Posts Tagged 'animation'

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The animation suggests that outdated legacy technology puts the organization in the red danger zone.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.

RANT: I 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:

WARNING: 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


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.

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


PowerPoint Secrets – The Hard-edged Wipe

In 2014, I wrote a post about animating liquids (filling, pouring, etc.). In that post I provided an example using the Enter/Wipe animation effect – here’s the video from the post:

If I create a video from the same file using my current PowerPoint version (2013), this is what I get:

Observant readers will notice a difference between these two animations; the leading edge of the object is fuzzy or soft in the latest version. Here’s what happened: after PowerPoint 2007 (I think), Microsoft changed the animation effect from a “hard edge” to a “soft edge.” And, rather than make this an option, the geniuses simply eliminated the hard-edged wipe.

I believe this change was not limited to the Wipe effect but affected other animations and transitions but I don’t have the details.

If this change is acceptable or doesn’t affect your work, please browse my blog for dozens of other fascinating and useful posts. On the other hand, if you prefer the hard edge in some of your projects, read on for some ways to work around the change.

I want a hard edge in some of the projects I have detailed in this blog. I intend to add notes about this to earlier posts where needed but I may not get to all of them. Sorry.

I tried some effects that might work as a direct substitute for Wipe:

The Stretch/Collapse effects work as a hard-edged wipe but only for the shape with the uniform fill. The Peek effects appear to move the object in rather than expose it like the Wipe.

Of course, the distortion created by Stretch/Collapse is useful in some applications; see my post on opening a book.

The shape of the object is important, too:

As you can see, in the case of a non-rectangular shape, Stretch/Collapse is not the same as Wipe; Peek is a different effect.

Conclusion: Stretch is a direct substitute for Wipe only when the object is rectangular with a uniform fill.

But we can use an old PowerPoint trick to simulate Wipe:

Here I used the Collapse animation of a “mask” to reveal the arrow object; obviously this works for any shape or fill. The mask is a slide background filled (white) rectangle (outlined in red for clarity in the first example).

Here’s how this technique can be used to fill a non-rectangular vessel (the small sketch shows how the objects are “layered”):

Of course, the masking trick doesn’t always work – in particular, in cases where the slide background fill is not uniform:

Here the mask does not disappear against the background when it is animated; the slide background fill (a gradient) is static and does not track animations.

Here’s a way to “wipe” a uniformly filled object against a gradient background:

Create a rectangle with the same fill as the background; use Merge Shapes/Subtract to create an arrow-shaped hole. Put a gray rectangle between the hole and the background and apply a Stretch entry animation to the rectangle. This sketch shows the relationships:

In summary:

  • Stretch can substitute for Wipe for rectangular, non-rotated objects with uniform fill.
  • Using a background-filled “mask” and Collapse will mimic a Wipe for non-rectangular shapes with non-uniform fill. This won’t work with a non-uniform (e.g., gradient) background.
  • Using a background-filled “mask with a hole” will work for uniformly filled objects and a non-uniform background.

If you have more information about this topic, please share by commenting on this post. Thank you.

Building Your Story – Still More Construction Equipment


OK – so I’ve gone a little overboard making animated construction equipment (see here and here). At least, I think I’m learning how to do these animations a little more efficiently. Since I’m using the same techniques here as in these earlier posts, It may help to review them if I don’t provide enough detail here.

The first example in this post is a “straddle crane/carrier” – used in containerized shipping and large scale manufacturing:


Here’s the animation:

Here’s how I drew the crane using standard shapes:


  • The red circles around the “latches” establish the center of rotation for the “unlatch” animation (see below).
  • A Star is used to provide detail for the wheel.

Here’s the version with fill color:


The crane object consists of several parts: the “body” of the crane, four wheels, the “lifting frame” (gray) with its cable, two latches, and the load (blue). Each part will be animated separately.

Here’s the slide layout:


  • The red rectangles denote the intermediate and final positions of the load. These are the only “targets” needed to do the animation since I will use the Animation Painter as described in the previous posts.
  • The “ruler” (green) is used to position the crane (actually, its wheel) a convenient number of rotations to the left of its final position.

Here are the animation steps (the order of steps is intended to make the best use of the Animation Painter and avoid hand-drawing paths):

  • Apply a Line/Right motion path to the “load.” Adjust the end point to the center of the red rectangle marking the intermediate position. (Hold down the Shift key to keep the motion path level.)
  • Using the Animation Painter, copy the load animation to the crane body. Since the motion paths are identical, the two parts will keep their relative positions as they both move.
  • During this process, update the Animation Pane to set the timing and order of the effects (the Painter will put the copied effect at the end of the list).
  • Add a Line/Left motion to the body to return it to its original position. This requires moving the start point of the Left path to coincide with the end point of the first Right path and similarly adjusting the end point.

