Satellite imagery

Creating a satellite image for your scenery on your iMac.

1) Requirements: 

  1. SAS Planet version 2018 (this version has ESRI Arc Imagery and produces Tif images)
  2. Gimp 2.10
  3. Parallels Desktop
  4. Windows 10 on Parallels

Note ESRI = USGS, United States Geological Survey. It is legal for US citizens to use their products. So, no legal issues like with others.

2) Creating Tifs in SAS Planet

Tifs because they have geo data and will be placed exactly where they belong.

  • Open SAS Planet. Locate your area on the map (you may temporarily use Google map for that purpose), select the type of imagery (in our case, ESRI, ArcGis.Imagery), select the area you want to cover (select the rectangular selection right nex to the arrow tool), download using the prompt and select your definition. I use ZL 21 but it generates huge files.
  • Once you image is downloaded go to the last selection tool (image 5), go to Stich, output format is GeoTiff, save to wherever you want, name your file, select your zoom, select Geographic, split image if the area is huge. When you see your TIFF(s) on your Desktop, you may quit SAS and Windows.

Note: if SAS displays a blurry image at boot up use internet in settings.

3) Custom Scenery preparation

Open up Custom Scenery, open up your airport’s file, create a new folder you will name Terrain. Put the TIFF(s) files you just created in your new Terrain folder. Don’t change anything to your TIFF(s).

4) Interact with WED (1)

Open your airport in the latest stable WED. Make sure you see the whole airport. No slippy map should be selected (view). Select File, import orthophoto. When the first or the sole orthophoto is imported it is highlighted in blue, hit command G, rename Group 1 –> Terrain. Unselect, no more blue highlighted tifs. Import the other TIFFs. Group all the blue highlighted tifs under Terrain. Unselect each time. At the end of the imports, lock your terrain folder then put it somewhere under the airport’s name. Hit File –> Save, quit WED.

5) Transform your TIFFs in GIMP

Your original Tifs with geo data are safe in WED Terrain. Now you can manipulate, transform them, let’s have feathered contours around the airport’s area.
Open your TIFF in Gimp and do this for each one, File–>Revert if you make a mistake.

  • Open an image.
  • Open–>Desktop–>X-Plane11–>Custom Scenery–>Your Airport–>Terrain–> KMCF 1-1.
  • Make sure you have a gray space all around the image. If not View–>Zoom–>Zoom out
  • Very important: Layer–>Transparent Layer–>Add Alpha Channel. Do this every time you open an image.
  • Use the lasso tool and isolate the parts you want to delete.
  • Right click in the section you want to delete: Select–>Feather.
  • A prompt pops up, select amount of pixels, let’s say 500, OK.
  • When the prompt fades away and a selection appears with a doted line, press Cmd + X.
  • Export as, the same exact TIFF you want to replace. 
  • Export.
  • Replace.
  • Compression–>None–>Export.
  • Do this for each TIFF, at the end quit Gimp. Discard changes.

Note: if a white contour is surrounding your selected area, you forgot Add Alpha channel: File–> Revert. Start over.

5) Interact with WED (2)

  • Open your airport in WED. It will take a while.
  • Unlock Terrain. Delete the empty blocks.
  • File–> Export Scenery Pack. It will take a while.
  • Quit WED. Save? Yes.

6) Final notes

  • Fly over the area. If you think your sat image needs to be tweaked, do it with the remaining TIFFs in Your Airport / Custom Scenery. Open in Preview, Tools, modify colors. Go back to WED, export again.
  • For publishing purposes you need to delete the TIFFS in Terrain / Your Airport / Custom Scenery.
  • If you have more than one Tif, it’s a good idea to prepare your cuts (see last image, down below).
  • Comments and questions more than welcome.

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