How to Use Motion Paths to Animate PowerPoint Graphics

Select Custom Animations to apply a motion path in PowerPoint
Screen shot © Wendy Russell

Oftentimes, none of the many custom animations that are included in PowerPoint are right for your project. So what can you do? The answer is to create a motion path of your own.

A motion path is a custom path, usually a line, that a graphic object follows across a PowerPoint slide. You can use a specific type of line that is already customized for you in PowerPoint, such as a line that travels down and to the right, or you can create a meandering line of your own.

  • PowerPoint 2007 - On the Animations tab of the ribbon click the Custom Animation button.
  • PowerPoint 2003 (and earlier) - Choose Slide Show > Custom Animation... from the menu.
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Choose to Draw a Custom Motion Path

Add a motion path by adding a custom animation effect in PowerPoint
Add a motion path by adding a custom animation effect. Screen shot © Wendy Russell

Add the Custom Motion Path

In this example, we will create a meandering path for the graphic object to follow on the PowerPoint slide.

  1. Select the graphic object.
  2. In the Custom Animation task pane on the right of the screen Select the following -

Add Effect > Motion Paths > Draw Custom Path > Scribble

Note - Choose different options as desired for other projects.

02
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Draw the Motion Path on the PowerPoint Slide

Draw the motion path on the PowerPoint slide
Draw the motion path on the PowerPoint slide. Screen shot © Wendy Russell

Meandering Motion Path

Using the Scribble option for a motion path allows you to draw any type of meandering path for the graphic object to follow.

  • Place the mouse pointer next to the graphic object and draw a line on the slide where you would like the object to follow.
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Modify the Speed of the Motion Path

Make any modifications to the PowerPoint motion path
Make any modifications to the PowerPoint motion path. Screen shot © Wendy Russell

Make Modifications to the Motion Path

Once the motion path has been drawn on the slide, you may wish to make modifications to the speed or whether the animation is applied on click or automatically. These options can be changed in the Custom Animation task pane.

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Test the PowerPoint Motion Path Animation

Test the motion path on the PowerPoint slide
Test the motion path on the PowerPoint slide. Screen shot © Wendy Russell

Test the Motion Path Animation

At the bottom of the custom animation task pane, click on the Play button to see the motion path animation applied to the graphic object.

If you do not like the result, you can simply select the motion path and press the ​Delete key on the keyboard to remove it. Repeat the previous steps to draw a new motion path.

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Sample Motion Path Animation in PowerPoint

Sample PowerPoint slide showing motion path
Sample PowerPoint slide showing motion path. Animation and Screen shot © Wendy Russell

Motion Path Animation

This animated image above shows an example of a meandering type of motion path animation using the Scribble option of the Custom Motion Paths.