Combining GeoTIFF w/ Google Map

TL;DR Version - Want to overlay my very high-res shot over google maps and have both in a high res image.

I have what I think is a fairly basic question but I’ve searched a lot here and on google and haven’t found it asked.

I’m really impressed by DD and have made a few sample terrain maps. I’m trying to get a very high quality map so I’ve taken a lot of pictures. The result turned out great and is a 2.2 gigapixel image.

The issue is that I want the non-photographed google map portions that surround my area included in my final image file, rather than a white background, so I can have a complete rectangular map with my own images overlaid over a google map. I can open the tiff file in google earth and save an image that includes the dimensions I want, but it saves it at google earth resolution not gigapixel resolution.

I used a website (google maps customizer) to auto-stitch together the best google map version of the entire area I want to cover, but don’t know any way to get my photographed portion to overlay on top of it since it’s just a jpeg without location data.

This seems like somebody else would have wanted to do this so maybe I’m just using the wrong search terms. Thanks in advance!

Download WGS84 4in/px or better if you are willing to be patient with a little lag. Open the geotiff in Google Earth Pro and add it as a superoverlay. This will ask you to pick a separate folder to store. It will create a KML with all the individual tiles.

Thank you for the suggestion, but that isn’t quite what I’m looking for. I actually tried this initially. I exported the WGS84 GeoTIFF at .8 in/pix and it looks great. I’ve had no issues with lag and was able to import it into Google Earth as a superlayer just fine.

What I was trying to get was an export back to GeoTIFF with the surrounding map. Google earth lets you export an image up to around 4K resolution (the ‘max resolution’ is actually a bit higher, but not the multi-gigapixel resolution I imported. I actually had to crop down a bit to stay within the max JPEG width of 65,535 pixels).

I don’t believe there is any way to export essentially the superlayer (my imported geotiff) plus google earth satellite map data around my aerial imagery, giving me a standard rectangle comprised my images in context with the surrounding google map - at the same high resolution.

Basically once it goes into google earth, it can only come back out low-res. If I could get it out in high-res that would be great since I also downloaded a KML file from google maps with a lot of location data and wanted to incorporate that into my GeoTIFF image. I can load them both into google earth and they look perfect, the goal is to eventually get a single high-resolution JPEG.

Let me try something in QGIS and get back to you.

1 Like
  1. Download QGIS (if you don’t already have it)

  2. Open QGIS Desktop

  3. Go to Plugins>Manage Install Plugins

  4. Search for and install OpenLayers, this will provide several types of maps

  5. Go here… The Google satellite map should open as a layer. Ignore and X out of any Python errors.

  6. Locate and add your ortho to the layers. Make sure it is the top layer. The project coordinate system should change to the EPSG of the ortho.

  7. Right-click and zoom to your ortho layer.

  8. Go here…

  9. For extents choose Draw on Canvas. That will determine the coordinates and the scale.

  10. Set your resolution. Obviously the higher the better, but the resulting image will be HUGE. Try 1200dpi and go from there. That will set the image dimensions.

  11. Leave everything else checked.


Sometimes this works better for the background than OpenLayers.

  1. Go to the QGIS browser and setup a new XYZ tiles connection.

  2. Use this for the Google Satellite map.{x}&y={y}&z={z}

  3. Add it to layers and proceed with number 6 from the last post.

1 Like


Thank you very much for taking the time to research this for me. While I haven’t been able to get it to work perfectly yet, this is exactly what I was looking for. As I’m new to QGIS, the screenshots were extra helpful.

I wasn’t able to get any of the google services to load using OpenLayers, both with and without my API key, but it worked using the XYZ tiles option. Some of the other OpenLayers options such as OpenStreetMap (which worked great but wasn’t the content I wanted) and Bing Aerial (which was the right content but didn’t render zoomed in) makes me wonder why none of the google options worked, but the tiles method was sufficient. For the areas outside my DD layer I simply wanted to give context and it doesn’t have to look nice zoomed in.

I have a 200MB JPEG that is my whole area stitched together at the highest resolution, but it lacks any geographical information. I’m looking into using that and aligning the images, as that would be optimal, but it’s not really important if I can’t figure it out. I was able to load location data from a KMZ file and overlay that which was a huge bonus.

Unfortunately I’m having issues with the export. QGIS is crashing, so not much you can help me with there. My scale is 1:37 when zoomed to native resolution with output dimensions of 58,590px x 21,162 px, taken from my ortho layer. The resolution defaults to 96 dpi (which is what windows says for the ortho tif, so maybe that’s all it is) and I’ve tried a few options but it doesn’t seem to matter. Exporting to PNG, TIF, crashes. I can do some smaller exports successfully, so the method itself is solid. I get all 3 overlays, at least in small pieces.

I’ll keep working on this. If I can get this to work it’s exactly what I wanted. I’ll try exporting smaller pieces and stitching them together if need be, but thanks for pointing me in the right direction!

1 Like

Please update with what ends up working for you. It will probably help many other people!

1 Like