Posts Tagged 'animation'

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.



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.

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.

Crawlers and Crawling


A crawling creature may suggest searching or navigating or can be used simply to get your audience’s attention. Here’s an example:

The bug is mostly constructed of Ovals and Partial Circles as shown here:


The legs are a departure from my usual practice of avoiding Freeform drawing but in this case, the technique is pretty simple:

  • Select Freeform and click and drag a few times to create the zigzag lines. A little practice will show you how this works.
  • To edit, right click on the line and select Edit Points. Select individual points and move them as needed.
  • If a line segment suddenly becomes curved (an annoying habit of PowerPoint), right click on the line segment and select Straight Segment.

If you don’t want to explore this, try using the Lightning Bolt shape or individual straight lines to create the legs. Some additional notes:

  • I overlaid orange Partial Circles on a black Oval, slightly spaced to create the black gap.
  • After drawing three legs on one side, I grouped them together, Flipped Horizontal and aligned the group to create the legs on the other side.
  • The lines forming the legs have their Cap Type set to Round.

The animation of the legs uses the Emphasis/Teeter effect (I used this before in my post on scales). The effect causes the object to oscillate or wobble around its center. Here’s a slow demonstration of a single Teeter:

To get a more pronounced movement, I grouped this object with larger circle, offset to one side and then applied the Teeter:

As you can see the amplitude of the motion is increased. Of course, the center of rotation is moved to the left (the “center of gravity” of the group). You may also note that the timing of the motion is not uniform; this is not a problem for this application.

Here’s how I applied this animation to the bug:

I grouped the right leg group with a larger circle (red) offset to the left. Similarly, the left leg group is grouped with the green circle. I applied the Teeter effect to both groups, Repeated 2 times.

Here’s how I completed the animation:

  • I selected the red circle in the right leg group and set No Line; I repeated this for the left leg group.
  • I positioned the body and the leg groups below the slide and tilted them to the left. I temporarily grouped the body and legs to do this easily.
  • I applied and edited the motion path to the body only. For a line motion path, I usually select the Down motion path and move the end point. Remove the Smooth Start/Stop options (set to zero) in the motion path Effect Options.

turdI almost always eliminate the Smooth Start/Stop. Why is “Smooth” the default?

  • Using the Animation Painter, I copied the motion path from the body to the right leg group. (Use the Select Pane to help select the desired object from objects that overlap. Hiding objects temporarily is also useful.)
  • I added the repeated Teeter effect to the right leg group (see below for details).
  • Using the Painter, I copied the effects to the left leg group. Here’s the animation pane:


Adjusting the timing for the crawling effect was done by trial and error. You can fiddle with the duration of the motion path, the duration of the Teeter effect and the number of repetitions. In my case, the motion path duration is 2.5 sec and the Teeter duration is 0.3 sec. The Teeter is repeated 8 times so that the duration matches (nearly) the motion path.

You can roughly duplicate this timing for other situations by repeating the Teeter about 3.2 times for each second of motion path duration. Or you can figure it out yourself.

Here’s another more elaborate crawling animation:

Here’s how the spider was constructed:


  • As usual, I used an image found on the web as a template.
  • The body is a series of Ovals.
  • I made a couple of shapes using standard shapes and the Union operation and used those as leg segments (along with a few ovals).
  • I grouped the legs on the left side, duplicated the group and Flipped it horizontally to form the legs on the right side.
  • The “A” on the abdomen could be your company’s logo (Acme?) or some other mysterious symbol.

The web is a vector image imported from a free web source. I added a few additional strands (Freeform lines) to fill in a few sparse places

NOTE: The web is an SVG image; recent versions of PowerPoint allow an SVG to be inserted and converted to a PowerPoint object. However, editing the image in PowerPoint, while theoretically possible, is not practical in this case because of the unexpected complexity of the object (the web is a single freeform shape with thousands of points).

There are a couple of “refinements” to this animation, compared to the bug. First, the path is not straight; this requires a multi-segment Custom motion path and a rotation of the spider at each change of direction. Also, the crawling motion is a repeated Grow/Shrink effect rather than a Teeter.

As before, I created one set of legs, grouped them and Flipped Horizontal to create the other set.

I grouped the body and each set of legs with a larger circle so that the three groups share a common center and then overlaid the three groups to form the spider. This helps later when I make the spider turn.


Again, since the parts overlap, using the Select Pane will make it easier to select each element of the spider.

Here’s how the Grow/Shrink effect looks for one set of legs:

One “step” is a Grow/Shrink effect, 150% Horizontal with Auto-reverse checked. The legs stretch and contract for each step.

