Posts Tagged 'artistic effects'

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The animation suggests that outdated legacy technology puts the organization in the red danger zone.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

Drawing in PowerPoint- Glass


Glass is transparent. But, if it is perfectly transparent, it is invisible. Conventional drawing techniques add color, reflections and other features to create more or less visible renditions of glass.

In this post, I’ll show you how to use PowerPoint techniques to create some glass objects; you can judge the success of this effort for yourself. In particular, I will use transparent Fill colors, 3D Materials, and glass textures available on the web to approximate the properties of glass. I will also use 3D Depth and Rotations with these tools.

The simplest approach is to use a non-zero Transparency setting for a Fill color; here’s an example:


This is a Rectangle with a blue Fill; conventionally,  blue, gray or green is used (unless you want “colored” glass). The second rectangle has Transparency set to 67%. The other examples have a 3D Depth and a Rotation.  The fourth example is a copy of the third with the Lighting Angle changed; this makes the top edge darker,

A more satisfying approach uses transparent Gradient fills to provide reflections/highlights. A diagonal gradient is often used as a generalized reflection:


The third and fourth examples use a white gradient that is nearly opaque in the center; this seems to be a more convincing effect.

PowerPoint gradient tools seem clumsy to me; maybe it just takes practice. Here are the settings for the third and fourth examples:


You can also use gradient fills in text:


When you apply effects to a text box, you will have an option to affect the text or the shape.

You can also create reflections by drawing appropriate shapes; here is an example of a stylized beaker that I used in my post on animating liquids:


This is a deliberately “cartoony” style signaled by the heavy outlines and flat rendering. Here’s how it’s made:


I used standard shapes and Merge Shapes/Union and Subtract to make the parts of the beaker.  The diagram shows Unioned objects in red and Subtracted objects in green. The beaker and the highlights are semi-transparent.

Here are some more examples of this style:


Another way to create “glass” objects is to use the 3D/Format Material property; in these examples I’ve used the Translucent/Clear option:


You can see that curved surfaces are highlighted. The last example has a slightly curved surface created by applying a Top Bevel/Circle; this creates highlights/reflections.

You can use other 3D tools to create “glass” objects:


This  is an Oval with Line but no Fill. The first example uses Transparent/Powder  material and the second is Transparent/Clear. Both are rotated with about 200 pt Depth.

I strongly suggest you read my post on the peculiarities of PowerPoint 3D, particularly the interaction among shapes, Fills, Lines and Bevels, before you experiment with 3D objects.

Here’s another glass object with some notes:


This is another example of a unfilled Oval with a bottom Bevel; the red version shows how the Bevel affects only the Line.

This version looks like an unfilled Oval but it’s not:


Here the Oval has a 99% transparent Fill; this forces the bottom Bevel to apply to the entire shape (blue version).

Here are a glass ball and a dome, made from an Oval:


The ball has a Top Bevel/Circle; the width and height of the bevel are equal to the radius of the Oval in points (1 in = 72 pts). The dome adds Depth and is Rotated.

This example shows the construction of a wine glass; Transparent/Clear Material is used for all the parts:


The base has an Angle Bevel and a small Depth.

If you are interested in these examples, you may also like my post on balls and spheres and the one on wires and pipes.

You can also use Material/Clear on text:


You can find glass “textures” on the web; these are usually photographs of real glass. Here are some examples:


To make a photo image transparent, create an appropriate shape, fill the shape with the photo, and set the Transparency as needed. Here’s the process:


I usually Copy the picture and use Fill/Picture or Texture/from Clipboard to fill the shape with the texture. The last version above applies 3d Depth and Rotation as before. You can also use Fill/Picture, etc., with text:


Here’s an application of a transparent texture; the “glass” is in front of an image of a menacing guy:


This example is improved by using an Artistic Effect/Mosaic Bubbles on the guy image to simulate the refraction that would be caused by the water drops:


I also adjusted the brightness and contrast of the guy image to eliminate a background created by the Bubble effect.

I have had issues with Artistic Effects since I first experimented with them – sometimes the options are unresponsive or grayed out. This may be a resource/performance problem with my $400 Chinese laptop. I have briefly researched this and found only a few reports of these problems (one of which speculated that it is a performance issue) and no resolution. I suspect that these features are rarely used or that potential users simply abandon them because of the issues. Try it for yourself and report problems to Microsoft.

Here’s another example using textured glass:


Here I used the Glass Artistic Effect on the image. The texture was made transparent using the Picture Fill technique and reduced in size to more closely match the “grain” of the Artistic Effect.

One more example (no Artistic Effect this time):


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 – glass

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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