Posts Tagged 'pipes'

Archive: Creating 3D Objects in PowerPoint


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

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

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

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


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



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


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



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



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



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





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





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





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





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




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



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




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




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



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




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



a block 3.png

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



test object w text 3.png

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


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



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.


Follow powerpointy on