Animated Icons: Tools

bannerThis post is one of a series on creating custom icons and adding impact with animation. Creating your own icons lets you match your brand/color scheme and get precisely the image you need. You can also edit and re-use your icons without special software.

Tool icons can represent software/apps, support or maintenance and sometimes act as a visual metaphor.


The hammer icon, like the other icons in this post, is created using standard PowerPoint shapes and Group/Merge operations. Here are the steps:

tools1The spool-shaped part of the hammer head is made by Subtracting two flattened Ovals from a Rectangle (see Drawing Tools/Merge Shapes). Subtracting a Rectangle from a Moon shape yields the claw part. The handle is made from a Chord shape, a Rectangle and a Rounded Rectangle. The parts are completed using the Union operation. The fill colors are selected from the template for this project; presumably, these would be consistent with the client’s branding.

Other examples of this technique are shown in my Slideshare post. This earlier blog series provides examples of cutting tools.

The layout for the hammer animation looks like this:

tools2Here are the steps:

  • To establish the pivot point for a Spin animation, add the circle as shown (temporarily red) and group it with the hammer object.
  • Duplicate the hammer/circle object and rotate it 90 degrees counterclockwise. This (shown in red outline) provides a reference for positioning the nail and block.
  • Position the block under the reference hammer head; add the nail as shown.
  • Delete the reference hammer object and set the circle to No Outline.

Here’s the animation pane:


The hammer stroke is a 90 degree counterclockwise Spin. Near the end of the stroke, a Down motion path moves the nail, followed by a rebound of the hammer (another Spin).

The duration of the nail motion is very short (0.05 seconds). Timing values less than 0.1 second cannot be set directly in the animation pane; you must use the Effect Options pane.

Generally, some experimentation with timing and other factors is needed when designing this kind of animation. Here’s my result:


Here’s how the wrench is constructed:tools4


  • Union of an Arc and an Oval with a Rounded Rectangle Subtracted forms the wrench “head.”
  • The rest of the wrench is constructed with a Rectangle and a couple of Triangles. This is Unioned with the two heads, rotated.
  • The indentation in the handle is represented by a Rounded Rectangle; this is Grouped (not Unioned) with the rest of the wrench since it is a different color.
  • The nut and bolt are a concentric Oval and Hexagon. The standard Hexagon is not symmetric; you may have to fiddle with it to get to look like a standard bolt.
  • The nut/bolt is is rotated to match the jaw of the wrench.
  • Fills are added as shown.

Here is the animation set-up:



A circle (red) is grouped with the wrench group to establish its center of rotation (just inside the upper jaw. The animation consists of a a motion path to position the wrench followed by 60 degree rotations of the wrench and the nut/bolt. Here’s what it looks like:

Wire Cutter

Here’s how (half of) the wire cutter tool is constructed:tools6

The curved piece of the handle is a Wave shape; the blade is a Pie shape.

To complete the tool, add a circle to the half to establish the pivot point; group the result. Duplicate and Rotate/Flip Horizontal the copy to form the second half. Then align the two parts and Rotate each to open the tool.  Here’s the process:tools7

The animation will cut a piece of “wire;” it’s made of two concentric filled circles, with 3d depth and rotation added:



Here’s the animation set up:tools9

Two copies of the “wire” are used; one behind the cutter blade and one in front. The cutting action uses Spin to move the two parts of the cutter. A motion path and spin are applied to the front wire object after the cut. Here’s what it looks like:

Screw Driver

I plan to suggest the twisting motion of a screwdriver by quickly alternating between two views; here’s how the two views are constructed:tools10

I’ll need a screw; here’s how it is constructed:


The Union of a series of triangles is used to Subtract from the screw to suggest threads.

