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Tutorial for Concepts 048 – Bubbles and Semitransparent Spheres

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Using the Bubbles and Spheres


Use the bubbles to represent something that is fragile or fleeting, to encapsulate for another object, or to convey floating and drifting without a set course, and so on.

There are no graphic file downloads. We've done all the work for you: we've sized and aligned the pieces of the bubbles in the PowerPoint download.

Semitransparent spheres

Use the spheres to encapsulate or isolate objects. There are also two locks for you to use with this series.

The download for this series contains fully editable graphics.

Customizing the Bubbles and Semitransparent Spheres


If you need to resize the downloads, group the bubble/sphere pieces and hold the shift key down as you resize. this will scale the bubbles and they will remain perfectly round. Ungroup and proceed with other customizations.

Layering bubbles

The bubbles are produced so that they are versatile and rich in appearance. There are full bubbles and half bubbles. The full bubbles are used in the series example and the half bubbles are used in the Chart of the Month for May 2008. The bubbles are semitransparent; and the front of the 3D-appearing bubble is different than the back of the bubble, making them very realistic looking. The half bubbles also have a front and a back piece, which means that the split bubbles are created by combining four pieces: front and back top of the bubble and front and back bottom of the bubble.

The layering is correct on the downloads. If you want to place something inside the bubbles, follow this simple direction. Position whatever you wish to be inside the bubble on top of the two bubble halves. Then select the front of the bubble for the top half and the bottom half of the bubbles and bring them to the front. Your layering should once again be correct.

Layering spheres

The spheres are produced so that they can contain objects. Therefore layering is very important. The front top and front bottom parts of the spheres are on the top layer. The object contained within the sphere is on the middle layer. The top back and bottom back parts of the spheres are on the back layer. Do not group the parts of the spheres if you are using animation or the layering will be lost.



The bubble(s)/pieces of bubble(s) are PNGs, which means that they are like photographs. The cannot be colored or tinted within PowerPoint 2003. They can be tinted within PowerPoint 2007 by using the picture recolor menu. Bubble versions 1 and 2 have lots of colors in them to make them look like real bubbles (which exhibit rainbow/prism colors). If you tint these in PowerPoint 2007, they go to shades of only the color you select and the rainbow effect is lost. Tinting usually works better for bubble versions 3 and 4.

The bubbles can be used on both light and dark backgrounds, although versions 1 an 2 work better on very light backgrounds and versions 3 and 4 work better on very dark backgrounds. Midrange backgrounds can use either – just see which you like best.

Semitransparent spheres

The spheres are formatted with a fill color and then made semitransparent. You can use your own color choices and vary the percentage of transparency to suit your needs.


These graphics are drawn to appear 3D and do not need any other 3D or bevel formatting. Any extra formatting will detract from the bubble concept.


Bubbles: don't use shadows in PowerPoint 2003, but the semitransparent gradient drop shadows in PowerPoint 2007/2010 lift the graphic off the slide a bit. It does darken the bubble as well, but not appreciably. See below for a shadow option.

Spheres: the series example uses two types of shadows. one a drop shadow that helps convey a 3D appearance. Since the parts of the sphere are not grouped, the drop shadow would not work to form a whole-sphere shadow. Therefore we made a copy of the sphere parts and grouped them, colored them white so they wouldn't be seen against the white background, applied a drop shadow, and sent them to the very back layer of the graphic. The other shadow is around the lock: since the background disk and the lock are close shades of gray, we applied a shadow that dropped form all parts of the locks (not offset at a diagonal). Download the animated example and take a look a the shadow formatting.

Gradients, patterns, and pictures

Since the bubbles are PNGs, you cannot apply any of these effects. This is not recommended for the semitransparent spheres either.


Bubbles can also be used with sound. Business presentations do not typically use sound, but you might want to consider presenting the bubbles with sound effects. We used a little "blip" sound in the downloadable animated example to help convey that the bubble popped. This type of sound effect helps with message delivery and is, therefore not just "cute."

  • There are several websites that offer sound clip downloads. Browse around and see what you like. We used the website SoundSnap for the bubble popping sound. They have a nice selection and a very relaxed policy about how you can the sounds on their site. Check it out at http://www.soundsnap.com/browse
  • Inserting sounds into presentations is easy. After you've downloaded the sound you want to use onto your computer, perform the following …
    • PowerPoint 2003: make sure you're on the slide that will contain the sound and click on Insert on the main menu and select Movies and Sound. Then navigate to the sound clip you just downloaded and double click it.
    • PowerPoint 2007: make sure you're on the slide that will contain the sound and click on the insert tab and select Sound. Then just navigate to the sound clip you've downloaded and select it.

You've now got the sound in your presentation. You can click on a sound to make it play or you can animate it. See the animation section below for a description of how to animate a sound within a click sequence.

Make sure that your computer can be hooked up to speakers if you are presenting to a large group. The audience will not be able to hear the sounds on your computer otherwise.

Gradients, patterns, and pictures

Since the bubbles are PNGs, you cannot apply any of these effects. This is not recommended for the semitransparent spheres either.

