Making 3D Spheres in PowerPoint

By Filonia LeChat

PowerPoint's collection of shapes, called AutoShapes, lets you transform flat disks into livelier orbs in just a couple of extra steps. Although PowerPoint isn’t a graphics or rendering program, it offers the tools to take your business slide shows into the next dimension -- or at least give your audience a 3D-like experience, with no silly glasses required.

Launch PowerPoint and click the “Insert” tab. Click the small arrow below the “Shapes” button on the ribbon.

Click the circle shape in the Flow Chart section. If you hover over the circle, the popup tip says “Connector.” When the cursor changes to a "+" symbol, click and drag on the slide to form your preferred sphere size. The shape appears, but it is flat like a circle.

Click the orange "Drawing Tools" tab. Note that this tab only appears when the shape is selected. If you've clicked off the shape and onto the slide, you won’t see it, so click the shape again.

Click the scroll bar in the Shape Styles section of the ribbon. There are many more styles, including the 3D effect ones, than are shown in the small section, so scroll to the bottom. Hover, without clicking, over the shape styles in the two bottom rows -- Moderate Effect and Intense Effect. Note how the effects fill out the flat circle into its sphere shape, making it look as if it is standing on the slide. You also want to choose a style that has the same border and fill, instead of the PowerPoint default dark blue border and medium blue fill. This will contribute to making your sphere look like one single round ball instead of a bordered flat circle. Click one of the effects in the menu to apply it to the shape.

Click the “Shape Effects” menu on the ribbon, hover over the “3-D Rotation” option and drag the cursor over the different options to render the sphere in different positions. If one suits your presentation, click it.

Click the “Shape Effects” menu once more, hover over “Shadow” and scroll through the options in the “Outer” or “Perspective” sections. Adding a shadow is another quick way to make something appear in 3D. You can also layer effects, such as adding an outer shadow, by reclicking the menu and adding a perspective shadow.

Click the “File” tab when satisfied with the sphere. Click “Save As” and give the slide a file name, then choose a place to save it on your network. Click “Save” to save the artwork.