There are several reasons why adjusting an image’s transparency can be used to create some useful effects, such as creating an image overlay, using an image as background, or removing an image’s background. To improve your graphic design proficiency in PowerPoint, let’s take a look at some different techniques for making an image transparent.
Making the whole image transparent
- Select Insert > Shapes. Choose a shape from the gallery that opens.
- Draw the shape in your document, making it the same proportions as the picture you’re about to add to it.
- Select the shape. Click Format > Shape Outline > No Outline.
- Right-click the shape again, and then click Format Shape.
- In the Format Shape pane, click the Fill and Line icon (which looks like a pouring bucket), then click Fill to expand the dropdown menu and select Picture or texture fill.
- Click the Insert button underneath Picture source, which will open a dialogue box when you can insert a picture from your device, stock images, online pictures, and PowerPoint’s icon collection
- Locate the picture file that you want to insert. Select the picture and then select the Insert button.
- Move the Transparency slider in the Format Shape pane to adjust the picture. Or you may enter a number in the box next to the slider: 0 is fully opaque, the default setting; and 100% is completely transparent.
If you change the original size ratio of your shape by dragging it, the picture you insert into the shape may be skewed. Also, some pictures may not fit perfectly into certain shapes. You can adjust the appearance of your picture by resizing your shape or by using the Offset settings below the transparency slider.
Making part of an image transparent
You can make one colour in a picture transparent by using the built-in transparency feature. Unlike the previous process, making just one colour transparent is only possible if an object has been inserted as a picture – not inside a shape, since the Set Transparent Colour option will be unavailable.
Important: Areas that seem to be a single colour (for example, green leaves) might actually be made up of a range of subtle color variations, and you might not get the effect you want. Setting a transparent colour works best with simple, solid-colour pictures, such as clip art.
- Double-click the picture, and when Picture Tools appears, click Picture Tools Format > Colour.
- Click Set Transparent Colour, and when the pointer changes, click the colour you want to make transparent.
In the picture above, the leaves are composed of several colours of green, so only part of the leaves are made transparent, which makes it difficult to see the transparent effect. Repeating the process with a different colour will remove the transparency from the first color. To undo colour changes, click Reset Picture in the Adjust group.
Note that when you print pictures with transparent areas, the transparent areas are the same colour as the paper. On your screen or a website, the transparent areas are the same colour as the background.
Removing the background from an image
You can remove a background from a picture to accent the subject or to remove distracting detail. PowerPoint offers automatic background removal, or you can draw lines to indicate the areas to keep and remove.
Please note, background removal isn’t available for vector graphic files, such as Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), Adobe Illustrator Graphics (AI), Windows Metafile Format (WMF), and Vector Drawing File (DRW).
- Select the picture that you want to remove the background from.
- Select Picture Format > Remove Background, or Format > Remove Background.
If you don’t see Remove Background, make sure you selected a picture. You might have to double-click the picture to select it and open the Picture Format tab.
- The default background area will be coloured magenta to mark it for removal, while the foreground will retain its natural colour.
- If the default area isn’t correct, go to Background Removal either use Mark Areas to Keep, which will provide you with a free form drawing pencil to mark the areas on the picture that you want to keep; Or select Mark Areas to Remove and use the drawing pencil to mark areas for deletion.
- When you’re done, select Keep Changes or Discard All Changes. To save the image in a separate file for later use, right-click the image and select Save as Picture.
Note that PowerPoint will let you also apply an artistic effect or add picture effects to your image after you’ve removed the background.