Archive for the 'tips' Category

SmartArt with Pictures: Agendas, Markets and Org Charts


I wrote a post in 2015 that was pretty negative about PowerPoint’s SmartArt: “Not So Smart Art.”  However, in order to encourage you to use something besides text, bullets and clip art in your presentations, I have decided to revisit SmartArt with a more positive attitude. In particular, I will show you some useful (I hope) applications of SmartArt involving pictures, since they are worth quite a few words.


SmartArt is available in the Insert ribbon in my version of PowerPoint. Clicking on this option reveals hundreds of SmartArtGraphics” – arrangements of shapes and text and picture placeholders. You can find lists, matrices, “cycles” and other designs that the PowerPoint designers have decided would be useful in your presentations.

You can choose from a number of built-in color schemes and/or effects or you can apply color and effects directly to individual elements of the Graphic.

Each SmartArt Graphic is associated with a Text Pane. The Text Pane contains a standard hierarchical (indented) “bullet list.” Each Graphic interprets the bullet list in a specified way to create the associated graphical objects. Editing the bullet list will change the Graphic according to these rules. Here’s an example showing the Text Pane:


It seems much simpler to me to edit the Graphic rather than use the Text pane. SmartArt tools are provided to allow you to enter text, insert pictures, add shapes and apply color and other effects directly to the Graphic.

NOTE: As I noted in my earlier post, you can always convert SmartArt Graphics to ordinary shapes, lines and text if you want to do something the designers haven’t provided for or if you have trouble with the peculiarities of  editing SmartArt. I have avoided this option in this post although I have been tempted.

Pictures in SmartArt

Thirty-six of the Graphics are designed to be used with Pictures (JPG, PNG, etc.). Here’s an example:


This Graphic is called “Bending (??) Picture Caption“) and provides rectangular picture placeholders with text boxes for captions. The picture placeholders are identified by a picture icon.

Clicking on a picture placeholder (in my PowerPoint version) provides this Insert Pictures pane:


The three options are From a File (local storage  – a file on your PC), Online Pictures (results of searches from a restricted set of Microsoft sponsored sources) and From Icons (from the built-in Office icons – more on this later).

This process of inserting a picture into the picture placeholders is identical to Picture or texture fill.  I have explored this tool and its issues at length in my seminal post PowerPoint Secrets: Pictures in Shapes.  If you don’t like the result of the Smart Art Insert Picture, here are some tips to adjust the result:

  • Click on the placeholder and dismiss the Insert Picture pane. Select Fill/Picture or texture fill.
  • Fiddle with the Offsets until you get the picture proportioned and positioned as intended.
  • If the picture is distorted, select Tile and set Alignment to Center. Fiddle with the Scale values.

Rather than use the SmartArt Insert Picture, you can insert an the image into your PowerPoint file and use Fill/Picture or texture fill. directly. If you crop and size to fit the placeholder before filling, you can avoid the hassle of fiddling with the Offsets or Scale values. You may have to dismiss the Insert Picture pane. This method also allows you to use any web picture source, like Google!

Details can be found in the referenced post.

Animating SmartArt

If you apply an animation effect to a SmartArt Graphic, the animation will treat the Graphic as a single object. However, this is a default; you can select other options under the SmartArt Options tab in the Animation Effect Options pane. These options generally provide choices on how the elements of the Graphic are grouped for animation purposes.

For example, here are the animation options for the Bending Picture Caption Graphic:


Selecting the One by  one option creates this Animation Pane:


The first picture and caption appear on the first click; the second group appears on the second click.

The animation options vary for different Graphics; for example, see the organization chart (Circle Picture Hierarchy) example below.

If you pick an option other than All at once, you can manually edit the Animation Pane to get a result that is not available as an option. For example, you may want to apply a different effect to different elements, eliminate clicks or group the animations differently.

SmartArt Agendas

Agenda slides are generally intended to give your audience “milestones” during the presentation. There are two types:

  • Static or in-line agendas: these typically appear at the beginning of a presentation and at the beginning of each section corresponding to each agenda item. See this post for some details.
  • Active agendas: these allow the presenter or viewer to navigate the presentation dynamically. See this post for more on organizing and navigating presentations.

NOTE: If your presentation is short and/or superbly constructed to that it “flows” smoothly from subject to subject, you can avoid an agenda. On the other hand, agendas may be expected in some situations/cultures. Educational/training applications usually use agendas.

SmartArt provides several Graphics that are suitable for agendas; in particular, the List types with pictures provide traditional agenda formats. Here’s the Vertical Picture Accent List Graphic:


If you don’t like the colors or style of the default graphic, you can select from a number of built-in styles (based on the presentation Theme); here’s an extreme example (not recommended):


If you don’t like the built-in options, you can select individual shapes and/or text and format them as usual. You don’t have to convert the Graphic to shapes to do this but it can be simpler in some cases.

Here’s my agenda for an introductory sales pitch:


I have added a shape to create the last agenda item, added and left justified text and attempted to add an Icon as the picture element.  Icons are appropriate for this application; the space is too small for a photo and the icon has a more direct connotation.

I inserted the icon using the Insert Pictures pane, From Icons option. Notice that the result has a transparent background, a result of the conversion of the icon object to a picture. I would prefer a filled background with my choice of color. To do this, I created a filled Oval and grouped it with an Icon:


I copied the group, selected the picture placeholder and used Picture or texture fill/From clipboard. Assembling and sizing the object before the fill avoids size and proportion problems with the picture fill.

I completed the graphic and added animations to get this result (see this post for  my take on using agendas):

Here are some notes:

  • The first slide introduces the agenda items one-by-one. I applied Wipe/From Left with the One by one option and then modified the animation effects to get the result I wanted. Here’s the Animation Pane:


  • After the items are displayed, the first item is highlighted (Oval) indicating that this section will appear next. The Oval is not part of the SmartArt but is simply an additional object placed over the Graphic and separately animated.
  • After the first section (“who are we” slides), the agenda slide appears with the first item text in gray, indicating that that section has already been presented.
  • The highlight (Oval) indicates the next section to be presented.

As I mentioned earlier, “active” agendas allow the presenter or viewer to click on agenda items to display the corresponding section of the presentation (on-screen navigation). These techniques use Insert Hyperlink/Place in this document. Since you can add links to SmartArt objects without converting the Graphic, you can create active agendas from SmartArt Graphics. See this post for some examples and details.

NOTE: A feature called Zoom (??) may be available with your version of PowerPoint that provides another way to provide on-screen navigation; see this post.

Market, Customer or Category Lists

Sales or other business presentations often list the markets you serve or your customers. Other kinds of category lists will often appear in business or training presentations. You can use SmartArt to add visual impact to these kinds of lists.

Here’s an example of a list of market segments served by a fictitious company:


  • This is the Horizontal Picture List graphic.
  • I adjusted the size and position of the caption boxes.
  • I used one of the alternative color schemes.
  • By default, this Graphic colors (tints) the images to match the color scheme. You can override this by clicking on the Recolor Pictures option at the bottom of the Change Colors pane. Here’s the result for this example:


Here’s another example:


This is the Bending Picture Semi-transparent Text graphic. This Graphic does not recolor the pictures by default. I changed the color of the caption box and adjusted the transparency for better contrast with the photos.

Here’s a customer list for the hospitality segment for our company:



  • I used the Vertical Picture List Graphic.
  • I changed the object sizes and reset the text margins (you may want to convert the Graphic to Shapes to make this easier.)
  • I set the Fill to a gradient dark red for the text boxes manually (this is not a SmartArt color option).


You can create a team or company organization chart or another kind of hierarchy like a family tree with SmartArt. Here’s an example showing our company’s excellent customer support team:


This is a Circle Picture Hierarchy graphic. Ordinarily, you would use photos with a similar background (e.g., dark) but these were not available (Mary insists on using a very old picture.) So, I added outlines (and recolored the lines) for more contrast.

There are two ways to add or delete elements of the hierarchy. You can edit the Text Pane – the relationship between the graphic and the bullet list is pretty obvious. Or, you can right-click on an element and use the Add Shape menu.

Here is an animated version of the organization chart:

This animation uses Enter/Fade with the SmartArt option By branch one by one.

If you want to see more details, use the link below and click on the PowerPoint icon to download a free “source” PowerPoint file containing these projects:

Powerpointy blog – SmartArt with Pictures

See this page for more on downloading files.

If you have questions, praise or complaints, please add a comment below. If you appreciate my efforts, liking or following this blog might be a good idea.


Kinetic Typography in PowerPoint – Animated Text


NOTE: This is an update of an earlier post; some improved techniques, additional examples and more details have been added.

“Kinetic typography” means animated text, often synchronized with a narration.

Animated text is commonplace in television; the 2009 Ford F-150 commercial with Denis Leary’s voice-over is a classic example. In fact, it is rare today to see text that stands still on television or in a movie title.

And there are thousands of examples on the web; see the Vimeo Kinetic Typography channel for inspiration.

Kinetic typography can be created using PowerPoint text effects and animation; sound effects, music and narration can be added. But is it a good idea?

There’s no doubt that animated text is powerful; combining attention-grabbing motion with information chunking, it is almost hypnotic. With synchronized narration, it captures both auditory and visual channels, which mutually reinforce the message. Research has confirmed that attention and recall are improved.

But is it suitable for the usual conference room presentation? Like a lot of the techniques in this blog, it depends on the environmental culture and the expectations of the audience; you decide.  You may want to limit the technique to web videos, training aids, conference presentations, trade show “loops” and the like.

NOTE: On the other hand, I recommend simple animation to present text in “chunks” in everyday presentations.  This keeps the audience’s attention on what I intend, rather than on reading ahead. Of course, this is a general principle, applicable to objects other than text. For this purpose, I use simple effects, usually Fade, Wipe/From Left or similar.

What tools are available in PowerPoint for kinetic typography?

The usual animation Entry, Emphasis, Exit and Motion Path effects apply to text boxes as objects. The usual animation issues apply; for example, the poor resolution that can result from applying Grow/Shrink. You can get acceptable results if you don’t expect or attempt too much.  Here are some general tips to “punch up”text

  • Use Text Effects/Transform to “shape” text to reinforce the meaning of an adjective, adverb or noun  (“fat”).
  • Select fonts to emphasize these characteristics (e.g., thin, period/vintage or decorative fonts). However, use these types of fonts only when they help directly with your  message.

NOTE: Using an unusual font may make it difficult to share PowerPoint “source files” because the font may not be licensed on the recipient’s system. Earlier versions of PowerPoint allowed the recipient to attempt to replace the offending font but this is no longer possible since the file will be treated as read-only.

Protecting the rights of font designers is a noble cause; I just don’t think PowerPoint’s solution is useful.

  • Animations can reinforce verbs like fall, grow, explode, etc.
  • To animate individual letters or words, use the By Letter/Word options for text animation (see this post). In some cases, you may have to create and animate separate text boxes.
  • For videos, sound effects and/or synchronized narration increase the impact.

Here’s an example of a single word animation:

The text “tall” uses a font called “Haettenschweiler.” It is all caps and the Character Spacing is Tight. The text Transform/Square has been applied and the text is stretched slightly in the vertical direction. The animation is Enter/Stretch/From Bottom.

NOTE: You may not have discovered Text Effect/Transform – in my version of PowerPoint, it is found in the Format ribbon. A Transform imposes a shape on text; the Attached Shape does not change except for size. There are 40 (!) options and most of these have adjustment handles. I use the Square transform here so that I can adjust (separately) the height and width. There are a couple of other Transform examples in this post.

Here are three similar examples:

  • The “fat” example is Calibri with the Inflate transform. The animation is Enter/Basic Zoom/In Slightly.
  • “Growing” is Calibri Light with the Fade: Left transform. The animation is Enter/Stretch/From Bottom, By Letter with 50% Delay between letters.
  • “Flat” is Elephant font, Square transform and Grow/Shrink/30% Vertical animation.

These examples use slightly more complicated animation:

  • The first two examples use Spin animations. I grouped the text with a larger circle (with no line color) to establish the center of rotation:


  • The “countdown” uses the Fade Right transform and a series of Spins.
  • The “explode” example applies two simultaneous effects: Exit/Basic Zoom and Dissolve Out (see this post for more explosions), Most of my animation projects use two or more simultaneous animation effects.
  • The “rotation” example uses the Arch transform and Spin animation with Entry/Fade.
  • Obviously, sound effects suggest themselves.

These examples animate parts of words:

The first four examples use separate text boxes for each “piece” of the word and apply animations to each piece.

  • “Combine” uses Enter/Fly In.
  • “Unify” uses separate text boxes for each letter with Crawl In animations.
  • “Open” uses Enter/Stretch for each part of the word.
  • “Break” uses Spin as in the “falling” example above.

The last two examples use interlocking shapes – for the “combine” example, these are the steps (notes below):u2.png

  • Create a shape covering half of the text box. I used standard shapes to create a simplified jigsaw puzzle piece (see this post for more on jigsaw puzzles).
  • Using Merge Shape/Union, combine the shapes. Make a copy of the result for later.
  • Create a Rectangle covering the other half of the text and overlapping the first piece.
  • Subtract the first piece from the Rectangle (using Merge Shapes again) to form the second piece.
  • Using Intersect, combine each (red) shape with the corresponding text box to create the separate objects with the “knob” and “socket.” Be careful with alignment!
  • Apply the animation.

