Last time, we looked at the ways you can make PowerPoint designs look less ‘PowerPointy’ and more customised, presenting a look similar to Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. This time we’re putting its functions to the test against Adobe to demonstrate why simplicity, versatility, and flexibility make PowerPoint our favourite design program.
Other designers often prefer Adobe because it’s what they’re taught using first. Everyone may have brushed up against PowerPoint – both as a user and audience member, but rarely do people begin designing beyond necessity with it. For example, if you were going to create a PDF with text and graphics, designers will opt for Adobe with realising how much easier it is to create and export a PDF in this presentation-design program.
Personally, I’m not a designer – I’m a word nerd who lacks the technical capabilities to flex on Adobe, make changes, or even start designing on the program. PowerPoint makes things simple, since it’s Microsoft based, and their programs are what brought computing into homes in the first place. The learning curve on Adobe is steeper, especially at the start. For those with limited or no design experience, PowerPoint allows control and accessibility that Adobe cannot. This is critical for those who need design, which is everyone, but doesn’t have the design skills, which is a lot of us – from writers, to business professionals, marketing and communications experts, to people and brands that could communicate more clearly and compellingly.
As we’ve highlighted previously, accessibility and editability in PowerPoint helps streamline and improve collaboration between designers and those approving, editing, and delivering the project. Adobe limits its sharing and editing capabilities, making it a wise choice when dealing with non-designers.
Whenever you look at comparisons between Adobe and PowerPoint, people will prefer Adobe, claiming it’s a more sophisticated design program. A common misconception is that PowerPoint’s simplicity translates into simple designs. Don’t let our isometric aesthetic fool you, PowerPoint can design with the same precision, detail, and finesse as Adobe.
Designers mistakenly think PowerPoint’s focus on presentation makes designing for other platforms and purposes difficult. Wrong! It’s relatively simple to set up bleed and crop marks for print. We’ve eve designed some premade templates for magazine print, brochures and posters – so users can start designing immediately, but also to demonstrate the real versatility of PowerPoint, which can easily export to different programs and formats so designs can reach further, diversifying their designs look and audiences.
If you’ve been designing in Adobe and want to import your .ai vector into PowerPoint, it’s an easy fix to maintain your vectors functionality. The key is to convert you .ai files in emf format and then import the file into any Windows program.
First, open the .ai and then go to File -> Export to choose emf in the output dialog. Now you can open your emf vector in PowerPoint, allowing you to size and scale objects without losing quality, fill objects with colours or images, and all the other functions such as union and set to combine other shapes and objects in your PowerPoint. PowerPoint will maintain your colours and gradient effects easily, making it easier to share and use vectors. Using layers and vectors makes it easier to tesselate or manipulate imagery for visually engaging effects.
People aren’t usually shown the complete functionality of PowerPoint, reducing it to a simple presentation-design program. Ignoring its capability for video and animation as well as interactivity, it can provide graphic design features on par with Adobe.
You can easily name and view layers while you design is the same in PowerPoint, Illustrator, and Photoshop. Simply click the Home tab ribbon, under Editing click the Selection pane and you’ll also see your Visibility and Animation panes. From here, single click any layer to rename it.
Photoshop’s ‘magic wand’ tool is vital selecting, editing, and deleting parts of an image. PowerPoint’s ‘remove background’ function works in a similar way and provides an excellent resource for editing with the definition and precision for either print or screen. To name any of the layer you’re working on, just click it once and type a new name.
Working in layers makes it simple to incorporate image colour and text overlay. We’ll look at how themes help you edit and ensure consistency across fonts, colours, and effects in another blog. However, just note that PowerPoint offers some simple way to use and manipulate images that you simply copy and paste or create yourself.
For example, by clicking any image on your slide, then selecting ‘artistic effect’, you can add Gaussian blur more easily than in Photoshop. If you want to add image reflection, just select ‘Reflection’ in the Picture Format window, which then allows you to determine the reach of the reflection, whether it blurs, and other options that are much more challenging to produce in Photoshop. ‘Shadow’ provides the ability to change distance, blur, direction, colour and more with a few simple clicks.
Need a pen vector tool that you normally use in Illustrator? Use the Scribble freeform tool in PowerPoint to draw your own shape – no problem – then select your shape, in the Format tab click Edit Shape, then Edit Points. Now you can alter the vector lines in the same way you would in Illustrator.
PowerPoint has so many features and benefits that exceed Adobe’s Suite in terms of simplicity and accessibility, so get creating to explore the ease of designing. With all these fancy effects, your presentation file sizes can grow large, making it a challenge to continue designing or sharing your work. Thankfully, there’s the ‘compress images’ function so you can discard cropped areas, reduce image resolution, and further reduce your file sizes. We’ve put together a list of ways you can reduce file sizes in PowerPoint complete with instructions and examples, download the PDF here.