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Unified Picture Fill for Multiple Shapes in PowerPoint

Create shape segments with a unified picture fill in PowerPoint.


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Product/Version: Microsoft PowerPoint (Newer versions)
OS: Windows and Mac OS






Do you want to add a picture that fills not one but many shapes? And do you want the picture fill to span across multiple shapes?

First of all look at this slide that includes several shapes, as illustrated in Figure 1 below.

A slide with shapes
Figure 1: A slide with shapes

If you look carefully at the slide shown in Figure 1, you will notice that we have inserted several Rounded Rectangle shapes and placed them somewhat symmetrically to fill the entire slide.

Now if we wanted to fill the Rounded Rectangle shapes with a picture, we could select one, or even all of them and apply a picture fill, to end up with what you can see in Figure 2, below. Note that the same picture fill has been applied to all the shapes, and the results are not too great because the picture has been squashed and stretched to fill within the individual shapes.

Squished and stretched fills
Figure 2: Squashed and stretched fills

In Figure 3 below, you can see the actual picture we used. This picture was sourced from Pixabay.

Picture used for the fill
Figure 3: Picture used for the fill

Do you hate squashed and stretched pictures? Regaining the lost aspect ratio and proportion is easy using the option to Reposition Picture Fills with the Crop tool.

But what if we wanted our picture to span across all the shapes? Is that doable? Yes, it is—and there are several ways to achieve these results. We will look at two approaches:

  1. The first approach is to use the Group options
  2. The second approach is to use the Combine options.

Both of them have pros and cons. If you use the Group option, you cannot reposition the picture fill. And if you use the Combine option, you can reposition the picture fill, but you will not be able to un-combine the shapes. Having said so, the Combine option is the better option, but we will explore both ways.

The Group Option

Follow these steps to learn how you can create a unified fill with grouped shapes:

  1. We start with selecting all shapes on the slide. We will then group all shapes, as shown in Figure 4, below.

    Grouped shapes
    Figure 4: Grouped shapes

  2. Now with the entire group selected, add a picture fill to end up with what you can see in Figure 5, below. Do note though that the picture is somewhat squashed lengthwise.

    Grouped shapes with a unified picture fill
    Figure 5: Grouped shapes with a unified picture fill.

The Combine Option

Now let us try the second approach, and combine the shapes.

  1. Select all shapes and choose the Combine option. This Combine option is only available in PowerPoint 2010 or higher on Windows, and in PowerPoint 2011 or higher on Mac.
  2. If you fill the combined shape with a picture, the result will appear exactly as what you saw with the grouped shapes, as shown in Figure 5 , above.

    But there is a difference because when you use combined shapes, PowerPoint allows you to reposition and resize the picture fill. In fact, when the combined shape filled with a picture is selected, you will see the Picture Tools Format tab in the Ribbon, as shown in Figure 6, below.

    The picture fill can be resized and repositioned
    Figure 6: The picture fill can be resized and repositioned
  3. To reposition or resize the picture fill, you can access the Picture Tools Format tab in the Ribbon, and then click the arrow beneath the Crop button to bring up the drop-down list that is shown in Figure 6, above. Now choose the Fill option, and you will see several handles, as illustrated in Figure 7, below.

    Handles let you reposition and resize picture fills
    Figure 7: Handles let you reposition and resize picture fills

To learn how you can resize and reposition picture fills in different PowerPoint versions, look at our Reposition Picture Fills with the Crop tool page.

PowerPoint Keyboard Shortcuts

PowerPoint Keyboard Shortcuts and Sequences:
PowerPoint 2016, 2013, 2011, 2010, 2007 and 2003 for Windows
PowerPoint 2016 and 2011 for Mac

Have your ever used keyboard shortcuts and sequences in PowerPoint? Or are you a complete keyboard aficionado? Do you want to learn about some new shortcuts? Or do you want to know if your favorite keyboard shortcuts are documented?

Go and get a copy of our PowerPoint Keyboard Shortcuts and Sequences ebook.



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