For the “break” example, I added a circle to the two parts to establish the centers of rotation.

These examples animate text fill and outline separately:

These examples use two copies of the text, one with fill and one without. Both copies have the same outline; this helps when aligning the two copies. All three use Wipe animations.

The “leaky” example adds an Oval with a Repeated (25 times) Fly Out animation to form the drops. The text has a 9 pt Condensed Character Spacing to make the word appear to be one piece.

These examples also combine text with other objects:

  • The “vanish” animation uses Exit/Basic Zoom/Out for the text. The vanishing point shape is an Explosion with a gradient Fill. It appears via a 0.1 sec Zoom near the end of the text animation and Exits via a Fade. The centers of the text and the object are aligned.
  • The “erosion” animation includes about 30 small background-filled Ovals. These appear via Wipes in various directions.

Usually, you will be animating a message, rather than a single word; here are some tips:

  • “Flashing” the words quickly in the same location provides a sense of urgency (see “you can’t ignore this” in the video below). Research has shown that the words will be understood even if they are presented quickly.
  • A slower pace can have a different effect (see “it was over” and “did you hear something?”)

This video demonstrates a few messages:

Some notes:

  • The first example displays the text (Wipe/By Word) and then fades in a second aligned object which is just the word “glowing” with the Text Effect/Glow.
  • The second example uses a separate text boxes for each word with Appear/Hide on Next Click effects, spaced by 0.3 sec. Apparently, Hide on Next Click really means Hide on Next Animation since there are no “clicks” here.
  • The next example also uses separate text boxes. It uses Fade Entry and Exits; the last word is a Collapse With Dissolve Out.
  • The next example uses Entry/Fade and Disappear; a Zig Zag motion path is applied to the last word.
  • The first “racing” example uses Brush Color/By Letter (one of the “text-only” emphasis effects). The second version uses three copies of the text. The first is black, static and behind the others. The second is red, in front of the static black version; it appears via Wipe. The third one (black) also wipes, slightly overlapping (in time) the previous version.

Here are some examples using these techniques that I’ve used in my work:

  • The “money” example is like the “empty” example shown before except Dissolve Out is used on the filled text box.
  • The “video” example uses Enter/Random Bars.
  • A pie chart element is animated (Wheel) along with the “60%” text.

If you decide to use techniques like this, I’m sure you will pay attention to timing, relative position, size and color for the best results. Right?

If you want to see more details, use the link below and click on the PowerPoint icon to download a free “source” PowerPoint file containing these projects:

Powerpointy blog – kinetic typography update

This file likely contains fonts that are not licensed on your system (see note above) and may be treated as read only (see above).  Also, see this page for more on downloading files.

If you have questions, praise or complaints, please add a comment below. If you appreciate my efforts, liking or following this blog might be a good idea.


PowerPoint Secrets: Text Animation


Text can be animated like any other PowerPoint object and the usual options (On Click, duration, Repeat, etc.) are available (see this post for examples). But, there are some special animation options that appear only when the object is a text box:

  • Every text object includes a shape (the default is a transparent rectangle); animating this “attached shape” is an option.
  • A text box may contain “paragraphs” – for example, the detested bullet list or a few lines separated by Returns. If so, options are provided to determine how the animation handles each “paragraph.”
  • Text animations include options to apply the animation “by letter” or “by word” along with a “delay” (interval) timing.
  • There are six Emphasis animations that are only available when the object is a text box.

In this post, I will explore these minutiae and provide some helpful advice.

Animating the Attached Shape

This is a pretty simple option; here’s an example with two animations (Entry/Fade and Spin), with and without animating the rectangle containing the text:

Nothing very exciting here. If you want more options or flexibility, just make a rectangle and text and animate them separately (as I did to create the last example).

NOTE: In working with text generally, I have found that it is sometimes simpler and more flexible to use a separate shape rather than deal with the “attached shape.” An example of this is trying to fit text into an odd shape.

Animating Paragraphs

When the text object includes more than one Paragraph (a bulleted list, for example), options are provided to animate Paragraphs together or separately. Here is a click-through demo of some of the options:

Here are some notes:

  • For simplicity, I did not animate the attached shape. The animation effect is Wipe From Left for all the examples.
  • The first and second examples look alike, but they’re not; here is the animation pane:


  • As you can see, the All Paragraphs at Once option (item 2) shows the separate animations for each step – more on this later. (Clicking the gray bar “expands” the animation so that you can see and edit the individual effects.)
  • By default, the By Paragraph animations are On Click.
  • I don’t know why anyone would want to reveal a list In Reverse Order.

The most flexible choice is All Paragraphs at Once with Animate Attached Shape. This creates Animation Pane steps that you can edit to animate the elements of the list and the shape any way you like. Here’s an example:

Here’s the edited Animation Pane:


The shape (Fade) and the first two list items (Wipe) appear on the first click, followed by the  remaining pairs On Click.

RANT: The bulleted list is excessively overused and is responsible, I believe, for most of the Deaths by PowerPoint. The next time you use the standard bullet list placeholder, see if you can come up with a better way to explain the relationship between the items, or at least a more interesting way. Some of the Smart Art choices may inspire you.
If you must use a bulleted list, never use more than 2 levels.

By Word/By Letter Animation

This option repeats the specified animation effect for each word or letter in the text object, in order. A Delay can be specified between each word or letter (this Delay is not to be confused with the Delay in the Timing panel that affects the timing of the overall effect).

Here are some examples (the red dot is an Appear animation added to signal the end of the text animations):

The Duration applies to a single letter (or word) animation.  The Delay is measured from the start of one animation to the start of the next. Here’s what the timing looks like for the first two animations (0.5 sec Duration, 50% Delay):


Since the text has 11 letters, the duration of the effect would be 5.5 sec without Delays. However, the Delay of 50% causes the animations to overlap by 0.25 sec for each “gap” in the text (10 in the example). So the actual duration is:

(11 letters)*(0.5 sec) – (10 gaps)*(0.25 sec) = 5.5 sec – 2.5 sec = 3.0 sec

For animations that have (theoretically) zero duration like Appear, the Delay is specified in seconds rather than a percentage. So, the overall duration is simply the number of gaps times the Delay or, for the third example with a Delay of 0.5 sec:

(10 gaps)*(0.5 sec) = 5.0 sec

Here’s the Animation Pane for these examples (the ovals are the “signals” mentioned before):


The bar symbols in the timeline are a little misleading – they don’t actually show the repeated animation. The actual duration of the Appear animations are not shown at all; the actual duration of the earlier Appear is 5.0 sec (as indicated by the start of the Oval animation). This is true for Disappear as well. Unfortunate.