The timing was set after a “test run” with the assembled spider – this is easier than looking at one set of legs. I overlaid the three parts and, using the Select pane, applied the line motion path to the body. I Painted the body’s motion path animation on the left legs, applied the Grow/Shrink (Repeated), and Painted the resulting animation on the right legs. I delayed the Grow/Shrink effect slightly on the right legs so that the “steps” would appear to alternate. After some experimentation, this is the result:

Here’s the Animation Pane:


The duration of the motion path is 7.0 sec (length is about 8.9 in).  The duration of the single Grow effect is 0.27 sec; each step is 0.54 sec because of the Auto reverse setting. The Grow/Shrink is cycle is repeated 13 times. Thus, the duration of the total Grow/Shrink sequence is (nearly) 7.0 sec. To repeat this timing for another motion path, multiply the duration of the motion path by .04 to get the single Grow duration. I delayed the animation for the right legs by 0.3 sec, roughly half a step,

NOTE: Sorry for all the arithmetic. By the way, you can’t set a duration of 0.27 sec directly. I set a rough duration (0.3 sec), applied the Auto-reverse and Repeat, and then used the tools on the Animation Pane to “squeeze” the overall duration to 7 sec. Actually, you could use 0.3 sec and simplify the whole thing.

WARNING: The Horizontal and Vertical options on the Grow/Shrink effect are relative to the slide, not to  the object (turd). So, this crawl animation works acceptably if the path is roughly horizontal or vertical relative to the slide. Here’s an example showing the problem for a diagonal path, first with the Vertical then the Horizontal options:

The “crooked” path used in the final animation complicates matters since the spider should turn at each change in direction. Here’s my trial and error approach:

  • Position the spider (all three elements) on the web,
  • Select the body and Custom motion path and draw the crooked path, keeping close to the horizontal – the path is highlighted here:


  • Eliminate the Smooth Start/Stop for the path.
  • The first rotation moves the spider to a roughly horizontal position – add the Spin effect, Clockwise, a little more than 90º to the body. Use the animation Preview to see if the body lines up with the path. Adjust the Spin value, repeat until satisfied.
  • The next turn looks like about 10º counterclockwise; Add this spin, set the duration – I used 0.3 sec since the turns are abrupt.  In the Animation Pane, use the “move” timeline tool to position the Spin a little less than a quarter of the way along the motion path duration (look at the motion path to estimate when the turn occurs).

TIP: The timeline tools allow you to adjust the timing of animation effects graphically. To use the timeline tools In the animation pane, position your cursor over the duration bar of the object. If the cursor is over the interior of the bar a “move” tool (a double-ended arrow) will appear. You can use this to move the bar along the timeline. If you touch the ends of the duration bar, a different tool will appear that allows you to adjust the length of the bar (the duration of the effect). This tool looks a little like this:c7.png. If the effect is Repeated, this tool can adjust the duration of the single effect as well as the total duration. You can zoom-in on the animation pane to make fine adjustments easier.

I don’t know what Microsoft calls these tools and I can’t find any detailed documentation.

  • Preview the animation and adjust the start time until the Spin occurs as the body reaches the first turn. Then adjust the Spin until the body points along the next segment – 12º seems to work.
  • Continue adding the Spin effects, previewing and adjusting as needed.

Here’s what the completed body animation pane looks like:


Next I copied, using the Animation Painter, the animation of the body to the left legs group. Since the body and the leg group have the same center (because of the added circles), the leg group Spins work as desired.

Now, using the “test run” as a guide, add the Grow/Shrink effects to the left leg group.

Finally, paint the left leg group animation, with the Grow/Shrink effects, onto the right leg group. I delayed the right legs by 0.2 sec. Here’s the final animation pane:


Here’s a similar animation; a robospider responding to an alarm on a network:

Here’s the construction for this spider:


The claw is made by Subtracting a Rectangle from a Moon shape and Unioning an Oval to the result. The other parts are standard shapes. The “search beam” is  gradient-filled.

The network is an image (JPG) obtained from a web source. The “alarm” is a white circle animated with Appear followed quickly by a Fade exit. The crawl animation is almost identical to the earlier example.

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 – Crawlers and Crawling

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.


Making Your Point – Pencil Sharpener Animation


Here’s a PowerPoint animation of a hand-cranked pencil sharpener:

The message here is “getting started” but it could be “make your point” or “stay sharp.”

This may be an anachronistic device for some of you but it’s a more interesting animation than the electric type. If you use an electric sharpener, a sound effect would add some interest.

As usual, I made the sharpener using an image and overlaying standard shapes. I added some highlights/shadows to the basic drawing and then added the fill colors:

pencil sharpener.png

The dotted rectangle temporarily shows the pencil location.

