Adding Paths to Animations in PowerPoint

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  • 0:02 Custom Animation
  • 0:50 Predefined Animation Effects
  • 2:15 Add a Motion Path
  • 4:03 More Motion Paths
  • 5:43 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Karen Sorensen

Karen has a Bachelors in Communications. She has 25 years of experience in Information Systems, Adult Learning and Virtual Training.

PowerPoint offers several built-in animation effects. But did you know you can create your own animations by using custom motion paths? This lesson will guide you through the steps to adding custom animation effects to objects on your slide.

Custom Animation

PowerPoint has many predefined animations. With a couple clicks of your mouse, you can add unique motion effects to slide objects. However, sometimes the predefined animations don't give you the effect you want. For this reason, PowerPoint allows you to customize your animation using motion paths.

A motion path is a custom path you create, usually drawing a line that an object, image or graphic follows across a PowerPoint slide. You can use a specific type of line that is already customized for you in PowerPoint, such as a line that travels down and to the right, or you can create a meandering line of your own.

This lesson will guide you through the steps to creating your own motion path in order to add customized animations to your slide objects.

Predefined Animation Effects

PowerPoint has built-in animations for images, text boxes and other objects you add to your slides. You can pick from a variety of animations - for instance, Fade, Fly In and Zoom.

You will find it easier to learn how to apply a custom motion path to your objects if you first have a clear understanding of how to apply PowerPoint's built-in animations. So before we get into the nuts and bolts of Motion Paths, let's quickly review how to apply a standard entrance animation effect to an image.

  1. Select the image you want to animate.
  2. Go to the Animations tab in the ribbon.
  3. Look in the Animations grouping of commands.
  4. Click on the More icon to expand the gallery of options.
  5. Select one of the animations from the Entrance group. In our example, we'll select Zoom.

Perfect. We now have the Zoom entrance animation applied to our image.

Before we continue, let's go back to the gallery of options. Notice that there are different categories of animations. For instance, there are animations for Entrance, Emphasis, Exit and the last one is Motion Paths. Sound familiar?

How to Add a Motion Path

If you look in the gallery of animation options, the Motion Paths category has six basic paths to choose from: Lines, Arcs, Turns, Shapes, Loops and Custom path. For this example, we will use the Line path.

We have an image of an airplane on the slide. The effect we want is to make the plane look like it is flying up into the air. The line (motion path) we need is from the lower left-hand corner of the slide to the upper right-hand corner. Here are the steps.

  1. Select the image. In our example, it's the plane.
  2. Go to the Animations tab in the ribbon and expand the animation gallery.
  3. Look in the Motion Paths category and select Lines. The default path is to move the image down. Notice that there are two planes now. Our original image is the starting point of our animation, and the second plane that is a bit more transparent or faded is used as the stopping point of our path. The two planes are also connected by a line or our Motion Path.
  4. In the middle of the second plane is a red circle or handle. Click and hold your mouse on the handle and drag the second plane to the stopping point of the path, which is the upper, right-hand corner of the slide.
  5. Release the mouse

You have just added a custom animation to your image. If we run the slide, the plane looks like it is flying up into the air by moving on the line we created.

More Motion Paths

Let's go back to the gallery of animations. We have already identified that there are six basic options for motion paths, such as Lines. However, there are many more available. Look below the categories and you will see more options in the drop-down menu, such as:

  • More Entrance Effects
  • More Emphasis Effects
  • More Exit Effects
  • More Motion Paths

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