Building Your Story – Animated Lists

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Your presentations are full of lists: agendas, products and features, customers, office locations, schedules and miscellaneous bullet points. Animating some of these lists is a good way to add impact and engage your audience; here’s why:

  • Presenting a load of information all at once is a deadly habit. Progressively disclosing items one at a time will allow you to keep  your audience’s attention focused where you want it.
  • Animation is a powerful attention grabber; it is nearly impossible to ignore. (The reasons are rooted in survival instincts – see here for more.)
  • Sometimes, the choice of animation effects can actually add to your message; I will show you some examples in this post.

Here’s an example that the folks over at Acme use to discuss their customer management services:

Acme presenters discuss each element of the “mantra” one at a time. The animation is eye-catching and adds to the idea that these principles are a solid foundation for customer service.

Here are some notes:

  • Each “brick” is a Rectangle containing text. 3D Bevels are applied to the Rectangle and the text to suggest solidity and importance.
  • Each animation is a Fly-in/From Top. This is much simpler than a motion path and works well as a “building” step.
  • The Fly-in has a Bounce end setting; again, this suggests weight.

A top-down build may be useful for other lists (an agenda, for example). This example uses Stretch animations to introduce each element:

Some more ideas about agendas are in this post.

These ideas can be applied to other structures – a pyramid, for example:

This sketch suggests the organizing a structure by selecting elements from a stockpile. Line motion paths are used. As I often do, I made a target structure (red outlines) to aid in setting the motion path endpoints; here’s what this looks like:

bld1

You can apply animations to SmartArt diagrams, too. Here’s an example of a Radial Venn diagram with Fly in animations:

Animating SmartArt is a little different; here’s how this was done:

  • Select the diagram and apply the animation (Fly in). The default will apply the effect to the entire diagram.
  • Under Effect  Options (SmartArt animation), select One by one (other diagram types may have different nomenclature). This creates a list of effects in the animation pane that you can edit.
  • For this example, I Removed the effect for the central element and modified the direction, order and timing of the remaining elements.
  • If you struggle to get the result you want, try decomposing the SmartArt into individual ordinary objects and working with those (see “Not So SmartArt” for more on this).

Here’s a more elaborate example of “delivering” a list element:

Faithful readers will recognize techniques from my post on animating vehicles. You might want to review that post; here are a few helpful (?) notes:

  • I drew the car using standard PowerPoint shapes. This may be simpler for you if you are not comfortable with drawing Freeforms. Here’s the process:

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  • The shapes (Ovals and Chords) are combined using Merge Shapes/Union and Subtract for the wheel openings. The wheels are combination of Ovals with a Star and a Donut.
  • The body and wheels are kept separate since they will be animated separately.
  • I applied a motion path to the car body, positioning the end point using a temporary target version of the car.
  • Using the Animation Painter, I applied the identical motion path to the other elements. This assures that the elements will move together.
  • I added Spins to the wheels. Each wheel rotates once each time the wheel travels a distance equal to the circumference of the wheel (that is, diameter times 3.14). See the animated vehicle post for details.
  • I used a second slide for the last part of the animation. After positioning the elements to match the outcome of the first slide, I added animation to drop the tow rope and drive off to the right.

I often spread an animation sequence over several slides. This simply makes it easier to manipulate the animations. Of course, the transition(s) must be automatic and the slide elements must be carefully positioned.

The next idea is a little whimsical:

The saucer’s delivery is a curved motion path combined with a Grow effect. On a second slide, the tractor beam disappears and the saucer exits with another motion path and a Shrink.

I drew the saucer and its cargo using standard shapes. The tractor beam has Soft Edges. The smaller version (that flies in from the left) is a PNG of the original, reduced in size. I couldn’t just shrink the original drawing since the Soft Edge effect is measured in points and doesn’t scale with the rest of the drawing. (There is no logic to this, it’s just how it works.)

If you want to experiment with these effects, use the form below to request a free PowerPoint file containing the examples.

Drawing in 3D – Cars

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This is another in a series of posts about creating “3D” (isometric) vehicles in PowerPoint. The previous posts are here and here; you may want to review them.

I have shown you how to draw some “boxy” vehicles. But, creating accurate versions of contemporary automobiles with their sculptural features and curved lines is simply not practical in PowerPoint. So, if the examples here don’t work for you, you may find acceptable clipart on the web. Or you use different graphics software.

Here’s a “crossover” vehicle that will give you an idea of  my approach:

car1

Here’s an exploded version:

car2

I made flat drawings of most of the surfaces using groups of standard shapes (Triangles, Rectangles, etc.). Then I applied 3D rotations and carefully positioned them to form the car. Surfaces that are not parallel to one of the three axes are drawn as Freeform shapes (outlined in yellow above). Some of the elements are used for alignment purposes and not part of the final drawing (red outlined elements). I used 3D Format/Depth to add, well, depth to the wheels, wheel wells, and the outer “style” element on the side.

One of the more challenging aspects of this technique is getting the colors right. For example, I would like the top surfaces to be lighter in color than the sides (as if the car were lit from the top) but not a different shade of blue.

