Tag Archives: PowerPoint

PowerPoint – How to ‘Remove Background’

After the amazing PowerPoint effects achieved by Diana Wallace Peach in my previous post, I just had to see if I could master some of those techniques myself. The answer is…kind of. This is my, ahem, masterpiece:

I don’t think I’ll be headed to Cannes any time soon. But…I did learn some really useful skills, and today I’ll walk you through the PowerPoint ‘Remove Background’ option. If you’ve tried this option before and given up in frustration, don’t worry, I had the same problems so we’ll do it step by step. 🙂

The first step is to open PowerPoint [hereafter known as PP] and select a blank slide.

Next, click the ‘Insert’ option on the Ribbon and find an image that you want to work with:

The image below is the first one I worked with:

The picture frame looks as if it’s empty, but in reality the middle is not transparent at all. It’s white.

In order to have the mask appear as if it were inside the frame, I had to get rid of the white in the middle. Easier said than done. When I tried to remove the background in PowerPoint, PP wanted to delete the frame, not the white in the middle!

The purple area is what PP thinks should be removed

PP helpfully colours the area[s] to be removed in purple. Pity that’s precisely what I want to keep. -rolls eyes-

I guess the default setting assumes that whatever you want to keep will be in the middle…. Trust me to do everything backwards. In my own defence, however, the labels on the buttons and the explanations of those buttons only made sense after I’d finally worked out what to do and how to do it. -grumble-

Anyway, allow me to explain the buttons:

Background Removal buttons in PowerPoint
Mark Areas to Keep

If you hover your mouse over the ‘Mark Areas to Keep’ button, you’ll get a tooltip that says: ‘Draw lines to mark areas to keep in the picture’. I assumed that the word ‘lines’ had to be some kind of misnomer. It would take a lifetime to draw enough lines to take out half a picture! Ditto for the ‘Mark areas to Remove’ button. I was wrong.

When you click on the ‘Mark Areas to Keep button’, and then draw any kind of line across your picture, a whole section of the picture will be selected. In the following screenshot, I clicked ‘Mark Areas to Keep’ and then drew a line from the top left of the picture frame to a point near the bottom. The line was not straight:

reclaiming part of the picture frame in PowerPoint

Given that the picture frame is made up of straight lines, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to ‘fill in’ the frame properly. What I discovered was that the ‘line’ is not set until you release the mouse button at the end point.

In other words, you click the mouse at your start point and hold it down as you drawn the line. If the line is wonky, you can straighten it just by moving the mouse. So long as you keep the mouse button held down, you can keep moving the line wherever you want:

How to ‘Mark’ a line in PowerPoint
Mark Areas to Remove

Once I’d ‘marked’ all the purple areas and changed them to ‘keeps’, it was time to mark the middle as an ‘Area to Remove’. The principle is the same as for marking areas to keep: click the ‘Mark Areas to Remove’ button, click the mouse on an area to be removed, hold down the mouse button as you move the mouse across the image, release the mouse button to trigger the ‘remove’:

Delete Mark

If you make a mistake, you can undo the last line by clicking the ‘Delete Mark’ button and then clicking the line you wish to remove. That second part is critical as nothing will happen unless you do. You can also use the keyboard shortcut CTRL-Z to ‘undo’ the last thing you did. So much easier.

Discard All Changes

This is like a global undo. If you select this button you will delete every single change you have made. Use with caution.

Keep Changes

This is the button you hit once you’ve done all that you want to do to the image. ‘Keep Changes’ bakes all the changes so they ‘stick’. No more undoing any of the changes. It’s the last step in the whole process.

And now for those eyeballs.

PP is very good at detecting curves so long as there is a strong contrast between the object and its background. The eyeball I wanted to use is perfect…except for the bit at the top where the eyelashes are basically the same colour as that part of the eye.

free image from Pixabay

To excavate that eyeball from the eyelashes, I made the image as big as possible using the slider down in the status bar [bottom of screen]. Then I clicked on ‘Mark Areas to Remove’ and drew teensy weensy little lines. <<cue grinding of teeth>>

My stubbornness persistence paid off because I managed to get an almost circular eyeball, but when I tried it in the mask, the not-quite-perfect curve was noticeable. So I cheated. I turned the eyeball upside down. 🙂

I should say here that the easiest image to clean up was the mask!

free image from freeimages.com

Although the left side of the mask is in shadow, the shadow is a different colour AND there’s still enough contrast to allow PP to detect the edges.