Here’s the animation to simulate the cranking action; the animation is purposely/temporarily slow:

The lower part of the crank Collapses upward, immediately followed by a Stretch upward of the higher part of the crank. The higher part then Collapses downward followed by the Stretch downward of the lower part. The knob tracks along using a motion path. The second animation shows the knob aligned with the crank parts. Here’s the animation pane:


The motion path has Auto-reverse set so that the knob will return to the bottom position. The duration shown includes both parts of the path.

Also, you may have noticed that I added a small gray rectangle to the knob; this hides the effect of the difference between the motion path length and the Stretch/Collapse lengths (you can see the discrepancy in the first version of the animation above).

Next, I want to repeat this sequence a few times. It’s easy enough to repeat a single effect by setting the Repeat effect option but there is no convenient way to repeat a series of effects. As a result, I had to repeatedly manually apply and align the Collapse/Stretch animations on the timeline. Here’s the animation pane (the timing is faster):


turd.pngPowerPoint animation does not providing a way to “group” a series of effects and treat the group as a single effect (so that Repeat could be applied, for example). This might make the Animation Painter more useful, too. Even primitive tools like copy and paste are not implemented for effects in the Animation Pane.

Here’s the animation with the rest of the sharpener:

Close observers will note that there is something not quite right about this animation. The knob should pass in front of the “hub” that connects the crank to the sharpener on the upstrokes and behind it on the downstrokes. Oops.

The issue is that the knob can’t be in front of the hub and, at the same time, behind it. One way to fix the problem is to remove the parts of the sharpener that cause the problem. But, passing in front and then behind the hub improves the cranking illusion.

A solution to the problem is to replace the knob at the top of the stroke with a second identical knob that can be set Back of the hub for the downstroke. I used this technique in this earlier putting animation:

Here, the front part of the green is a separate object and the ball moves in front of it until it reaches the edge of the cup where it is replaced (Appear, Disappear) with a copy of the ball that can drop behind the front part of the green. See this post for details.

Here’s an animation that replaces the knob to correct the problem:

Here’s the animation pane:


Some notes:

  • The animation of the knob for the upstrokes includes the Hide After Animation option; I could have used a Disappear effect but this simplifies things a little.
  • The two parts of the crank are animated as before on the upstroke.
  • After the upstroke the second knob Appears; remember to send the second knob Back.
  • The motion path (down) for knob2 also includes Hide After – more about this below.
  • The crank parts are animated as before for the downstroke.

Now, again, we are faced with the problem of repeating this (more complicated) animation several times. I could do it manually as before but I want to show you another technique that may be a little simpler. In particular, rather than repeat the animations, I will duplicate the objects. This requires a little work to make sure that objects disappear and appear at the right time.

Here’s an animation showing four instances of the crank action:

Here is the partial Animation Pane:


Some notes:

  • The first two instances of the crank action are shown.
  • The red text shows the changes that have been made to assure that objects disappear and appear appropriately.
  • In particular, in the first instance, Hide After Animation has been added to the down knob motion path and the Stretch/Down of the lower crank. These changes assure that these objects will not remain visible when their counterparts in the second instance appear.
  • In the second instance, Appear has been added for the knob and the lower part of the crank.
  • Subsequent instances are the same as the second.

Here’s the animation with the crank actions “stacked” in the appropriate positions with the sharpener:

I made sure that the front/back relationships are correct and removed the last two Hide After settings so that the knob/crank won’t disappear.

The pencil is made from standard shapes:


The Rounded Rectangles provide the scalloped edge at the sharpened point. A highlight (Rectangle) is added to the metal eraser collar.

Here’s the pencil animation without the sharpener:

Here are some notes:

  • The unsharpened version of the pencil Fades in and moves into the sharpener.
  • After the sharpening action, the unsharpened version is replaced by the sharpened pencil (Disappear/Appear). The sharpened pencil moves left out of the sharpener. You could end the animation here.
  • A second motion path moves the pencil to the left and down. Simultaneously, a Spin and a Grow are applied.
  • The Grown pencil is replaced with a better image (see below).
  • The “spark” indicating the sharpness of the pencil is a 4-Point Star. It enters via a Basic Zoom/In and then Disappears.


The Grow animation results in a poorly rendered image (except for very small enlargements). Unfortunately, this will require replacing (Disappear/Appear) the “grown” image with a sharper version of the same size in the animation. The better  version usually be created by re-sizing the original image.

It’s sometimes difficult to position an object like the large pencil since its desired position results from on screen animations (motion paths). The size and orientation can be determined from the animations and, in some cases, you can set up drawing guides using the motion path end point to center the pencil. However. this won’t work when the object’s center is off the slide.


When you move a drawing guide off the slide, PowerPoint deletes the drawing guide. This obviously makes it impossible to use drawing guides off the slide. If you want to delete a drawing guide, right-click and select the option.

