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Add Gradient Fills to Shapes in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac

Learn how to add gradient fills to selected shapes in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac.


Author: Geetesh Bajaj

Product/Version: Microsoft PowerPoint 2011
OS: Mac OS X

Date Created: July 26th 2011
Last Updated: July 26th 2011






PowerPoint 2011 essentially provides five fill options: solid, picture, gradient, texture and slide background fill -- of course there's a sixth option called "No fill". We have already explored the solid fill option -- in this tutorial, you'll learn about working with gradient fills. Gradient fills are typically blended fills between two or more colors that graduate from one color to another. To see a sample presentation containing gradient fills in PowerPoint, scroll down to the bottom of this page.

Follow these steps to change or apply a gradient fill to a shape:

  1. Select the shape that you want to change the fill for. Alternatively, if you just want to follow this tutorial step-by-step, launch PowerPoint. You will see the Presentation Gallery which allows you to set all attributes of your new presentation, such as a preset Theme or template. Make selections or just click Cancel in this gallery to open a blank presentation with a new slide -- PowerPoint 2011 users can change the slide layout of this slide to Blank by selecting Layout | Blank within the Home tab of the Ribbon.

  2. Within the Home tab of the Ribbon, locate the Insert group and click the Shape button to access the Shape gallery with different types of shape options that you can see in Figure 1. Select any shape option to access the related submenu, select the shape you prefer (we selected the Teardrop shape, as you can see in Figure 1).

    Shape gallery in PowerPoint 2011
    Figure 1: Shape gallery

  3. Click and drag on the slide to insert the shape, or click once on the blank slide to place an instance of the shape. Select the inserted shape so that the Ribbon area now shows the Format tab that you can see in Figure 2 (highlighted in red). Activate this Ribbon tab by clicking on it.

    Format tab of the Ribbon in PowerPoint 2011
    Figure 2: Format tab of the Ribbon

    Note: Format tab is a contextual tab. These tabs are special tabs in the Ribbon that are not visible all the time -- they only make an appearance when you are working with a particular slide object which can be edited using special options.


  4. Within the Format tab, locate the Shape Styles group. Then click the downward arrow next to the Fill button to view the Fill drop-down gallery that you can see in Figure 3.

    Fill drop-down gallery
    Figure 3: Fill drop-down gallery

  5. Within the Fill drop-down gallery, select the Fill Effects option which is the last option (refer to Figure 3 above). This opens the Format Shape dialog box. Make sure that the Fill panel is active, and click on the Gradient tab that you can see in Figure 4 below.

    Gradient Fill options within Format Shape dialog box
    Figure 4: Gradient Fill options within the Format Shape dialog box

    All gradient fill options are explained below (refer to the areas marked in Figure 4 above):

    1. Style: There are five gradient styles available within the Style drop-down list (see Figure 5).

      Style drop-down list within Gradient tab
      Figure 5: Style drop-down list within Gradient tab

      These are:

      1. None can be helpful if you want to remove pre-applied gradients. When a fill option other than gradient is applied to any shape, the style will be None.

      2. Linear gradient styles are either horizontal or vertical gradients although they can be diagonal to any degree -- use the Angle option explained later on this page to change the degree. Figure 6 shows some samples of the same linear gradient rotated to different angle values. We normally don't use gradients that are so gaudy -- but since our previews are so small, I thought this sort of gradient will bring out the differences in gradient types well!

        Shapes filled with linear gradients rotated to different angle values
        Figure 6: Shapes filled with linear gradients rotated to different angle values

      3. Radial gradient styles start with one color from a center position, and then merge into other colors towards the edge of the shape they fill. You can change the position of the center from which the gradient radiates to either the center, or any of the four corners as you can see in Figure 7. If your radial gradient has many stops with contrasting colors, the gradient might end up looking like concentric curves rather than smooth gradients -- that's exactly what has happened in Figure 7 -- but use a simpler two color gradient, and you'll see more subtle, graduated results.

        Shapes filled with radial gradients centered from different positions
        Figure 7: Shapes filled with radial gradients centered from different positions

      4. Rectangular gradient styles are the same as radial gradients in all ways, but they spread out from a center position in a rectangular (or square) form rather than a circular form. Compare Figure 7 above with Figure 8 below and you'll understand what I am explaining! Again, you can change the position of the center from which the gradient merges to either the center, or any of the four corners as you can see in Figure 8.