Next, I grouped each view of the screwdriver with the screw:tools12

The illusion of the screwdriver twisting is created by alternating quickly between these two (superimposed) images; here’s the effect:

Here’s the animation pane; one image Appears and the other Disappears every 0.2 seconds:tools13

If you would like to build these or similar animations, use the form below to request a free copy of the PowerPoint file for this post:

Crawls, Tickers and Film Strips

A “crawl” or “ticker” is a moving line of text, often seen at the bottom of the screen during a TV news or sports presentation. In a PowerPoint presentation, a crawl can be used to introduce a quote or fact in an attention-grabbing way. A “filmstrip” of images can be displayed similarly. Also, a moving background using this technique can impart a sense of motion.

Warning: This technique, like other animations, will draw attention. This can be distracting rather than helpful. In fact, I have only used this in trade-show/kiosk displays and would suggest using it advisedly in typical stand-up presentations.

Here’s an example of a PowerPoint text crawl/ticker:

This is simply a text box with a motion path that moves the box from off the slide to the right to a position completely off the slide to the left. The smooth start/stop is eliminated and the duration is set to 20 seconds so that the text can be easily read. Here’s the set up (the motion path has been highlighted):


Depending on a number of factors, the animation might be jerky; if this is the case, here are some things to try to make the animation smoother:

  • Make sure “hardware graphics acceleration” (in the Slide Show tab) is enabled; this is the default for later versions of PowerPoint.
  • Slow the animation (increase duration)
  • Reduce the size of the animated object
  • Simplify the object; for example, eliminating shadow effects and gradient fills may help.
  • Convert the object to a jpg or png.
  • Use a more powerful PC/graphics card.
  • Convert the effect to a video clip (I’m planning a post on video in PowerPoint that will provide details).

Here’s an example using a “film strip” of images:

This effect uses the Repeat option so that the crawl continues (until the next slide, for example). There’s a trick to this:

  • Duplicate the original strip.
  • Position the duplicated strip end to end with the original and group the two.
  • Place the group so that the right edge is at the right edge of the slide.
  • Apply a Line motion path that ends at the right edge of the slide. Remove the smooth start/end options.
  • Select the Repeat until end of slide option. Here’s the set up:


  •  The blue rectangle represents the slide; the copy of the strip has been recolored for clarity. This video shows how this works:
  • If you want the strip to crawl onto the slide and then repeat, make a copy of the (single) strip, add a motion path so that it moves onto the slide. Then, replace it (Disappear, Appear) with the “double” version animated as above. Here’s what this looks like:
  • The three instances of the strip have been colored differently to demonstrate the animation. Here’s the animation pane:strip3

Similar techniques can be used to create the illusion of motion of a foreground object by moving a background; here’s a sketch:

The car enters the scene with a simple motion path; the background “crawls” using the techniques described here. The different rates of the background strips add a sense of depth. Here’s the animation pane:


This sketch could be improved by adding details to the buildings and animating the wheels of the vehicle (see this post for details). You might add clouds as a third layer, moving even more slowly.

If you want to try these techniques, use this form to request a free PowerPoint file containing these objects and animations:


Animating a Roller Coaster


A roller coaster ride isn’t always fun. This project uses a roller coaster to symbolize undesirable fluctuations in cash flow (whatever that is) and suggests that my (fictional) company may be able to help.

Here’s the animation:

You will notice that the cars move and rotate to follow the track. In PowerPoint terms, motion paths are combined with Spin effects. If I were to use a realistic roller coaster profile, it would be difficult to synchronize the Spins with the motion path to get a smooth action. On the other hand, if I use a series of straight lines and circular arcs to define the path, there will be no rotations required during the straight segments and a single Spin will work for the arcs. However, I will need to do a little arithmetic to time the Spins. All of this will become clear, one hopes, as we progress.

Here is the layout for the track profile:


Note: You can always click on these images to see a larger version. Click Back on your browser to return to this post.

To make this easy to construct, I used 45 degree lines with equally sized circles and, as you can see by the green dots, I allowed the lines to snap to the 45 degree points on the circle. With this construction, each peak/valley will require a 90 degree Spin, either clockwise or counterclockwise.