Here’s a trick to help position the big pencil. In slide show mode, run the animation until the object reaches the desired position (you may need to temporarily insert a click. Then take a screen shot, and paste it over the slide (you may have to crop and/or resize the screen shot image)  Now you can use the screenshot as a guide to position the big pencil. Here’s what this looks like (I have changed the screenshot to grayscale for clarity):


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 this project:

Powerpointy blog – Making Your Point – Animated Pencil Sharpener

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.

Drawing in PowerPoint – Simplified Jigsaw Puzzles

I have written three posts on drawing jigsaw puzzles in PowerPoint (part 1, part 2 and part 3). A jigsaw puzzle can represent bringing together parts to form a whole: experts to form a service team, segments to form a market or parts of a solution, for example. The interlocking pieces suggest unity, interdependence or cooperation.

These earlier posts asked you to draw Freeform shapes for the pieces – a tricky task, especially making the pieces interlock seamlessly. Starting with a simpler puzzle layout and using standard shapes, along with Merge Shape tools, is a much easier and more accurate technique, especially if you’re not comfortable with Freeform drawing. Here’s a comparison of a puzzle piece from the earlier posts and a piece created using the simpler method:


The first piece reflects the traditional jigsaw puzzle appearance; each piece is separately  created. The second piece is much simpler and there are only a relatively small number of variations.

It may also be that the simpler approach is graphically cleaner and more appealing; you can decide.

Here’s how:

  • I started by setting the grid spacing to 0.1 inches and setting Snap to Grid. This makes it easier to draw and position objects accurately.
  • Each puzzle piece is based on a 4×4 square. A rectangle forms the basis of the edges. The oval and a small rectangle will form a knob. Size the shapes so that they snap  to the grid. The oval just touches the top of the edge rectangle.


  • Applying Merge Shapes/Union to the parts completes the “knob edge:”


  • To create the “socket edge,” Subtract a copy of the knob edge (orange) from an edge rectangle:


  • Now you can create a bunch of puzzle pieces using the knob and socket edges (plus a filler rectangle). You will need to rotate copies of  the edges; use Rotate 90 degrees and Flip for accurate rotations.:


As a trial, duplicate this puzzle piece several times and apply the Union operation to the pieces. Rotate some of the trial pieces 90 degrees. The pieces should snap together precisely:

If this doesn’t work, the original parts of the piece were misaligned and should be corrected before proceeding. Small pixel size gaps are apparently unavoidable; ignore these.

Tiny steps in the piece outline or extra line segments after the Union operation indicate that the parts are misaligned:

I have found that the easiest way to correct this is to move one of the parts of the piece diagonally a short distance and then move the other pieces to realign them. Of course, the Snap To Grid option is essential (you didn’t ignore that, did you?).

All the puzzle pieces can now be made from these four parts – the “knob edge,” the “socket edge,” the straight edge and the filler rectangle:


It’s a good idea to check Lock Aspect Ratio in the Size Pane for each part.

Duplicate, rotating if needed, selected parts, assemble carefully and apply Merge Shapes/Union to create the six basic puzzle pieces. Again, use Rotate 90 degrees or Flip to get accurate rotations:

You can create all of the (internal) puzzle pieces you need by rotating one of these six pieces.

You can make all the edge and corner pieces by rotating these nine basic pieces:

I will use a 3D Bevel to get a realistic puzzle piece. The appearance of the bevel is influenced by 3D Lighting which depends on the rotation of the piece:

The first row shows a puzzle piece and the same piece with Bevel applied. The second row shows the original piece rotated right 90 degrees and the rotated piece with the same Bevel applied. You can see that the results are different by comparing the top edge. This becomes more obvious when differently rotated pieces are assembled into a puzzle.

I want all the pieces in a puzzle to be uniform. Since many of the pieces will be rotated, I will want to reset the rotation handle on these pieces. To reset the rotation handle, Union the piece with an unrotated rectangle; here’s the process:

Select the rectangle first before the Union operation; an object created by a union inherits its properties from the first object selected.

NOTE: I plan a separate post on resetting the rotation handle for different kinds of objects.

Here’s a puzzle layout created from these pieces:

Here’s an application of this layout:

Rather than fill each piece with a fragment of the picture (as I did in the previous puzzle post), I used the puzzle layout as a semitransparent overlay with Bevel/Top/Circle to give each piece the rounded edge effect. The Material is Clear providing the transparency.

Here’s a 3D rotated version:

The 3D lighting caused the image to wash out so I increased the contrast of the image to compensate. I also added Depth to the underlying picture to create the edge.

