MICROSOFT POWERPOINT: Adding Transparency to Photos
by AJ Walther, COTP
You have a plan... a plan to create an awesome PowerPoint presentation about, among other emotions, anger.
Naturally, you want to illustrate anger on one of the slides. Once you're done, it's possible that you'll take the presentation into Adobe Captivate or Articulate Storyline and create an epic eLearning course. But that's down the road. Let's get back to the plan at hand: anger.
Your plan is to show a truly upset human in varying states of anger. However, you've only got one photo you're allowed to use. Your plan needs to adapt, so you're thinking you'll simply duplicate the image a few times and then make each copy a bit more transparent than the previous one.
You want to do this:
“But AJ, how’d you know I want to do that exact thing?” Friend, I just knew.
The problem is—how? PowerPoint won’t allow you to adjust the transparency of a photo so you'll need to scrap that plan.
Don't get angry!
What you CAN do is adjust the transparency of a shape or other drawn object. Here’s how to get from Point A to Point B, including an extra bit to accommodate if your photo has a background you’d like removed.
Insert your photo onto your slide (Insert > Pictures).
With the photo selected on the slide, select the Picture Tools Format tab and click the Remove Background tool to remove the background as you see fit.
When your photo is properly background-less, right-click and choose Copy (or press Ctrl-C on your keyboard).
Insert a shape (Insert > Shapes). For the image at the beginning of this article, I inserted a rectangle. It’s a good idea to “trace” your original image while drawing your shape to ensure it’s the correct size.
Right-click the shape and choose Format Shape. From the Format Shape panel, ensure the Fill and Line tab (the paint can) is selected and open the Fill area.
Select Picture or Texture fill and from the Insert Picture From area, choose the Clipboard button. Note that when you choose Picture or Texture fill, the panel name changes from Format Shape to Format Picture.
Your shape will auto-fill with the last thing you copied: in this case, your background-less photo.
From the Line area, choose No Line.
In the Fill area, note that you can now adjust the transparency of your picture-filled shape.
To achieve the effect in the photo below, I simply copied and pasted my picture-filled shape several times and adjusted the transparency on each duplicate.
AJ Walther, COTP, is IconLogic's Chief Creative Officer (CCO), a seasoned online trainer, eLearning graphic designer, and author of both "PowerPoint 2007: The Essentials" and "PowerPoint 2008 for the Macintosh: The Essentials." AJ made her own interdisciplinary studies major, focusing on writing and art. Her combined expertise in PowerPoint, graphic design, and writing allows her to bring a unique skillset to the eLearning community.