All in all, I’m loving the ‘Remove Background’ function in PP. It has limitations – the lack of curved lines is a big one – but for large jobs that can be a little rough, it’s miles easier than vectoring an image in Corel. As always though, you have to use the right tool for the right job.

My thanks to Diana for introducing me to a very useful tool indeed. 😀

cheers,
Meeks


PowerPoint Master Class with D.Wallace Peach

For those who don’t know, Diana Wallace Peach is an immensely talented writer in the scifi/fantasy genre, but today we’re not talking books. Today we’re talking book trailers, and the graphical wizardry that Diana achieves with PowerPoint.

I have to tell you that despite knowing how to use Power Point as a presentation tool in business, I never knew it could be used to create something like this:

Part of the upcoming trailer for D.Wallace Peach’s new novel ‘The Necromancer’s Daughter’.

I wish I could show you the whole trailer, but that won’t be available until Diana’s new book launches in mid August. In the meantime, I’m going to share with you what Diana told me when I asked her how on earth she achieved such amazing effects.

Take it away, Diana. 😀

Hi Andrea, my techie friend. Thanks so much for having me over and asking about trailers and how I make mine. I’ll try to give enough information to get someone started.

I’m pretty clueless when it comes to technology, so I rely on my old business days, and I make my trailers using PowerPoint. Yep, just old-fashioned PowerPoint.

I learned by trial and error and just playing around with the program. It’s fairly intuitive, or I wouldn’t have been able to figure it out. I encourage lots of experimentation, and no one should stress – the undo button is our friend.

Finally, don’t try this if you’re facing a deadline. It’s not hard at all, but it is very time-consuming.

Now, to get started, here are ten basic steps:

  • Start with a blank slide, and “insert” a black rectangle that covers the whole thing.
  • Choose an image (or 2 or 3) that will work as your background and cover the black rectangle. Use copyright-free images, and stretch them to fit if necessary. Pixabay and Unsplash are great resources for free images. Or use your own! (Example 1)
Example 1
  • Insert the images that you’re going to blend into your final picture. I chose 4 of them for this tutorial, but for some of my slides, I might have many more. Before I can use them, I might need to remove the background. Note that when you double click on an image, a little box appears in your menu bar that says “Remove Background.” (Example 2)
Example 2
  • One at a time I remove the background from the images by marking areas to keep or remove. (Example 3)
Example 3
  • Then I’m going to layer the images, rotate them, resize them, and position them until I like how they look. (Example 4).
Example 4
  • To make them blend a little better, I right-click on each image and click on “Format Picture.” Here, there are loads of options from softening edges to adding a glow, shadow, or special effects. You can lighten, change contrast, or crop. You can also manipulate color. I softened the edges of these flowers a little, but for most of my composite slides for trailers, I do a lot of manipulation to make them blend into one scene. Just experiment until the slide looks right to you. (Example 5)
Example 5
  • Insert text and format it! (Example 6)
Example 6
  • Transition: Transition determines how your slides are going to transition from one to the next. Play with the “how” of the transition (fade or wipe, for example) and how many seconds you want it to take. Your whole slide will transition with all its images.
  • Animation: Animation is how to delay the appearance of some images once the transition is underway. Again, you get to play with the “how” and “how fast.” You can have images fade into view or fly in (for example). I will typically create all my slides and then add transitions and animations at the end. You can preview what you’ve done under “Review” and make a hundred adjustments (like I do) until you’re satisfied. (Example 7 – video)
  • Audio: You can add copyright-free music or add your own recording. For me, this means more fiddling with transitions and animations to make the slides line up with the music. Once you’re done you can export the entire trailer to an MP4 video. Easy Peasy! And Have Fun!

Easy Peasy she says! -grin- I don’t know about you, but I still think there’s a bit of magic in there somewhere. I also think that Diana is much more of a techie than she gives herself credit for, so…. I’m making her an Honorary Geek, complete with this lovely engraved award to put on her mantle piece:

If you want to know more about Diana’s work, in both words and graphics, pop into her blog at: https://mythsofthemirror.com/ where you’ll find a welcoming community of authors and readers. I know because I did. Or you can visit her Amazon Author page at: https://www.amazon.com/D-Wallace-Peach/e/B00CLKLXP8/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1 to see all the fantastic novels she’s published.

As for me, I’m so revved up I can hardly wait to start playing around with PowerPoint again.

Have fun,
Meeks


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