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Xara Xtreme Transparency Effects for PowerPoint

Learn to add a graduated transparency effect in Xara Xtreme for use in PowerPoint.


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Product/Version: PowerPoint



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Although it is the norm to place conventional pictures on PowerPoint slides, a little experimentation with transparent effects will provide great-looking results. However, it's not too easy to create such effects in Adobe Photoshop or other image editors unless you are well versed with the way those programs work.

Surprisingly, Xara Xtreme—a program that costs less than $90 makes the whole process so easy that almost anyone can create such effects.

In this tutorial, we will show you how you can add graduated transparency to an image in Xara Xtreme and export it as a graphic that PowerPoint can use.

We have used the Xara Xtreme on Windows XP Professional. The PowerPoint version used is 2003.

You can download a 15-day trial version of Xara Xtreme from the Xara website (link no longer exists).

  1. Create a new document in Xara Xtreme, choose File | New and select the size of the document. We chose 1024 by 768 Drawing (see Figure 1).
  2. Creating a new drawing
    Figure 1: Creating a new drawing
  3. Choose Utilities | Galleries | Clipart Gallery or use the shortcut key (Shift + F10). This will open the Clipart Gallery (see Figure 2).
  4. Open the Clipart gallery
    Figure 2: Accessing the Clipart Gallery
  5. If no clipart is visible within the Gallery, click the Get Clipart... button in the Gallery window to download some clipart from the Xara website. You'll need to be connected online for this to work. You'll find several folders within the Clipart Gallery.
  6. For this tutorial, we opened the Photos folder and dragged the 'Aussie' picture into the Xara Xtreme workspace (see Figure 3).
  7. Drag an image from the Clipart Gallery
    Figure 3: Drag an image from the Clipart Gallery
  8. Note: You are not limited to using images found in Xara Xtreme's Clipart Gallery. To insert other images, choose File | Import and select any of the images which are on your hard disk and and click Open.
  9. Close the Clipart Gallery if it is open to give you more working space.
  10. Resize the image as required by dragging the corner handles.
  11. Now, select the Transparency Tool (F6) from the tool bar (see Figure 4).
  12. Drag and create the transparency!
    Figure 4: Drag and create transparency!
  13. Click and drag on the image from any one direction to the other as you can see above in Figure 4.
  14. To tweak more transparency options, play with the setting on the Properties toolbar. Change the Transparency type from Linear to other options like Circular, Conical, Diamond, etc. to see what works best for you.
  15. Now choose File | Export... (or Ctrl+Shift+E).
  16. This will summon the Export File dialog box. Choose a name and location for your graphic, and choose the PNG option in the 'Save as type' dropdown box. Click the 'Export' button.
  17. You'll now see the PNG Export Bitmap Options dialog box (see Figure 5). With all other options unaltered, select 'True color + Alpha' in the Palette Options tab, from the drop down list for Color Depth (see screenshot). Xara Xtreme will now export the drawing with your transparency intact. Save your document and exit Xara Xtreme.
  18. PNG Export Bitmap Options
    Figure 5: PNG Export Bitmap Options
  19. In PowerPoint, create a new presentation or open an existing one. On a blank slide, just insert the exported PNG using the Insert | Picture command. The screenshot below ( Figure 6) shows you how the transparent areas reveal themselves.
  20. We created this transparent graphic in Xara Xtreme for my PowerPoint presentation in less than 2 minutes!
    Figure 6: We created this transparent graphic in Xara Xtreme for my PowerPoint presentation in less than 2 minutes!
  21. As you can see, Xara Xtreme is so fast to work with, and it works so well with my PowerPoint design workflow.
Note: We wish to thank Nova Fisher from Xara for coordinating with us for this tutorial.

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