Animations – Bubble

We'll look at two animation schemes for the bubbles:

  1. Animating the bubble popping sound to occur when the bubble disappears (as in the downloadable animation example for this series). Download the animation example for this scheme and play it in slide show mode to see how it works.
  • The sound clip that we used is only 1 second long, but the sound is in the middle of the clip. Therefore, the sound has a 0.5-second delay. The sound clips on SoundSnap have a visual representation of the sound bite and also the length of the clip. So it's easy to sync the sound with the bubble you want to animate to disappear/pop.
  • On the illustration below, look at 1: The sound clip has been inserted into the presentation. There are three bubbles, so the sound clip is copied twice, making it easy to assign a sound clip to a bubble. The are placed on the gray work area just off of the slide containing the bubbles you're animating.
  • Notice also on the illustration below (2) that the animation allowing the bubbles to "float" around little is the first animation that is formatted. Each bubble should be formatted to move in its own random path. One click puts the whole sequence in motion in this instance.
  • 3 shows the formatting to make the bubbles "pop" and disappear. The pop sound is the the blip 3.wav, which is set to reveal after the motion animation has ceased. The exit animation under each of the sound bites makes a bubble disappear. Remember that the sound bite is 1 second long and the sound occurs at the center of the bite. Therefore, to sync the sound with the bubble disappearing requires that the exit animation for the bubbles be formatted with a 0.5-second delay (set it in the Timing menu).
  • 4 brings in the summary text onto the empty slide.
  1. Using animation to separate and reunite the split bubble (as in the Chart of the Month for May 2008). This animation scheme requires some precision, but it isn't difficult. Also, download the animated example for the May 2008 Chart of the Month so you can see the actual formatting.
  • Choose the bubble set you wish to use in series cn048. Make sure it contrasts with your template's background. If needed, adjust sizing by grouping all of the pieces and scaling (hold shift key down as you resize so that the bubbles remain perfectly round).
  • Bubble floating onto the screen: use the full bubble (both front and back). Layer the full bubble as follows: back of bubble, contents of the bubble, and the top of the bubble. Make all of these pieces center and middle aligned. Group and position the group on the slide. The position you choose is where the group will stop after if flies in
  • 1 Animate the group to Fly In from the bottom left on Click. Choose the animation speed you wish. The bubble in the example flies in at "slow" speed.
  • Bring in the descriptive text: animate to reveal on click, with previous, or after previous – your choice, depending on your presentation message
  • 2 Animate the floating bubble to disappear on a click. The full bubble is used to fly onto the slide instead of the half bubble because one group is easier to control than a lot of individual pieces. Also, the seam in the half bubbles can sometimes become visible when in motion.
  • Match up the top pieces of the half bubble with the bottom pieces so that the bubble appears whole (no gap between the pieces and no overlay on the seam – or as little overlap as you can manage)
  • Establish the layering and alignments for the half bubble pieces including the bubble content. Layering is as follows:
    • Back of the bubble (both top and bottom) on the bottom layer
    • Bubble content
    • Bottom half of the front of the bubble
    • Top half of the front of the bubble on the very top layer.
  • Group the two front pieces of the top and bottom of the half bubble and then center align the bubble content with the group. Ungroup the two front pieces of the top and bottom of the half bubble.
  • Group all of the half bubble pieces once they are perfectly aligned. Once grouped, center align the half bubble group and the fly-in bubble. They should be perfectly aligned and layered. Ungroup the half bubble once it is aligned.
  • 3 Select and animate the all of the pieces of the half bubble to appear with previous. The half bubble will now replace the fly-in bubble in one click.
  • Steps 4 through 8 all happen together, so they should all be set to "start with previous"
  • 4 Select and animate the two top pieces of the half bubble to move diagonally to top right (don't adjust the end points)
  • 5 Select and animate the the top two pieces to spin by 30% as they move with the 4 animation
  • 6 Select and animate the two bottom pieces of the half bubble to move down (don't adjust end points)
  • 7 Animate the content of the half bubble to grow to 160 percent of its size (grow/shrink the emphasis menu)
  • 8 Exit the top and bottom pieces of the half bubble by applying a fade
  • Add your summary text reveals
Bubble animation graphic

Not so hard once you understand the concepts. These are mores advanced animation schemes, but completely doable if you take it step by step.

Animations – Semistransparent Sphere

Download the animated example and take a look at the animation effects and the sequencing. This is a very easy animation scheme: motion animation to move the papers into the sphere; "descend" appearance for the top two parts of the spheres; disappear for the unlocked lock icon, appear for the locked lock icon.

Series that relate to this tutorial:

CN028 – Concept 028 – Semitransparent Sphere

Possible use example

CN048 – Concept 048 – Bubbles

Possible use example

Links to instructions for getting the framework into your presentation

  1. Determine the best file type for your needs
  2. Download the file
  3. Import the framework into your presentation
    1. Importing a PPT file
    2. Importing a EMF or PNG
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