The roller coaster will have several cars. Since the animation is not simple, I don’t want to manually animate each car; there are two ways to accomplish this:

  • If your version of PowerPoint has the Animation Painter, you will be able to transfer the animation you built for the first car to the next car in a couple of clicks. This is the method I will use but there is a wrinkle for this project; details later.
  • If you don’t have the Animation Painter, animate a rectangle picture-filled with the first car image. Then, after the animation is applied, duplicate and change the fill of the rectangle to create animated versions of the next car.

In either case, duplicate the second car several times and position all the cars at the starting point. Then add a delay to the start of the second and following cars to create a “train.”

The cars are create using standard shapes and applying a black fill. I decided to do this project in a silhouette form; you may want a more colorful roller coaster and cars. Here’s my construction:


The wheels are equidistant from the center of the car and the wheel spacing is the same for both cars.

Next, the lead car is sized so that so that the car will go through a “dip” without colliding with the track:


Now, I want to build a series of “targets” on the track to help with the animation; this is a technique I use often in these posts to create accurate motion paths. I converted the lead car to a png and added an outline. I added Lines to the png to identify the center; the Lines (red) snap to the midpoints of each side:


The reason for the conversion to png is to allow these center lines to be easily drawn. Group the lines with the png. Then, position copies of the target at selected points on the track profile and rotate appropriately:

The first target is placed at the starting point, off the slide to the left. The next target is placed at the point where the car enters the curve – the front wheels are at the transition point. I added a rotated target at the bottom of the curve and at the exit, continuing to rotate and position all of the targets.

Next, position the original car at the starting point. Apply a Custom motion path drawn through the center points of each “target.”  Eliminate the Smooth Start/End for the path. Edit the points of the motion path to add the curves. Set the appropriate segments to Straight. Here’s what the motion path (red) looks like:


Now the car will follow the track profile but it does not rotate as it should; that’s the next step.

The speed of the car is constant; it is determined by the duration of the motion path. So, I need to know the distance for each segment so that I can determine the start time and duration of the rotations. To get a “distance,” I drew a dashed line along the track profile and counted the dashes. Here’re the numbers:


The first (straight) segment is about 16 dashes long; the curved segments are about 6 dashes long, etc. Since the smallest increment in animation timing is 0.1 seconds, I won’t need greater accuracy.

I set the duration of the motion path to 3.5 seconds and the total path distance is 54 dashes. Now, the first segment duration is

((number of dashes in the segment)/(total number of dashes))*(total duration) =
(16/54)*3.5 = 1.0 seconds.

That is, the duration is proportional to the distance. By the way, this says that the start of the first curved segment is at 1.0 seconds so this should be the start time of the Spin. I did a little spreadsheet to calculate the duration and start time of each segment (for a 3.5 second total time):


To add the first rotation, select the car and apply Spin/Quarter Spin/Counterclockwise animation effect With the motion path. The start time for this segment is 1.0 seconds and the duration is 0.4 seconds. You can adjust the timing directly on the animation pane by moving and changing the size of the bar representing the effect; using Zoom In on the animation path makes this easier. Here’s the animation pane for the path and the first rotation:


And here’s the result:

Adding the additional rotations using the calculated timing results in this animation pane:


I will use the Animation Painter to add the second car; however, the second car is shorter than the lead car and doesn’t quite track. To fix this, group the second car object with a rectangle that is the same size as the lead car; the rectangle can be made invisible (No outline) later. Here’s the process:


Now, select the animated lead car, select the Animation Painter, and click on the second car group. Position the second car at the starting point of the animation. Using the Animation Pane, delay the effects for the second car by 0.2 seconds. Here’s the Animation Pane:


Duplicate the second car and add the delay as many times as you like to create the “train.”

All that’s left is to create the roller coaster structure. The “track” consists of three lines: the rail (a 4.5 pt line), the ties (a 4.5 pt dashed line) and the base (8pts):


It will take a little fiddling to line these up with the layout and each other.

The structure is built using the “group and dupe” method outlined in an earlier post. Create a group of aligned vertical lines along with groups of lines at plus and minus 45 degrees. Position the three groups over the layout like this:


Now, edit the lines to fit the track; if you hold down the Shift key while editing the lines, the angle will tend to “stick”:


The flags are a Wave shape with a vertical line.