Here’s why this is so complicated; there are four different factors that interact to determine the color of a rotated 3D object:

  • Fill (and outline) color – obviously, if your object is red, it should remain red when rotated. However, the precise shade of red will be different.
  • Lighting angle – The color will vary when you change this value; presumably this represents a the effect of a light source from different angles but I have not been able to deconstruct the algorithm here. I recommend trial and error.
  • Material – this choice affects the result of the light on the surface. Since you can’t turn the damned light off, you have to make a choice here. I recommend Matte (not the default); it seems to be the simplest.
  • Depth color – If  you use Depth, a default color will be applied; I usually change the color.

Here’s how I started the crossover vehicle:

car3

This “3-view” (side, front, top) was inspired by a couple of photos on the web; one of the photos was a profile. You can also find complete 3-view drawings of automobiles.

Trace the elements of the profile using Rectangles,Triangles and other standard shapes. Don’t try to capture all the detail. Then, using Drawing Guides to align the parts, create the front and top views. I have used Merge Shapes operations (like Union) to eliminate some of the lines. I used different outline colors to distinguish the major parts.

The Merge Shapes operations are very unforgiving; you will often get unwanted bits of outlines in a Union, for example. This is not a big problem here since the outlines will be eliminated.  In other cases, you may have to resort to Edit Points to simplify the resulting shapes.

Here are the parts of the crossover with details and color added:

car4

The red rectangle and the green line on the body are used to align the mirrors in the assembled view.

Here’s how I started the assembly for the crossover vehicle:

car5

A part of the top view (“plan”) is used for alignment (I used the Parallel/Off-Axis 1 preset rotations for this example). The gray rectangles are rotated and aligned to form the back of the two visible wheel wells.

Here’s the next step:

car6

The rotated side view is aligned with the appropriate line (blue) and the wheel well outline (red) on the plan.  Next, I added Depth to the body and the wheels; the depth color for the body is gray, not the default blue:

car7

Notice that the depth for the body appears at the top as well as the wheel openings; fret not – this will be covered by other elements.

The next step adds the side detail (abbreviated fenders/wings) aligned with the outer line on the plan. I also added Depth to the side detail:

car8

Next, I added the front and top (with the cargo rails):

car9

I added a couple of rectangles to the top to help align the cargo rails.

Finally, I drew the missing surfaces as Freeforms (the two surfaces of the hood/bonnet and the gray surface under the grill). I also added, aligned and added a Bevel to the visible mirror:

car10I temporarily added a profile to the hidden side of the car to help provide reference points for the hand-drawn Freeforms. Here are some additional notes:

  • In actual vehicles, the sides of the top (where the side windows are) are slanted inwards. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I choose not to reproduce that feature since it makes it more difficult to add windows and other details in this area.
  • You can create a variety of acceptable wheels using Ovals, Donuts and various Stars; here’s how the wheels for the crossover are constructed:

car11

  • The cargo rails are made from two Rounded Rectangles using Merge Shape/Subtract functions; here’s the process:

car12

  • I did not detail the steps I used to adjust the colors in this example; see above for the considerations involved.
  • I usually have to go through the construction process a few times to get the alignments and layering right. It’s a good idea to do this before you add color and details.

The next example is a more traditional sedan; this one is inspired by a Cadillac:

car13

Here’s the exploded view:

car14

I used Isometric rotations for this example.

The wheel openings on this kind of vehicle are smaller than on the crossover; the back of the wheel well isn’t needed.

The Cadillac is constructed like the crossover except that the side includes three layers: the outer trim that surrounds the wheel openings, the side of the body, and the inner surface representing the top of the passenger compartment. The side of the body is in two parts so that two different Edges can be used; the lower part’s Edge is the wheel well surface and the upper part provides the lighter “shoulder.” Here’s a simplified picture with red Edges that may make this clearer:

car15

The final example is a “five door” automobile (inspired by a drawing of a Kia):

car16Here’s the explosion – basically the same as the Cadillac construction:

car17

If you want to use drawings like this in your presentations, the PowerPoint file containing these examples may help; you can request a free copy using the form below (see this page for info about the file):

Drawing in 3D – More Vehicles

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This is another post in my series about using PowerPoint’s limited tools to construct “3D” objects. Here are some of the earlier posts that may be helpful:

In this post. I’ll try a few more complicated vehicles. The first is a tanker truck featuring more 3D detail than the earlier vehicle examples and using the 3D Depth option to create the tank component. Here is the “3-view” layout:

mve1

As usual, standard PowerPoint shapes are combined to create the views. Drawing Guides are used to align the parts in the views. I created the side and end views first; then I rotated a temporary copy of the end view 90 degrees to help complete the top view (see the basic house post).

As I suggested in the first post in the vehicle series, you can find 3-views for vehicles on the web for inspiration; this tank truck was inspired by commercial isometric clip art.

The method involves selecting parts of the views, applying the appropriate Format Shape/3D Rotation/Preset and assembling the results to complete the drawing. Here’s how this goes for the cab of the tank truck:

mve2

I used the Isometric preset rotations for the tank truck. The windshield (outlined in yellow) is a Freeform drawn over the isometric view; I have found this to be the simplest way to create surfaces that are not parallel to one of the three axes.

