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Tutorial for Relationships 035 – Sliced Spheres

These spheres are useful when you don't want to use a segmented pie to illustrate pieces of a whole. They are easily workable and formatable, and the downloads are prelayered in both compressed and expanded layouts. Each segment has two fields that can be colored to show 3D depth and shadows and light, depending on where you decide your "light source" is located. We've grouped each slice in the downloads so it will be easy for you to work with the spheres.

Customizing the vertically sliced circles

Adjust size

Group the fields for each slice and then group all of those groups before sizing. Be sure to hold the shift key down while you resize so that the sphere remains a perfect circle.

Color variations

The series example and the downloads are colored so that the top of the slice is darker, but you can easily reverse the colors. You don't need to ungroup the slices to recolor; just select the field within the group and apply the line and fill color. We've used fills and line colors and urge to do the same. Use the same fill and line color for each field in the slice; it produces the best result.

Choose colors from within your template's color palette or complementary colors so the spheres/slices are consistent with the rest of the presentation. Use lighter or darker hues of the palette colors for one part of the slice so the top of the slice and the outside of the sphere are distinct.

You can also apply a different color for each slice. This coloring technique might be useful in an illustration that explains moving slices from one or more spheres to another sphere, each sphere having its own color. For example, sphere 1 is yellow, sphere 2 is red, and sphere 3 is green. Take slides from each of these three spheres and create sphere 4, which easily shows each slice's origination based on colors.

3D variations

These spheres are already drawn in 3D, so don't apply this formatting.


Be careful when selecting shadows. Some shadows tend to flatten the sphere, which will destroy the visual. A good shadow to use is shown to the right, which enhances the appearance of sphere volume. This shadow is available in PowerPoint 2007 and 2010 as of of the perspective shadows in the Shadows section of the Shape Effects menu. Select the bottom slice only and apply the shadow.

Gradients, patterns, and pictures

You can assign gradients to the outside of the spheres to show a light source on the left or right. Make sure your light sources are the same for all objects on the slide. This is best accomplished in PowerPoint 2007 and 2010 since you can control where the gradient begins. Since the slices are different sizes, this is important. You may want to stay away from this type of gradient in PowerPoint 2003 because the gradient effect won't be fluid across all of the slices, making the graphic look unprofessional.

The graphic to the left shows a gradient that was applied to all of the slices at once. The light source is on the left, making the right side of the sphere darker. Remember that if you're using a gradient like this, you can't really use a drop shadow below. The light source for shadows and gradients needs to be consistent.


The animated example provided for this series is kind of complex. You don't have to use such a complex scheme. You can easily raise slices from bottom or drop them in from the top. Or bring them in from the sides if you wish. Simple reveals work well too, of course.

Series that relate to this tutorial:

RE035 – Relationship 035 – Sliced Spheres

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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