Creating Thanksgiving cards with Google Earth

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today we are having a look at how to make your very own Thanksgiving card in Google Earth. This is based on a card Frank created back in 2006 and the instructions come from last year’s Thanksgiving post.

Firstly, you need an image with your Thanksgiving greeting. The easiest is to simply find a suitable image by doing a Google image search for ‘Thanksgiving’. Keep in mind that there may be copyright restrictions on such images, so they should really only be for personal use. Alternatively, you can get a bit more personal by creating your own image. That way you can write your own unique message. Ideally, you want to end up with an image that is roughly the correct proportions for the location you want to display it and also has a transparent background. Keep in mind that to use transparent backgrounds you need to save the image as a .png or .gif. We used Microsoft Word to create the image then took a screen shot and used Gimp to give it a transparent background. We used some clipart from

Next, you simply create an image overlay in Google Earth (click this icon on the toolbar). Adjust its size and location to suit and select your image to be shown.

If you wish to send your greeting to someone else, be sure to save the image overlay as a KMZ file, so that it includes the image in the file. KML files do not include images.

If you want to go all out, you could also decorate the sky, as we did for Halloween. Just download this file and replace the image in the overlay with your own Thanksgiving themed image.

An updated version showing how easy it is to do. See it for yourself in Google Earth with this KMZ file

We also came across this interesting post, which features a KML file exploring the history of Thanksgiving.

Timothy has been using Google Earth since 2004 when it was still called Keyhole before it was renamed Google Earth in 2005 and has been a huge fan ever since. He is a programmer working for Red Wing Aerobatx and lives in Cape Town, South Africa.


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