Transparent Montages in PowerPoint
By: Geetesh Bajaj
Date Created: October 19th 2005
Last Updated: March 2nd 2009
Have you ever wanted to fill a picture with a gradient - or another picture in PowerPoint? Have you wanted to blend two pictures in PowerPoint to create a montage? More importantly, have you been frustrated running images between Photoshop and PowerPoint to achieve some simple effects (like the ones shown below)?
Here's an easy trick that might prevent you from using Photoshop for basic color effects. However, this works only with PowerPoint 2002 and 2003.
- In a new or existing presentation, add a new slide.
This can be done by choosing the Insert | New Slide option.
Thereafter, choose Format | Slide Layout and
make sure that you choose the Blank slide layout from the
Slide Layout task pane.
- If the Drawing toolbar is not visible, choose View
| Toolbars | Drawing to make it visible. The Drawing toolbar
typically lives at the bottom of the PowerPoint interface
unless you moved it around.
- Select the rectangle icon on the Drawing toolbar. Drag
and draw your rectangle on the slide area. Now double-click
this rectangle shape to summon the Format AutoShape dialog
box that you can see in Figure 1.
Figure 1: The Format AutoShape dialog box.
- Select the Color and Lines tab of this dialog box and
click the downward pointing arrow next to the Color option
in the Fill area to open a flyout menu. In the Flyout menu,
choose the Fill Effects option. This brings up the multi-tabbed
Fill Effects dialog box that you can see in Figure 2.
Figure 2: The Fill Effects dialog box.
- Select the Picture tab and click the Select
This typically opens the default My Pictures folder - most
of the time, you'll see a Sample Pictures sub-folder within
this folder - just open that and choose the Blue Hills
picture. Of course, you can choose any other picture on
your system to follow the rest of this tutorial. Click Insert to get back to the Fill Effects dialog box, and
then click OK to get back to the original Format AutoShape
- Back in the Format AutoShape dialog box, click the downward
pointing arrow next to the Color option in the Line area
- and choose the No Line option in the resultant flyout
menu. Right above that option, in the Fill area, change
the Transparency to around 70%. Click OK to get back to
your slide. Now is a good time to resize your rectangle
- I filled in mine to cover around a quarter of the slide
area as you can see in Figure 3.
Figure 3: My picture-in-the rectangle covers a quarter of the screen.
- Now for the fun part! Just select your shape (and
the filled-in picture) and choose Edit | Cut to
place it on
the clipboard. Then choose Edit | Paste Special
to bring up the Paste Special dialog box
that you can see in Figure
4. Choose the Picture (PNG) option
and click OK to paste
your picture back into PowerPoint.
You might be thinking that was no big deal since we essentially got back what we put on the clipboard?
Actually, there's more here than what meets the eye. To discover that, let's start applying some effects!
Figure 4: Bring back your picture as a PNG (pronounced PING).
- Choose Format | Picture to summon the Format
Picture dialog box
- and make sure that you are on the Colors and
Lines tab. Your Fill Color option now shows No
shown in Figure 5. That means you can
now apply another fill to your picture.
Your new fill could be a gradient, a texture, a pattern, or even another picture! Click the downward pointing arrow next to No Fill to open a familiar flyout menu - and choose the Fill Effects option. This brings up the same Fill Effects dialog box that we last visited in Figure 2.
Figure 5: The Format Picture dialog box.
- Now you have your choices with four tabs - I'll just
choose the Gradient option for now and fill my picture
with a nice blue-green gradient. To make it even better,
I just experimented with several other gradients as you
can see in Figure 6.
Figure 6: Imagine - all this happened just inside PowerPoint!
Download the sample presentation here...
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