“Chaining” together motion paths is made easier since the motion path points will “snap” to nearby path points.

  • Apply a Down path to the load to move it to its final position.

Here’s a place where the “snap” of the motion path points may be a problem since a point may snap to any old unwanted nearby path and be difficult to move. You may be able to overcome this problem by zooming in and providing more space to move the point. Holding down Alt will override the snap but this means that it’s harder to position the endpoint.

This is another ill-designed PowerPoint feature.

  • Copy the load animation to the lifting frame using the Painter. Here’s how the animation looks now:
  • Add an Up and a Left path to the lifting frame to move it back to its original position; again, this requires moving the end points (and adjusting the Animation Pane).

If I could simply copy a single effect from an object and add it to another object, this would be a lot easier. Unfortunately, the PowerPoint designers didn’t design the Painter this way. Thanks, again.

  • Next, copy the frame animations to the right latch. Add a 90° counterclockwise Spin to the right latch. Now, copy the right latch animations to the left latch and change the Spin to clockwise.
  • As the lift frame moves down, a gap appears where the cable should be. To fix this, create a short section of cable and position it between the frame and the cross beam of the crane. Apply Stretch and Collapse and edit the Animation Frame (see below) to “fill in the gap.” (The previous post supplies some details on this step.)
  • Finish by animating the wheels: apply the body animation to the first wheel. Add clockwise and counterclockwise Spins corresponding to the distance traveled (see earlier posts). You will need to set the Smooth Start/End timing of the Spins to match the simultaneous motion paths. Copy the animation to the other wheels using the Painter.

Here’s the final (annotated) Animation Pane:


The final (!!) example is a fork-lift:

Here’s the drawing:

con26I Subtracted two Rounded Rectangles to make the wheel openings. There are four parts to the forklift (body, 2 wheels and the fork) that are animated separately.

The layout:


The red wheel and load determine the intermediate position; the green wheel and load determine the final position.

The animation steps (briefly; see above and earlier posts for details):

  • Apply motion paths to the front wheel to move to the intermediate position, the final position and back to the original position. Use the Painter to apply these paths to the body (throughout this process you will need to edit the Animation Pane to order the effects properly).
  • Apply motion paths to the load: to the intermediate position, up and to the final position.
  • Using the Animation Painter, copy the load effects to the fork. Add a motion path to return the fork to its original position.
  • Apply the appropriate Spins to the front wheel; copy the front wheel animations to the back wheel.

Here’s the final Animation Pane:


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 – more construction equipment

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.

Building Your Story – More Construction Equipment


The last post introduced the idea of using metaphorical construction equipment to build your PowerPoint story. The post before that showed you how to use animation to introduce list items. This post continues the theme with more construction equipment animations.

Here’s the first example; the folks over at Acme Services, Inc., use an electromagnetic crane to introduce their customer service principles:

The electromagnetic crane is an easy animation because the load simply drops when the magnet is turned off. Of course, its important that the audience recognizes this kind of equipment.

Here are notes on this example:

  • The hook assembly is pretty simple except for the hook itself:


  • I used Merge Shapes to draw the hook: I applied Union to the circle and square (red) and Subtracted the green oval and then the tilted green square. The rest of the assembly is made from standard PowerPoint shapes. Here’s the hook and magnet drawing:


  • The “load” is a Rectangle with text in an impressive font. The gradient fill for the rectangle suggests steel. I added a Bevel/Relaxed Inset to the rectangle and a Bevel/Soft Round and a darker fill color to the text:


  • Each animation opens with the crane assembly with the load dropping and pausing above the final load position. Then the load drops to the final position and the crane assembly lifts upward. I started by drawing two target rectangles on the slide, one for the pause position of the load and another for the final position.
  • I placed the load and crane assembly in their initial relationship above the slide and added a Line/Down motion path to the load. I set the end point at the “pause” location and accepted the default Smooth Start/Stop for the motion path. Here’s what this looks like:


  • Using the Animation Painter, I copied the load motion path to the crane assembly. Since the motion paths are identical, the crane assembly and the load will move down together (see the previous post for more on this).
  • I added a Down motion path to the load to get it to the final position; I selected the Bounce end option for realism.
  • The Up motion path was added to the crane assembly to complete the first phase. Here’s the animation pane:


  • To create the two additional phases, I copied the slide and added the previous load in its final position. The I moved everything else on the slide,  including the red boxes, up, positioning the final position of the current load (red box) just above the previous load(s). The animation is preserved and works for the second and third phases!  The animation takes three slides; here’s the second slide.


