Learn to use gradients effectively in your business presentations to create a stunning 3D Effect. Don’t settle for the standard presets that come with the software.
How do you convert a simple 2D object into an interesting 3D object without using any 3D tools in PowerPoint?
By using Gradient fill. Take a look at the following example:

We transformed a boring two dimensional circle into a stunning three dimensional glossy ball by applying Radial gradient fill. Here is another example:
We converted a simple 2D rectangle shape into an interesting 3D pipe, by applying linear gradient fill. We didn't use any 3D tool to achieve the results shown in the examples above.

Magic behind the transformation:
The simple secret behind this magical transformation of objects is - the principle of light and shade. Over the years, great painters, architects and designers have utilized the principle to create magic in their work of art. The principle is based on these two simple facts:
  1. The area closest to light source is the brightest and the area farthest to light source is the darkest
  2. Light spreads evenly on plain surfaces
  3. Whenever these principles are violated, we feel the flaw intuitively.
Issues with Gradient Presets:
One of the common ways to apply gradients to shapes is to use standard presets that come with the software. However, the results are not always convincing. Let us take the example of ‘Chrome II’ preset:
The preset doesn't seem to follow the principles of light and shade closely. 

Here is a improved version of the preset:
We made minor adjustments to ‘Start positions’ of the Gradient stops to get a much improved version of the preset shade. Let’s see the difference the shading makes when used in a graphic:

The steel pin in the top graphic uses standard PowerPoint Gradients preset, the pin in the bottom graphic uses improved gradient fill. It is subtle differences like these that set professional graphics apart from the ‘usual’ graphics.Conclusion about Gradients:When you use color fill in PowerPoint effectively, they can take your graphics to a whole new level. However, when you use them poorly, they make your graphics look amateurish.Take a couple of minutes to adjust the ‘Gradient stops’ till you are happy with the result. It is worth the effort. Once done, you can use the fill as your new preset and use ‘Format painter’ to apply the improved fill to any shape you want.

Here are some example of modified professional coloring used:

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