If you want to animate the assembly or disassembly of this puzzle, each piece must separately contain a fragment of the image. In the original puzzle post, I did this with Fill/Picture; an easier way is to use Merge Shape/Intersect (see the post on animating breakthroughs for details of this method). Here’s a breakup animation using these techniques:

Each piece is animated by a motion path combined with Exit/Basic Zoom/In Slightly.

You can also assemble puzzle pieces with separate images to show a team, for example:

The original puzzle post used Fill/Picture to create the pieces. It’s easier to position the puzzle piece over the image and use Merge Shapes/Intersect:

For this kind of application, you may want to build your puzzle pieces with smaller knobs and sockets; this leaves more space for the individual pictures.

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 – simple jigsaw puzzles

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.

Weighing Your Options – Spring and Digital Scales


The previous post demonstrated animated “balances” as presentation metaphors. Other forms of weighing devices use an indicator of some kind rather than a direct comparison of two weights. Mechanical scales using springs and electronic scales with digital displays are examples.

The simplest kind of spring scale is a “slider;” here’s an example:

The animation suggests that outdated legacy technology puts the organization in the red danger zone. The bouncing effect adds some life to the animation.

Here’s how the scale is constructed:

  • There are 4 parts (groups): the static body (blue outline), the load (black), the pointer (red), and the “hanger” (green). Each is made of standard PowerPoint shapes.
  • The load is labeled using an OCR style font to suggest obsolescence.

Here are the animation details:

The load appears with a Fade; the load, hanger and  pointer are animated by a Down motion path with a Bounce End option (I added a red rectangle to the animation pane to show the bounce timing). These parts move together but are separate groups; after you apply the motion path to one part, use the Animation Painter to apply the motion to the other parts.

NOTE: The Bounce End option is available for motion paths and some other effects; the option is set in the Effect Options pane:

The option is set by using the slider to the time you want the bounce to start relative to the start of the effect; in this case the duration of the motion path is 0.8 sec so the bounce occurs in the last 0.2 seconds of the motion.

The motion path actually moves beyond the end point temporarily to implement the bounce.

The next example of a spring scale is the type you might see in a grocery store; it uses a pointer on a round dial to register the weight in the suspended pan:


Here’s the construction:


There are three parts: the body/dial (blue), the pointer (red) and the pan assembly (green). The pointer (a Diamond, an Oval and an Isosceles Triangle) includes a dashed circle to establish the center. The pan assembly is a Pentagon (rotated) and a Chord.

I used the techniques discussed in my seminal post on clocks to build the dial. Briefly, create a group containing opposing tic marks and digits, duplicate and rotate around a common center. Editing the digits completes the dial:


TIP: You can rotate an object precisely using the Size options (Format Shape/Size & Properties/Size/Rotation).  Changing the Rotation value (degrees) rotates the object relative to its initial position. You can use negative numbers for counterclockwise rotations. When a rotated object is duplicated, it retains the edited value.

Here are the animation details for the spring scale:


  • I used a Fly-in for the entrance of the load; it’s easier than a motion path. The duration is 0.6 seconds.
  • I used the Bounce End option for the Fly-in; I set the timing at 0.3 seconds. This means that the load will reach its lowest point at 0.3 seconds and the bounce effect will start at this point, lasting until the end of the Fly-in – 0.6 seconds.
  • As in the motion path, the object will temporarily move slightly beyond its expected endpoint.
  • The Teeter effect on the pan starts when the load reaches it (0.3 sec).
  • The Spin of the hand also starts at this point.
  • The Spin also has a Bounce End option. In this example. the Spin has a duration of 0.7 seconds with the bounce timing at 0.5 seconds. This means that the hand reaches a point slightly beyond its endpoint at 0.5 seconds and bounces until 0.7 seconds.

TIP: Teeter is an “emphasis” effect (not associated with Entry or Exit). It causes the object to rotate slightly, return and repeat (4 times). With short durations, it is useful for simulating vibrations or shudders. You can see the details of the effect by creating an example with a long duration. The center of rotation can be altered by grouping the object with a properly sized and positioned circle.

You can use red-yellow-green segments on the dial to show a change in status or add indicative text.

A variation can show a negative effect; maybe too much workload:


Another “last straw” load has been added with the same animation of the load and the pan as before. However, the hand has a motion path with a simultaneous Spin and the dial falls. A dashed circle has been added to the dial so that a Spin makes it fall to the side. You can invent additional chaos if you want;  see the explosions post, for example.

Close observers will note that the pan doesn’t actually drop when the weights are added in this example. This slide has enough going on. If you disagree, you can add motion paths as in the previous examples.

Removing negative things like debts or distractions can improve the situation. Here’s an example demonstrating this using another kind of spring scale:


The construction of the scale is straightforward using standard shapes.