I added the text and the logo to create the final version; I also changed the color of the structure to a light gray to de-emphasize it.

If you want a free copy of the PowerPoint file for this post, please use this form (please double check your email address – if it’s wrong you won’t get the file):

Powerful Words


Presentation experts suggest that you rely on “visuals” rather than words to engage your audience. I don’t disagree with this but the result is usually pretty predictable: sunsets, mountains, clouds, clipart and hackneyed royalty-free images featuring smiling people. Really impactful images are hard to find and may not precisely convey the concept you’re looking for.

Never fear, dear reader; there are ways to combine the precision of words with the appeal of images. However, I must post the warning that applies to many of the techniques documented in these pages:

  1. Use these techniques sparingly, lest they become boring or, what’s worse, distracting.
  2. Use these techniques for a reason; that is, use these techniques to support your message and not just because they’re “cool.”

By the way, another way to add impact to text is to animate it; see my post on “kinetic typography.”

The techniques for creating powerful key words and phrases rely on the fact that PowerPoint effects usually associated with Shapes also apply to Text objects; this includes Fills, Shadows and “3d” effects. Of course, there are useful effects (Transform, Font choices, spacing, etc.) that apply only to text.

Here’s a simple example of what I’m going on about:


This image is simply the letters TV filled with the typical “snow” pattern associated with over-the-air analog television. I used a font called Britannic Bold and picture-filled it with a “snow” image; I also applied a Square Transform to adjust the proportions of the text. (This is not necessary; I sometimes do this to make it easy to manipulate the size and proportion of these words. You can apply the techniques here directly to ordinary untransformed text.)

Here are some general notes on the examples in this post:

  • I will often use “heavy” fonts and Bold style; they allow the fill image to be more recognizable than fonts with thin strokes.
  • You may be tempted to use an “unusual” font; this can lead to issues when sharing with users who may not have the font installed. Another font will be substituted on the target system which can lead to unwanted results. You can overcome this problem by “embedding” the desired font in your presentation but this may have some problems. See this article for a pretty complete discussion of the subject.
  • “Textures” work well as fill. I will use some other images but these require more care to make them “readable.” Search for “textures” and/or “backgrounds” for ideas.
  • You can use an image that you create in PowerPoint as fill; just convert it to png or jpg (Copy/Paste Special/Png).
  • I use the Square Transform to make it easy to adjust the size and proportions of the text.
  • In some cases, I reduce the Character Spacing to improve the readability of the image.
  • I occasionally use Shadow or 3d effects; for example, a stone or concrete texture along with 3d effects adds solidity.
  • These effects are found in the Format Text Effects pane, which is different than the Format Shape pane, even though the options in the panes are identical. Using the Format Shape options on a text object affects the text “box,” not the characters.

Here’s another example:


The text is in Gill Sans Ultra Bold font. To create the image, temporarily remove the text fill and select a text outline color that contrasts with the fill image. Apply the Square Transform and position the text on appropriate part of the fill image, looking “through” the empty text. Resize the text and resize and/or crop the fill image to get the effect you want. Then, Copy the fill image (this places it on the clipboard).  Select and right-click on the text and select Text Format Effects. In this pane, select Text Fill/Picture or texture fill. Select Clipboard as the source of the fill. Remove the text outline. Here’s the process:


The second step results in a fill image that is the same size as the text. The Picture Fill option does allow you to resize and position the fill image after filling using numeric Offsets, bu I find this method easier.

This example is in Caecilia LT Roman (not a common font) and is filled with a textured steel image. The character spacing is set to Tight and a solid black shadow is added (apologies to a certain Pittsburgh football team):


Here are two simple examples:


Both are in Arial Black with the Character Spacing set to Tight. The first uses circuit board detail for the fill; the second uses an image of an electrical arc. I used Picture Tools/Recolor on the original circuit board image.

