Animating a Scale in PowerPoint

A scale (or “balance”) animation is a way to illustrate changes, improvements, etc., like the meters in another post. The scale exhibits a stronger cause and effect relationship than the meters because the action causing the change is explicit. Here’s an example:

To use the scale metaphor, you might label the weights or objects in the scale “pans;” for example, the object in the right pan might be labeled “cost of sales” and the objects that counter balance the costs might be email campaign, webinars, etc. Or a different animation might show the scale coming into balance with the adoption of a new product or service.

Scale Construction

You can find hundreds of examples of scale images on the net. You can select a simple “flat” version and reproduce it using (mostly) standard PowerPoint shapes; here’s an example:


Only the “beam” is hand-drawn (a Freeform). Hint: to draw a symmetric object, draw half of the object, duplicate and flip it (horizontally in this case) and group it with the original object. Also, one of the “pans” is a duplicate of the other.

You can apply gradient fills or 3d effects to complete the scale; here’s an example:


For purposes of this post, I will use a solid light gray fill for the scale to make the animation steps clearer.

Group the scale parts to form four pieces: the central post, the beam, and the two pans (with their corresponding supports). Add a circle (in red below) to the beam group to establish the the center of rotation. Add a pile of “bad stuff” to the right pan. Rotate the beam to the starting position (+30 degrees) and adjust the pan positions. Here’s the result:



As you can see from the video, the animation involves weights landing in the left pan followed by movement of the beam, pans and the weights. The beam rotates around its center and the pans move down and up, maintaining their connection to the beam. Of course, the weights move with the left pan.

The animation will be implemented by creating duplicates of the elements (“targets”) in the desired positions and applying motion paths using the targets to position the endpoint (see the motion path post for details).

Here’s the process:

  • We will use a Fly In for the first animation for the weights so a motion path is not required for the entries of the weights. Create the first weight (a Trapezoid) and position it in the left pan.
  • Now, set up the “targets” for the animation. Set a pair of drawing guides to the center of the beam group.Duplicate the beam group, rotate it counterclockwise 20 degrees, and recenter it using the drawing guides. I usually apply a red outline to the duplicate to avoid confusion.
  • Duplicate the left pan group with the weight and position it relative to the beam group using its attachment point. Set a pair of drawing guides to the pan group center and to the weight center.
  • Repeat with the other pan.
  • Set a pair of drawing guides to the center of the target weight (it is in the moved pan).

Here’s the result; the target elements are outlined in red and blue crosses have been added to highlight the positions of the drawing guide intersections.


Now, add the animation. First, apply Fly In/From Top Left to the weight. Next apply Spin/Counterclockwise (20 degrees) to the beam. Finally, create and adjust linear (Down and Up) motion paths for each pan and the weight. Here’s the slide with the animation paths; notice how the path endpoints are at the drawing guide intersections:


Here’s what the animation pane looks like:


Continue the process of creating targets, setting the drawing guides and applying the animation. Here’s what the second stage looks like, with the targets in green:


Notice that the left pan now has two weights in it as it swings down.

This is a fairly complex animation; if you want a free copy of the PowerPoint file for the scale animation, use the form below:

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