A spinning hollow circle is a great way to suggest the passage of time in a PowerPoint show. Susan Harkins shows how to make this simple animation.
I’ve seen a lot of the blue churning circle on streaming sites. Instead of thinking about how I could improve my internet speed, I started creating the effect in Microsoft PowerPoint in my head. It’s extremely simple and a great way to suggest the passage of time. In this PowerPoint tutorial, I’ll show you how to use a gradient fill to spin a hollow circle. The remarkable thing about this technique is that it only takes one shape and one animation.
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I use Microsoft 365 on a Windows 10 64-bit system, but you can use an earlier version. PowerPoint for the web supports this technique. For your convenience, you can: download the demonstration .pptx and .ppt files†
How to make a spinning circle in PowerPoint
This process is so simple that a plan doesn’t seem necessary, but I know that when I’m working with PowerPoint, I like to know the steps before I start. This process has only three steps:
- Insert a PowerPoint concave circle shape.
- Apply a gradient color.
- Animate the shape.
That is it! Now let’s start by inserting the hollow circle shape into PowerPoint.
Step 1: Insert a hollow circle in PowerPoint
You may be wondering what a hollow circle is. That’s the name PowerPoint gives to the shape I think of as a donut shape because the circle has no center. To insert this shape, follow these steps:
- Start with a blank slide.
- Click the Insert tab.
- From the Shapes drop-down list, choose the hollow circle (Image A) in the Basic Shapes section.
- Click and drag in the slide to insert the shape while holding down the Shift key to create a perfect circle.
- Center it and make it as large as possible.
- Take the yellow square (Figure B) and drag in to make the ring a bit thinner (Figure C†
With the shape in place, it’s time to pick a gradient color.
Step 2: How to Apply a Gradient Fill Color in PowerPoint
The gradient fill color is the magic that makes this technique so easy to implement. If you’re animating a solid color, you won’t see it spinning – it’s inherent in the basic shape of a circle. The course is up to you; choose a subtle fill by using colors that are close to the shade or brighten things up a bit, and use complementary colors, contrasting colors, or even shades that contrast a lot.
With the hollow circle selected, add the gradient fill as follows:
- Right-click the hollow circle and choose Format Shape to open the Format Shape panel.
- In the Fill section, choose Gradient Fill.
- From the preset gradients, choose Top Spotlight-Accent 5. You may want to experiment a bit and choose a different gradient, which is fine. Note that the gradient contrast allows for rotation.
- Move the gradient stop to the middle between white and blue. Again, this is a setting that you can experiment with a bit. If the default settings are different, use Figure D as a guide.
There’s only one step left: apply the animation.
Step 3: How to add the spider animation in PowerPoint
The last step is to apply the spin animation. With the shape still selected, do the following:
- Click the Animations tab.
- Click the Quick Gallery’s More button (the small down arrow in the lower-right corner of the gallery).
- In the Emphasis section, click Rotate. PowerPoint will preview the animation for you – the hollow circle is spinning!
In the Timing group, the setting is Start on Click. You can adapt this to the way you use the churning circle, but we’ll leave it for this demonstration. The Duration setting is two seconds. You can speed up or slow down the spin. To change the animation, click the Animation panel in the Advanced Animation group. Let’s let it run until you click a second time to stop it using the Repeat option:
- With the shape selected and the Animation panel open, right-click the animation (in the panel) and choose Timing.
- Click the Timing tab.
- From the Repeat drop-down list, choose Until Next Click (Figure E†
- Click OK.
Click F5 to watch the show. At this point, you can make quick changes, such as resizing the center. You may want the ring portion to be even thinner or much thicker. Removing the border makes a dramatic change. You might decide to make the gradient more subtle or more intense.
You have the basic instructions. Make it yours by adjusting the settings to suit you and the focus of your show. If you like this technique you may want to read Add a little spin to a circle in a PowerPoint slide?†