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Artistic Effects for Picture Backgrounds in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows

Explore various artistic effects for picture backgrounds in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows.


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Product/Version: PowerPoint 2013 for Windows

OS: Windows 7 and higher






Stop Press: These options are known to have stopped working after upgrading to Office 2013 SP1. Hopefully future updates will restore the options back.

Update: These options are now available and working as long as you have all updates for Office 2013 installed.

Default slide background options are limited to solid or gradient fills, and yes, you can even apply a picture as a slide background.

However, picture backgrounds do pose some issues, especially since a busy picture may hamper the visibility of other slide objects such as text or charts. Fortunately, PowerPoint provides options to reduce the intensity of a picture background so that any foreground elements such as text can stand apart.

Look at the slide on the top within Figure 1, below, and then compare it with the slide at the bottom within the same figure, the visibility of the text fails often within the top slide. The bottom slide has none of the inherent weaknesses, and in fact works with text of almost all colors!

Choose your background pictures wisely
Figure 1: Choose your background pictures wisely

We have already covered how to insert a picture as background fill and apply the basic formatting within our Picture Fills for Slide Backgrounds in PowerPoint 2013 tutorial. In this tutorial we'll explore Artistic Effects for picture background fills, and how they can improve the visibility of other slide objects.

Follow these steps to learn how you can apply Artistic Effects to the picture used as slide background fill in PowerPoint 2013:

  1. Apply a picture as background fill, or open any of your existing presentations with picture used as background fill. Then summon the Format Background Task Pane, as shown in Figure 2. Within the Format Background Task Pane, select the Effects tab (highlighted in red within Figure 2).

    Format Background Task Pane
    Figure 2: Format Background Task Pane
  2. This brings up the Artistic Effects option within the Effects tab, as shown in Figure 3.

    Artistic Effects option within the Format Background Task Pane
    Figure 3: Artistic Effects option within the Format Background Task Pane
  3. Within the Format Background Task Pane click the Artistic Effects button (highlighted in red within Figure 3). This brings up the Artistic Effects drop-down gallery with preview thumbnails of the with different artistic effects, as shown in Figure 4. Just, click on any preview thumbnail to apply a particular effect to the picture background.

    Artistic Effects drop-down gallery
    Figure 4: Artistic Effects drop-down gallery
  4. Once you apply an effect to the picture background fill, you can fine-tune the effect to control the resultant effect. Note that the fine tune options will differ, depending upon the Artistic Effect applied to your picture background fill. For this tutorial we applied the Photocopy artistic effect. This effect brings forth the Transparency option (highlighted in blue within Figure 5) and Detail (highlighted in red within Figure 5) options. Drag these sliders to end up with an effect that is muted enough to work as a slide background.

    Artistic Effects fine tune options
    Figure 5: Artistic Effects fine tune options
  5. To get back the original picture, click the Reset button (highlighted in green within Figure 5, above).
  6. Choose any of the options explained in the preceding steps. Thereafter, you can proceed choosing any of the following options:

    i. Click the Apply to All button to fill all slides in the presentation with the selected picture.

    ii. Click the Reset Background button to abandon all changes you made to the slide background.

    More details about the Apply to All and Reset Background buttons can be found in our Format Slide Background in PowerPoint 2013 tutorial.
  7. Remember to save your presentation often.

Organic Shapes with Brush Edges

You get 8 shape types plus lines as part of this Organic Shapes collection. Each of these 8 shape types have 10 variants. So you end up with 80 hand-drawn shape options! Again each of these 80 shapes have 12 brush stroke styles! Plus you get the lines and arrows in 12 brush stroke styles too. Combine all variations to end up with more than 3000 possibilities.

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since November 02, 2000