Are you looking for a cool new PowerPoint animation project? Do you want to prove to your colleagues just what you can achieve in PowerPoint? Well, we’ve got a great trick for you to try. Not only can you play a great practical joke on your boss as tiny ants crawl over his/her screen, but you can learn some great tips about making things move naturally so you can take your animations from entry-level to After Effects.

So, let’s find out how to make a lifelike, “crawling” bug in PowerPoint!
moving creatures in powerpoint

The first step in making an animation of a bug crawling is to create the elements necessary using PowerPoint shapes. This is very easy to do and requires no artistic ability. Simple choose ‘Insert’ from the ribbon at the top of your screen and start by drawing two circles for the head and the body, and then going to ‘Format->Merge Shapes->Union’ to merge them into one shape. The antennae and legs can all be made from simple lines, and the legs in particular are 2-3 lines grouped together. To group objects, select the objects you would like to group and choose ‘Arrange->Group’. Make sure each leg is its own group, and the body and antennae are grouped together. Once you have the body and legs of your bug created, you can move to the next step.

moving creatures in powerpoint

The next step prepares you for the animations we are going to add later on. If you want to make an object spin around its centerpoint (for example, a minute hand on a watch spinning) you need to employ invisible boxes, otherwise the object will spin from the wrong point. Since the legs of the bug are going to spin slightly as it crawls, we are going to need to put invisible boxes around each leg. To do this, simply position each leg around the centerpoint of a box, and group the two together by selecting ‘Arrange->Group’.

moving creatures in powerpoint

Once they are grouped, the next step is to make all the boxes invisible.  Double click on each group and select only the box and set ‘Shape fill’ and ‘Shape outline’ to ‘No fill’ and ‘No outline’.

moving creatures in powerpoint

Then, the next step is to move each of the leg groups back to the bug.

moving creatures in powerpoint

And then you need to make sure the bug’s body is in front of the legs. (If it isn’t, click it and select ‘Format->Bring to Front’.)
moving creatures in powerpoint

The next steps involve adding the animation, which is the trickiest bit, but also the most important. Start by adding a custom motion path to the body of the bug. To do this go to the ‘Animations’ tab and select ‘Add animation’, and scroll down until you see ‘Motion paths’. Under motion paths there will be an option to add a ‘Custom Path’, so choose that. Then, click on the bug’s body and draw a slightly crooked upward path and let go. Now your bug’s body moves upwards when you view the slide in slide show mode.
moving creatures in powerpoint

We also need to apply this same animation to the bug’s legs, so that all the parts of the bug move together. To do this, make sure the bug’s body is selected and look in the ‘Animations’ tab for where it says ‘Animation Painter’. When you click this your curser should change to a paintbrush. Use the paintbrush cursor and click on one of the bug’s legs, and you’ll notice the motion path we drew earlier will be copied onto the leg. You’ll then have to repeat this process for each of the legs until they all have the motion path copied to them.
moving creatures in powerpoint

Then, open up the ‘Animation Pane’ which is also in the ‘Animations’ tab. We want to make sure all the motion paths have the same duration and features so they move at the same time. Select them all, right click and select ‘Start with previous.’ This makes sure they will all occur simultaneously. Then, select them all and right click again and select ‘Effect Options’. This will bring up the Custom Path menu. Make sure in ‘Timing’ the duration is set to 3 seconds, and in ‘Effect’ there’s a ‘Smooth start’ and ‘Smooth end’ of 1.5 seconds each.
moving creatures in powerpoint

Once the custom paths are all the same, we are going to add in a Spin animation on each of the legs. Select all the legs and go to ‘Add Animation’ and select ‘Spin’ from the Emphasis effects. Then, select all the Spin animations in the Animation Pane and right click to bring up the Spin menu. In Timing, the duration should be set to .15 seconds and the repeat should be set to 9 so that each leg will go back and forth 9 times to fill the 3 second motion path duration.
moving creatures in powerpoint

If you click on the Effect tab, the amount should be set to something small like 8 degrees clockwise, the ‘Smooth start’ and ‘Smooth end’ should be set in the middle and you also need to set the spin to ‘Auto-Reverse’ so that each leg will spin back and forth.
moving creatures in powerpoint

Lastly, make sure the spin animations are all set to ‘Start with previous’ as well so that they will play at the exact same time as the custom motion paths.

The last step is to just create a cool environment for the bug to crawl in, I decided to go with a picnic theme and create a blanket, grass and a sandwich out of PowerPoint shapes.  Once you’re all done, you can press ‘Play all’ or view your slide in show mode to watch your bug crawl!

Once you’ve mastered creating a crawling bug, you can see what else you can create using PowerPoint shapes and animation combinations. This same combination of using a spin animation with a motion path can also be used to create a driving car with turning wheels, or an ice skating penguin. And as PowerPoint power-users, we’re always figuring out new hacks, so why not learn how to make the wheel animation spin anti-clockwise in this tutorial here.

There’s no limit to what you can create using simple shapes and animations, so see what you can apply to your next presentation. Using dynamic visuals in your presentations is guaranteed to help engage your audience and increase their participation, which will lead to you having much more effective presentations

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Written by

Amy Post

Senior consultant

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