PowerPoint interactions #1: 3D Slide Carousel

Can you really create dynamic Articulate Presenter output just by using PowerPoint? Yes, you can…


This is the first in a series of templates I’m sharing. You might just want to see what’s possible without using Flash or Engage. Or maybe test the limits of PowerPoint and see how it translates into Articulate output. Or you might just want a PowerPoint exercise to get your teeth into.

So first, View the Presentation.

If you’re a designer or developer working in e-learning or the web, you’ll probably have seen something like it. But with just PowerPoint?


So what’s happening here to fool the eye into thinking the images are shuffling forward as you click the button?

It works like this:

  • It’s a series of 5 hyperlinked PowerPoint slides, output as an Articulate Presenter presentation.
  • Because the hyperlinks are within the PowerPoint presentation, we’re bypassing the Articulate navigation and controlling it from within the slide area.
  • Using Articulate’s branching feature, this means we can present these 5 PowerPoint slides as a “single slide” in the Articulate Presenter presentation.
  • There are several images stacked and animated in PowerPoint in such a way as to give the illusion of “shuffling” through the stack. When the series of slides reaches the end, the hyperlink takes it back to the beginning.

All clear? Read on. If you want to jump in and see what’s going on for yourself, download the PPT file and the full instructions. Use as you wish (but of course I’d be interested to see how).


I wanted to use a neutral subject for this demo, so I racked my brain. What comes in fives? Having spent a lot of time in Africa, I thought “OK: the Big Five”. I rooted through my photos and came up with some pics I took some time ago. I saved them off in 16:9 format (320×180) as PNG files, numbering them 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 for easy reference.

The next step was to try to create the “3D” illusion. PowerPoint  provides the reflection and border effects, so this was no problem. But I also wanted to get the images to “fade out” into the background – not possible with directly imported images. So, I used shapes with an image fill, and progressively set them more and more transparent as they got smaller.

So far so good – but how do you make it move?


Having set up a layout, I turned my mind to how to get things moving. If I had been using something like Flash, my logic would have been something like:

  • ‘Tween those shapes using keyframes – so the first one slides off to the left, the others grow and move forward, and finally the front one slots back in at the bottom of the stack.

Easy enough – but I wanted to see if it could be done without using Flash. Because I’m like that…

First I tried to emulate Flash ‘tweening, using the Motion Path and Grow/Shrink animations, but this was slightly lost in translation on its way to Articulate Presenter output (the combination of animations ended up giving slightly different positioning). TOP TIP: always preview your stuff!

So I tried some other approaches, finally settling on the Glide animation, in a quick series. The front image glides out, while another image behind it (and directly below it in the layer stacking order) glides in at the same time. No Motion Paths are used at all, it’s just the presets available in PowerPoint. I found this actually worked better as Articulate Presenter output than in PowerPoint (something that’s actually “added in translation” rather than lost).

The vital element of the PowerPoint interface for dealing with stacked layers is the Selection Pane (Home toolbar > Arrange > Selection Pane).

Powerpoint Selection PaneThis allows you to select any layer, make it invisible (so you can then see and select what’s behind it!), and most importantly give it a name.

So there I had it – an animation that “shuffled” through the five images – once.


Then came the slightly tedious part – creating the five slides that make up the carousel.

As there’s no possibility in PowerPoint to dynamically swap out images “on the fly”, it has to be done by hand – 10 times for each slide. This isn’t so bad really. You simply duplicate a slide, then use the Selection Pane to go through the stack of images, changing the fill image – “upping” it by one slot in your sequence – replacing image 1 with image 2, then image 2 with image 3, image 5 with image 1, and so on. You need to act and think like a computer for a little while, but it goes pretty quickly once you get the hang of it.


There are a couple of potential traps:

  • Don’t group the shapes to move them around. You’ll lose all of your individual animations…
  • Watch the file size – you may need to play around with the Articulate image Quality settings a little. I got an output of 24MB which went down to 2MB after a little push of the slider.
  • Don’t change the order of the layers or the animations (unless you really want to!). These are inextricably tied together and it can be frustrating to get them back to the correct sequence.



  • Total freedom – there’s no limit (except space) on what you can display on each slide to accompany the image.
  • No need for Flash or other authoring tools.
  • No need for programming skills.


  • Time required to swap out the images.
  • The animation isn’t as smooth as it could be.

Whatever you do with this – have fun! And if you need something like this done to order, please contact me.

COMING NEXT: Scrolling filmstrip template

5 thoughts on “PowerPoint interactions #1: 3D Slide Carousel

  1. Nice post. I was checking constantly this weblog and I’m inspired! Very helpful information specifically the ultimate phase :) I maintain such information much. I was seeking this particular information for a very lengthy time. Thanks and best of luck.

  2. Good idea!. We have been working on this concept as well, but we also encountered some problems with the standard powerpoint setup. The biggest drawback was to use multiple slides and keeping everything aligned with eachother. Our “solution” was to use Trigger effects that allows you to use only one slide and stay on that slide as long as the user wants. We have a full tutorial and sample file here:
    We hope this inspires people to come up with more innovating techniques.

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