Here’s what the cab looks like with color fills and details. The details, like the grille and lights, are simple shapes grouped with the  surfaces before rotating:

mve3

I added a color outline to the windshield Freeform; this requires adjusting the Freeform (Edit Points) to refit the shape since the dimensions include the outline. The colors are adjusted (top surfaces are lighter) to emphasize the dimensionality. I also added Depth to the “tires.”

To build the rear part of the truck, I started with a top view and added wheels and the visible surfaces of the undercarriage parts:

mve4

Next, I added the edges of the platform and the tank end and rectangles to help align the tank:

mve5

I added the platform top and color and added Depth to the oval to form the tank. The black rectangle helps determine the extent of the tank. I also added Depth to the tires as before:

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To join the two parts of the tank truck, I temporarily added parts of the front view (red) to the back of the cab. Then the two parts are aligned and the object used for alignment deleted:

mve7

The next example is a school bus; I used Depth to make the rounded part of the roof and the wheel wells. Here are the views:

mve8

The outer circles around the wheels will define the wheel openings. The front view shows the rounded parts of the roof (a Pie).

I combined the two rectangles at the bottom of the side view using Merge Shapes/Union. I then Subtracted the larger circles to create the wheel openings.

Here’s a trial assembly (Off Axis 2 presets) showing how the Depth is applied to the roof and the wheel openings.

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I added color and details for this result:

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I experimented with color, Material and Lighting Angle to get the color of the rounded part of the top; as you can see, it is not perfect. That’s one of the tradeoffs in using Depth.

The close-ups below show the appearance of the wheel area without and with the Depth. The front-to-back order of the elements is important in hiding the Depth in areas other than the wheel wells.

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Here are two views of a pickup truck derived from an image I found on the web:

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The truck features large wheel openings; I created these in my model using Trapezoids and Subtract as before. Notice that I ignored the the slanting sides of the cab; this is a helpful simplification that I will also use in my upcoming post on 3D cars.

Here’s a view of the rotated parts:

mve13

The Trapezoids aligned with the top view are used as the back wall of the wheel well. The green line on the side view is used to align the mirrors.

Here’s the assembled model showing how the Depth is used to complete the wheel wells:

mve14

Here’s the finished model; the truck bed is a Rectangle,  rotated with a Top Bevel (Slope) applied (see this post for details on Bevels). I fiddled with the Bevel Width and Depth to get the appearance I wanted:

mve15

If you want a free PowerPoint file containing these examples, use the form below. See this page for details about free files.

Drawing in 3D – Simple Vehicles

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This is another in a series of posts about drawing  “3D” objects using  the limited tools available in PowerPoint. The recent posts are: 3D buildings3D house basics, and 3D houses. There are a couple of earlier posts about 3D: a tower icon and network demo – icons.  In this post, I’ll create some simple vehicles.

You should review some of these posts if you have trouble with the technique; here are some brief notes about my approach:

  • I use the “parallel” (not perspective) 3D options; this is simpler and is acceptable in many situations.
  • 3-view drawings are used to create object surfaces that are then rotated  in 3D (using rotation Presets) and assembled to form the object.
  • Surfaces that are neither vertical or horizontal (“oblique”) are created by drawing the outline directly (a Freeform). There are a couple of other ways to do this but I use this method for simplicity.

Accurately drawing vehicles with their complex sculptural shapes is not practical with the available PowerPoint tools. I’ll start in this post with some “boxy” vehicles and attempt more complicated drawings in later posts.  In any case, these kinds of drawings may not meet your needs.

The first example is simple and “boxy:”

veh1

The 3-view shows the side, front and top of the vehicle (see the simple house post for details on creating the 3-view); I used Drawing Guides to align the parts of the vehicle. The views are created using standard PowerPoint shapes (Rectangles, Ovals and Trapezoids).

Briefly, here’s how to create the top view: make a copy of the front view and rotate it 90 degrees. Use the rotated view and the side view to create the top view. Here’s a schematic:

veh7

The 3D view of the vehicle shows how the rotated elements are assembled. I used the Isometric 3D rotation presets.

The windshield is an example of an oblique surface that is created as a Freeform (yellow).

Briefly, here’s how to draw the windshield: assemble enough parts to define the corners of the desired shape. Select the Freeform tool and click on the four corners, double clicking the last one. If you want to adjust the shape, right click on the shape and select Edit Points. Use the cursor to select and move the points. If PowerPoint decides to curve one of the line segments, right click on the segment and select Straight Segment. Reference to other tutorials and practice will help.

Here’s the vehicle with color fills:

veh2

Color differences help with the dimensional look. Top surfaces are lighter; vertical surfaces are darker. In this example, the light is supposed to come from the top right. Use fill colors and 3D Format/Lighting Angle. By the way, this would be easier if I could turn the Lighting off.

I added 3D Format/Depth to the “tire” (black filled outer circle of the wheel only) to complete the drawing. Selecting the circle may be a little difficult; using the Selection pane may help.

Here’s a more complicated “boxy” example:

veh3

Again, the windshield is a Freeform (yellow). Here’s the truck with color and signage:

veh4

In the post on drawing houses, I suggested that you find 3-views/elevations of houses on the web to use as guides for drawing. You can also find 3-views of vehicles; I used one to create these views of a city bus:

veh6

The bus image has been faded so that the outlines show up better. Again, standard Shapes have been used to “trace” the image. If you are confident with Freeforms, you can use them for some of the outline parts. The top view is created from the side and front view as explained above.

Here’s a note that may help when sizing or positioning shapes with acute angles. Here are two identical triangles:

veh8

The top triangle has the Line property Join Type set to Miter (the default); the bottom triangle has the property set to Bevel (the line is heavy to clarify the difference). As you can see the Miter triangle looks larger than it actually is due to the treatment of the acute angle. The Bevel property makes it easier to align triangles. Of course, there is no difference in the triangles when the outline is removed.

Here are the three view of the bus with color and details added:

veh9

The red rectangle in the front view is used to align the rear-view mirror in the 3D construction. I started by copying, rotating and aligning the side, top and part of the front (the grill/bumper assembly). I used the Off Axis 1 rotation presents for the bus.

Then I copied, grouped and rotated the red rectangle and left mirror. I aligned the rectangle in the mirror group with the front edge of the side view and added some depth to the mirror; here’s a picture:

veh10

To eliminate the red rectangle, click on it an set the Line Color to No Line; deleting it will throw the mirror out of place.

I temporarily added a version of the side view to provide reference points for drawing the two parts of the windshield (yellow):

veh11

Here’s the final result. I added an outline to the windshield; this necessitates resizing the freeforms slightly (using Edit Points) since the outline adds to the dimensions of the object. I also added depth to the tires.

veh12

In the next post, I will try a few more complicated vehicles. I will attempt automobiles in the third post in this series .

You can get a free PowerPoint file containing the examples in this post; use the form below. See this page for some information about free files.

Drawing in PowerPoint – 3D Houses

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The previous post in this series showed how to draw a simple house using PowerPoint “3D” and how to overcome some common problems. This post will present two more detailed examples.

Making these examples was tedious.  The level of detail I used (steps, porch railings, etc.) takes a lot of work. You might want to make less detailed versions, especially since the houses are likely to be used at a small size (e.g., in a cityscape or village).

My general approach is this:

  • Find an example. I have used actual house plans or architectural renderings. An example with both front and side elevations is useful but not necessary – you can create a simple side view given a front elevation. Flat drawings are easiest; a perspective drawing or photo may be harder to use.

Using architectural drawings as a starting point will help assure that the proportions of your house are realistic as well as provide inspiration.

  • Using the example, create a simplified front elevation. I do this by “tracing” over the parts of the example drawing using rectangles and other standard Shapes.
  • Next, create a simple slide elevation using Drawing Guides to align the parts with the front elevation. Use a side elevation from your example as a guide (if available).
  • Using the method outlined in the first post, create the top (or “plan”) elevation.
  • Create a trial 3D construction assuring that the parts are consistent (again, see the first post for an example).
  • Add details (windows, doors, trim, etc.) along with colors.
  • Create the final 3D construction.

Here’s how I “traced” the first example (I think this is a “bungalow”):

hos1

You can see the red shapes over the gray original drawing; the house outline, porch posts and the porch roof have been simplified.

Here are the front and side views:

hos2

I used Drawing Guides, Snap to Grid and 0.05″ grid spacing to make it easier to draw and align the parts. The blue rectangles are used to assure a consistent roof overhang.

Here are all three views:

hos3

Next, I used these views to create a trial 3D rendering. I used the Off-Axis 2 preset rotations; in earlier posts, I used the Isometric presets. Here’s my trial version of the main part of the house:

hos13

You can review the first post to see the details of this process. After building the base and the walls, the top view including the overhang (blue) is aligned with the top of the walls. The fascia pieces are added, aligned with the overhang outline. The hip roof is constructed by centering a front view of the roof (green) on the roof top view. This establishes the peak and corners of the roof allowing me to draw the front face of the roof as a Freeform (yellow).

Next, create the intersection of the chimney and the roof; here’s a picture:

hos5

I made 2 copies of the front view of the roof with the chimney (green). I aligned these with the front and back of the chimney outline in the base bottom view. This locates the intersection of the chimney with the roof and allows me to draw the front and side views (black) of the part of the chimney above the roof.

Next, I added details and color to the elevations of the main part of the house and completed the roof and the chimney:

hos7

I tried two ways to construct the porch, after adding color. The first involves selecting and rotating the various “faces” of the porch parts and carefully assembling them to form the porch. This diagram shows the process:

hos8

The front to back order is important here as well as the alignment.

The second approach also involves selecting and rotating faces of the porch parts but uses 3D Depth to add, well, depth. Here’s the process:

hos9

As you can see the depth process is simpler but it is more difficult to get consistent colors. You must pay attention to the (mysterious) 3D Lighting Angle as well as the fill color. You can decide which is better for your project.