Here are a few additional By Letter animation examples; the last one demonstrates applying two simultaneous animations By Letter:

The By-Letter/Word option is available for text objects even if Transform formatting and/or 3D effects have been applied:

Emphasis Text Animations

Six animation effects are provided that apply only to text. Two of these use text fill color as the basis of the effect. Here are some examples (I used a “fat” font to make the effect clearer):

The first group demonstrates the Brush Color effect. The first example is the default version which includes a By Letter option. The second Brush Color example is intended to show more clearly what the effect actually looks like – a relatively slow (3 sec) All at Once option. The third example is a slower By Letter version.

The basis of the effect is an “instant” change of the Text Fill Color. Any “brush” action is due to the By Letter property of the default version. The second example has a duration of 3 seconds, even though the effect is instantaneous (?).

The second group demonstrates the Font Color effect; this effect gradually changes the Text Fill to a specified color (red in the examples); Style options specify how the color changes. The first example demonstrates the default effect (All at Once) using Style 2, a gradual change from black to red. The third example demonstrates Style 3, changing from black to read via a “rainbow” of colors.

Here are examples of the next three text effects:

Here are some notes:

  • The Underline option works like the Brush Color effect – it is an instantaneous effect but the All at Once option lasts 3 sec (!).
  • The Bold Flash option briefly reveals (“flashes”) the bold format but the Duration value does not affect the “flash” timing (!).
  • Bold Reveal changes to the bold format for an interval specified by the Duration. Oddly, the default version has the Until End of Slide timing so that the bold format persists.

Careful observers will note that I cheated a little here by using a monospace font (Courier New). If you use the much more common proportional fonts, changing to Bold format will affect the spacing as shown in this example:

If you want to emphasize a particular word or phrase within a text object using these options, you must create separate objects for the emphasized and other text. Since this is a likely application for these effects, it is unfortunate that this is a little clumsy.

Here’s a way to do it:


  • First, create the entire text (I have added text box outlines for clarity).
  • Duplicate the text box.
  • Make appropriate text in each copy invisible by selecting Text Fill/No Fill (I added text outlines for clarity). This preserves the text alignment in each box and makes synchronizing the animations easier.
  • Overlay and align the two boxes.
  • Apply the animation: Wipe/By Letter simultaneously for the two boxes, followed by Bold Reveal/All at Once only for the box containing “Horseradish.”

Here’s the animation:

The Wave option is unique among the text animation options – it imparts a motion to the text; here are some examples:

The default (first example) is By Letter. The second example is slow and All at Once so that you can see what the motion really looks like. There is a motion path associated with this effect; the third example demonstrates a version with the direction of the path modified:

NOTE: Since the By Letter option is available for all animations, you can create other effects similar to Wave (see examples above).


  • Choosing your own Attached Shape and Paragraphs timing frees you from the default On-Click behavior for lists; this may allow you to present more smoothly. Of course, this is essential if you are creating a video.
  • The By Letter/Word option opens up possibilities for creating engaging text animations.
  • The special text-only Emphasis effects (especially Bold Reveal) can be useful to emphasize (!) words but the timing anomalies may cause trouble. Other animation methods involving motion) may be more effective in capturing your audience’s attention.

If you have questions, praise or complaints, please add a comment below. If you appreciate my efforts, liking or following this blog might be a good idea.


Archive: Creating 3D Objects in PowerPoint


I’ve written a lot of posts involving PowerPoint 3-D drawing tools, so I’ve decided to list some of the more useful ones in this archive.

NOTE: This post is about the 3-D drawing tools that were introduced in PowerPoint 2007. In 2018, the ability to embed standard format 3-D models was introduced; the 2018 release does not include tools to actually create these kinds of 3-D objects in PowerPoint.

The 2007 3-D tools are limited and frustrating – I hope the techniques developed in these posts will help you get the most (such as it is) out of them.

The list is in reverse chronological order. Generally, the posts include links to earlier posts that may explain techniques more thoroughly.


Putting Text INTO Pictures embedding text within pictures adds a lot of impact. To make this convincing, you might have to make the text match the perspective of the picture – this post shows you how to do this with 3-D tools (and some effort).



PowerPoint Secrets: Rotation – some object properties don’t behave as you might expect when the object is rotated, including 3-D rotations. This post attempts to identify when unexpected results occur.


PowerPoint People – 3D Robotsr1.pngthis post is one of a series on creating characters to help tell your stories. It uses the basic techniques developed in the posts on vehicles, buildings and blocks to draw a variety of 3-D robots.



Drawing in 3D – Carscar10.pngcreating the complex shapes of automobiles is a challenge with the PowerPoint 3-D tools. However, some of these turned out rather well.



Drawing in 3D – More Vehicles mve7.png– Trucks and buses are easier to draw than cars; here are some examples that are a little more complicated than the simpler examples in the last post (below).



Drawing in 3D – Simple Vehicles veh2.png– a boxy car, a truck and a city bus are created.





Drawing in PowerPoint – 3D Houses This post tackles some more complicated houses than the basic version in the previous post (below).





Drawing in PowerPoint – 3D House Basics drawing a simple house and dealing with more complicated roof shapes.





Drawing in PowerPoint – 3D Buildings drawing high-rise buildings and other building types.





Drawing in PowerPoint – Wires and Pipeswire4.png Use 3-D Bevels and other techniques to create wires and plumbing components.




3d Network Demo Part 2: Layoutlayout1.pngThis is one of a series of three posts on creating a 3D computer network and animating it. This post shows how to lay out objects using an isometric grid.



3d Network Demo – Part 1: Iconsicons11.pngCreating standard computer/networking icons in 3D.




More Word Clouds in PowerPoint – 3dwireless concerns 6.pngOne of a series on word clouds, this post uses 3D text to create more impact.




Drawing in PowerPoint: Spheres, Planets and BallsOne of my most popular efforts, this post shows how to create spherical objects using PowerPoint 3D. It also identifies some of the issues with 3D in this application.



Drawing in PowerPoint: A Tower Icontower.pngdetails of creating a watchtower icon using the techniques developed in the posts on toy blocks (below).




Drawing in PowerPoint – More Alphabet Blockspersp 6.pngcombining rotated “faces” of an object to create a 3D version. This is the basis for most of the other posts on this subject.



a block 3.png

Drawing in PowerPoint – Alphabet Blocks – understanding and using basic PowerPoint 3D to create alphabet blocks.



test object w text 3.png

PowerPoint Secrets – 3D – Explores 3D formatting and explains the relationships between Depth, Top and Bottom Bevels, Contours, object outlines and text contained in the object.


