As part of the last generation who began school prior to the internet, I appreciate the beauty of people’s handwriting. I remember the heinous hand cramps that plagued my adolescence – and most of them were from essay writing in preparation for the HSC. However, how do we recapture that hand-drawn vibe in this digital era?

Obviously, the first option is to invest in a tablet. My tattoo artist was a purist for years until his family gifted him an iPad, now he can comfortably design and print stencils without destroying small rainforests worth of paper. But for those of us designing in PowerPoint without a stylus and touchscreen to really draw by hand, there are some cheeky hacks:

Hand-drawn image effects

These simple effects had me messing around with different images for hours. Basically, any image you insert into your PowerPoint can have a host of different ‘Artistic effects’ added to them to create all kinds of different looks.

The pencil grayscale and pencil sketch create some really eye-catching effects, especially when converting different colour tones. Play around with these effects, particularly the scaling on pencil size and pressure, to find the hand-drawn effect that suits your presentation.

Image > Format > Effects > Artistic effect > pencil grayscale / sketch

hand-drawn, Hand-drawn PowerPoint effects
Pencil sketch gradients
hand-drawn, Hand-drawn PowerPoint effects
Pencil grayscale gradients

Hand-drawn auto-shapes

When trying to mess around with auto-shapes, the above method works if you first save the shape as an image. However, if you just insert the shape and edit the its line, one of the pull-down menus is ‘sketched style’, which offers several options including ‘freehand’ and ‘scribble’. Both these effects give a hand-drawn quality to the shape’s outline and tweaking the weight of line changes the appearance from a pencil-like to heavy marker.

Shape > Format > Line > Solid line > sketched style > freehand / scribble

Please note, using a heavy outline helps to highlight the effect. Also, setting ‘Line Format / Join Typeto ‘Bevel’ rounds out the corners of shapes to give a more naturally drawn look.

Surprisingly, ‘sketch’ effect isn’t available for line, so the easiest way around this is by using the ‘Freeform’ tool to draw a line, which you can then apply ‘sketch’ effect or event create an arrow with ‘open arrow’.

‘Sketch’ effect won’t work on shapes without an outline, but you can set the outline colour to match the fill in order to create the ‘sketch’ effect of a hand-drawn object without an outline. If you apply the ‘line format/sketch’ effect to a filled object, the fill shape may not match the outline. To ensure fill and outline align, add the fill after the ‘sketch’ effect.

You’ll notice that copying-and-pasting any shape with a ‘sketch’ effect for the outline, it will look exactly the same, which is a little counter-intuitive to creating a uniquely hand-drawn look – there needs to be mild variation. To create differing ‘sketch’ outlines, you need to apply the effect on each copy.

Free free-hand fonts

There’s something about hand-written fonts that make them warmer and more human than other typefaces. Even if people can see it’s typed lettering, the illusion of hand written helps create some intimacy, some personal connection.

There are the classic fonts like Brisa and Ink Free, but some other favourite freebies I found floating around include Fair Prosper, Wild Youth, Tragic Marker (bonus points for the creative name), Rock Salt, Marck Script, and Kristi.

Hand-written and -drawn designs resonate with audiences because they tap into something primal. Their imperfections offer a human-like quality that can simulate the look of hand-crafted fonts, images, and designs. It’s also a cheat code for using less-than-perfect pictures – you can easily transform a low-resolution image into a ‘hand-drawn’ picture that still captures the essence of what’s being displayed without looking pixelated.

Hand-drawn effects can really warm up an informal setting or even be suitable if your brand is trying to seem casual and relatable. It wouldn’t seem entirely professional using these effects for a pitch deck or formal presentation, but it adds something fun and playful to any PowerPoint design.

Wanna animate your newfound effects? Download our free Premade Animations in PowerPoint and start flexing those design skills with ease.

Keep informed and get inspired

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