Excel Optical Illusions #13

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I call this week's Excel optical illusion, Swirling Almonds.


This advanced Excel chart is highly interactive. In addition to all the illusory movement, there's a button that animates the nuts in actuality. It's quite a show. You can also remove or include different groups of nuts to investigate what happens to the illusion. Surprisingly, the effect is even stronger for me with less nuts.

The workbook should behave in all versions of Excel. 

Here it is:

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Those almonds are driving me nuts!

That's a very powerful illusion. This illusion was actually used by a band called Animal Collective, for the album cover of Meriwether Post Pavilion.


I use both Excel 2003 for Windows and Excel 2004 for Mac. While this illusion seems to work fine on the Windows version it doesn't seem to function properly on the Mac version. First of the almonds are next to invisible but that can be fixed by change the point size of each chart series to 72. However when I animate the illusion the script seems to loop continuously. I'm fairly new to both charts and VBA so I'm not sure exactly what's happening.

Thanks for the blog, I'm learning a lot.

@Jeff - We aim to please!

@Tom - I didn't know that. Thanks for the link!

@Ron - I don't have a Mac. Sorry for the problems on that platform, but without access to one, I can't even speculate. Maybe someone with VBA/Mac experience can shed some light. And if you send me an updated file that works properly on Macs, I'll happily post it here.


Daniel Ferry

P.S. Recently found your blog and I dig it. I really like the animations you've demonstrated (that solar chart was spectacular with the integrated midi sounds). I'd love to find a way to make better use of animations in my dashboard project. I've got dynamic charts (based off of dynamic named ranges) that would look killer if there was an animation when the data changed. Maybe a bit over the top, but they would look rad. I think there are probably software packages (flash based?) that do this sort of thing but I'm all about using Excel where possible because of it's ubiquity.

Keep up the good work!

@Tom Quist -

I'm glad you found my blog!

You may be interested in knowing that I have a new multi-media Excel chart project that I will be publishing this week. Stay tuned!


Daniel Ferry

I can't wait, but I will ;)

I was trying to get an feed for the RSS to the blog and I am not sure why, but it is not properly showing up in Google Chrome. Does anyone have any suggestions?

I ma very much interested in the technique you used to create this xy chart. The VBA code is clear to me.
What I just don't get is how you associate a picture to a data point (normally one can specify a shape, but that't mot shown here at all). Would you like to tell me how you did it?

I have some ideas on animating our business processes with this type of technology. If I succeed, I let you know.


@Ruud van der Ham -

All you need to do is copy the picture to the clipboard, and then select the series on the chart, and then paste the picture.

I usually do this by clicking the series on the chart directly with the mouse. If you click twice you will select and individual data point. If you paste now, you will replace the marker for that point only with your picture.

And yest you can produce some very interesting results this way. Let me know how it goes for you.


Daniel Ferry


It works!
I intend to do some animations with this method. I let you know the results.


Thank you for a great post

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Daniel Ferry published on May 13, 2010 9:38 PM.

Excel Optical Illusions #12 was the previous entry in this blog.

Excel Animated Chart #2 is the next entry in this blog.

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