I completed the porch roof by adding the trim pieces around the top of the columns, aligning the top view of the porch (including the overhang), and adding the fascia pieces. Then, using a front view of the porch roof as guide I drew the roof surfaces:

hos11

Here’s the final assembled bungalow:

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The second example is a cottage; here are the source drawings and my “tracings:”

hos14

Here are the three views constructed from the “tracing:”

hos15

I used a Parallelogram for the fascia pieces on the ends of the two roofs and the outline of the porch step railing.  However, I manually rotated the shape and PowerPoint 3D has a problem with rotated shapes; the 3D rotations are created relative to the original orientation. This is hard to explain – try it and see. I overcame this in two ways: I grouped the shapes (end of the main roof) and I redrew the shapes as (black) Freeforms (the end of the porch roof and the outline of the step railing).

Here’s the trial 3D rendering for the cottage:

hos16

Here’s the cottage with added detail:

hos17

I used Lines in the porch railings; this will work at this scale but remember that, if you enlarge the house, the Line width (like all points-measured dimensions) will not enlarge. Since I plan to convert (Copy/Paste Special) the house drawings to pngs, this will not be a problem.

After adding color, I first built the foundation on its outline:

hos18

Next. I added  the house walls and the porch floor structure; the house outline overhangs the foundation:

hos19

Next, I added the porch railings, the roof gables and the fascia pieces. I used the Depth technique for the porch railings since there are so many parts. The lighting/color for the railings is not quite correct but at least it’s consistent.

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Here’s the complete cottage:

hos21

If you would like to build some houses, use the form below to request a free PowerPoint file (see this page about free files) showing the details of these two examples:

 

Drawing in PowerPoint – 3D House Basics

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In a previous post, I developed some ideas for creating city buildings using PowerPoint’s limited “3D” capabilities. In this post I will apply the same ideas to individual houses.

These are US suburban examples; you can apply these techniques to other housing styles.

This approach to PowerPoint 3D was first presented in my post on alphabet blocks; basically, I apply 3D rotations to individual “faces” of objects and assemble them to create the result.

Here are the front and side “elevations” of a simple house:

hse1

The views (elevations) are created using simple shapes; I set the grid to 0.1 inches to make it easier to draw and position the shapes. The roof (blue) is a Freeform carefully drawn to match the triangle and including the overhang (eaves).

I used Drawing Guides to assure that the vertical dimensions of the two views match; this is essential to assuring that the 3D shapes line up in the result.

To make the top (plan) view, make a temporary copy of the side view, group and Rotate Left 90 degrees. Use this and the front view to make the top view – extend the dimensions horizontally and vertically with Drawing Guides to complete the layout of the top view:

hse2

The top view of the roof is shown in blue.

Realistically,  you will often make corrections and iteratively redraw the views to build your house,  depending on where you start from (a photo, part of a plan, your own fevered brain, etc.).

I started the 3D version from the bottom; copy the “floor” (the red part of the top view), group and apply the rotation. As in the “buldings” post, I’m using the Parallel/Isometric rotations – the Top Up version for the floor.  I added the end view (except for the roof) and one of the front walls, each with the appropriate rotation:

hse3

Continue with the other visible walls, positioning them carefully to align with the floor and other elements; hold down Ctrl while using the nudge (arrow) keys to override the Grid settings. If you’ve made mistakes in the dimensions, they will show up here. Here’s the result so far:

hse4

The bottom edge of the roof is below the top edge of the walls. The front view shows this overlap dimension so I used a temporary copy of the front view (green) to help align the top view of the roof.

I hope this diagram makes this clearer. The red outline of the house (in the top view) is aligned with the bottom of the roof in the temporary (green) front view):

hse5

Constructing the roofs seems to be the most challenging part of these house drawings; more about this later.

Once the top view is aligned, the roof side view (blue) can be added, aligned with the roof top view (blue):

hse6

You can apply a 3D Depth to the roof to extend it to the other end; I used this technique in the “buildings” post:hse7

You may have to adjust the Lighting angle to get the color you want. Another way to complete the roof is to add the other end of the roof side view and draw (using a simple Freeform) the planes of the roof (yellow):

hse8

This option makes it easier to control the color and is a more general solution (see the following) than the Depth technique.

Here’s the house with unnecessary elements removed and color fills added:

hse9

You may want to color the flat (unrotated) elements of the house before assembly (maybe after a trial assembly). It’s a little tricky to select elements of a rotated group; using the Selection pane may help.

You will not get far in drawing these kinds of houses without dealing with complicated intersecting roof volumes; this is an important part of the appearance of these houses. So, I’ll provide a few examples to show you the techniques.