Here’s an example using a flame image fill and Bodoni MT Black font; a black text outline has also been added:


3d effects can be used to add an interesting dimensionality.  This example is in Harlow Solid Italic with a shiny metallic fill, a shadow and a 3d Bevel/Circle:


Here are two more examples using 3d effects:


The first is in Franklin Gothic Heavy and is filled with a grungy concrete texture; the second is in Gill Sans Ultra Bold Condensed and uses a fill that looks like marble. Both use the Perspective Below rotation with depth.

This one uses a weathered wood fill, 3d rotation, depth and Bevel (too much?):


Here’s an example in Cooper Black with a watery fill and using a 3d Bevel; a Wave 1 transform has been applied:


You can use images rather than textures; here’s an example of what I mean:


This is Franklin Gothic Heavy filled with a world map image; this required some fiddling to make the map and the text recognizable; a very tight character spacing helps.

There may be some cognitive issues here. Do you see the text and the image as one or do you flip back and forth? Is this a bad or good thing? You decide.

These examples uses a skyline graphic as fill:


I like the deco-style font in the first example (Broadway) but the skyline image is clearer in the second (Gill Sans Ultra Bold). Here’s the result with a photographic fill:


This may be overkill – what do you think?

This example uses a simplified graphic as fill; does it work?


Finally, here’s an example with effects (fill and bevel) applied to the text “box” and a bevel effect to the text itself:


Added 12/2014: There is another quicker (maybe) way to “picture fill” text; here are the steps:

  • As above, create the text with no fill and an outline that contrasts with the picture. Place the text over the picture and adjust both to get the fill you want.
  • Select the picture and the text and use Drawing Tools/Merge/Intersect. This is like using the text as a cookie cutter.
  • The disadvantage of this technique is that the result is a picture, not text. This means that the text can’t be edited; however, effects like those demonstrated above can be applied.

If you want to try to punch up the key words and phrases in your presentation with these techniques, use this form to request a free PowerPoint file that includes these examples:

Powerful First Impressions

cheesy-vintage-salesmanEvery one knows that it’s important to make a good first impression. In the presentation world, an unusual opening can show your audience that this might not be a typical boring PowerPoint “slide deck.” This post will demonstrate a few ideas on creating a more powerful introduction to your presentation.

I do not claim to be a public speaking guru so what I’m talking about here is a visual impression. And, unlike some of the other techniques I have shown you, the goal here is simply capturing the interest and attention of the audience – the content is minimal.

The openings consist of an initial screen and a transition to reveal a “payload;” I use a (fictitious) corporate logo as the payload for these demonstrations.You may want to reveal an intriguing title, your name and position, a brief value proposition, a product image or a provocative question. If possible, you should arrange to have the initial screen showing for at least a minute or so before you start your presentation. If your organization insists on using a template with a typical “title slide,” you have my sympathy but you may get away with using these openings before the title slide.

Here is an earlier rant on what’s wrong with the typical corporate/commercial templates along with some horrific examples.

Here are a couple of examples:

The actual PowerPoint animations are smoother than these video conversions/playback.

Both of these are created using a slide transition. When clicked, a blank (colored) slide transitions to the next slide which includes a background and the logo. In the first case, the transition is a Dissolve; in the second example, the slide transition is a Fade and the logo appears after the transition using the Entry/Fade animation effect.

These backgrounds are from Shutterstock who offer free samples to registered users every month.

You can create this kind of effect by using an overlay (a slide-sized rectangle) and Exit effects to reveal the payload; this approach gives you better control of the timing and a wider choice of effects than using slide transitions. Here’s an example:

This uses a black rectangle for the overlay. On click, the Exit/Dissolve Out with a Zoom/In is applied to the overlay; simultaneously, the logo appears with a Zoom/In. The colors add to the impact here – in the other examples I use colors that are more typical in corporate branding schemes.

You can use more complicated animations to reveal your payload:

The first example applies techniques described in my “breakthrough” posts; the second is similar but uses puzzle pieces (see the “puzzle” posts).

