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Change Shape Colors of SmartArt Graphics in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows

Learn how to change colors for a SmartArt graphic in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows. You can choose from several sets of coordinated colors.


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Product/Version: PowerPoint 2016 for Windows

OS: Microsoft Windows 7 and higher



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Although default colors within a SmartArt graphic may work great, you may want to explore changing colors of individual shapes contained inside the SmartArt graphic. You change colors of everything within the SmartArt graphic at one go or change colors of individual shapes within the SmartArt graphic.

Follow these steps to learn how you can change colors of your SmartArt graphic in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows:

  1. Select your existing SmartArt graphic, as shown in Figure 1, below. The SmartArt graphic variant that we are using (and have selected) is the Horizontal Picture List. This variant is perfect for this tutorial since it comprises shapes with solid fills, shapes with picture fills, and also text. You'll notice how each of these elements relate to color differently.
  2. Horizontal Picture List SmartArt graphic
    Figure 1: Horizontal Picture List SmartArt graphic
  3. When any SmartArt graphic is selected, you'll find two contextual tabs activated on the Ribbon. These are SmartArt Tools Design and SmartArt Tools Format tabs, as shown highlighted in blue within Figure 2, below. Activate the SmartArt Tools Design tab by clicking on it.
  4. SmartArt Tools Design tab selected
    Figure 2: SmartArt Tools Design tab selected
  5. Contextual Tabs

  6. The SmartArt Tool Design and SmartArt Tool Format tabs are contextual tabs. 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.
  7. Within the SmartArt Tools Design tab, click the Change Colors button, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 3, below.
  8. Change Colors button
    Figure 3: Change Colors button
  9. Doing so brings up the Change Colors drop-down gallery, as shown in Figure 4, below. All color variations within this gallery are Theme based.
  10. Change Colors drop-down gallery
    Figure 4: Change Colors drop-down gallery
  11. Just hover the cursor over any of the color previews in this gallery. As you move over different previews, the selected SmartArt graphic on the slide shows a Live Preview of the colors applied, as shown in Figure 5, below. Click on the preview thumbnail in the gallery to apply the color changes to the selected SmartArt graphic.
  12. SmartArt graphic showing live preview of the color selected
    Figure 5: SmartArt graphic showing live preview of the color selected
  13. Tip: Place your SmartArt graphic in an area that is not covered by the Change Color drop-down gallery, so you can see the Live Preview.
  14. Figure 6, below shows the selected SmartArt graphic with changed colors (compare with Figure 1, above). Notice that the color of the picture fills is not yet changed, but we can also alter them as explained hereafter.
  15. Color changed for selected SmartArt graphic
    Figure 6: Color changed for selected SmartArt graphic
  16. To change the color of the picture fills, first make sure that the SmartArt graphic is selected. Then summon the Change Colors drop-down gallery. Within this drop-down gallery, select the Recolor Pictures in SmartArt Graphic option, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 7, below, to recolor all picture fills within the SmartArt graphic.
  17. Recolor Pictures in SmartArt Graphic option
    Figure 7: Recolor Pictures in SmartArt Graphic option
  18. This changes the color of the pictures, as shown in Figure 8, below. The Recolor Pictures in SmartArt Graphic option will only work with SmartArt graphic layouts that contain pictures.
  19. Color of the SmartArt graphic pictures changed
    Figure 8: Color of the SmartArt graphic pictures changed
Want to override the Theme colors and choose another color for a selected shape within your SmartArt graphic? Explore our Changing Fill, Line, and Effects for Shapes within SmartArt in PowerPoint 2016 tutorial to learn more.

See Also:

Working with SmartArt: Change Shape Colors of SmartArt Graphics (Glossary Page)

Change Shape Colors of SmartArt Graphics in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows
Change Shape Colors of SmartArt Graphics in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac
Change Shape Colors of SmartArt Graphics in PowerPoint 2010 for Windows

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