I hope this post will provide some guidance and inspiration for working with “old” 3D in PowerPoint. These tools are far from perfect but, with a little help, you can create useful  3-dimensional images.


Video Infographics in PowerPoint: Cellphone History Example


In an earlier post, I complained about “infographics” – static documents with engaging graphics but difficult to print or to view. A video infographic  is surely a better way.

Video infographics can be used to explain technologies and processes, to inform stake holders, generate sales leads and create interest in organizations, projects and products. And since they can be easily and widely shared, you can experience global fame! Pretty good, huh?

You can hire experts to create animated video infographics – Lemonly and Advids are a couple of companies that appeared when I searched “video infographics” (I have no experience with either company).  You can see lots of inspiring examples on these sites if you have no idea what I’m talking about.

Of course, you can create graphics, animation and video with PowerPoint. If you have no budget and you have been a reader of this blog, this is a good alternative for creating engaging short videos to tell your story.

In the earlier post, I sketched out a generalized timeline; in this post I will create a more specific example based on a static infographic on cellphone history published by FierceMobileIT in 2015. Here’s what it looks like (typically, it’s pretty unmanageable as a document):


The idea is to show specific cellphones in order of their introduction, indicating their features and the technologies replaced by those features.

Here’s my video version:

NOTE: The concept, information content and overall design were created by FierceMobileIT.

Here are some notes on transitions and animations:

  • The first slide introduces the subject and displays an animated timeline with phone silhouettes.
  • The transition to the second slide is a Morph; the first phone silhouette (the DynaTAC) was copied and positioned on the second slide to get the “zoom” effect.


  • After the transition, the silhouette exits with a Fade animation and the complete phone image enters with a simultaneous Fade.
  • Subsequent transitions are Dynamic Content/Pan/From Right. The Dynamic Content transitions move slide content while Layout content remains still. That is, the Layout acts as a static background while the content moves (Pans). I created a new Layout with red borders for this effect.


  • Animations on each slide disclose the features and technologies one at a time.

Here are some notes on the phone and icon drawings:

  • The stylized phone drawings use techniques I have documented repeatedly on this blog.
  • Front (and sometimes side) views of the phone are created using combinations of standard shapes. For this project I used the original infographic and photos from the web as the basis for the drawings.
  • Fills (and some times Line colors) are added; I used colors from the infographic.
  • I added 3D Depth and, in a few cases, Bevels. Then, I applied 3D Rotations to the view(s) to create the 3D versions.
  • Here’s an overview of the process:


  • I used a consistent rotation style – Parallel/Off-Axis 2 (Perspective is more complicated and not needed for this stylized drawing):


  • For “oblique” surfaces (the flip-phone covers), the rotation was manually adjusted.
  • The silhouettes were created basically by changing all Fills in a 3D phone object to red; some additional fiddling (changing Materials and Lighting Angles, for example) was required. I converted the “red” images to PNGs to avoid scaling problems when I created the timeline on the first slide,
  • The “flat style” icons were also created with standard shapes (with only a couple of FreeForms); here are a few examples:


  • An alternative is to download vector icons from the web and recolor them; most of these icons are fairly standard.

For the video, make sure all transitions and animations are timed (no clicks). Test the sequences several times to get the timing right. Remember to give the audience enough time  to absorb each step, remembering that the audience is seeing this for the first time. Narration, sound effects and/or a sound track can be added.

If you would like to create global awareness or just teach somebody, you can download a PowerPoint “source” file for this infographic here:

Powerpointy Blog – Video Infographic

This file contains one or more unusual fonts; other fonts may be substituted in your environment. This can affect alignment and layout. See this page for more on downloading files.

If you have questions, praise or complaints, please add a comment below. If you appreciate my efforts, liking or following this blog might be a good idea.

Archive: Working with Text in PowerPoint


Experts say to minimize the use of text in PowerPoint presentations; the idea is that you should not ask your audience to read great gobs of words but rather deliver the message yourself, using PowerPoint to highlight key ideas and reinforce them. I couldn’t agree more.

But often, you don’t feel that you can avoid text. You may not be able to find or construct the graphical image that conveys your ideas precisely. And, after all, words have impact too, especially when combined with images. So, minimize your use of text but make your text powerful.

I have created several posts over the years that could help you with this process; I’ve listed them here (latest first) for your convenience and amazement.

Putting Text INTO Pictures  – ptext8.pngInspired by television advertising, I show you how to embed text into images – with an animation example.



toi1.pngUsing Text “Over” Images – Using text and images to add impact while preserving legibility.




Stormswarm.pngs and Swarms – Part 3: Word Swarms – Animated word clouds!



powerful.pngPowerful Words – how to use picture fills in text along with other effects.




wireless concerns 6.png

More Word Clouds in PowerPoint – 3d – Three dimensional word clouds.




scaling.pngPowerPoint Secrets – Scaling Text – Text and other point-measured features don’t grow and shrink like shapes – how to deal with this.


round 2.pngWord Clouds in PowerPoint – Building word clouds using text transforms.





anim.pngKinetic Typography in PowerPoint (Updated with Videos) – Applying animation to text adds impact and retention.





Typography in Presentations – Text Effects – Using text effects (sparingly!) can help deliver your message.




shapes.pngFitting Text in Shapes – Tips for fitting text neatly into shapes while retaining legibility.



letter.pngTypography for Presentations – the Size of Calibri – Some fonts are visually “smaller” or “bigger” than others – how to deal with this peculiarity.





Typography for Presentations – Bullets and Numbering – advice for using PowerPoint’s most maligned glyph (and numbering).



emphasis example.pngTypography for Presentations – Basics II – Emphasis and kerning.




p.pngTypography for Presentations – Basics I – Advice on font choices and legibility.

Putting Text INTO Pictures


I’ve written a number of  posts on adding impact to text using images. Among other things, I’ve shown you how to  put pictures into text; this post is about putting text into pictures.

Here’s how television ad designers use this technique:


As you can see the text is not a caption or overlay, but appears to be part of the photo.

The F-150 campaign also inspired an earlier post on kinetic (animated) text.

There are (at least) three tricks to this:

  • The text appears to be behind some elements of the picture and in front of others – this embeds the text in the scene.
  • The text is in the same “perspective” as other elements of the photo.
  • Lighting of the text matches other picture elements.

You don’t have to cover all three of these aspects to get an effective result; here’s a simple example:


This is made of three layers, the original image, the text and the “overlay:”


The back layer is the original image; the next layer is the text (I added a hard shadow to increase the legibility). The front layer is created from the original image using the Picture Tool/Remove Background.  By the way, using the Select Pane will make it easier to select a layer.

