Tag Archives: Pro Tip

The Case For PowerPoint… episode four

I’m still at it! As you can probably tell, I’ve been on a bit of an imagery bender this last couple of weeks, and now I’m about to continue along that thread with…

Part Four Custom Clipart

Did you even know that you can pull some clipart images apart and just grab the bits you like? Yeah, I just caused a brain explosion, didn’t I?

This only applies to illustrations, and not all of them – but if you find an image and you like one piece of it, it’s worth a go.

SO HOW DO I DO IT? It’s so easy it’s embarrassing. Just select your clipart picture, paste it into your powerpoint and right click it. From the Group category, select ‘ungroup’. You’ll probably get a message that looks like this:

Clipart Message

Click yes, then repeat the ungrouping – right click, group, ungroup. Your image will now look like a bunch of little bits. Click away to deselect all the parts, then start deleting the bits you don’t want. When you’re left with the remaining parts, just regroup them and you have yourself a custom clipart image!

Here’s some examples I pulled together from an eLearning module I made a few years back.

Beer and Pizza

Repairs Combo

Pretty cool, right? Here’s a few tips to bear in mind though:

  • Not all illustrations can be altered, it’s just a case of tough luck if you can’t.
  • If you want to save your custom image as a new file, I recommend saving it as an Enhanced Windows Metafile (that’s an option alongside your standard jpg, png etc…). The bonus of a metafile is that when you insert it into a PowerPoint presentation, you can still alter the parts; i.e. it’s an image file you can still ungroup.
  • Always try clipart before paying for imagery. Really! The image tagging used in clipart is great, meaning you can get great returns on a basic search, where just a part of the illustration relates to your keyword. You might want a picture of a pencil, for example. If you search for ‘pencil’ your search will return images of pencils on desks, in cups, maybe next to a book etc. And now you know how to ungroup the illustration and snatch the pencil from it’s setting!
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The Case For Powerpoint… Yes, it Continues

Can you believe I’ve stuck with this series for three whole entries? Craziness. Let’s not dawdle though:

Part Three Image Editing

PowerPoint is many things, but it isn’t Photoshop. It’s not the most powerful image editing software you can use, but that’s not what it’s for. It CAN do the basics though, and it can do them simply. All you need is your image, and the Picture Tools – Format tab on your ribbon.

So, what image editing features does PowerPoint offer?

Crop, Align and Rotate Images: these are definitely essentials of photo editing, especially if you’re working with multiple images. The cropping tool is pretty self-explanatory, but it’s worth noting that you have the option to crop to a shape which is really useful – crop your image into a circle, star, chord; whatever you fancy. Once you start using the align tool, you’ll never look back. You’ll also become annoyed when viewing presentations where items aren’t aligned. I particularly rate the ‘distribute horizontally/vertically’ option, which is great if you want a series of items evenly spaced on the slide.

Artistic Effects, Colours and Corrections: To be honest, I don’t use Artistic Effects or Colours very often, because the result has been pretty naff when I’ve tried it. There are times when the Corrections tool will be your friend though – if you have varying images sourced from different places, use this tool to correct tonal differences. Voila!

Remove Background/Set Transparent Colour: This is the single most exciting tool in PowerPoint for me. I use it ALL THE TIME. It’s a huge pet peeve of mine when presentations are full of images with white backgrounds sitting on a coloured slide. It’s especially annoying to me now I know that it can be fixed in two or three clicks.

The Remove Background tool does what it says on the tin, and you have control over which parts of the image stay or go if you have a particularly tricky image you’re working with. The Set Transparent Colour tool is simply marvellous (you’ll find it under the Colours menu), but only use it when you’re dealing with a vector image or a graphic with very clear lines and colours.

Here’s some examples I put together using images from Fauxgo. You really should check Fauxgo out, its a super cute collection of logos from fictional companies and brands featured in TV and film.

Grape Soda Combo

See? Not removing the background makes the slide look LAME.

SCDP combo

It only takes two clicks. Now you have no excuses.

If you want to know more about the Remove Background and Set Transparent Colours tools, you can check out this eLearning Heroes tutorial (which uses PowerPoint 2010). Enjoy!

Image Credits: Fauxgo

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