Here is the construction of the red-yellow-green indicator:


TIP: The 5-pointed Star (and several other standard shapes) are not symmetric when their height and width are equal. Use a circle as a guide to manually adjust width and height to get a radially symmetric shape.

turdI have had trouble using Artistic Effects like Blur; the effect may work once but then becomes unavailable or inoperable. Some others have reported these problems. I suspect that it’s because I use a $400 Chinese laptop and the software is badly designed. I have no problems using other software (e.g., Corel Paintshop) to create blurs and other effects.

The objects disappear via a Dissolve and a simultaneous motion path. Here’s the animation:


Digital scales don’t create a lot of action, except for the display – and we can take advantage of that. Here’s a personal “bathroom” scale:


I used a font that mimics a 7-segment LCD display (from ), common for these devices. There are 5 text boxes that appear, one after the other – an Appear animation, followed 0.2 sec later by a Disappear and an simultaneous Appear for the the next text box.

Here’s an animation  about relieving burdens that uses a digital scale:


Here are notes on this animation:

  • For simplicity, I created all the text boxes spread out on a separate slide.
  • The first text box (HELP) uses a Start After Previous/Blink animation with the Repeat Until Next Click option. The HELP text will blink when the slide appears and will continue until the first click.
  • I applied After Previous/Appear to all remaining text boxes. Then I added Disappear after 0.2 sec  to  each box. You can do this in two steps by selecting the boxes in order (Cntrl/Click) and then applying the two animations.
  • I modified three animations to Start on Click.
  • Here’s part of the Animation Pane:


  • Next, I selected all of the text boxes and aligned them Center and Middle; this stacks the text boxes. Then, I copied and pasted the text boxes on the indicator window on the scale.
  • To complete the project, I animated the loads.

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 – spring and digital scales

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. To contact me directly, use the contact form on the About page.

Weighing Your Options – Balances

Scales and balances are useful presentation metaphors; they can show changes that result from adding (or deleting) objects or concepts. Balances compare two weights and can show comparative changes. Here’s an example:

The blue objects shift the indicator from red (danger) to green (safety) as they overcome the evil black stuff. Labeling the objects, using call-outs or synchronizing with text adds specific meanings, as in this version:

NOTE: I made an animated balance in an earlier post; I  did it again here because the animation is simpler (I hope).

Here’s how the balance is constructed:


  • The objects are made from standard PowerPoint shapes. The “beam” is made from two slightly different Braces combined using the Merge Shapes/Combine operation:
  • The balance is made up of 4 objects: the stationary “post” including the indicator background (blue outlined), the “beam” including the pointer (red), and the two pan assemblies (green). The right pan assembly includes the Cloud shaped load.
  • Each of the moving parts is grouped with a circle (dashed line) that determines the center of the part for animation purposes. In particular, the circle grouped with the pan assemblies sets the center at the point where the pan assembly attaches to the beam – this makes it easier to create the motion paths for the pan assemblies.
  • Four radial lines (black) are included that identify the rotated positions of the beam – 10 degree increments.
  • The parts are arranged and sized so that they don’t interfere during the animation.

Here’s the next step (animating the beam and the two pans):

  • The beam rotations are 10 degrees counterclockwise.
  • The first Line motion path added to the pan assembly will snap to its “center.”
  • The motion path is edited so that the end point of the motion path is located at the intersection of the dashed circle in the beam group and the appropriate radial line (black).
  • Subsequent motion paths also snap to the center of the pan assembly but are then moved to snap to the end point of the previous path. The end point is then positioned as before.

TIP: Motion paths in close proximity are difficult to edit since the endpoints tend to arbitrarily snap to the endpoints of a nearby path. You can overcome this annoyance by zooming in to do the editing and using the Alt key to override unwanted snap actions.

Next, the load elements (balls) are added and the first one is partially animated:

  • I added center lines to the balls to help with the animation.
  • Using the Animation Painter, I copied the movement of the left pan to the red ball. Then I reordered the effects in the Animation Pane so that the movement of the red ball is synchronized with the movement of the pan. Here’s the Pane:

Animating the second and third balls is a little tricky; they only move with the second and third motion of the beam. Applying the motion paths of the pan to the second ball using the animation painter copies all of the paths to the second ball – the path corresponding to the first motion of the pan is not needed. Just deleting the path does not do the job. Here’s an example showing how to successfully delete the first path:

turdBe careful; the Animation Painter copies all of the animations from the first object and replaces all the animations of the second object. This tool could have been designed with more flexibility but wasn’t.

  • Select the first motion path on the slide and hit the delete key; alternatively, select the path on the Animation Pane and select Remove on the pulldown.
  • At this stage, the object would jump to the starting point of the motion path before the motion path is executed. To fix this, the object needs to be moved to the starting point. However, moving the object will also move the motion path.
  • To avoid this, you need to Lock the motion path one of the motion path Effect Options. This fixes the position of the motion path on the slide. Now the object can be moved so that its center coincides with the starting point of the second motion path.