The Remove Background tool is very difficult to use. My advice is to select images that have pronounced edges (like a building against the sky) and to work slowly – select only small areas to keep or remove.

turdI think there are four reasons for the difficulty. First, I don’t know how it works so that it’s all trial and error. Second, when the tool tries to predict what I want, it’s usually wrong. And finally, there is no flexibility – similar tools in other apps have sensitivity adjustments.

Here’s another example:


Here are the layers for this one:


As you can see, the overlay is not the entire lower half of the picture; in fact it could be smaller and still work. You only need the the area near the text for the overlay – this makes the Remove Background process easier.

The text is Gradient filled, using colors from the photo (Fill/Eyedropper) – this helps integrate the text into the scene.

This example uses a Stencil font and the text Fill is a Large Confetti pattern, using black and the box color as the Background:


Since the box is oriented (almost) parallel to the viewing plane, no perspective is applied to the text. This is either very lucky or involves a long search for an image with this property. Usually, if you want to create text that appears to be part of the image like this, you will have to pay attention to the perspective in the image.

Here’s another example:ptext6.png

Here, a preset 3D rotation called Parallel/Off Axis 1: Right works pretty well. Very lucky again.

Usually, you will have to apply a more difficult rotation to achieve the effect; here’s an example:


Here the problem is that the Text Box must fit fairly precisely but the size, proportions, and 3d orientation are unknown. Here’s my approach:

  • Create an outlined but not filled rectangle; try to make the rectangle is larger than the expected size of the book label.
  • Overlay the rectangle over the label and apply 3d rotation until the edges of the rectangle are parallel to the edges of the label or as close as you can get. The size of the rectangle doesn’t matter at this point:


  • I have struggled with (and complained about) PowerPoint 3D rotation before and I wish I could give you a rational process for making the rotations. However, I can provide some hints:
    • Apply a Perspective (not Parallel) rotation to the rectangle group to start. Pick one of the presets that gives you a head start (I started with the Perspective Relaxed preset).
    • This step not only gives you a starting point, but assures that subsequent rotations maintain the perspective.
    • You will probably have to alter X-, Y- and Z-rotations as well as Perspective (which controls the degree of foreshortening) and Distance from Ground.  Use the arrow buttons along with the numeric values for fine adjustments.
    • Work in small steps and Duplicate the slide frequently so that you can go back to a previous state if things get out of hand.
  • Once the outline fits, you can add text and other details without removing the rotations. I added an outline and gradient fill as well as centered Old English text.
  • Finally, I copied and converted the label to a PNG and added a Cement Artistic Effect for texture before placing it in position (using PNG rather than JPG provides a transparent background):


Here’s an example that involves perspective and layering:


Here’s the original image, documenting an old McDonald’s advertising campaign; my example is meant to convey the ubiquity and questionable nutritional value of PowerPoint as it is commonly used:


Some notes:

  • I used the same process as for the book label to create a rectangle for the sign.
  • The Eyedropper was used to copy colors from the original.
  • I added 3D text effects (Bevels) to mimic the signage.
  • The golden arches are an overlay created using Remove Background as before. I wasn’t too careful here since all that I need is the part that overlaps the rectangle.
  • Since the red rectangle extends outside the original picture, I converted the elements to a single PNG and Cropped it.

My last example is an animation (you’re surprised?):


I copied the image and “punched holes in it” using Remove Background to make the overlay; here are the layers (original image, text and overlay):


It is not possible to be precise with this kind of image using Remove Background. This doesn’t matter much in this example since the Removed areas are only glimpsed when the animated text moves behind the overlay.

The text is Jokerman font and the animation is Spiral In – pretty flamboyant!

If you want to see more details, use the link below and click on the PowerPoint icon to download a free “source” PowerPoint file containing these projects:

Powerpointy blog – text IN pictures

See this page for more on downloading files.

If you have questions, praise or complaints, please add a comment below. If you appreciate my efforts, liking or following this blog might be a good idea.


Nonlinear PowerPoint – “Zoom” Navigation

zoomgirl 2.jpg

While browsing the Insert ribbon recently, I came upon something called Zoom. Since there are already animations and transitions called “zoom”, I wondered what ever this could be?  I discover, despite the name, that it is a new tool for navigating within a presentation.

NOTE: I am an Office 365 subscriber, so things like this do appear unannounced from time to time.  As of this date, this feature is only available on Office 365, although I understand that it will delight purchasers of Office 2019 in the future.

But why a new navigation tool? Links are available and can be used to create a variety of navigation modes.  And, Presenter View (more on this below) offers fully flexible navigation by a presenter. Could it be this is a reaction to Prezi?

Not that on-slide navigation isn’t useful. It allows a presenter to react to his audience and situation and avoid the inexorable march through slides typical of deadly PowerPoint presentations. This is how you can show those “backup slides” without embarrassing fumbling.

This kind of navigation is also helpful for interactive applications where viewers browse through a “presentation”  on their own; introductory sales material and self-guided training are examples. Unfortunately, since PowerPoint is not an internet medium, this is not as widespread as it could be.

NOTE: Conversion of PowerPoint to an interactive internet medium using available software is possible; I have used Flash in the past and hope to experiment soon with HTML5.

You can find other posts on organizing presentations and navigation on this blog; here’s a list of them.

Here are the basics:

  • There are three options in the Insert/Zoom menu: Summary Zoom, Zoom to Section and Zoom to Slide.
  • Summary Zoom and Zoom to Section rely on Sections – essentially bookmarks that you can add to your presentation to divide it into parts also called Sections (!).  Insert Section is available by clicking in the thumbnail display or the Slide Sorter view. Sections cannot overlap, nor can a Section appear inside another Section.
  • Insert/Zoom/Summary Zoom inserts an array of slide images that can be used to navigate to the Sections of the presentation.
  • Zoom to Section creates a single linked image.
  • Zoom to Slide creates a single image that is linked to an individual slide, not a section.
  • All the Zooms include an optional (default) zoom (what else) transition effect.
  • All the Zooms include an optional (default) Return to Zoom – this causes the last click in a Section or on a slide to return to the slide containing the referring image, with a reversed transition effect.
  • You can change the image in a Zoom object from a slide image, for example, to an icon.

