Microsoft PowerPoint is a common visualization tool used in many organizations.
You can quickly draw 2D diagrams and illustrations in PowerPoint to tell your stories or describe your ideas.
However, you may find cases where your ideas can be better clarified using 3D graphics.
You can use 3D models or objects in your PowerPoint slides using two methods:
- Inserting an existing 3D model. PowerPoint accepts several types of standard 3D objects, including STL and OBJ formatted 3D files. Obviously, the main benefit of using a pre-made 3D model is that you don’t have to spend any effort creating the model. All you have to do is pose and animate the inserted 3D object exactly the way you want. In fact, PowerPoint provides handy 3D formatting and animation tools to make it easy to work with pre-made 3D objects. However, it may be difficult or even impossible to find a pre-made 3D model that exactly matches your requirements. In that case, you can create your own 3D objects using a 3D modeling software program. We’ll talk more about using external pre-built 3D models in PowerPoint in a future post. Alternatively, you can build your own 3D objects in PowerPoint, which brings us to the next point.
- Building a custom 3D object in PowerPoint. Use the drawing and illustration tools in PowerPoint to build your custom 3D objects. If you can’t find a suitable 3D object online that fits your presentation needs, and you don’t want to mess around with a separate 3D modeling tool, this may be a good solution for you. This is what we’ll discuss in this article.
In this article, we’ll go over the steps to easily make basic 3D objects in PowerPoint.
The technique uses PowerPoint’s 3D Format and 3D Rotation features, which convert basic 2D shapes into 3D objects by extruding the 2D shapes.
The 3D model creation process can be summarized in 2 basic steps:
- Draw the 2D shape.
- Extrude the 2D shape to create your 3D object.
- Pose the 3D object.
Extruding the 2D shape is done by setting the 3D Format parameters such as the Top Bevel, Bottom Bevel, and Depth values.
A very important point to note is that the 3D Format values are measured in units of Points (pts), where 1 inch is equal to 72 pts.
You can also optionally edit other settings including the object’s material and lighting.
Once you have created the 3D object, you can pose it using the 3D Rotation settings. This lets you rotate the object along its X, Y, and Z axes. This feature also lets you adjust the object’s position relative to its original ‘ground’ position.
For more details on the most important points about PowerPoint 3D object modeling, watch this video:
Now that you know the basic principles behind creating 3D objects in PowerPoint, we’re ready to go over the detailed steps for creating the individual shapes.
Let’s get started.
How to Create 3D Cubes & Cuboids In PowerPoint
To create a perfect cube, start with a perfect square.
Step 1: Draw a Square
Select the Rectangle tool. While holding down the SHIFT key, click and drag your mouse pointer to draw a square. Edit the shape’s Height and Width values. In this example, we’re drawing a 1″x1″ square.
Step 2: Extrude the Square
First, open the Format Shape tool. The easiest way to extrude our 2D square is by setting its Depth value. As mentioned earlier, the 3D Format values are in “pt” (points), and 1″ = 72 pt. So, to create a 1″x1″x1″ cube, we set the Depth size to 72 pt.
Step 3: Pose the 3D Cube
Now let’s pose the cube using the 3D Rotation settings. We’ll use one of the preset perspective settings. Feel free to try any of the other presets, or choose your own 3D Rotation values manually.
Here’s the end result:
Congratulations! You have made a 3D cube in PowerPoint!
Customizing Your PowerPoint 3D Objects
Now, we can optionally change the cube’s other 3D Format settings.
- You can set the color of the 3D Depth setting, which has become the sides of the cube.
- The 3D Contour color and size act as outlines for the 3D object.
- The Material type lets you fine tune the surface appearance of the 3D object.
- The Lighting setup provides a simple way to set the 3D scene’s appearance and mood.
Experiment with different combinations of presets and colors to familiarize yourself with the 3D Format settings.
Second Method of Creating a 3D Cube
Now, let’s look at a SECOND way to create your 3D cube object, this time using the bevel settings.
Using the same 2D square drawing, clear the 3D Depth value (set to 0 pt). Then, select the Angle bevel for the Top bevel type. Set the bevel width to 0 pt and its height to 72 pt as follows:
You’ll still end up with a perfect cube, although the color settings (3D Depth, 3D Contour, 2D Outline) now work slightly differently than before.
You can use different combinations of bevels, depth values to achieve a little more flexibility. The figure below shows how the color settings are mapped to parts of the 3D box object.
Step 1: Draw a Rectangle
Using the Rectangle tool, draw your 2D rectangle shape by simply clicking and dragging the mouse without holding down the SHIFT key.
Step 2: Extrude the Rectangle
To extrude the rectangle, choose from either adding 3D Depth, or using a Bevel, or combinations of both.
Here are several example of 3D boxes created in PowerPoint. Refer to the Format Picture panel in the respective images to see their 3D Format settings.
How to Create 3D Cylinders & Prisms In PowerPoint
If you use the same techniques described above on a 2D circle shape, you’ll get a cylinder. It’s that easy!
Now use a 2D triangle shape and apply the 3D angle bevel. You get a prism!
How to Create 3D Pyramids In PowerPoint
To make a 3D pyramid, draw a square and apply the Angle bevel as its top bevel. Adjust the bevel’s height and width values to suite your needs.
How to Create 3D Spheres & Hemispheres In PowerPoint
To make a 3D hemisphere, take a 2D square drawing and apply a ROUND top bevel. Note the size of the 2D circle’s radius. For every 1″ of radius, apply 72 pts of bevel width and height.
The example below uses a 3-inch-high 2D circle (3 inches in DIAMETER), which means its RADIUS is 1.5 inches. Therefore, you get 108 pts as the bevel’s width and height values (72 pts/inch x 1.5 inch = 108 pts).
Apply these settings to both the top and bottom bevels to make a SPHERE.
More Complex 3D Models
You now know how to quickly build simple 3D shapes in PowerPoint.
To take things to the next levels, you can build more complex PowerPoint 3D models by combining and grouping shapes as shown in the following videos.
This video shows how to make 3D pencils in PowerPoint using as few as two 2D circles:
In the next video, I use only three 2D shapes to create 3D chairs:
Once you get the hang of the basics of building these basic 3D models, you should be able to create more advanced and awesome looking models.
Here is an example to give you an idea of what you can create with slightly more sophisticated combinations of shapes.
We’ve learned how to easily convert 2D shapes into 3D objects in PowerPoint. Remember the key points that we discussed:
- 3D parameters such as Depth, Bevel Width, and Bevel Height are measured in points. 1 inch is equal to 72 points of 3D depth.
- Converting 2D shapes into 3D objects involves extruding the shapes using the 3D Format feature. Specifically, we do this using the top/bottom bevels, depth, and offset parameters of the 3D Format and 3D Rotation features.
- Use the 3D Rotation settings to pose and animate your 3D scenes/objects.
In the next post, I’ll show you how to create more complex 3D models. Subscribe to the mailing list to make sure you’re notified as soon as that post is published.