The next example is a tower crane; here the “carrier” moves the load on a horizontal boom:

Here are the notes:

  • Here’s how the boom is constructed:


  • First, draw a Trapezoid (red) and rotate it to use as a guide. Draw a smaller Trapezoid and add diagonal lines (blue). Group the Trapezoid and lines and adjust the height only to form a section of the boom structure. Continue duplicating and adjusting to form the rest of the boom. Delete the guide and group the result. Add the stay cable (diagonal line).
  • Now, place the boom and other crane objects (carrier, hook assembly, “straps” and the load) in their initial position. The hook assembly is the same as the last example; the other objects are simple shapes. Add two “targets” (red rectangles) representing the intermediate and final position of the load:


  • Add the Line Right motion path to move the load to the intermediate position. (For each of these steps, preview the animation to confirm the effect.)
  • Add the Line Down motion path (no Smooth Start or Stop) to the load to move it to the final position.
  • Using the Animation Painter, copy the load animations to the hook assembly and the two straps. You will have to re-order and adjust items in the Animation Pane as this process continues to get the correct relationships among the effects.
  • Add the Line Up motion path (no Smooth) to the load to move it back to the intermediate position.
  • Add the Line Left motion path to the hook and carrier to return them to the off-slide position. You will have to edit the default Line motion path, adjusting its start and end points to move the objects from their current positions to the off-slide position. Since motion paths “snap” together, this is relatively easy.
  • Here’s the animation at this point:
  • Something’s missing, right?  I’ll add the missing piece of cable and use Stretch and Collapse to fill the gap when the the hook is lowered.
  • The size and position of the added cable object is critical for a smooth animation; I used temporary copies of the carrier and hook along with Drawing Guides to get this right:


  • Next, add the Stretch/From Top and Collapse/To Top effects and place them at the appropriate point in the Animation Pane.
  • Also, add Collapse/From Top to the “straps” holding the load before the hook rises. Here’s an annotated version of the final Animation Pane (the clicks are for convenience in testing the animations):


As I have mentioned before, only a few effects have the Smooth Start/Stop options; in particular, the Stretch/Collapse effects don’t. So, I zeroed out the Smooth options in some of the motion paths so that the motion would synchronize with the Stretch/Collapse of the cable object.

The order of steps in the animation process is not arbitrary; it is meant to maximize the use of the Animation Painter and make the process a little easier.

I have a couple more machines in mind for these kinds of animations; I’ll show you those in the next post.

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 – more construction equipment

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, there is a contact form on the About page.

Building Your Story – Using Construction Equipment


In the last post, I showed you how to “build” elements of your presentation to help capture the audience’s attention and to increase comprehension.  A couple of the examples in that post used devices (a car and a UFO) to deliver an object to the slide. This post extends this idea by using construction equipment to “build” your story.

Here’s an example:

Here an earth mover pushes a substantial block labeled “integrity” into place, presumably to form the foundation of your company’s value proposition. Additional animations might introduce other layers or components.

As I have done before, I used standard PowerPoint shapes and a clipart image from the web to create the machine:


I pasted the clip art image onto a slide and overlaid several standard shapes (Rectangles, Rounded Rectangles, Triangles, Ovals, etc.) to create a simplified version of the machine. I lightened the image for better contrast and used different line colors to help keep track of the component shapes.

I developed this technique to make original graphics easier for users who are not artists or who are not skilled with other drawing techniques. You’re welcome.

I also occasionally use Merge Shape tools to create new shapes. For example, the knobby tire outline is a 32-pt Star (red in the diagram above) with the points cut off by Subtracting a Donut shape (blue).

Here’s the earth mover with color added:


The machine consists of four Groups: the body, the two wheels and the blade assembly. The blade assembly is in front of the wheel. Each of these is animated separately.

The foundation block (the “load”) is a Rectangle containing centered text in an impressive font:


The Rectangle is filled (Picture or Texture Fill) with a marble texture. I added a 3D Format/Front Bevel/Cross for the edge treatment. An Angle bevel and gold fill completes the text. (If you need more help with bevels, etc., there are tutorials available on the web. is a consistently good source for tutorials.)

Here’s the layout for the animation showing the starting and ending points for the animation steps (click on the picture to enlarge it):


  • Like a mystery writer, I started at the end by placing the load at the center of the slide.
  • I placed the machine elements next to the load.
  • I created a ruler with units equal to one quarter of the circumference of the wheels. The circumference is about 3.14 times the diameter (remember?). I set the ruler at the front wheel’s center and extended it left to a point where the machine and load are off the slide to the left. This establishes the starting points for the elements.

