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Ortho4XP starter guide

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Getting Started with Ortho4XP


I have separated this guide from the beginners guide since it is in essence not for beginners. And it's kind of long so it deserves its own space.
For Your Information: You won't break your sim with Ortho4XP

In essence, Ortho4XP is a standalone program and it generates the photorealistic tiles within its own file structure (unless told otherwise). You only transfer the generated folders to your custom scenery folder and to uninstall them simply delete those folders.

After installing Ortho, which you can find here You will need to install Python
Read the install instructions!

You are then faced with this file structure:


  • The bin folder, circled in Black, is where you'll find the .exe which you'll open to set up and make imagery.
  • The Tiles folder, circled in Red, will contain the created tiles
  • The yOrtho4XP_Overlays folder, circled in Blue, is where your overlays folders will be (overlays are Autogen, roads, rivers, beatches, trees and so on)

If you use w2XP scenery you maybe skip this step. I do recommend latest W2XP for the autogen in your area. http://simheaven.com/

In the Bin folder, you need to open an exe called "Ortho4XP_v120.exe". After opening the file, the following interface will show up:



Creating several tiles at once

We recommend doing this step first if you have an area that you wish to create that consists of more than one tile. It is also the more “automated way” of creating tiles since you don’t have to follow the steps. You can later customize the tiles if you leave a copy of your created tiles in the Ortho tiles folder.Choose base source and Zoomlevel  in the “Provider and Zoomlevel" section.Start with BI (BING) and ZL 16. If you select a zoom level higher than ZL16, we recommend doing as a custom tile for specific areas unless you know you will be flying GA close to the ground. You can “edit” the tiles after this step.  ZL16 is good at 1000 feet and above.You might also want to consider increasing the mask_width (20 is preferable). This adjusts beaches to merge better into the oceans and avoid sharp edges. 20 might be too much for some areas – tweak this later when you get the hang of creating tiles. ZL16 is good at 3000 feet and above. (Personal preference gnome appears and says it’s all about personal preferences…)  Higher than ZL16 I recommend doing as a custom tile for specific areas unless you know you will be flying GA close to the ground. You can “edit” tiles after this step.  in the “Provider and Zoomlevel section.


You always do this as a second step after source and zoom level to choose what area you want to create.


(A yellow box shows that it is selected this also gives you the coordinates of that tile in the upper left window)


Red box means it is marked. Blue box is already created tile that ortho finds in its tiles folder.Choose two for now (and no more than 4 at once unless you have a lot of time or are prepared for a headache if something goes wrong and most likely have to start again)


while still in the Earth tile map. Ortho4XP will now build your first tiles! You can close the map window and observe that Imagery has begun creating tiles in the white field on the right side. This may take some time. It may also show connection fails and try to reconnect which usually works. This is normal since the providers have built in security against server hammering. Server hammering cal lead to an IP ban if you do it excessively. The ban normally is for 12-24 hours, but you may risk a life ban of your ip-address if you are reckless.

Single tile creation
Choose area in earth tile mapChoose zoom level and base source (custom zoom level if wanted)Set mask width (further down)Now go step by step until Build Tile. For each step you will see Ortho working in the white field on the right.


When Ortho4XP is done creating tiles

Go to the ortho4xp/Tiles folder, copy or move the tile-folders to your X-Plane/custom_scenery folder. Copy if you want to customize the tiles further. If you move them they will also disappear in the earth tile map.But hold on - there is a third way! And it is the best one: Create a shortcut of your created tiles (select all tiles --> right click --> create shortcut) and move the shortcut to the custom_scenery folder in X-Plane directory.Now open the scenery_packs.ini file in the custom_scenery folder and place the ortho created folders at the bottom but above any mesh folders.Tip: use xOrganizer to sort all of this for you. I will repeat this with bolder red text: Let xOrganizer sort that out for you. It does not always get it right, but 99% of the time it is flawless.And it gives you a good overview over the structure of the .ini file. Read more about general scenery order here

