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Tutorial for Design Elements 029 – Photo Designs

How do you make a big-deal message impactful when there's only a small amount of text? Dress it up with graphics or photos; or, in this case, both. These are not mere design graphics to be used in your presentations (although you can certainly use them like that), they are designed to be used with photographs and photograph collages that you can create yourself. This is a very advanced look for presentations, but it doesn't take an advanced PowerPointer to create them.

There are several designs in this series, and the designs can also be used to help promote a concept. for example, the cluster frameworks can imply groupings, the wave frameworks can be used to show continuous flows or phases, the curtains (as in the series example) can imply a premier of something new. This is a nice feature, so think about this when deciding which design to use.

In addition to being useful within presentations, the graphics can also be used as elements of a PowerPoint template design. These designs have a very broad application.

Customizing the photo design graphics

Adjust size

The graphics can be sized to any dimension. Simply group the graphic and resize/rescale (hold shift key down as you resize) to the desired size and dimensions.

Each design has its own set of variations. The variations are important, so make sure you choose the correct one – don't flip the framework or rotate it so that it works better with the photograph/photographs you've chosen. Download the precise variation that you wish to use. Otherwise, the photograph you import into the layout will flip/rotate to the original position of the framework – this is an idiosyncrasy of PowerPoint 2007 and 2010.

Color variations

The designs can receive any color, but since they're meant to contain photographs; so colors are of no real concern. The designs and their many variations are filled with no line color when you download them. We did this so that you could see the design clearly. When you work with the designs, however, you'll need to apply a line color and now fill. The reason for this is that you will need to size and crop your photographs so that the most important parts of the photographs are visible once they are imported. More on this below in the "Gradients, patterns, and pictures" section.

PowerPoint 2007 options

Once you have your photograph(s) imported into the graphic, a nice drop shadow in PowerPoint 2007 and 2010 create a nice effect (see the series example). It's not recommended that you use bevels because of the sharp points in some of the graphic designs. A glow might be nice it you're having trouble making your photo design distinct against your template's background.

3D variations

3D isn't really recommended because it will make the space between the elements of the graphics less distinct. If you believe that 3D will better fit with the rest of your presentation style, however, use a very shallow depth: 2 or 3 points.


Use the drop shadows in PowerPoint 2007 and 2010, as mentioned above. If you're using PowerPoint 2003, refrain from using shadows. The shadows will date your presentation.

Gradients, patterns, and pictures

It only takes a few steps to import a photograph into the framework using PowerPoint 2007 and 2010, but you need to make positioning and cropping choices before doing so. PowerFrameworks will help you do this. This series can also be used in PowerPoint 2003, but the preparation of the graphic is different. These are the instructions for PowerPoint 2007 (PowerPoint 2010 is basically the same).

  1. Download the photo design graphic you wish to use. Download a few variations of that graphic in case a different orientation would work better with the photographs you choose to use. That will save you the time of going back and downloading additional versions. Make sure the design graphic you use fits well with the overall look of the rest of your presentation.
  2. Select the photograph(s) you want to import into the design graphic. Choose photographs that help convey your message. It also helps that the colors in the photograph complement your template colors.
  3. Remove the fill color from the design graphic and apply a vibrant line color, a color that contrasts well with the photograph(s) you are using.
  4. Place the photographs beneath the design graphic. Notice how the design graphic is vividly apparent over the photographs.
  5. This is the important step, and it is trial and error. Decide which part of the photograph best conveys your message. In the three photographs above, they all show a business person at a computer; so the photographs need to be placed so that the people's faces and their computers are visible within the design graphic. Begin trying photo placement, sizing, and cropping layouts. This may take several tries.

    Be sure to fit the photographs exactly within the design graphic. Crop out any overlapping parts of the photograph. The photographs cannot extend beyond the design graphic, nor can they fail to completely fill the design graphic.
  6. If you're only working with one photograph, you can eliminate the next step. Simply move to step 8
  7. Once you have a photographic layout that is pleasing and works with the design graphic, select all the photographs, right click on one of them, and select "Save as Picture." Save it to your desktop so you can find it easily. Then drag it onto your slide.
  8. Cut the photograph/newly created picture (Ctrl-x), which will place it in your clipboard.
  9. Group the design graphic, right click it, and select "Format Shape." Make sure "Fill" is selected in the vertical menu, "Picture or texture fill" is selected, and click on "Clipboard." This will bring your photograph/newly created picture into the design graphic.

  10. Add a drop shadow to "lift the graphic" off the slide.

If you are using PowerPoint 2003, follow these steps.

  1. Select a photograph
  2. Size it and/or crop it to be the exact size of the whole design graphic with all of the pieces (use the "snap to other objects" tool in the Grid and Guides menu for perfect sizing)
  3. Duplicate the photograph until you have the same number of photographs as you have design graphic pieces (if you have six design graphic pieces, you'll need six photographs)
  4. Align all of the photographs vertically and horizontally so they are stacked beneath the whole design graphics with all of the pieces
  5. One by one, crop a photograph so that it is the same horizontal width and vertical height as one of the design graphic pieces. Be sure to include the tabs that extend from the design graphic piece (use the "snap to object" tool again). Repeat until all of the photographs have been cropped to an associated design graphic piece.
  6. Right click on one of the cropped photographs and choose "Save as image." Save the image to your hard drive using either a PNG or JPG format and give it a name that you'll easily recognize (design graphic 1, for example).
  7. Right-click on the associated puzzle piece and select "Format Autoshape"
  8. Select the "Colors and Lines" tab, click on the downward-pointing arrow next to the color bar, and select "Fill Effects …"
  9. From the fill effects menu, select the "Picture" tab and then click on "Select Picture"
  10. Navigate to the cropped photograph you just saved as an image (design graphic 1) and double click. Click OK and click OK again. The cropped photograph that you saved as an image (design graphic 1) is now imported into your design graphic piece
  11. Repeat steps 6 through 10 as many times as you have photographs/design graphic pieces.

Series that relate to this tutorial:

DE029 – Design Element 029 – Photo Designs

Possible use example

Links to instructions for getting the framework into your presentation

  1. Determine the best file type for your needs
  2. Download the file
  3. Import the framework into your presentation
    1. Importing a PPT file
    2. Importing a EMF or PNG
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