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Handmade Slides: Using Scanned Pictures

Author: Geetesh Bajaj

Product/Version: All PowerPoint Versions
OS: Windows and Mac

Date Created: September 8th 2012
Last Updated: September 8th 2012

Excerpt/Capsule: Explore how a scanner can be put to good use to add interest to your slides.

Using pictures in your slides does not mean that you are limited to using photographs from stock photo houses. You can certainly use your own camera -- either a digital camera or even the camera built within your phone to source your own pictures. You can also look at some unconventional sources, such as a scanner. A scanner? Yes, that's a device that several of us have not used for many years now -- but if you have one of these devices attached to your computer, do consider it as a source of visual content.

Let me explain this to you with an example -- I was creating a presentation called "Water Transport in Urban Asia" that looked at how rivers form an important means of transport in several urban cities such as Bangkok, Singapore, and Kolkata. For the title slide, I needed a picture that showed a boat trip in Bangkok -- and while stock photo houses such as iStockPhoto and BigStock had no dearth of pictures available, they somehow did not capture the experience. Most pictures were of fancy tourist boats or from the floating markets outside the city (see Figure 1) -- and that's no surprise since almost all of the pictures posted on these sites were contributed by tourists!

Bangkok boat pictures on BigStock
Figure 1: Bangkok boat pictures on BigStock

So what could we do to get a better looking slide? Luckily, I did find one of my own pictures that was not as "touristy" and added it to the slide, as you can see in Figure 2. Did I tell you that this was essentially a picture that was clicked almost a decade ago -- but it worked well!

Bangkok boat picture added within a slide
Figure 2: Bangkok boat picture added within a slide

However, this still did not provide an "experience" of a boat ride. My old Bangkok guidebook had something that I used as a bookmark all these years -- this was a ticket bought inside a boat. It looked old, and some edges of the ticket were torn -- and that's cool, because a ticket that's old and saved for years does qualify as an "experience". So I scanned this ticket into Adobe Photoshop (you can use any other image editor), and removed the background areas of the ticket to end up with a picture that was on a transparent background (see Figure 3).

Scanned image of the boat ticket
Figure 3: Scanned image of the boat ticket

I then reduced the transparency of this graphic to 50% and exported the resultant picture as a PNG from within Photoshop. This was then inserted within PowerPoint, which respects the transparency values in PNGs -- see the result in Figure 4.

The boat ticket adds an "experience" to the slide
Figure 4: The boat ticket adds an "experience" to the slide

Notice that I also rotated both the ticket and the boat pictures very slightly in opposite directions to create a handmade, balanced look.


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