        Shapes filled with rectangular gradients centered from different positions
        Figure 8: Shapes filled with rectangular gradients centered from different positions

      5. Path gradient styles again are similar to radial or rectangular gradient types -- but they radiate using the shape as a path -- so a triangular shape shows a triangular gradient, a star shows a star-spread gradient, and so forth -- see Figure 9. Not surprisingly, a path gradient or a radial gradient within a circle may look the same, as you can see in the second shape in Figure 9 below.

        Shapes filled with path gradients
        Figure 9: Shapes filled with path gradients

    2. Angle: Sets the angle of the gradient (see Figure 10). Angle direction applies to Linear style only.

      Angle Direction
      Figure 10: Angle

      There are 3 ways to set the angle direction of a gradient fill:

      1. Click the dot on the round control and drag around the circle.

      2. Type a specific value into the spinner control.

      3. Click the spinner control's up and down arrow buttons.

    3. Direction: Click this drop-down list to choose a gradient direction from several different positions within the shape as shown in Figure 11. This option is not available with the Linear and Path style gradients. This control can be used to substitutive angle values when working with Radial or Rectangular styles.

      Direction
      Figure 11: Direction

    4. Gradient: This is the first option within the Color and Transparency section. Each color handle underneath the live preview rectangle represents a gradient stop in your gradient fill (see Figure 12).

      To control the gradient stop's blending percentage within the gradient, you can either drag the color handles left and right, or enter the percentage value in the gradient stop's spinner control (set at 50% in Figure 12) or use the gradient stop's spinner control buttons (up and down arrow buttons).

      Gradient
      Figure 12: Gradient

    5. Add Color and Delete Color: Each time you click the Add Color button (see Figure 13), a new color handle (representing a gradient stop) is added next to the active handle beneath the Live Preview rectangle, and becomes the selected (active) handle. Clicking Delete Color button (see Figure 13) deletes the currently selected color handle and it's associated gradient color.

      Add Color and Delete Color buttons
      Figure 13: Add Color and Delete Color buttons

    6. Color: Displays the drop-down menu (see Figure 14) so that you can choose a color to apply to the currently selected color handle's gradient. If you want any other color, you can also summon Mac OS X Color picker by selecting More Colors option. Making selection for gradient color is very similar to making selection for solid fill. The only difference with gradient colors is that the selected color will be applied only to the selected tab's position, instead of the complete shape.

      Color drop-down menu
      Figure 14: Color drop-down menu

    7. Transparency: Drag the slider (see Figure 15) or use the spinner control to adjust the transparency of the selected color handle (gradient stop). If you want to adjust the transparency of the entire gradient fill, use the Transparency slider that you can find within the Shape Styles group of Format tab (highlighted in blue in Figure 2 above).

      Transparency slider
      Figure 15: Transparency slider

      Note: When you are making changes to the shape attributes within Format Shape dialog box, you can see the live preview of the changes in the selected shape. So, always place the Format Shape dialog box on the slide such that it won't hide the selected shape.


    8. Rotate gradient with shape: When this check-box is selected as shown in Figure 4, the gradient fill will also rotate with the shape when you rotate the shape.
  6. As and when you choose different gradient options for the selected shape and make changes, you can see a live preview of the effect in the shape. Once you get the effect you are happy with, click OK in the Format Shape dialog box to apply it to the selected shape and get back to the slide. Figure 16 shows the shape with a Radial style gradient fill.

    Shape with gradient fill
    Figure 16: Shape with gradient fill

  7. Once you are done, save your presentation.

    Tip: If your slide has many shapes that you want to fill with the same type of gradient, or even any other fill type, select all the shapes before you click on any of the fill options. This lets you add or change the fill of all selected shapes at one time.

Sample Presentation of Gradient Fill in Shape.


Click above to view this presentation on SlideShare


Click above to view this presentation on YouTube

See Also:

Add Gradient Fills to Shapes in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows
Add Gradient Fills to Shapes in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows
Add Gradient Fills to Shapes in PowerPoint 2010 for Windows
Add Gradient Fills to Shapes in PowerPoint 2007 for Windows
Add Gradient Fills to AutoShapes in PowerPoint 2002 and 2003 for Windows

 

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