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Alternate Aerial Imagery Process


Staff member
Resource contributor
The MSFS Toolkit is pretty cool, but my workflow for adjusting coloring differs from what Paavo uses. ImageMagick doesn't really work well for me. I like to make a large GeoTiff of an airport, and use QGIS to clip with a polygon. I then take that tif file, and adjust the colors within paint.net (which preserves the geotiff attributes). The process I use involves adjusting the color, making tiles, compiling, viewing in the sim from the community folder, and then repeating the process until I'm happy with the coloring (or exhausted).

The biggest time waster is recutting the tiles. I stumbled across GTiff2Tiles. After fooling around for a day, I got it to work. Here's a project folder:


GTiff2Tiles has the binaries of GTiff2tiles. TestTiles holds the cut tiles. tiles2bing has the tiles2bing binaries. InSim ping is a screenshot of my first compilation, with no color adjustments (my experimental starting point to adjust mytest.tif).
test.tif is the Geotiff of the airport (maybe from Google or Bing or elsewhere). I keep a copy of the original test.tif elsewhere in case my adjustments get me painted into a corner.

Of note is the GTiff2Tiles.bat... a batchfile that takes the tedium out of the process. When coloring, I make the qmid as low as I can ( maybe 17 or 18 depending on the maximum level used by Asobo at that location), because I just am testing the color, the final Compilation will be at 20. This saves a lot of time. Round trip, finished with paint.net, through tiling, and looking at the result in the sim, and back to paint.net can be as short as 5 minutes with this batchfile.

rmdir .\TestTiles /s /q
rem mkdir TestTiles

GTiff2Tiles\GTiff2Tiles.Console.exe --input test.tif --output TestTiles --minz 20 --maxz 20 --tms FALSE -c mercator

rmdir PackageSources\CGL\aerial_images /q /s

tiles2bing\tiles2bing TestTiles /o PackageSources\CGL\aerial_images /y google

rmdir "C:\Users\dickl\Desktop\gmmw workshop\GMMW\gmmw-aerial\_PackageInt" /q /s
rmdir "C:\Users\dickl\Desktop\gmmw workshop\GMMW\gmmw-aerial\Packages" /q /s

D:\Programs\Steam\steamapps\common\MicrosoftFlightSimulator\FlightSimulator.exe "-I" ; BuildAssetPackages "C:\Users\dickl\Desktop\gmmw workshop\GMMW\gmmw-aerial\gmmw.xml" "C:\Users\dickl\Desktop\gmmw workshop\GMMW\gmmw-aerial" "C:\Users\dickl\Desktop\gmmw workshop\GMMW\gmmw-aerial"

rmdir D:\MSFS\Community\gmmw-aerial /q /s
Xcopy /E Packages D:\MSFS\Community\

D:\Programs\Steam\steamapps\common\MicrosoftFlightSimulator\FlightSimulator.exe -fastlaunch

The batch Cleans the TestTiles directory, Cut the tiles to a Google EPSG:3857 projection (my Geotiff is also at this mercator projection). I then delete the aerial image directory and the rebuild it with tiles2bing (great program). I get rid of the old _PackageInt and Packages folders. I then compile the new package. I delete the old version package from Community and copy The new test package to it. I then start the sim.

In sim, I quickly load a premade FLT, and in a few moments ( ;) ) I am looking at the coloring, and thinking of what to mess up next, and quitting the sim, and loading the geotiff into paint.net

All done in about 5 minutes.

I learned that we can easily use EPSG:3857 for both geotiff and tiles. This is actually handier for me as dimensions are in meter per pixel, instead of units of longitude and latitude. I can easily make the initial geotiff at 0.01meters resolution if I desire. I use QGIS to make the initial geotiff, and that is a skill worth knowing. I usually make a clipping polygon with the desktop Google Earth app. I just like how you can use it to draw detailed polygons. I'll use roads, fencelines, or any other break in the landscape to become the border of my clipping polygon.
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