The first example is a kind of “dormer;” here are the 3 views and a partial 3D version:

hse10

I added the second front view of the dormer (green), aligned with the top view, to provide a reference point (the peak) for drawing the visible part of the dormer roof (a Freeform), shown here in yellow:

hse11

 Here’s a dormer higher on the roof:

hse12

The rotated side view is positioned to align with the edge of the dormer in the top view. A copy (green) of the front view is aligned with the peak of the dormer to provide a reference point for drawing the visible roof surface of the dormer (yellow):

hse13

Here’s an example of intersecting roofs; a copy of the side view (green) is used to help draw the roof surface (yellow). The other roof planes can also be drawn with Freeforms:

hse14

“Hip” roofs are also common; you can create hip roofs using a Bevel/Angle
as shown here:

hse15

Notice that the non-square version using a Bevel will have a ridge; to get a non-square hip roof without a ridge, use the approach shown here:

hse16

Unlike the simple house example, none of these roof examples have accounted for eaves/overhangs.

This post has presented some basic techniques for constructing 3D houses in PowerPoint; the next post will apply these techniques to building a typical house.

If you want to see the details of these examples, use the form below to request a free copy of the “source” PowerPoint file:

Wheels of Fortune – “Random” Spins

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I previously published a series of posts (Part 1, Part 2) on “wheels” – various circular objects useful for showing parts of a whole (e.g., product line, addressed markets, client types, etc.). One post (Part 3) demonstrated an animated wheel similar to a carnival wheel of chance or TV’s “Wheel of Fortune.”

Several readers have wanted to use the wheel of fortune as part of a game or a learning experience that required random spins. Since the amount of spin is determined by a fixed number, my response has always been that I didn’t know how to make the wheel spin by some undetermined “random” amount.

I’ve done a little research since then; I think there may be two ways to create a “random” spin:

  1. Visual Basic for Applications (VBA)  is a programming language that can be used to add functionality to Microsoft Office applications (sometimes called “macros”). It’s probably possible to create a random spin using VBA. I have used VBA in Excel but not in PowerPoint; I am not an expert.
  2. A user input (click) can be used to stop the Spin animation at a essentially unpredictable point. This makes use of the Repeat/Until next click animation option.

I found this method at the PPT Alchemy site (here); this is a site devoted to weird and wonderful PowerPoint tips and tricks.

Since the first method requires specialized knowledge, I used the second method which is quite simple.

Here’s the scheme:

  • This is a two-slide sequence (more about this later):

whr1

  • The first slide is a blank layout (both slides use the same theme so that the background will match). The transition for the first slide is After .01 sec (the minimum) and it has no transition effect.
  • The second slide includes an instruction box (optional), a wheel from the previous post, a stationary indicator and a reset button.
  • Here’s the animation pane for the second slide:

whr2

  • The first effect applied to the wheel starts on a click; it’s a Spin (360 degrees clockwise, 1 second duration) with Repeat/Until Next Click set.
  • The second effect applies to the reset button; it’s an Appear starting on a click.
  • The reset button has a hyperlink to the first slide.

Here’s how it works:

  • The first slide immediately transitions to the second slide.
  • The presenter’s first click on the second slide starts the wheel spinning.
  • The second click does two things: it stops the wheel spin and makes the reset button appear.
  • The indicator shows the “winning” sector on the stopped wheel. The animation can stop anywhere so the result might be ambiguous.
  • At this point the presenter can spin again by clicking on the reset button; this links to the first blank slide which immediately transitions to the wheel slide.
  • The purpose of the blank slide is now revealed: it simply provides a target to re-enter the wheel slide. Linking directly to the wheel slide will not reset the animation.
  • The presenter can move to a next slide by clicking anywhere on the wheel slide as usual.
  • The Appear animation on the reset button is necessary; otherwise, the click that stops the wheel would also transition immediately to the next slide. Not what we want.

This basic technique may have other applications; I’ll think about that.

You can use the tips in the previous “wheel” posts to construct your own wheel and apply this technique. If you want to try it, request a free copy of the two slides using the form below.

Tabs in PowerPoint

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“Tabs” are often used for navigation among browser windows and in other user interfaces. They can also be used in PowerPoint; here’s a sample slide with tabs:

Slide6

This slide is in the “Plan” section of a (fictional) investor pitch. The pitch has five sections corresponding to the five tabs. Every slide has tabs, highlighted according to the section. The presenter can start any section by clicking on a tab on any slide so that she can present the sections in a different order or select some sections and not others. Also, the presenter can exit a section at any point.

In addition to the navigation function, the tabs effectively show the presentation agenda and signal what section is being presented.

The tab shapes are made using Drawing Tools/Merge Shapes; here’s the process:

tabs2

  • Create a Round Same Side Corner Rectangle (red) and adjust the rounded corner so that it reaches halfway to the opposite side (the maximum). The size and proportion of the rectangle is not important at this point.
  • Copy and invert the rectangle (green); position it as shown.
  • Create an ordinary rectangle (blue) half the height of the red rounded rectangle and extending on both sides to cover the rounded part of the green rectangle.
  • Select the blue rectangle and the green rectangle in order. Apply Merge Shapes/Subtract to remove the corner of the blue rectangle and leave the pointy “ear.”
  • Repeat the process to create the “ear” on the other side of the tab.
  • Finally, apply Union to combine the blue object with the red rectangle to create the tab shape.
  • Use the same techniques to create a tab for one end of the tab strip; duplicate and rotate to create the other end.
  • To create the tab strip, align and temporarily group the appropriate tab shapes. Setting the Grid spacing to a relatively large number and using drawing guides will help with the alignment.
  • Now, size the group to fit the desired space, ungroup and add the text.
  • Add a dark rectangle behind the tabs and fill the tab shapes using your theme color scheme. The highlighted tab should match the slide background color (white in this example). I also added a shadow to each tab (on the right edge) to make the layering clear. Here’s a sample tab strip:

tabs3

  • You might want to consider a vertical strip, especially if you’re using a wide screen format:

tabs4

Next, organize your pitch into the appropriate number of sections. Then start with a single tab strip and set the hyperlink for each tab object to the first slide of its “target” section. Now, copy the strip to each slide changing the fill and layering of the tab objects as needed. (It is easier to set the hyperlinks once and then copy the strip to each slide.)

For purposes of demonstration, I used this set of slides:

tabs5

Some notes:

  • There are five sections, each with two (“first” and “last”) slides.
  • I added a “title” slide with the tab strip (no highlight). This allows the presenter to start with any section.
  • I added an “end” slide, also with the tab strip. This allows the presenter to review appropriate sections during a discussion at the end of the pitch.
  • I also added another object to some slides; a “go to end” symbol containing a hyperlink to the end slide. This allows the presenter to end the presentation at any section. (In retrospect, this should probably appear on all the content slides.)

Here are some additional notes on this project:

  • A couple of other similar posts on this blog may provide additional tips and ideas: “Non-linear PowerPoint” and “More Prezi-style PowerPoint.”
  • To use hyperlinks, you must be able to click on the objects during your presentation. You can use “presenter mode,” for example.
  • Use the Insert Hyperlink/Place in this Document option to set the links in this project. It is a very good idea to add Screen tips to the link; this assures the presenter that she is selecting the right link.
  • The links are generally stable; however, if you add, replace or delete slides, it’s a good idea to check the links and re-set if necessary.

If you want to try using tabs in a presentation, a free copy of the PowerPoint file for the sample presentation can be had by using this form:

Clarifying Charts in PowerPoint

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Graphs (Microsoft calls them “charts”) are a visual way to present numerical data, often financial. But, because charts can present too much information in one shot, they can overload an audience. In addition, some chart forms can obscure information. While these properties can be useful to the unscrupulous, I assume, dear reader, that your soul is pure.

What do I mean by overload and why should you care? Experts tell us that people absorb information better when it is presented in small chunks. But there is another effect that can be deadly. When your audience is presented with a slide full of information, the natural reaction is to start to puzzle out the content. During this time, the audience is distracted and their audio perception can be restricted. That is, the audience may not “hear” your narration. Eventually, the audience members will surface and try to re-sync with your story. Or, even worse, since they “know” the content of the slide, their attention will wander.

Essentially, the presenter looses control of the audience. So, if you think you can present a bunch of stuff and “talk your audience through it,” you’re wrong.

The good folks over at Acme Services provide an example chart showing the contribution of each line of business to the annual revenue total over a six year period:

chart1

This is a standard Excel stacked bar chart with data labels on each series (business) and a legend. With a stacked bar chart, it may be difficult to perceive trends within each series since the stacked segments do not line up horizontally. The designer has added the data labels in an attempt to overcome this problem but the result is numeric instead of visual. And the chart is clearly crowded.

Here’s a relatively straightforward animation that allows the presenter to display each business, one at a time, and discuss as needed before displaying the next:

Here are some notes:

  • In Excel, I created the chart and made some edits to the default stacked bar chart (I am not an Excel guru):
    • Accepted the fill colors (I used the same theme in Excel as in PowerPoint).
    • Modified the default range and increment for the vertical axis.
    • Added a legend.
    • Set the overall chart size to fit the slide layout.
    • Set the chart area background to transparent.
    • Added data labels.
    • Set font sizes (20 pts for the data labels, 24 pts elsewhere).
    • Set the number format to two decimal places; more is pointless.
  • I copied the chart in Excel and used Paste Special/Office Graphic Object to place it on the slide.  With this option, you can access and manipulate elements of the chart (axes, data series, etc.).
    • This option links to the source Excel spreadsheet so that a user of the PowerPoint file can access the original data; this may not be a good idea. The spreadsheet must be local to the PowerPoint file so the link is easily broken or you can always rename the spreadsheet.
    • The Excel Chart Object option embeds the source spreadsheet as well as the chart into PowerPoint so that the data can be edited within the PowerPoint file. I generally do not select this option because I (or somebody else) own the source data/spreadsheet and do not want unsynchronized copies floating around in copies of the PowerPoint presentation.
    • The other Paste Special options create uneditable images of the chart.
  • In PowerPoint, I created a new legend that aligned better with the data series and added a text box to summarize the total revenue by year (I couldn’t figure out how to do this in Excel). Note that these are separate PowerPoint objects, not additions to the chart.
  • Here’s the (static) result:

chart2The next step is to animate the chart; here are some notes:

  • As I noted above, this form (Graphic Object) of the chart consists of several components; a pull-down in the Chart Tools/Format ribbon lists those components:

chart3

  • To animate the Series components, select the chart object and apply an animation (Wipe/From Left). If you preview at this stage, you will find that the whole chart is animated. To fix this, open the Effect Options and select the By Series option. (This would be more straightforward if the chart object was treated as an ordinary group but that’s not the PowerPoint way.)
  • Open the Animation Pane. Now that the Series objects appear in the animation pane, you can complete the animation in the usual way. Here’s the final animation pane:

chart4

  • The result is a mix of chart elements (e.g., Series) and ordinary PowerPoint objects (e.g., Group 3 is the legend for Series 1).