This is the first time I have ever used the Lock/Unlock option. I guess this is why it’s there.

  • Continuing the process with the third ball, adding the appearance effect to the balls (Float Down) and re-ordering the effects completes the animation; here’s the slide:

  • Here’s the animation pane:

Here’s another balance type; in this design the pans are constrained to move vertically:

Here’s the construction:

  • All the parts are constructed from standard PowerPoint shapes. The “post” is a Trapezoid with a smaller Trapezoid Subtracted (Merge Shapes) to provide the window.
  • The red-yellow-green indicator is formed from three Block Arcs.
  • The dashed circles and radial lines are used as before.
  • A black horizontal line is added to the pan assemblies to help locate the motion paths.
  • I used the same steps as before to animate the balance.

You can also  use spring and/or digital scales in your presentations; the next post will show you how.

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

Powerpointy blog – balances

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. If you want to contact me directly, use the contact form on the “about” page.

Animating Mind Maps in PowerPoint


NOTICE: An updated version of this post is available; it uses Morph transitions (available in newer versions of PowerPoint) to greatly simplify the animations.

A “mind map” is a graphical representation of a hierarchy of related subjects, concepts, etc. It can be a tool for developing/brainstorming ideas (and fighting crime!) or as a way to present information. You can use a mind map to present your product line, markets, customer categories or marketing plan, for example. For more on mind maps, look here.

Combining mind map graphics with simple animation is a solid way to present your concept clearly while relating the parts to the whole. And, you can avoid overloading your audience.

Of course, there are other hierarchical representations: the dreaded bullet list and several of the Smart Art options, for example. I used a circular “wheel” graphic to represent a hierarchy in this post. Simple animation will improve all of these approaches by presenting information in digestible chunks and emphasizing relationships.

Here’s a sequence presenting an internet marketing plan using an animated mind map:

The first “scene” displays the “top level map,” animating each second-level element progressively. This provides the audience with an overview of the plan. Subsequent scenes focus on each of the five second-level plan elements, developing its components.

Showing this plan all at once is a bad idea. You will loose your audience’s attention while they read the parts and follow the relationships. Once they’ve done this, many will not be interested in hearing your pitch because they think they already know all there is to know.

To create this sequence, I first decided what each Scene should look like and created each one on a separate slide:

Next, I made the transition slides between each pair of Scenes. Each transition slide implements a motion path that moves the top level map from its position in the previous Scene to the desired position in the next Scene. For example, here’s the slide that implements the transition from Scene 1 to Scene 2:

As you can see, the motion path moves the top level map to a position that results in the “Social Media” block being positioned at the bottom center of the slide, as it should be for Scene 2. Scene 2 is completed by animating the components of the Social Media plan using Wipe animations. Here’s Scene 2 with its Animation Pane:

Here’s how to build a transition slide:

  • First, insert a blank slide between the two Scenes.
  • Copy the top level map object from the previous Scene and Paste onto the blank transition slide. It will appear in the same position as in the previous Scene.
  • Next, Copy the top level map from the next Scene to the transition slide. This copy of the top level map will serve as a “target” for the motion path.
  • Apply a Line motion path to the top level map from the previous Scene and set the end point to the “center” of the target.
  • Carefully setting the end point of the motion path on the transition slide assures that the top level map appears in precisely the same position on the transition slide as in the next Scene, otherwise there will be a “jump” as the next Scene appears.
  • Later versions of PowerPoint have a feature that is helpful; when setting the end point of a motion path, a “ghost” version of the object appears as an aid to positioning the end point. Here’s an image of setting the endpoint for the transition between Scenes 2 and 3:

  • For clarity, the “target” object has a black outline and no fill. The ghost of the top level map is labeled; it automatically appears as the endpoint is being moved. In this image the endpoint is slightly in error; you should move the endpoint so that the “ghost” and the target coincide exactly (try zooming in the make this easier).
  • Test the transition (Slide Show) so that there is no visible “jump” in the position of the top level map between the transition and the next Scene.

I have complained about distraction caused the motion path “ghost” feature in other posts; this is a situation when it is actually helpful.

Once the transition slides are complete and tested, remove the targets and check Transition/Advance/After 00:00:00; this causes the animations to occur automatically, regardless of any On Click settings, and the Transition to the next slide as soon as the animations complete.

I have used similar transition techniques in couple of other posts:

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

Powerpointy blog – animating mindmaps

See this page for more on downloading files.

