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How to Make a Beautiful Spinning World in PowerPoint

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Although PowerPoint now offers 3D spins in newer versions, most people don’t realize that you can actually create 3D-like spinning effects in ALL versions - with just some shading and simple motion path and spin animations!  

In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to do the spinning objects effect using these two options:

  • Option # 1 - The text option (spinning sphere with text)

  • Option # 2 - The picture or pattern option (spinning sphere with pattern / images - such a spinning globe or world)

Below I’ll walk you through how to create this spinning world effect in PowerPoint, step by step.

Or if you prefer to watch me do it on screen, here’s the video tutorial:

Option #1: Text

Use the text option when you want to make it look like you have a rotating sphere with text on it, for example a ball or a Christmas ornament.   

There are three main parts to the text option.

Part #1: Create the “window” layer

Part #2: Make the text

Part #3: Animate the object

Part #1: Create the “window” layer

To create the window layer, we just need to create a rectangle with a circle cut out of it.  

If you have Powerpoint 2013 or later, it’s very simple to combine these shapes, just select both the circle and rectangle and under the format tab click on Merge Shapes, then Combine.   You should now have a rectangle with a circle cut out of the middle.

If you have an older version, it’s still very doable. Just highlight both shapes, cut them from the screen by hitting Ctrl+X, then paste as a picture (right click, then choose the paste as picture option).  After this, go to the Format tab and Color Options, then choose Set Transparent color. Click somewhere in the circle, and you will still have a perfect cut-out.

Part #2: Make the text

Now that the window layer is finished, it’s time to make the text.

Step # 1 - Create a text box

Create a text box and write your words in there.  After this, we need to give the text a curved look so it looks like it wraps around the “sphere.”  

To get the curved look, go to WordArt styles and choose the half circle that looks like a U shape.

Increase its size and make it a little more circular, adjusting to look just the way you want in your window layer.  Adjust the font color and size as you like as well. Also make sure that the height and width of the text box are the same so it’s a perfect square (this is very important to making it work).  

Bring it to the window layer (rectangle with the circle cut out) to the front now so the text is fully in the back and within your circle.  

Note that if your text is in a language that’s read left-to-right like English, make the text curve up to the right like I have in my example.  Do the opposite if your text is in a language is read right-to-left (and you can also do it vertically as well).

Step # 2 - Apply shading to make it look 3D

At this stage, this looks like a flat circle with text inside - which is why shading is important, as it will give it that spherical 3D look.

To create shading, we create a circle as the same size of our circle cutout and take out the outline.  

Then, go to the Format options and give it a radiant gradient and start it from the center.

Now we need to adjust the shading further.  Although this is not an exact science, I’ll show you at least one set of parameters for the gradient shading that worked for me.

For the first gradient stop, make it the color of the background.

  • Position - 4%

  • Transparency - 100%

The second gradient stop color will be like the orange colors as before, with the following parameters:

  • Position - 30%

  • Transparency - 90%

The next color should be dark grey with the following:

  • Position - 96%

  • Transparency - 0%

The last color will be black (this is optional, as I’m not sure how much of a difference it makes - but I like to do it just in case):

  • Position - 100%

  • Transparency - 0%

At this point, bring the window layer to the front again and make sure the shading stays within the boundaries of the original circle.

Now we add another shading piece on top of that for additional realism.  So we insert another circle, then take out the outline again.

Go back to the gradient fill options, and let’s change the numbers.

First, make it a path gradient (very important). Give it just two gradient points on either side, both the left and the right - all the way at the edges. Make them both white. The one on the left is 50% transparent and the second one is 100%. This gives you a nice and subtle reflection or glare on the shading.

You can stop here, but I personally like to make a copy (CTRL + D) of that last shading piece and make it much smaller and put it on top of the first one.  Adds even more realism.

And there you go, it should look a lot less flat than before.  Of course, if your rectangle does not stretch all the way to the sides of the slide (like mine originally), you can add additional rectangles on the sides so it looks seamless.  I personally like to see the background when I’m working on it, but you can also start with the original rectangle being the size of the full slide before you cut out the circle.  

So there you go - you are now all set to animate!

Part #3: Animate the object

Moving onto the final step, we are going to animate the object. For this step, bring up the Animation Pane, then highlight the text and choose the Spin animation. Make sure that it’s set to Clockwise (if you are using a language that’s read left-to-right like English). Then increase the timing to about 15 seconds so it spins slower.  

Now test it out, and it should look like a spinning ornament or ball!

Option #2:  Picture or Pattern  

The picture / pattern option is perfect for when you have a sphere with an image on it, such as a globe or even something like a smiley face.  This option is a bit more tricky than the spinning text, but largely has the same steps.

Part #1: Create the Window Layer

Start with the same window layer as we had before when we were making the spinning text.  The difference is this will have a blue background because we will add the world map picture.

(You can either use a transparent map so our blue background is the ocean - or a just a regular rectangular map with the ocean built in.  In the latter case, the slide background color does not matter.)

Once you have the map inserted onto the slide, put the window layer to the front.  

Part #2: Make the Gradient

Make a square, then take out the outline and change it to gradient fill. Make it radial and start from the center.  

Make all the gradient stops black - and use the following sample parameters.

First one - on the left side.

  • Position - 45%

  • Transparency - 100%

The next one should be:

  • Position - 70%

  • Transparency  - 50%

Then:

  • Position - 85%

  • Transparency - 2%

Again, feel free to play around with the numbers so the gradient will look the way you want it.

The next thing to do is to tilt the square to the so that we have a little bit darker area on the right to work with. You can also make it bigger as well.

Part #3: Animate the object

So here’s the more difficult part - but looks amazing when it’s done.

To do it, bring the world map to the front so we can work with it (or hide the Window Layer in the Selection Pane).

Duplicate the map by selecting it and hitting Ctrl+D (or just copy / paste).

Next, line up the copied picture exactly on the left side of the original since our map will be moving to the right or counterclockwise. (If you want your picture to move to the left or spin counterclockwise, put the copy on the right.)

Now group the two pictures, the original and the duplicate.  Note that it is very important to make sure the two images are exactly side-by-side exactly not overlapping.  People sometimes tell me their animations don’t work right - and it’s usually because their images are not correctly aligned.

After grouping the two maps, go to the Animations tab and choose a linear motion path and set it to go to the right (don’t adjust the length yet). Then go to the Effect Options and take out smooth start and end.

Next, go to timing and make it spin for (at least) three seconds and make it repeat until the end of the slide.

And here comes the harder part of adjusting, so do this carefully...

First, stretch the motion path so that it goes exactly to the end of the original picture. If you have PowerPoint 2013 it is easier because you can see the pictures line up on top of each other.

As a tip, if you’re on a PC, hold down the Shift button while you stretch the motion path to make sure it remains straight. Once done, your motion path should be exactly the length of one picture so just keep adjusting until it’s perfect.

To finish this off, send the map to the back and then clean the edges really fast by putting black on top of them so it all looks nice and neat.

Test it in presentation mode - and enjoy! (Your audiences will too.)

This is an excellent way to spice up your presentations. It may take some time to put together, but once you master these tricks it will tremendously increase your toolkit as a presenter - and most importantly, better engage your audiences.

This globe would make for a perfect (and eye-catching) title slide, for example. So definitely try it out!

What’s next?

Updated on January 4, 2019

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