Here’s another approach to revealing:

Up and Down motion paths are used to “slide” the rectangles towards the top and bottom to reveal the logo. I used duplicates of the rectangles, moved to the desired position to determine the end points of the motion paths. Here’s the setup:

opns 1

The yellow rectangles identify the desired locations of the red rectangles after the animation. I used lots of Drawing Guides to position the rectangles and to locate the end points of the motion paths at the centers of these “target” rectangles .

I added static rectangles to the slide to improve the texture.

Rather than reveal the payload, you can build it. Here’s an example inspired by a TV commercial:

This uses Stretch/Across/From Left/Right animations.

Here are a couple more examples:

These both use a png version of the logo, cropped into the appropriate pieces and Fly-in animations. Here’s what the pieces look like (the first version uses the logo grouped with a rectangle as the basis):

opns 2

If you want to break away from the conventional boring “title slide” opening and try some of these ideas, you can get a free PowerPoint file containing these examples by using this form:

Animations for Cutting, Slashing and Trimming – Axes and Knives

ax banner

Adding an animation to phrases like “cut expenses” helps increase the impact of your message. Other posts have featured scissors and saws; this one uses axes and knives as the cutting tools.


A swinging ax can be pretty dramatic and there is a lot of ax types. Here’s an example of a tree-felling ax composed of standard PowerPoint shapes:


I try to use standard shapes to build these icons and images since this may be simpler for average users than to draw them directly. The process: find an image that fits your needs and approximate it by overlaying PowerPoint shapes (in red above), adjusting size. proportion and orientation to fit. Don’t obsess about detail here – you want an icon. not a photograph. You can color the result as needed.

The ax handle uses a Wave shape as its main part – you probably didn’t even know this thing was available.

If you’re feeling medieval, here’s another ax type:


This headsman’s (or war) ax uses several Moon shapes for its blade (another hidden oddity).

Here’s a fire ax (Jack Torrance’s choice) :


This is pretty complicated (30 shapes!) ; here’s an acceptable version of the fire ax that’s easier to create:


To establish the center for the Spin animation, I grouped the tree ax with a circle. The center I used is at about the middle of the handle; you may want to experiment with this:


I rotated the ax to a nearupright position and set the circle to No outline. I added a Spin/Clockwise 20 degrees for a backswing followed by a faster clockwise spin for the downstroke. Here’s the animation:

I used the ax to cut a stack of bills; here’s the animation:

I made the stack of bills using the process detailed in the animated saws post. Basically, a currency image is given a 3d rotation and converted to png. Using duplicate and crop, two parts of the bill are created and aligned together. The bill is duplicated to form the stack.

Next align the stack with the animated ax. Add a similar Curve motion path to each lower bill half. Each bill half has a Spin simultaneous with the motion path; the Spin values and direction vary. As the motion path and rotation end, the bill half Dissolves Out. Here’s the setup for a single bill:


You might want to use the Selection Pane and Drawing Guides to help construct this animation; see this “secrets” post for details.


There even more varieties of knives; here’s a hunting knife:


The Wave shape helps form the handle and a Moon forms the tip. Some accent lines are added to the completed version.

Here’s a chef’s knife:


Chord shapes are part of the blade; rivets are added to the handle of the finished version.

Also from the kitchen – here’s a cleaver:


I’ll use the hunting knife to slash costs; here’s the animation:

Here are some notes:

  • The dollar sign is a heavy weight font (Eras Bold ITC). The symbol is filled with a fragment of the bill image (Text Fill/Picture) and a 3d bevel is added. The result is converted to png and two pieces are made using duplicate and crop as before. Here’s the process:kn4
  • The knife is animated with a motion path (Freeform) providing the down and across “slash.”
  • The bottom half of the bill has a Exit/Collapse/To bottom animation; a horizontal line Appears at the end of the Collapse. Here’s the setup:


A chef’s knife is used in a particular way when chopping; the tip of the blade rests on the cutting board and the knife pivots repeatedly around this point. I grouped a circle centered at this point with the chef’s knife so that a Spin animation will mimic this motion:


I used a Spin 12 degrees Clockwise with Auto Reverse set for the chopping action. I used Repeat to continue the motion; I set Repeat to 2 for simplicity but you may want a larger number. Here’s the result:

To represent expenses, I created an inscribed “gold bar;” here’s the process:


To make the pieces that will result from the chop, convert the bar to a png.  For the first piece, duplicate and crop. For the second piece crop from the original bar again; this time, the piece lacks an “end.” Crop the “end” from the original bar, resize slightly, and group with the top of the piece. Repeat this process to add an “end” to the remnant. This diagram outlines the steps:



For the animation, position the pieces to form the bar and align the knife to the first cut. The knife swings down, the first piece falls off, the second piece and the remnant move “forward” (down) and the knife chops again. You could do this several more times, maybe with thinner slices if you have the patience. Here’s the result:

Here’s the setup with some notes:


  •  On the first stroke, the second piece us behind the knife; on the second stroke, the second piece is behind the knife. Since an object can’t be on two different “layers” at once, the second piece is replaced (by “2x slice”) immediately after the first stroke. See this post for another example of this issue.
  • An animation path is added to the second piece.

You can probably think of other devices to use in this kind of effect: swords? guillotine?

If you would like a free copy of a PowerPoint file demonstrating these animations, use the form below:


Animations for “Cutting, Slashing and Trimming” – Saws

saw banner

Using an animation adds impact to phrases like “cut expenses” or “trim overhead.” This post uses saws as cutting tools for the animation; an earlier post uses scissors.


I try to use PowerPoint’s built-in shapes to create icons and images; this is generally simpler for average PowerPoint users than drawing “freeform” shapes. However, the handle on a traditional saw is difficult to create this way. So, I found some more modern saw images and used them for inspiration; here’s the result:


Here are some notes:

  • The handle is a pretty klunky group of built-in Shapes; you may be able to do better:


  • The blade consists of a Right Triangle, a Rectangle and a group of small triangles for the teeth:


  • The teeth can be created quickly using the “dupe and group” technique (see this post). Create the first triangle and then use the Duplicate tool to create the second triangle. Without clicking on anything else, move/Nudge the second triangle to the appropriate position. Now, use Duplicate several times to create a row of triangles. If necessary, use Align/Middle on the triangles to keep them aligned. Now, group the result, duplicate it, adjust as above, and continue duplicating. Finally group the groups. You will probably make adjustments to the teeth group when you assemble the saw blade.
  • Group the handle and blade and add fill color.

Usually, a handsaw cuts on the downstroke. So, the blade will make progress during the downstroke and the upstroke will move parallel to the blade with very little motion towards the sawyer. This picture shows the path of the saw:


This layout will help in drawing the motion path. Some notes:

  • Add lines (blue) to the saw object to locate its center of gravity.  Flip and rotate the saw to about a 45 degree angle.
  • Draw a line (red) from the center of the saw object down and to the right of the saw and then up, paralleling the saw blade to a point level with the starting point. This represents the first downstroke (that will move the saw to the right as well as down) and the upstroke.
  • Set up drawing guides at the extremes of the red line.
  • Duplicate the red line several times and align (blue lines).

Now, draw the motion path (freeform option) along the lines for this result (the smooth start/stop options are unchecked):

The object that will be cut by the saw represents money; I used a $100 bill image. Here are the steps:

  • Rotate the image, create a rectangle (shown in red) the same size as the image, and use Fill/Picture to fill the rectangle with the image.
  • Next, apply a 3d rotation (Perspective Relaxed) to the rectangle, add a few points of Depth and remove the outline. I also adjusted the Lighting. Here’s the process:


  • Why not just apply the 3d rotation directly to the image? Try it and see.
  • As a result of the sawing process, I want the currency image to fall into two pieces. I made the pieces by converting the bill image to a png (Copy/Paste Special) , and using duplicate and crop to create two pieces:


  • I added a line to the upper piece to mimic the depth.