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



Animation in PowerPoint – Process Flows

My posts on animating liquids and creating various “flows” have been pretty popular. One reader shared a project involving animating a chemical “process flow” that seemed a good application for some of these techniques. Inspired by her project, I have created my own version.

However, I don’t know much about this subject matter (surprise) and may have made mistakes. Please don’t judge the animations on technical accuracy. My purpose is only to demonstrate animations that may be useful in describing these processes or using them metaphorically to describe other kinds of processes.

I don’t think I would use these techniques for a technical audience. I do suggest that they may be useful for education, training or marketing.

Here’s the animation:

The process involves six steps:

  1. Quantities of two liquids (yellow and blue) are drained into two holding tanks.
  2. The contents of the two tanks are pumped into a larger vessel.
  3. The contents of the larger vessel are agitated resulting in a reaction indicated by a color change (dark green).
  4. The resulting liquid is pumped into vessel containing a filter.
  5. A vacuum pump draws the liquid through the filter, leaving unwanted material (black) behind.
  6. The filtered liquid (bright green) is drained into a tank.

This example demonstrates some of the techniques used in this project; the animated parts are outlined in red and labeled:

Here’s the annotated animation pane for this example:

Note: I use Stretch and Collapse in this project to avoid the soft edge Wipe; this works because I use rectangular tanks and pipes and thus can use uniformly filled Rectangles for the liquid elements. See this post for more on this subject.

The first effect applies a Collapse/To Bottom to the portion of the supply tank to be drained (“D” in the figure). Starting at the same time, the first “slug” of liquid (S1) Stretches/To Bottom, followed by the second slug (S2).  When S2 reaches the bottom of the tank, the fill portion (F) begins to Stretch/From Bottom.

When the Collapse of D ends (the draining is stopped), S1 begins to Collapse. The Stretch of F and the Collapse of S1 end simultaneously. The disappearance of S2 is for housekeeping purposes; it is not visible at the end of the animation.

This is easier than it appears – the order of events is logical. The timing is a matter of trial and error taking into account the relative sizes (volume) of the elements.

Here’s an example with a valve:

Here’s how the valve is drawn:

The handle is a Flowchart/Collate symbol (does anyone actually use these any more?). A Basic Swivel effect is used to turn the handle with a Stretch of the gate. Here’s an annotated Animation Pane for the example:

The animation is the same as before with the addition of the valve animations and a static slug just above the valve.

Here’s an example with a pump:

The impeller is a series of Arcs arranged around a circle; I used a couple of equilateral Hexagons (blue) to help align the Arcs:

Here’s the annotated Animation Pane:

Here’s the mixing step:

The paddle (P) is made from two Teardrop shapes; here’s the animation pane:

The filling process is as before. After the fill, the paddle (P) swivels while a dark rectangle Dissolves In representing the reaction and its product.

The Appear of the paddle is necessary because I used the Basic Swivel  Exit effect.

Here’s the filter step and the animation pane:


This animation is basically a number of things happening simultaneously: the vacuum pump rotor spins, the liquid level in the top part of the tank drops, individual drops (Ovals) fall (repeated motion paths) from the filter, the residue builds up on top of the filter and the liquid level rises in the bottom.  The Ovals are behind the filter object in the animation; the motion paths are staggered slightly to improve the appearance of the animation.

Here are some additional notes:

  • I assembled the animation using six separate slides – I do this often to simplify the construction of complex animations.
  • The static “infrastructure” elements (pipes, tanks, etc) are grouped together and appear on each slide – this also simplifies the animation.
  • Try other effects: bubbles, heating, cooling, explosions (!), meters, etc.
  • You may want to try other shapes to create more realistic elements or standard engineering symbols. This will require that you use the soft-edge wipe or other techniques to animate the liquids rather than the Stretch/Collapse effects that I used in my project. This shows what I’m getting at:
  • The first “draining” animation uses the Wipe effect; since PowerPoint 2007 this effect has a soft edge which may not be desirable in this project (see this post for more details on this). The second animation shows why Stretch/Collapse won’t work. The last two examples show how a Background-filled Rectangle (white) can be used as a “mask” produce the desired effect (the mask is between the tank outline and the shape representing the liquid).
  • You may want to use more realistic piping; here’s a technique for animating the flow through an elbow:
  • Here the “mask” consists of a background-filled Block Arc grouped with a circle (red outline); the object Spins 90 degrees to reveal the Block Arc representing the liquid. The circle assures that the masking object spins about the appropriate center.
  • You may want to add transparency, gradient fills and/or 3d to create more interesting equipment; since the applicable PowerPoint tools are clumsy, prepare to spend some time and effort on this (see my post on piping for tips). Here’s a simple example:

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

Powerpointy Blog – Animating Processes

See this page for more on downloading files.

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