Rather than using simple rectangle placeholders for your pictures, you can use various other shapes that appear almost silhouette-like. Yes, this is possible within PowerPoint! In fact, look at Figure 1, below. These custom picture placeholders were created within PowerPoint, and we used nothing that's not a part of PowerPoint. Of course this process is a little detailed, but not difficult!
Figure 1: Custom picture placeholders
We have already covered how PowerPoint 2011 enables you to insert placeholders within a Slide Layout. Picture placeholders are among the various placeholder types you can insert. You can do more with the Picture placeholders, such as creating custom placeholders. You can also make them to look like the one shown in Figure 1, above. We used PowerPoint's Combine Shapes commands. These commands are not available by default within the Ribbon, but you can right-click shapes, and select the Grouping option to access them as explained in our Combine Shapes Commands in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac. Follow these steps to learn how to customize your Picture placeholders:
- First, add a new Slide Layout within the Slide Master. With your new Slide Layout selected, click the down-arrow of the Insert Placeholder button, highlighted in red within Figure 2, below. Then click the Picture option in the resultant drop-down gallery, as shown highlighted in blue within Figure 2.
Figure 2: Add a picture placeholder
- Go ahead and drag and draw to insert a picture placeholder, as shown in Figure 3. Resize and reposition your placeholder as required.
Figure 3: Picture placeholder within the Slide Layout
- Access the Home tab of the Ribbon and click the Shape button shown highlighted in red within Figure 4.
Figure 4: Shape button within the Home tab of the Ribbon
- This opens the Shape gallery as shown in Figure 5. From the Shape gallery, choose a shape that works well as the corner of your typical rectangular picture placeholder. We choose the Diagonal Stripe shape within the Basic Shapes category (highlighted in red within Figure 5).
Figure 5: Diagonal Stripe shape selected
- 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 6, below. We also removed the Shadow from the shape and changed the line attribute of this shape to No Line.
Figure 6: Diagonal Stripe shape placed on the Picture placeholder's corner
- 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.
- We then duplicated the Diagonal Strip shape (press ⌘ + D) thrice, and placed instances on all four corners of the picture placeholder, flipping individual shapes as required, as shown in Figure 7, below.
Figure 7: Diagonal Stripe duplicated and flipped to form four corners
- Deselect the corner shapes and make sure that only the picture placeholder is selected now. Then access the SmartArt tab, click the Shape button (highlighted in red within Figure 8, below).
Figure 8: Shape button
- This brings up a Shape gallery as shown in Figure 8, above. From the Shape gallery choose another shape. You can even choose a Rectangle again! Changing the Picture placeholder to a shape is important. In fact, the next step explained will not be possible unless you do so.
- Right-click the Picture placeholder and you should be able to see the Edit Points option in the context menu, as shown in Figure 9.
Figure 9: Edit Points option available
- Unless you changed the shape in the previous step, the Edit Points option will be grayed out.
- Now, combine the corner Diagonal Stripe shapes with the Picture placeholder. Make sure your picture placeholder is selected. Then select all the inserted corner shapes and right-click to bring up a context menu. In this context menu, select the Grouping option to bring up a sub-menu. Select the Combine option within this sub-menu, as shown in Figure 10.
Figure 10: Combine option within Grouping sub-menu
- This results in a custom picture placeholder as shown in Figure 11. If you use this placeholder for your picture, the result will be similar to the placeholder shown on the left side of Figure 1 (earlier on this page).
Figure 11: Picture placeholder edited using Combine option
- For this tutorial we used the Combine option. You can even use the Union, Intersect, and Subtract. Results will differ based on the Shape Combine option you choose and also on the order in which the shapes are selected before they are applied with the Shape Combine option. Play around with these options.
- When done, access the Slide Master tab of the Ribbon, and click the Close button as shown highlighted in red within Figure 13. This will get you back to Normal View.
Figure 13: Close button
- Access the Home tab of the Ribbon and click the Layout button to bring up the Layout drop-down gallery you see in Figure 14, below. Notice that your new Custom Layout (highlighted in red within Figure 14) shows up here, ready to be used to create a new picture slide.
Figure 14: New Slide Layout with the picture placeholder added and edited
- Save your presentation often.
Note: Not getting the result shown in Figure 11 above? Do you instead see a full solid color picture placeholder, as shown in Figure 12, 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 12, below. So, always opt for selecting the picture placeholder first and then the corner shapes to achieve results shown in Figure 11 above.
Figure 12: Picture placeholder with solid color
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.
Also, you can change the name of your new layouts from Custom Layout to something more descriptive. This is explained in our Duplicate, Rename, and Edit Slide Layouts in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac tutorial.
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 2013 for Windows
Create Custom Shaped Picture Placeholders in PowerPoint 2010 for Windows