Powerpoint Tutorial: How to Create a See-Through Cutout Effect

Powerpoint tends to get a lot of hate about being this awful program that people use to bore you to death with never ending presentations over-filled with content and text. You probably heard the phrase “Death by Powerpoint” because of this.

And that’s very unjustified in our opinion. After all, Powerpoint is just a tool – one which, depending on who’s using it, can be a tool to do both good and bad (slide design in this case 🙂 )

And the truth is that Powerpoint is extremely versatile and you can do a lot of cool things with it. So in this new blog series, we’ll be covering some practical, very easy to apply tutorials that will take your slides from “Meh” to “Wow”.

In this first one, we’ll show you how to create a see-through cutout effect on an image slide.

 

 

The see-through cutout effect is one of the most visually impactful ways to combine text and images in a presentation and can be done 100% in Powerpoint.

 

 

Steps:

 

1. Choose a picture

 

When choosing your picture, be sure to pick one that isn’t extremely overcrowded and has a good sized area that is empty or at least doesn’t have a lot of details so your text can be easily read.

Try to find also an image that has a good contrast between the background and rest of the elements in the picture (like the pineapple picture used above).

 

 

2. Add your picture on the slide and insert a rectangle shape to cover the picture

 

 

3. Select the overlay color of the rectangle

 

The overlay can either be a solid color or you can make a gradient with different shades of the same color, or even combine different colors in it.

Just make sure to keep in mind two key things: 

  1. Make sure there’s a good contrast between the overlay color and the image
  2. Make sure you also don’t overcrowd the image if you decide to using a multicolor gradient

 

4. Adjust the color transparency if you want

 

This one is optional, as you can either go with zero transparency for the overlay, but we find that you get better results when it has a bit of transparency, so you can see the full image behind.

 

 

5. Insert a separate text box and edit your text & size

 

This effect works best with bold, large fonts, ideally in all caps. If your words won’t fit on the width of the image, rather than having a smaller text size, consider breaking it in lines for more interesting typography compositions.

 

 

6. Subtract the text from the image

 

First select the rectangle, then while holding down ctrl, select the text box. 

With both rectangle and text box selected, go to the Shape Format tab from the menu bar, then go to Merge Shapes and select Subtract.

 

 

You can also adjust either color of the overlay or the brightness & contrast of the picture from Format Picture -> Picture Corrections, to get a better contrast between the image and color overlay.

 

 

7. Use Fragment instead of Subtract from Merge Shapes

 

You can also use the Fragment option instead of Subtract when merging the two shapes

This allows you to create more complex designs, but just remember about the shapes within a letter as well (in the example below we had to keep in the same position the shapes within the A and R letters when moving the text).

 

 

8. Use shapes instead of full image covering rectangles

 

You can also use this effect with any kind of shape, not just a simple rectangle that covers the whole picture, so you can create different design compositions that work best for the message of your slide, as well as the picture you chose.

In this example below, we wanted to keep the two hikers clearly visible so the connection between the text used (Goal) and visual message (people climbing up towards reaching an objective) is even more obvious. 

That’s why instead of a full rectangle covering the image, we’ve opted for just a shape in the upper left corner. This creates a great balance in the slide because we also applied the rule of thirds.

 

 

And that’s it. All in all, this is a super quick technique you can use and should take you just a few minutes to learn and apply. Go ahead and start creating 🙂

 

 

Was this tutorial helpful? 

We’ve just recently started exploring these bite size tutorials and we’re planning to do quite a bit more (we have some interesting ideas to test 🙂 ).

So let us know what other kind of effects you’d want to learn & do in PowerPoint and we’ll do a step by step tutorial for it.

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