PowerPoint – 3-D Custom Shapes (Cylinders)

In a previous blog I showed you how to create a shiny sphere which you can use in a variety of ways. This time, I will show you how to create a transparent tube/cylinder.

Go to the INSERT tab and click on SHAPES. From the window that appears, click on the DONUT.

Pick out the donut

Pick out the donut

Draw a perfectly round DONUT by holding down the SHIFT key as you click and drag.

Resize the walls of your donut

Resize the walls of your donut

The DONUT ring is quite thick and we need to reduce this a bit so we end up with the image on the right (above). To do this, click and drag the yellow grab handle towards the outside of the DONUT.

We will start with a basic cylinder for now, but I will show you how to add something inside the cylinder a bit further on.

Right click on your DONUT and select FORMAT SHAPE.

Select 3-D ROTATION, and from the presets, and from the group called PERSPECTIVE, pick the one called PERSPECTIVE RELAXED.

Perspective relaxed option

Perspective relaxed option

You now get something like this…

A "relaxed" donut

A “relaxed” donut

You can always change the perspective manually later to suit your particular requirements, but this will do for now.

At this stage we can add a little interest to the shape by adding a bevel, but it’s not absolutely necessary. If we do though, we do it by selecting the 3-D FORMAT option and selecting one of the bevel options from the TOP BEVEL button. This will give us…

"Relaxed" donut with added top bevel

“Relaxed” donut with added top bevel

Now we need to add some depth to our shape. Amongst the 3-D FORMAT options you’ll see DEPTH. Pick a colour so it matches with what will be the top of our cylinder and type in a value to give some depth to the DONUT. In this example I will set it to 250 pt.

Donut turned into a cylinder

Donut turned into a cylinder

Try out the different MATERIAL and LIGHTING options available to you as well as the ANGLE of the light to see a variety of different effects.

Using some of the material and lighting options

Using some of the material and lighting options

At this point you are thinking “well…that’s pretty…but what do I do with it?”

This is where having something in the cylinder might be of use. For instance you might want to represent profit levels, or levels of readiness for a project and want something a little more interesting than just 50% written across the screen.

Start off exactly as we did before to create the empty cylinder but this time add in a coloured CIRCLE inside the DONUT. Once you’ve done that, GROUP the two shapes together. Continue as above adding bevels and depth to the grouped shape. You should now have something like this…

Cylinder with 2filling"

Cylinder with “filling”

At the moment our contents “fill” the cylinder. We can adjust this level to whatever we want to give the impression of different values i.e. 75%, 50% etc.

Click TWICE (not a double click) to select the “filling”. Change the DEPTH to whatever level you want to show. Here, I will set it to 125 pt (or 50% of the full cylinder).

Filling adjusted to 50%

Filling adjusted to 50%

Problem is, the DEPTH varies starting from the top, not the bottom which would make more sense. To lower the “filling” go to 3-D ROTATION and go to the setting DISTANCE FROM GROUND. Enter a NEGATIVE value until you hit the bottom of the cylinder.

Three transparent cylinders showing three different fill levels

Three transparent cylinders showing three different fill levels

Apply different values to your “filling” to represent different values as I have done in the example above. I have also changed the perspective slightly to give a better view of the levels in each cylinder.

So with a few simple techniques you can create your own custom 3-D shapes that represent your data in a more visually interesting way than just a handful of bullets with numbers, and you don’t have to go and buy some random stock photo that doesn’t really show what you want the way you imagined it.


Posted on April 6, 2014, in PowerPoint and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. Thjanks for this great how to but unfortunately i do not see the second clinder through the firs one and yet have the top of it like yours visible without any other shape on top level). I am using powerpoint . is there anaything special to do to have a correct transparancy in “holes”?

    • Did you use a cylinder or a ring to create the outside? Make sure you use a ring and give it depth etc. Like that you should see the inner shape and make it look as though it’s open at the top

  2. Hi, this is a pretty cool feature. However I too can not get the second shape (the Circle) to fill into the stretched donut like you did and I have tried them separately and as a group. Any suggestions?

    Thank you

    • There’s a section in the blog about getting the centre tube filled at the correct level. The donut and inner circle are drawn and grouped. Do your height/depth settings etc. You can click on individual elements even when grouped so they can be formatted differently to other parts of the group. Do not ungroup as this is a complete nightmare to set back again. The centre full tube then needs to have its depth adjusted and then make sure you go to set distance from ground on the 3D rotation options setting a negative value to make it sink to the bottom of the outer tube

      • Thank you for your response. The problem starts way earlier. The Donut and Circle are at different “angels” if you choose the same perspective like you for example have in your post – relaxed. This is what I cant seem to get right.


      • Make sure you draw the two shapes as described and group them before applying any formatting other than colour. Once grouped at that stage when you apply the new perspective they both go to the same selected angle. Try that see how you get on

      • Thank you, I have repeated the exercise and created them together and then managed to get them (almost) like you did.

        Have a nice day

      • Glad you got there. Have a good weekend

      • Thank you and you too. I would not say I got there but I’ll have todo. I would have preferred to get it the same as you have where you have the “Three transparent cylinders showing three different fill levels” but so far I just could not match it to the exact same and obviously sizing etc. also plays a role but I just don’t have time to experiment further. I have a dead-line due tomorrow and that must now take priority.


  3. Good day sir, You have helped me before with 3D objects that I used to great effect in a Scorecard that I build. In this same Scorectrd I have a simple bit of coding to change the colors of my diagram but I am experiencing difficulty where my formula results = FALSE and it must actualy be represented as “”. Would you maybe care to assist in this regard?

    Thank you

    • Could you send me the code sample you have and I can take a look see if anything jumps out

      • My problem is where the font is in red, then it skips to where the blue is so it does not go into the approriate area where if values are blank colors nust be changed to grey so it stays the way it is.


      • I’m guessing that it’s down to the logical order of your statements. If your first IF or select statement checks if the font is red even if the cell is empty it may already have a font colour applied in which case it will check that first ahead of being empty. I would start testing that first and then think about something else if that’s not the solution

      • Sorry not sure I understand you. It is checking to determine what the numeric value is then that determines where it should go in to apply the change in color. In this case because the value is FALSE it treats it as no value and skip through without entering that section.

  4. The color may be red because in the past my “not true statements had a value of “o” or “” but they now want to see that it is FALSE when not applicable. So all those which had colors previously must now be chnaged back to grey.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: