce the release of the latest addition to our 3D family: Google Building Maker is a super-specialized, online tool for creating buildings specifically for Google Earth.

Building Maker lets you choose a building to model by looking at aerial imagery. After you’ve told it what you’d like to model, Building Maker loads up several different aerial views of that building taken from different directions. You then align simple 3D shapes – boxes, prisms, pyramids and others – to the different views. Building Maker takes care of all the photo-texturing for you; it uses the aerial photos to “paint” your building when you save it. Models you create with Building Maker are stored in the Google 3D Warehouse, and are automatically considered for inclusion on the 3D Buildings layer in Google Earth. If your model looks good (and if there’s no better one already in its place), it’ll appear in Google Earth (for millions of people) within about a week.

Check out this video to see Building Maker in action:

We’re launching with 50 cities that are ready for Building Maker. We’ll continue to add cities as fast as we can, but feel free to jump in and give Building Maker a test drive whenever you like. Modeling in a place you’re not familiar with is a great way to learn something about it.

So is Building Maker supposed to replace SketchUp? Absolutely not! SketchUp is a general-purpose tool that people use to model everything under the sun. Building Maker, on the other hand, is a specialist. For folks who want to make models and see them in Google Earth, it’s simple, efficient and (we hope) downright fun.

Here’s something else we think is neat: Anything you create with Building Maker, you can download and open in SketchUp. You can tweak textures, refine geometry – whatever it takes to make your building even better. When you’re done, uploading your improved model to the 3D Warehouse further increases its chances of being accepted into Google Earth.

Some more things you should know about Building Maker:

  • Building Maker is an online app, meaning it runs entirely in your web browser (Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, etc.).
  • To get credit for what you contribute, you need to sign into your Google Account.
  • Make sure you have the latest version of Google Earth installed on your computer.
  • If you’re on a Mac, you need to download the Google Earth plug-in directly.

Building Maker is free and available in 14 languages. Go to to join the worldwide mapping community. Have fun!

Via Google SketchUp Blog