Have you ever noticed that a lot of the bigger cities in Google Earth have photo-realistic 3D buildings in them? (See Valencia, for example.) Have you ever wondered when someone's going to get around to modeling the world's smaller towns and villages? Today, we're giving you the chance to add your own town to the map.

We're pleased to announce the first-ever, international Google Model Your Town Competition. You're invited to use our free tools — SketchUp and Building Maker — to make sure your community is represented on the world's biggest 3D stage. Every town that participates has the chance to be included in Google Earth's 3D Buildings layer where millions of people can see it. The winning town (as decided by a popular vote) will win money for its schools, a Google-sponsored party for its modelers and plenty more.

Check out this video; it highlights some of the 3D towns and cities already in Google Earth:

Visit the competition website for more information about prizes, judging and rules. You'll also find a helpful FAQ and a list of steps that should help you get started. The deadline for submission is three months away — it's not too early to form a team, take pictures and start building. Good luck!