A distance increment of 1/4 the circumference is equivalent to a 90 degree rotation of the wheel. Using this increment simply makes it easy to calculate the Spin animation for the wheels.

In creating the animation, I used the Animation Painter to minimize the number of times I had to create identical effects on different objects – the parts of the machine are separate but move together. This may become clearer below.

The Animation Painter is a tool that allows you to copy the animation effects of one object to a second object. However, the tool has a couple of properties that make it less than perfect:

  • The tool applies to objects rather than effects. That is, you can’t select individual effects and copy them.
  • The tool replaces all the animations of the second object rather than adds to them.

Here’s the first step in animating the earth mover and the load:


This is a Motion path/Line/Right effect. I accepted the default Smooth Stop/Start settings for the motion path (more about this later). Next, I edited the default motion path to set the end point at the load “target” location (the red rectangle).

To edit a Line motion path, select the path and move the start and end points (red and green dots). To preserve the orientation of a Right/Left/Up/Down path, hold down Shift while moving the point.

Using the Animation Painter, I copied the motion path to the earth mover body. Here’s the result:


Since the motion paths are identical, the two objects will move together and end up in the same relative position. This is much easier than drawing the path for the body by hand.

Next, I added the path that causes the body to return to its original position. This a Line/Left path with the end points edited. In particular, the starting point is moved to the end point of the first “entry” motion path and the end point to the start of the first path – here’s what this looks like:


The begin/end points of motion paths will “snap” to other motion path points. In this case, this is convenient since I want the paths connected. In some cases, the “snap” is a nuisance.

The two motion paths are now copied to the blade and the wheels. Here’s the result:


During these steps, you will have to re-order the effects in the Animation Pane to get the right result. Here’s the Animation Pane at this stage:


The first group of effects move all the parts to their first positions and the second group moves the parts back to the left, except for the “load” which is left in the center of the slide. All these parts move together exactly since they have identical motion paths.

Notice that the objects have meaningful names rather than the arbitrary default names assigned by PowerPoint. You can rename objects in the Selection Pane. This is extremely helpful for animations like this (and for providing examples for blogs).

The next task is to apply rotations to the wheels. I applied 720 degrees (2 rotations) Clockwise Spin to the front wheel; this corresponds to the distance traveled as the machine moves into the slide. I also added 720º Counterclockwise Spin to the front wheel corresponding to the exit of the machine.

A couple of notes about the Spin animation: first, the Effects Option Pane has an Amount pulldown where you can set the amount and direction of the Spin. In my example, 720º (Tw0 Spins) happens to be one of the pre-set options:


If you want to set a value that is not one of the pre-sets, you can enter it in the Custom field. You must hit Enter after the value in order for the amount to “take.” This is unusual behavior.

Second, the Spin options include Smooth Start/End like a motion path. However, the default Spin does not include these options. So, in my example, I synchronized the rotation and the wheel travel and by setting the Smooth options to match the motion path. If you use motion paths With other effects, the Smooth options will likely not be available.

The final step is to apply the Spins to the rear wheel (using the Animation Painter) and arrange the order in the Animation Pane:


Notice that the order of steps in this process is not arbitrary – it is meant to allow you to use the Animation Painter to avoid having to enter each of the effects separately. In addition, using the Animation Painter to copy motion paths is useful when a group of objects must move together (that is, in a fixed relative position). Doing this “by hand” can be a little fiddly. So, the Animation Painter is not so bad after all.

I have gone into some detail in this post so I’ll have to include some more construction examples in my next post. As usual, if you would like a free PowerPoint file use the link below and click on the PowerPoint icon to download a “source” file containing these projects:

Powerpointy blog – construction equipment

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.

Building Your Story – Animated Lists


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

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

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

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

Here are some notes:

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

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

Some more ideas about agendas are in this post.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

The next idea is a little whimsical:

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

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

The next post will demonstrate similar effects using animated construction equipment.

If you want to experiment with these effects, use the link below and click on the PowerPoint icon to download a free “source” PowerPoint file:

Powerpointy blog – animating lists

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.

Wheels of Fortune – “Random” Spins


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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the scheme:

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


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


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

Here’s how it works:

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

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

You can use the tips in the previous “wheel” posts to construct your own wheel and apply this technique. If you want to try it, use the link below and click on the PowerPoint icon to download a “source” PowerPoint file containing these objects:

Powerpointy blog – wheels random spin

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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