The layout of a tour is pretty simple: basically it’s just one or more scenes linked together. However, before we start building scenes, we must create the title page.
Start by going to the Google Tour Builder page and click the Get Started button. If you’re not already logged into a Google account, you will be asked to do so. If you plan to use this tour in Expeditions, make sure to use the same Google account you’ll be using in that application.
Click the New Tour button. You may have noticed a link for templates. We’ll come back to that option later on this page.
On the next page, give your tour a title and upload a cover photo that will represent your tour in the directory. Both of these elements are required. Adding a description and choosing a category are not required, but including them is a good idea.
When you’re ready, click Create. Remember that all of this information can be edited at any time.
Your First Scene
In the next window, we will search for our first location. Ignore the Upload option. I’ll explain that later.
As with any Google mapping tool, you have many different ways to search: by street address, using latitude and longitude, entering a commonly used landmark name. But the more exact your information, the easier this step will be. Identifying how you’ll search for your locations should be a primary part of the planning process.
In this example we searched for the Eiffel Tower, Paris, France. At the left side, we have a map of the area with Peg Man on the spot where Google dropped him. At the right, we see the Street View image from that location. If you don’t like the exact location, click and drag Peg Man to another place on the map. Watch for the blue lines and circles that show where Street View images are available.
When you have a view that you want to use, click the Add scene link. Don’t worry about the exact orientation of the view. We will adjust that next.
There are a lot of parts to this next window, so let’s go through them one at a time. None of these elements are required but all will make your tour more engaging than just viewing an image.
Setting The Starting View
This will change what your users will see when they first open the scene. Start by clicking Set starting view in the lower left corner.
Click and drag the Street View image left or right (you won’t be able to move up or down here) until it’s showing the view you want. Click the Save button.
Adding Text Information
Enter a title for this scene. Users will see this text in the tour index and on the scene page. Below the title is the credit line for the image. If you are using a 360° image contributed by a Google user, it will have that person’s screen name (Mark F in this example).
Enter a Description for this scene. This text will be shown when the user clicks on the i icon when viewing the tour. The credit section can be used to tell people who wrote the Description. Notice that there are character limits for the title and description.
Below all of the text elements are links to add two different audio recordings and one or more points of interest. We will cover these options in another part of this tutorial.
Publishing and Sharing Your Tours
If you are ready to move on, you can add additional scenes to your tour by clicking the Add scene link at the bottom of the window and repeat the steps above. However, as soon as you have at least one Scene in your tour, you also have the option to Publish it.
Don’t worry about saving your work since Tour Creator has been continually doing that for you. Anything in your tour can be edited at any time but each time you make a change, you’ll need to Publish the tour again so your users can see the current version.
To let the world see your tour, press the Publish button at the top of the window. You then have two options under Visibility. Public means that when people search for a topic in the Poly section of Google’s AR/VR site, your tour might be included in the results. Unlisted tours are not included in search results. In either case, your tour can be viewed by anyone with the URL.
In addition to the New Tour button on the starting page, you’ll notice a Templates link. Templates are example tours that can serve as a starting point for you to copy and customize.
To use a template, click the link and scroll through the list of templates to find a tour that you want to use. A copy of the tour will automatically open in your browser and be placed in your account. You can now edit any of the content – including the location images, overlays, points of interests, and text. If you choose to keep the original 360° images and/or text information, it’s good practice to leave all existing credit lines.
Uploading Your Own 360° Images
Instead of searching Google Maps and using the available Street View images, you can upload a 360° image that you’ve taken using the Street View app on your Apple or Android smartphone. Images from many dedicated 360° cameras, such as those from Ricoh and Insta360, can also be used.
The images must be JPG files stored on your computers hard drive or in a Google Drive account. You can find more information about creating 360° images here.
That’s the fundamentals of creating the scenes for your tour. Next we’ll see how to include Points of Interest to draw the attention of your users to specific information in the scene.