Adding the currency images to the saw animation yields and adding some additional animation provides this result:

Here are some notes:

  • Place the currency pieces next to the saw blade; adjust the height and width of the saw motion path using the handles.
  • Add a Down motion path to the bottom half near the end of the saw animation and adjust the end point. Add a Spin With the motion path.
  • Add another motion path (Custom Path/Freeform) and Spin for the bounce. The path may snap to the center of the object when you complete it; just move/nudge it to the end of the first Down path.
  • You will probably need to experiment to get the locations and timing so that the animation is convincing.

Here’s the set-up for the handsaw animation:


 Power Saw

I looked at several images of a power/”skill” saw and drew a simplified version using standard PowerPoint shapes:


The blade is a 32-point Star with the depth of the points adjusted. A circle and a Hexagon provide the blade mounting hardware. The upper blade guard of the saw is a Block Arc with handles added. The upper handle is another Block Arc and a Rounded Rectangle; the front handle is an Oval and a Rectangle. The base plate is a Trapezoid.

The lower blade guard (green) is a Block Arc. It will be grouped with the blue circle to assure that it Spins properly.

Note: A Block Arc is one of the PowerPoint shapes that rotates (while editing) and Spins (animation) around different centers; here’s the difference:


The blue lines identify the center of the object when it is rotated while editing (e.g., using the green handle) and the red line identifies the center for a Spin animation. Several other shapes share this anomaly including Arc, Chord and Pie. Surprisingly, transformed text (e.g., Arch Up) rotates and Spins around the same center.

(The PowerPoint animation designers apparently came from a different planet and were not allowed to converse with other designers.)

Here’s the power saw with color added:


I grouped the saw elements into three parts that move independently: the blade assembly, the lower blade guard and the saw “body”:


Here’s how I did the animation:

  • Set up a “target” for the animation; this is a copy of the saw positioned at the desired location. This is a technique I use often for animations (see this post on animating vehicles for more).
  • Set up drawing guides to identify the centers of the three saw parts.
  • Add a Right motion path to each part and edit the motion paths so that the endpoint is at the appropriate center. As usual, Smooth Start/End for the motion paths are unchecked. Here’s what this looks like:


  • Add the Spin animation to the blade assemble so that occurs simultaneously With the motion path. For some Spin values,  the blade may appear to spin more slowly than expected, backwards or to stand still (maybe a strobe effect). Adjust the spin duration so that you are satisfied with the animation. I ended up with 1300 degrees Clockwise Spin in 1.3 seconds. The motion paths and the Spin should have the same duration.
  • The lower blade guard pivots up when it encounters the object being sawn and drops back when the saw passes over the object. I added a Clockwise spin of 115 degrees near the beginning of the action and the corresponding Counterclockwise spin near the end. Here’s the animation pane:


  • And here’s the animation:
  • I added a rectangle to represent the object being cut. Later, I’ll use a different object and adjust the blade guard timing accordingly.

You can use the power saw to “cut’ currency (like the handsaw above), or a dollar sign or bar graph like I demonstrated in the scissors post.  Here’s the power saw in another animation involving a graph:

Here are some notes:

  • The graph is created with a series of horizontal and vertical lines to form the grid, the label, and the arrow representing growth. The arrow is hand drawn (a Freeform) but you could use one of the built-in arrow shapes or a heavy line with an arrowhead.


  •  Duplicate the arrow shape and add Fill color to the two copies; make one copy a slightly darker shade.
  • Convert the arrow shapes to a pngs and make two halves using the technique used on the $100 bill above. The break should align with one of the horizontal grid lines on the graph. You only need the top half of the darker arrow. Invert the dark half and align the parts on the graph. Here’s the process:



  • Add the animated power saw (three parts). Position the saw along the horizontal grid line and adjust the blade guard timing so that the saw “cuts” between the two parts of the arrow:



  • The animation of the cut-off arrow uses Collapse and Stretch animations. There are three steps: first,  the upper part gets an Exit/Collapse to bottom animation. This is immediately followed by Entrance/Stretch/From top for the darker, inverted piece. Finally, there is a Down motion path overlapped with a quick Exit/Collapse to bottom of the darker piece. Here’s the final animation setup:


If you want a free copy of a PowerPoint file demonstrating these techniques, use this form:

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