Have you ever wanted to fill a picture with a gradient - or another picture
in PowerPoint? Have you wanted to blend two pictures in PowerPoint to create a
montage? More importantly, have you been frustrated running images between
Photoshop and PowerPoint to achieve some simple effects (like the ones shown
Here's an easy trick that might prevent you from using Photoshop for basic
color effects. However, this works only with PowerPoint 2002 and 2003.
- In a new or existing presentation, add a new slide. This can be done by
choosing the Insert | New Slide option. Thereafter, choose
Format | Slide Layout and make sure that you choose the Blank slide
layout from the Slide Layout task pane.
- If the Drawing toolbar is not visible, choose View | Toolbars |
Drawing to make it visible. The Drawing toolbar typically lives at
the bottom of the PowerPoint interface unless you moved it around.
- Select the rectangle icon on the Drawing toolbar. Drag and draw your
rectangle on the slide area. Now double-click this rectangle shape to summon
the Format AutoShape dialog box that you can see in Figure 1.
Figure 1: The Format AutoShape dialog box.
- Select the Color and Lines tab of this dialog box and
click the downward pointing arrow next to the Color option
in the Fill area to open a flyout menu. In the Flyout menu, choose the
Fill Effects option. This brings up the multi-tabbed Fill
Effects dialog box that you can see in Figure 2.
Figure 2: The Fill Effects dialog box.
- Select the Picture tab and click the Select
Picture button. This typically opens the default My Pictures folder
- most of the time, you'll see a Sample Pictures sub-folder within this
folder - just open that and choose the Blue Hills picture. Of course, you
can choose any other picture on your system to follow the rest of this
tutorial. Click Insert to get back to the Fill Effects
dialog box, and then click OK to get back to the original
Format AutoShape dialog box.
- Back in the Format AutoShape dialog box, click the downward pointing
arrow next to the Color option in the Line
area - and choose the No Line option in the resultant
flyout menu. Right above that option, in the Fill area,
change the Transparency to around 70%. Click OK
to get back to your slide. Now is a good time to resize your rectangle - I
filled in mine to cover around a quarter of the slide area as you can see in
Figure 3: My picture-in-the rectangle covers a quarter of
- Now for the fun part! Just select your shape (and the filled-in picture)
and choose Edit | Cut to place it on the clipboard. Then
choose Edit | Paste Special to bring up the Paste
Special dialog box that you can see in Figure 4.
Choose the Picture (PNG) option and click OK
to paste your picture back into PowerPoint.
You might be thinking that was no big deal since we essentially got back
what we put on the clipboard?
Actually, there's more here than what meets the eye. To discover that, let's
start applying some effects!
Figure 4: Bring back your picture as a PNG (pronounced
- Choose Format | Picture to summon the Format
Picture dialog box - and make sure that you are on the
Colors and Lines tab. Your Fill Color option now shows No
Fill as shown in Figure 5. That means you can now
apply another fill to your picture.
Your new fill could be a gradient, a texture, a pattern, or even another
picture! Click the downward pointing arrow next to No Fill to open a
familiar flyout menu - and choose the Fill Effects option.
This brings up the same Fill Effects dialog box that we last visited in
Figure 5: The Format Picture dialog box.
- Now you have your choices with four tabs - I'll just choose the Gradient
option for now and fill my picture with a nice blue-green gradient. To make
it even better, I just experimented with several other gradients as you can
see in Figure 6.
Figure 6: Imagine - all this happened just inside PowerPoint!
Download the sample presentation here...