Have you ever wanted to create professional-looking vector illustrations for your online project, but not sure how to start?

Animating pre-designed vector graphics in PowerPoint is a simple and fun way to impress viewers and learners with beautiful creative videos.

After I started creating online courses 8 years back, I soon realized that the idea of one-type-fit-all course or lesson (online) was rather illusory.

Not everyone learns the same way, dropouts are common in online courses, and students often find lessons dull and uninspiring.

I remember doing some work on learner apathy in online courses 2 years back and discussing practical workable solutions to this issue.

Against this backdrop, vector illustrations can be handy to explain lessons, they are available for free and in plenty. And they are helpful for micro-learning or micro-lessons, depending on which side you belong to, learning or teaching.

I have explained below some examples of actual applications of pre-designed vector illustrations to help and encourage online teachers for exploring similar uses in their projects.

Before going there, let me take a bit of your time explaining what a vector illustration or vector graphic is, and what its advantages are vis-à-vis raster or bitmap images.


What is a vector illustration?

A vector illustration is created using mathematical formulae to draw lines and curves that can be combined to create an image from geometric objects such as circles and polygons.

In simple terms, here are a couple of advantages when you want to design vector illustrations:

  1. Since it’s a mathematic formula, a simple vector illustration will occupy much less space compared to large space required by a raster image for storing color information for each individual pixel that forms it.
  2. A vector image is more scalable. When a vector image is scaled up or enlarged, the image is redrawn using the mathematical formula, so the resulting image is just as smooth as the original, unlike a raster image which gets pixelated when enlarged.

See some instances here, also watch the unchanging vector illustrations below when enlarged or shortened.

Vector illustrations do not lose shape when enlarged or reduced

Let’s now look at three examples of using pre-designed vector illustrations.


1. Using vector illustration from Undraw

Undraw is a great resource for vector illustrations where you can find a constantly updated collection of beautiful vector images that you can use completely free and without attribution.

Step One

In the illustration below I’m using a finance related vector image which I’ll later modify.

Download vector illustrations from Undraw

Step Two

Let me do some animation to the vector image in PowerPoint.

You may want this to explain any topic related to money, economics, business, investment, banking, accounting, and so on.

Animated illustration quickly catches eye instead of static image. To do this, open the SVG image in PowerPoint.

Starting from January 2017, Office 365, of which PowerPoint is a part, supports SVG file.

Next, the image needs to be broken into individual components.

After the SVG image is ungrouped into individual components which made the whole, it is easy to animate them individually.

The 2 illustrations below show different ways I’ve animated the vector illustration.

Animating vector illustrations - example 2

Animating vector illustrations - example 3

All the animations in this article are GIFs, done with proper tools for finer control and better result.

There are other means to create GIFs (some with free tools), and I’ve explained them here.


2. Using vector illustration from Pixabay

You can source free vector images from large repository sites like Freepik, Vecteezy, Clipart.com, Pixabay, etc.

For this illustration I’m choosing Pixabay, because of CC0 license, which means it’s free for commercial use and that no attribution is required.

Also I want to show how to use an AI vector illustration in PowerPoint by converting it to SVG.

Step One

Let me select this vector illustration related to nature. You may want to use this to design your logo.

AI vector illustration from Pixabay

Step Two

As can be seen, the vector illustration is in AI (Adobe Illustrator) format. AI cannot be opened in PowerPoint, so it must be changed to vector formats like SVG, EPS, WMF, etc.

In this case I’ll convert AI to SVG with a popular online free conversion tool.

Interestingly, the AI file was 110kb in size, that got reduced to just 37kb after converting to SVG.

Step Three

The stage is now set to animate the SVG file in PowerPoint as explained earlier. You can do any kind of animation, I’ve done as shown below.

Animating vector illustrations from Pixabay


3. Using vector illustrations for a lesson

Finally, in this example I’ll be using the vector icons from PowerPoint’s own repository.

I created a visual lesson on Online Buying Cycle after inserting 11 icons and animating them as necessary to explain the sequence of buying decision online.

Watch the illustration below.

Vector illustrations animation showing buying cycle


Summing up

As can be seen, it’s rather straight-forward.

The advantages of using pre-designed vector illustrations are many, especially when you create animated GIFs from them.

Even if you do not use animations, you can still use the vector illustrations on your landing pages for better clarity.

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