Custom Overlays

Ortho has the ability to create them from X-Planes own data. (You WILL need this if you do not use W2XP or similar). Remember, his is autogen and everything that goes on top of the Ortho photo layer.Choose your area in the earth tile mapClose the mapClick on the small check box in front of “Custom overlay dir” (In the last section of the Ortho interface)You will get a dialog box asking for a source. Choose X-Plane/Global_Scenery/X-Plane 11 Global Scenery (do NOT choose the earth NAV folder)Click “Build overlay” aaand you’re off. The overlay folders are created in the yOrtho4XP_Overlays folder.If you have several areas that you need done overlays for, there is a batch build script for it here

When Ortho4XP is finished creating the overlays, move or copy the yOrtho4XP_Overlays folder to your custom_scenery folder. Remember the scenery.ini file!(You can do this later as well when you have created more overlays and just overwrite the existing folder)

Custom Zoom Levels

Choose area on the Earth Tile map (close the map afterwards)Click Choose custom zoom level a new window pops up with a blank area on the right. This is where your map comes up later.

Choose provider (source) let’s take BING again.Press Preview button map should load shortly (progress bar - if the map does not load then try another source - this won't change your Ortho source for the tile creation)Find the area you want to “enhance” like an airport or area of interest. (Move around by right click and drag)

Choose zoom level and use Shift+left click to define an area.For each finished area press save – when finished: save and exit the preview map. Now you will have to continue with the singe tile procedures but if the tile is already created in an earlier session and it is present in your Ortho tiles folder then you only need to press the build tile button.

In the picture below I have created four different zones. Base ZL is 16. Then I have a wide area with ZL17, a closer one with ZL18 and the airport itself is ZL19. This way you save space by not making whole tiles at high zoom levels and you save a lot of time as well.

  • Estimates: Approx timeframe per tile (ZL16): (depends on Internet speed and your hardware)>
  • Build Vecor data: 20 sec
  • Build Base Mesh: 30 sec
  • Build mask: 30 sec
  • Build Tile: up to 40 mins
  • Size per tile: 2-3GB depending on amount of water/landHigher zoom levels will demand more time for completion and more space!

Note: A ZL17 has 4 times the sections of a ZL16. ZL18 four times the sections of a ZL17 and ZL19 four times of ZL18. So yeah... you'll be stuck converting tiles a lot. On a regular HDD this takes a lot more time than on a SSD too. On top of that the connection to the provider might not give you the full speed of the download despite your connection being a good one. I don't copy my tiles. If I want to store them, I move them to a separate folder for storage. When I use the tiles I just make shortcuts of each tile. That way I never have double sets of tiles anywhere in my system.

Cloud correction comment: (for advanced Photoshop users) Find the tile in the jpeg saved folder and edit the part of the tile with clouds. ( /Ortho4xp/Orthophotos ) Find another aerial photo and paste, allign  and blend it in. When that is done delete the section of the tile and redo it without downloading images - letting ortho convert the edited part of the tile.

|| Explanation: "Curvature tolerance" or how much you accept a tolerance for the curvature when you build mesh, so if there is more curvature tolerance means your mesh is less complex. Example a mountain curvatures will be roughly constructed because you are inserting a high value for curv_tol, you are allowing more rough curvatures in the mesh whereas when you put lower values you will have smoother mesh => more complex and less rough curvature.


|| Tip: You can check if the provider of your choice is of good quality by opening the custom zoom level (after choosing area in the Earth tile map) and choosing the provider (source) there and press preview. Zoom level under the source shows preview zoom level (max 13). Look for color mismatches and clouds. Choose provider and Base zoom level.

|| Tip2: For an ever evolving list of the best sources for any given country, check out the Ortho4XP Master Source List
I am not downloading the whole world and not testing every available source for any given area - so this list is completely dependent on YOUR input. Please add to it if and when able as per instructions given on the page. Thanx

||Tip3: If you are filling up hard drive where you have x-plane installed and want your custom scenery folder on another harddrive check out this guide on how to do that:

If you prefer a video of the step by step guide check out the Simulation Channel Deluxe's video here.

Did I forget something? Remember that this is meant for beginners who just joined our ranks and not a in-depth guide on how to code a parallel matrix. I am making this one in response to the many new members coming in to the facebook page XPNG where I am on the admin team. I don’t want to overwhelm anyone but not leave essentials out so any feedback will be greatly appreciated.

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