Here’s the process for using the basic Summary Zoom:

  • Organize the  presentation using Sections.
  • Insert a slide and select Insert/Zoom/Summary Zoom.
  • Here’s the structure of an example presentation with a Summary Zoom:


  • I created and named sections 1, 2 and 3 and added the title slide. The Default and Summary sections were created automatically.
  • Clicking on one of the slide images in presentation mode links to the first slide of the referenced section (with a zoom transition). You can click through the slides in the section in the usual way. Clicking on the last slide links back to the Summary Section (with a reversed version of the transition).
  • Here’s a screen recording:

Here are some notes on the Summary Zoom:

  • The thing that appears when you insert Summary Zoom is not an ordinary PowerPoint object, nor is it a Group, even though it looks like one:


Thturde array appears to be more akin to a Smart Art diagram except that it can’t be converted to objects. It certainly has the peculiar editing properties of Smart Art (see this post). Why couldn’t it be an ordinary group?

  • Animations cannot be applied to the individual images in the array but the Summary Zoom can be animated.
  • Other animations on the slide appear to work as expected; these animations will repeat when the Return occurs.
  • If the Summary Zoom images are overlapped by each other or by other objects, unwanted artifacts appear during the navigation:
  • You can apply formatting effects to the slide images; these may effect the transitions; here’s a demo:
  • If you use this feature, it makes sense to create section title slides that are legible in the Summary Zoom array and that indicate something about the section content – large images and text are recommended. By the way, changes in these slides are automatically reflected in the Summary Zoom images.
  • Clicking on the Summary Zoom slide but not on one of the images has unexpected results. It appears that clicking on the slide will consecutively cycle through each section; after the sections are shown, a click will terminate the slide show (a fix for this is shown in the next example.

turd   I don’t understand why these clicks don’t behave in the usual way (go to the next slide, for example) or do nothing rather than this behavior. This action may confuse a presenter and certainly disorient a viewer.

By the way, here is the Presenter View for this example (Sections aid in the visual organization but are not required for Presenter View):


The presenter can click on the slide images to navigate; the Presenter View is not visible to the audience. Clearly the presenter has complete control over what is shown and in what order. This doesn’t help a viewer, though.

Here’s a variation on the last example:

In this version, I have used the Zoom to Section option – this creates separate images for each section rather than an array – this makes it easier to rearrange and resize the images.

Also I have added a fix for the off-icon click problem I noted earlier (the later part of the demo shows off-icon clicks that have no effect.)  Here are the details:

  • I added a screen sized rectangle to the Zoom slide (blue in the example but it could be 99% transparent). The rectangle is behind the Summary Zoom but in front of other (non animated or non linked) objects on the slide.
  • A Link is added to the rectangle; the Link points to this slide. Basically the rectangle absorbs off-icon clicks and does nothing.
  • There may be unusual situations where this doesn’t work – a fast double click, for example.

Here’s a demo of an “agenda style” example:

Here are some notes:

  • I used the Summary Zoom option and Changed the Images to button-like icons. I created the icons as objects, converted to PNG (Copy/Paste Special), and saved the image as a file.
  • Zoom Tools/Change Image allows local images, images on the web, or a selection from the Office icon collection to be used to replace the default slide image.
  • I also added additional navigation “buttons” to the slides.These are Zoom to Slide objects with the image changed to icons and with no Return.
  • The buttons allow the presenter/viewer to “escape” from the normal sequence at any point.
    • The “end” button (end.png) allows the presenter/view to link to the end slide – it appears on every slide except the end slide.
    • The “home” button (home.png) allows escape to the Summary Zoom slide, it appears on every slide except the Summary Zoom.
  • A marker (red circle) appears on the last slide in every section; this alerts the presenter/viewer that the next click will return to the Summary Zoom.

There are a couple of issues:

  • The zoom transition is not the best choice in this example. This can be easily fixed: uncheck the Zoom Transition for the Summary Zoom and add whatever transition you like to the first slide of each section. If you want, you can add a transition to the Summary Zoom slide so that there is a transition on the Return to Zoom.
  • The second issue is a  bug (turd): when the slide in the Gold section is clicked on, the end slide appears rather than the Summary Zoom slide; that is, the Return to Zoom doesn’t work as advertised. Oddly, the return works properly if the go-to-end button is removed.

Here’s a version of the agenda example with these issues fixed:


  • I replaced the Zoom to Slide buttons on the slides with Logos with ordinary Links to the appropriate slide. This eliminates the problem on the last slide of section 3 as noted above.
  • I added more appropriate Transitions to the Summary Zoom slide and to the first slide of each section  (Cover and Uncover transitions).

I have  written posts on “Prezi-sty[e” PowerPoint (see here); I tried to recreate these projects using Zoom navigation. Here’s what the Summary Zoom slide looks like:


Here’s a demo:

This works pretty well. However, in my Prezi-style examples, I added animations to the slides; here’s how this looks using Summary Zoom:

As you can see, the text boxes, which are animated with an entry Wipe, appear on the Summary Zoom, even though they do not appear (at first) when the slide is shown (turd).

This can be repaired by replacing the Summary Zoom images with manually created images of the slides; here’s how this looks:

TIP: To convert an entire slide to a picture, use File/Save As, select the appropriate type (e.g., PNG) from the long list. When the dialog box comes up, select the Just this one option.

Another possibility is navigating a network – a number of connected nodes. Here’s a version using Zoom navigation:

The trick here is to create the slides so that the Zoom to Section images can be arranged to look like the whole network. I created the whole network first, using rectangles (red outline) shaped like the visible slide space to help arrange the shapes:


I then used this to build the slides, and finally assembled the Zoom to Section images to create the navigation slide. The default transition was used.

The final example uses tabs on each slide so that navigation is available from any slide; here’s a demo:

Some notes:

  • The tabs are Zoom to Section objects with the image changed.
  • Putting the tabs on the left margin of the slides is less intrusive than putting them at the top when using a wide screen format.
  • The Zoom transition and Return are not appropriate in this example; they are both unchecked.
  • Clicking on the slide space (not on the icons) works normally (i.e., next slide) – this may be because the Return is turned off.

So, Zoom navigation provides an alternate means to allow a presenter or a viewer to navigate through a presentation. It works well in its simplest form but its value is diminished somewhat by the issues that show up in more complex usages.


If you appreciate my efforts, please like this post or follow this blog to receive notifications of new posts. If you have objections or questions, please comment so our conversation can be shared.

Archive: Organizing and Navigating Presentations


It is useful to structure a presentation so that it can be customized for various audiences and so the presenter can dynamically modify the content to react to audiences or situations.  These are also important considerations for reader-guided situations; that is, when there is no presenter.

I’ve written several posts on this general subject and created an archive/index  here, for your gratification and amazement (earliest first):

Breaking Out: Nonlinear PowerPoint  using Links in a sales presentation to tell customer stories that are appropriate for your audience

Using PowerPoint Custom Shows for Sales Presentations – organizing a sales presentation “library” for creating “custom” presentations.

Using Agenda Slides in PowerPoint (Updated with Videos) using animations to help your audience follow your presentation.

