Microsoft

Use a gradient fill in PowerPoint to add interesting effects to circle shapes

Susan Harkins shows you how to add a gradient fill pattern to add interesting layers to a circle shape within a PowerPoint slide.

Adding a gradient fill to a circle can add interesting elements to the shape. For example, the following slide is a simple circle with gradient fill using four position stops and three colors. The result renders a three-dimensional layered effect. I recommend that you play around with this feature to see what it has to offer. The effects can be quite remarkable.

To create this particular circle, do the following:

  1. Insert a circle onto a blank slide. Click the Insert tab. Then, click the Shapes dropdown in the Illustrations group. Circle is in the first section. Hold down the [Shift] key while inserting the shape to create a perfect circle. In PowerPoint 2003, you'll find AutoShapes on the Draw menu.
  2. Right-click the shape and choose Format Shape.
  3. Select Fill in the left pane.
  4. Click Gradient Fill
  5. Choose Path from the Type dropdown.
  6. The position stops and their settings will determine the effect. To recreate the example, use the settings (stops are left to right) in the table just below.

Color

Position

Brightness

Transparency

Medium Blue 0% 40% 0%
Medium Brown 58% -50% 0%
Medium-Light Brown 84% -25% 0%
Medium Brown 98% -50% 0%

I also set the slide's background to medium blue. I've really just given you someplace to start though. Experiment by sliding the stops. That way you'll learn how the stop positions impact each layer. Then, change the transparency and brightness settings to make the switch between layers more subtle or abrupt. Don't forget that you can change each layer's color and add more stops.

Changing the transparency setting will allow the background color to bleed thru. Changing the brightness will add the lighter to darker ring effect. The key is to experiment and learn.

About

Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

9 comments
Ron_007
Ron_007

As I suspected, this is a feature that translates to the other office apps, well at least Word (I tried it there). In future you may want to generalize the title from specific app to Office 2010 to draw in more viewers. The only "issue" I have with the article is your use of text names for the colors. I looked in the preset colors drop down, but didn't see it. Could you expand on how you selected the colors, or was it just "random" personal choice? I found the use of negative Brightness interesting too. Could you explain how it works? I've been playing with it, but haven't figured out a consistent rule for how the colors will change.

Matalist
Matalist

But I'm also interested in the shading effect stn564 requested.

zoladot
zoladot

Very interesting! I would appreciate an urgent clarity regarding the intended object potrayal of THAT image. At first, second and third glances it leaves one (and maybe some) with sweat-generating ambiguity!!!

stn564
stn564

Not to be rude, but it looks like a rolled-up condom.... Is there a way to do a top-bottom gradient fill (Light-dark) so that it will look like a sphere, illuminated from the top?

ssharkins
ssharkins

Not only did you make my day, you made me laugh! :) Thank you!

ssharkins
ssharkins

Personal choice -- I didn't start out to create anything. I just wanted an example to work with. I happen to like light brown and blue together. As for brightness, think of the brightness setting as you would a dimmer switch on a light. 100 is the brightest light the object can produce. Slide the thumb to reduce the number and watch the "light" go down -- just like a dimmer switch.

ppg
ppg

In Excel 2007 there is a direction option. You can change from centred about the middle to centred about one of the corners (for your desired effect use the upper left corner). If you then make the colour darker as you go down it looks like a sphere. You can fine tune the effective source of the light by rotating the circle a few degrees

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

The first thing I thought of when I saw the example image was a piece of caramel-flavored candy.

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