Animations for Cutting, Slashing and Trimming – Axes and Knives

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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:

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