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Create Custom Shaped Picture Placeholders in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows

Learn how to create custom shaped Picture placeholders in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows. You can achieve some awesome results.

Do you want your pictures to be contained within shapes that look like frames? Or maybe you want to use silhouette style placeholders for your pictures? Yes, this is possible! In fact, look at Figure 1, below. These custom picture placeholders were created within PowerPoint 2013, and we used nothing that's not part of the program. Yes, this process is a little involved. However, we'll hold your hand if you promise to follow all our steps in sequence!

Figure 1: Custom picture placeholders

We have already covered how PowerPoint enables you to insert placeholders within a Slide Layout. Picture placeholders are one among the various placeholders you can insert. You can do more with them to create custom placeholders, as shown in Figure 1, above. We used PowerPoint's Merge Shapes commands. Thereafter, follow these steps to learn more:

  1. First, add a new Slide Layout within the Slide Master. With your new Slide Layout active within the Slide Master View, access the Slide Master tab of the Ribbon. Then click the bottom half of the Insert Placeholder button, highlighted in red within Figure 2, below. Thereafter click the Picture option in the resultant drop-down menu, as shown highlighted in blue within Figure 2, below.

  2. Figure 2: Picture placeholder
  3. Go ahead and drag and draw to insert a Picture placeholder in the new Slide Layout, as shown in Figure 3, below. Resize and reposition your placeholder as required.

  4. Figure 3: Picture placeholder within the Slide Layout
  5. Tip: Want to resize or reposition your new picture placeholder precisely? Explore our Shape tutorials that explain how you can do these tasks with Shapes. Picture placeholders are shapes too! What's important though is that you do nothing more than resizing and repositioning at this time with your Picture placeholder, since the Merge Shape options we explore next won't work if the placeholder is further formatted.
  6. Access the Home, Insert, or Drawing Tools Format tab of the Ribbon. You'll find a button called Shapes in any of these tabs. Click the Shapes button to bring up the Shapes drop-down gallery as shown in Figure 4.

  7. Figure 4: Shapes drop-down gallery
  8. Note: The Drawing Tools Format tab is a Contextual tab. These contextual 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.
  9. From the Shapes drop-down gallery, choose a shape that goes well as the corner of your typical rectangular picture placeholder. We choose the Diagonal Stripe shape (highlighted in red within Figure 4, above). Now insert the shape within your slide layout. We placed it on the top left corner of the rectangular picture placeholder, as shown in Figure 5. We also changed the line attribute of this shape to No Line.

  10. Figure 5: Playing on a picture placeholder's corner
  11. Why did we set the line attribute of the Diagonal Stripe shape to No Line? That's because a line may add some extra thickness around the shape area, and may not allow you to accurately place this shape above the top left corner of your picture placeholder.
  12. We then duplicated the Diagonal Strip shape (press Ctrl + D) thrice, and placed instances on all four corners of the picture placeholder rotating individual shapes as required, as shown in Figure 6.

  13. Figure 6: Extra Shapes inserted and rotated
  14. You now need to combine the four corner shapes with the Picture placeholder. Make sure your picture Placeholder is selected first. Then select all the inserted corner shapes to add to your selection (press either the Ctrl or Shift key to add more shapes to your selection).

  15. Now click the Merge Shapes button within Drawing Tools Format tab to bring up a drop-down menu, as shown in Figure 7. Within this drop-down menu, select the Combine option. This results in a custom picture placeholder as shown in Figure 7.

  16. Figure 7: Combine option applied to the selected Picture placeholder and shapes
  17. For this tutorial we used the Combine option. You can even use the Union, Fragment, Intersect, and Subtract options. Results will differ based on the Merge Tools option you choose and also on the order in which the shapes are selected before they are combined. Play around with these options.
  18. Note: Not getting the result shown in Figure 7, above? Do you instead see a full solid color picture placeholder, as shown in Figure 8, below? This may occur depending on whichever slide object you selected first. If you select any of the corner shapes first, and then the picture placeholder you'll get the results shown in Figure 8, below. So, always opt for selecting the Picture placeholder first and then the corner shapes to achieve results shown in Figure 7 above.

    Figure 8: Picture placeholder with solid color

  19. When done, access the Slide Master tab of the Ribbon, and click the Close Master View button (highlighted in red within Figure 9). This will get you back to Normal View.

  20. Figure 9: Close Master View button
  21. Access the Home tab of the Ribbon and click the Layout button to bring up the Layout drop-down gallery you see in Figure 10, below. Notice that your new Custom Layout (highlighted in red within Figure 10) shows up here, ready to be used to create a new picture slide.

  22. Figure 10: New Slide Layout with the picture placeholder added
  23. Note: The new layouts you create are saved as part of the presentation, and are not available in any other presentations you create. Other than adding placeholders to your new slide layouts, you can also change their slide backgrounds. Of course, you can also rename your custom layouts.
  24. Now add a new slide based on your new layout, as shown in Figure 11, below.

  25. Figure 11: Your new custom Picture placeholder
  26. Add a picture within the custom Picture placeholder, as shown in Figure 12, below.

  27. Figure 12: Picture placeholder has a picture fill now
  28. Save your presentation often.

See Also:

Slide Master and Slide Layouts: Create Custom Shaped Picture Placeholders in PowerPoint (Index Page)

Create Custom Shaped Picture Placeholders in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows
Create Custom Shaped Picture Placeholders in PowerPoint 2016 for Mac
Create Custom Shaped Picture Placeholders in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac
Create Custom Shaped Picture Placeholders in PowerPoint 2010 for Windows