Here’s another way to present the revenue data:

Now, each business is presented separately, followed by the stacked bar chart as a summary. With this approach, some details emerge visually. For example, it is clear that the consulting business is not performing well, the call center business has recovered from a slight slump, and the tech support business did not sustain its growth last year.

The challenge in this approach is assuring that each separate chart is to the same scale and that the charts are aligned.

I hope that you have learned from this discourse that you are not stuck with the standard Excel charts but that you can help your audience quickly understand your data with a combination of Excel and PowerPoint tools and a little imagination.

If you would like a free PowerPoint file including these examples, use the form below:

 

Elementary! – Magnifying Glass Effects

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In this blog, I have used variations of “zooming and panning” to present an overview of a system, process, etc., followed by detailed views of its components. Check out my post on making screenshots work, for example. The two “Prezi-style Powerpoint” posts (here and here) also demonstrate these techniques.

To make these animations a little more engaging, I created two variations on a magnifying glass effect.

Here’s the first one:

Here are the details:

  • The magnifying glass is a simple construction using standard shapes. The highlight on the lens is a semi-transparent Moon shape:

mg1

  • This animation uses two versions of a circle containing Waldo’s face. I used a “cookie cutter” technique to create the circular image:
    • Create a circle and place it over a large version of the underlying scene so that it is centered on Waldo.  The circle should have No Fill and an outline color that contrasts with the scene so that it easy to see..
    • Select the scene and then the circle; use Drawing Tools/Merge Shapes/Intersection to “cut out” the face. (See this post for excruciating detail on this method and others.)
  • The circle should be the same size as the lens – 2.0 inches in the example. Since I enlarged a small part of a large image, I used a large, high res version of the original scene.
  • Set No Outline and Duplicate the circle. Apply Artistic Effects/Blur to one of the circles.
  • Make two versions of the magnifying glass using the two circular images:

mg2

  • Convert the two images to pictures (png).
  • Apply the Enter/Basic Zoom/Out Slightly to both png images and align them both over Waldo in the scene. Add a simultaneous Enter/Fade effect to the version with the sharp image of Waldo. The result should look like the magnifying glass zooms in as the image sharpens.
  • Here’s the animation pane:

mg3

In developing this animation, I learned a few things:

  • I tried to use just the circular (sharp) image in the animation rather than the whole second magnifying glass. This doesn’t work because the Zoom effect works relative to the center of the image and so the two Zooms are not coincident.
  • When applied to a group, the Fade effect acts on each object in the group separately – that’s why I converted the magnifying glasses to pngs.
  • I tried to delay the Fade animation relative to the Zoom – doesn’t work well.

Here’s the second magnifying glass effect:

The changing view in the lens of the moving glass is a video. To make the video:

  • In a new PowerPoint file, insert the large version of the scene.
  • Create a “mask:” a screen-sized rectangle with a circular “hole” in the center. Use the cookie-cutter technique to create the mask.
  • Apply a motion path (Line) to the scene so that the view through the mask starts at the center of the scene and ends at Waldo. Here’s a sketch:

mg4

  • When a motion path is edited, my version of PowerPoint creates a semitransparent “ghost” version of the object to show the end point of the path. This is meant to aid in constructing motion paths, but in this case it obscures the mask (and drawing guides) and makes it very difficult to discern the end points of the motion path and adjust them. Making the mask black helps.
  • Eliminate the Smooth Start/Stop options for the motion path.
  • Set the motion path to Start After Previous and the slide transition to After 2 seconds (the duration of the motion path).
  • Convert to video. Here’s my result:
  • Now, to use this video in the project, Insert the video and set start playback to Automatically. Crop the video to a square with the same dimensions as the lens (2×2 inches) and set the Video shape to a circle. (See this post for more details on using video.) Here’s the result:
  • Over the center of the scene, align the video and the glass so that the video appears in the lens (video is behind the magnifying glass).
  • Add Enter/Fade animation to the video and the glass.
  • Add a motion path to both so that they end up aligned over Waldo. Again, the “ghost” images make this a little difficult.
  • The motion paths are simultaneous and the same duration as the video playback. In some iterations of this project I had to use Trim to eliminate some still frames before and after the desired part of the video.
  • Here’s the annotated animation pane:

mg5

By the way, I don’t know any other way to achieve this effect than by using video. Do you?

If you want a free PowerPoint file that may help you create similar effects on your own, use this form to request a copy:

 


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