Prezi Style PowerPoint – navigating through your presentation with Prezi-like effects.

More Prezi-style PowerPoint – another navigation scheme remarkably like the new Zoom feature.

Tabs in PowerPoint – using web-style “tabs” to dynamically select content for your presentation

Animating Mind Maps in PowerPoint – using Links to navigate a mind map structure.

Prezi-style PowerPoint Updated – recreating the effects described in the earlier post using a simpler method.

Flying – Planes and Drones


Flying creatures were the subject of the last post; this one is about flying machines. I’ll use some of the same techniques – motion paths combined with Emphasis effects – to represent the flight.

Here’s an example:


NOTE: I have not spent much effort on the backgrounds for these examples. You can find or create backgrounds to tell your story. Try adding additional animations; e.g., searchlights and explosions might be appropriate for this animation.

Generally, I would not recommend using detailed photographic backgrounds – too much contrast to the simple shapes representing the flying objects.

Here’s the construction of the bomber; I used standard shapes and copied and Flipped symmetric elements (like the wings).


Here’s the animation pane and some notes:


  • The motion paths (blue) move the plane and the propellers right to left. Grow/Shrink/Vertical effects provide the prop movement (with Auto-reverse and Repeat). This is the combination I used in previous posts on flying and crawling.
  • Note that the Grow/Shrink is vertical or horizontal relative to the slide, not the object. This means that the animation works only for (nearly) vertical or horizontal paths.
  • I applied the motion path to the plane and then copied it (using the Animation Painter) to one of the props. Then I added the Grow/Shrink to the prop and copied it to the other props. This seems the fastest and easiest way.
  • The repetition rate for the props is slower than “reality” so that the viewer can sense the “rotation.” Faster repeats would create a blur (maybe this is what you want?).


All the motion paths in this post have the Smooth Start/Stop set to zero. This always takes an extra step because this is not the default setting. If you forget this, the motion path will be out of sync with the other animations.

Here’s a more up-to-date example using the same techniques:


You can add detail to a plane and background like this:


Jet aircraft can be animated simply with motion paths. If you want to add a little more interest, you might try a condensation trail:


Contrails are essentially clouds of frozen vapor created by engine exhaust that occur in certain conditions; they may dissipate quickly or persist for several hours.

The aircraft is made from standard shapes, as usual:


The contrail is made, not surprisingly, with Cloud shapes; here’s how I did it:


  • Create a Cloud shape and use a gradient fill to create the shadowed bottom. Uncheck Rotate with Shape.
  • Add a Soft edge (I used 9 pts).
  • Copy and Rotate/Flip to create 4 or 5 variations; since I unchecked Rotate with Shape, the shadow will remain on the bottom.
  • Create more or less elongated copies and align horizontally; vary the size and overlap to create a natural appearance.

Here’s the layout for the animation:


Here are some notes:

  • The aircraft (black outline) and the elongated Chevron shape (blue outline) move together from the positions shown to positions off the slide at the upper right. (The plane and the Chevron could be Grouped).
  • The Chevron is Filled with Slide background and has Soft edges. The Chevron acts as a “mask” and reveals the underlying contrail (red and green-outlined Clouds)  as it moves to the right. The notch at the left end of the Chevron adds realism to the contrail.

NOTE: this trick (using a background color filled shape as a “mask” to reveal or hide objects) may not work for more complex backgrounds.

  • After the “flight”, the green-outlined Cloud shapes disappear to suggest the dissipation of the contrail.

Here’s the animation pane:


The first two effects are motion paths for the aircraft and the Chevron mask. Part way through the motion path durations, the Clouds Exit with Zooms; the duration and overlap of these Zooms is varied slightly.

Here’s a drone:


Here’s the drone construction:


The drone in the animation consists of four separate parts: the drone body, the two rotors and the blinking light – each of these is separately animated.

The body appears via an Entry/Zoom. The other parts also Zoom but motion paths are added so that the parts appear to enter from the same point as the body. Here’s a slow example to show how this works:


The motion of the rotors and the light (circle) are delayed for clarity in this example; in the final animation, these occur simultaneously.

I used a “target” (green) to determine the end points of these motion paths – that is, the positions of the rotors and light after the zoom.  I often use targets when zooms and rotations are involved. This shows the motion paths:


The blue lines are added to identify the center of the body object – this is the “origin”of the Zoom. Motion paths for the other parts originate here and terminate at the appropriate location on the target.

The second part of the animation involves motion paths combined with Grow. Again, I used a “target” to help set the motion paths:


Note that the motion paths for the rotors and light diverge slightly to account for the Grow effect.

Here’s the final animation pane:


The repeated Grow/Shrink of the rotors occurs during the whole animation and suggests spinning. The Color Pulse starts when the drone stops.

Here’s another drone:


The background here is only meant to suggest the kind of background (aerial view or map) that might be appropriate – this one is from Dreamstime (obviously).

Here’s the construction of the drone; the blue circle, centered on the body center, is added to help in the animation:


The circle and the rotor hubs are positioned so that the hubs lie on the circle – I added (blue) “crosshairs” to the hubs to make this easier. Again, this  helps with the animation.

The animation consists of three steps: entry, turn and exit. The entry and exit are similar to the other examples in this post except A Spin animation is used simultaneously with the motion paths. Here’s the layout for the animation:


Three “targets” are included: the red target shows the position of the drone after entry, the green target after the turn, and the blue after the exit.

The “turn” segment involves a Spin of the drone body along with motion paths of the rotors to track along the circle when the body turns. This partial animation with one rotor shows what happens:


The body and rotor follow parallel paths for the entry segment. For the turn, the body Spins while the rotor follows a motion path along the arc of the circle, ending at the rotor position shown on the green target.

The “turn” path for each rotor is different – this close up shows the paths for each rotor with the first one highlighted:


Here are a few notes on this motion path:

  • Usually when you add an additional motion path to an object, you must move the start point to the end point of the previous path (and adjust the end point as needed) using Edit Points.
  • You can also move the entire additional  motion path to the end of the previous path.
  • Moving the start point is not necessary when you add a Custom path since the start point is determined by the first click.
  • You could use a Line path (with no intermediate points) to approximate the path along the arc.
  • If you want to do a little better, use a Custom path with an intermediate point (this is shown in the diagram).
  • If you’re not satisfied with this, you can edit the path to create a curve that more closely approximates the arc.

Here’s the animation pane for the final animation:


If you want to see more details, use the link below and click on the PowerPoint icon to download a free “source” PowerPoint file containing these projects:

Powerpointy blog – planes and drones

See this page for more on downloading files.

If you have questions, praise or complaints, please add a comment below. If you appreciate my efforts, liking or following this blog might be a good idea.

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