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Create Custom Shaped Picture Placeholders in PowerPoint 2010 for Windows

Learn how to create custom shaped Picture placeholders in PowerPoint 2010 for Windows. You can achieve some awesome results.


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Product/Version: PowerPoint 2010 for Windows

OS: Microsoft Windows XP and higher






Do you want your pictures to be contained within shapes that look like frames? Or maybe you want to use silhouette style placeholders for your pictures? Yes, this is possible! In fact, look at Figure 1, below. These custom picture placeholders were created within PowerPoint 2010, and we used nothing that's not part of the program. Yes, this process is a little involved. However, we'll hold your hand if you promise to follow all our steps in sequence!

Custom picture placeholders
Figure 1: Custom picture placeholders

We have already covered how PowerPoint enables you to insert placeholders within a Slide Layout. Picture placeholders are one among the various placeholders you can insert. You can do more with them to create custom placeholders, as shown in Figure 1, above. We used PowerPoint's Combine Shapes commands. These commands are not available by default within the Ribbon, but you should enable them as explained in our Add Combine Shapes Commands to the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) page to follow the rest of this tutorial. Thereafter, follow these steps to learn more:

  1. First, add a new Slide Layout within the Slide Master. With your new Slide Layout active within the Slide Master View, access the Slide Master tab of the Ribbon, and click the Insert Placeholder button, highlighted in red within Figure 2, below. Then, click the Picture option in the resultant drop-down gallery, as shown highlighted in blue within Figure 2, below.
  2. Add a picture placeholder
    Figure 2: Add a picture placeholder
  3. Go ahead and drag and draw to insert a picture placeholder, as shown in Figure 3, below. Resize and reposition your placeholder as required.
  4. Picture placeholder within the Slide Layout
    Figure 3: Picture placeholder within the Slide Layout
  5. Tip: Want to resize or reposition your new picture placeholder precisely? Explore our Shapes tutorials that explain how you can do these tasks with Shapes. Picture placeholders are shapes too! What's important though is that you do nothing more than resizing and repositioning at this time with your picture placeholder, as the Combine Shape options we explore next won't work if the placeholder is further formatted.
  6. Access the Home, Insert, or Drawing Tools Format tab of the Ribbon. You'll find a button called Shapes in any of these tabs. Click the Shapes button to bring up the Shapes gallery shown in Figure 4, below.
  7. Shapes gallery
    Figure 4: Shapes gallery
  8. Note: The Drawing Tools Format tab is a contextual tab. Contextual tabs are special tabs in the Ribbon that are not visible all the time. They only make an appearance when you are working with a particular slide object which can be edited using special options.
  9. From the Shapes gallery, choose a shape that works well with the corner of your typical rectangular picture placeholder. We chose the Diagonal Stripe shape (highlighted in red within Figure 4, above). Now insert the shape within your slide layout. We placed it on the top left corner of the rectangular picture placeholder, as shown in Figure 5, below. We also changed the line attribute of this shape to No Line.
  10. Playing on a picture placeholder's corner
    Figure 5: Playing on a picture placeholder's corner
  11. Why did we set the line attribute of the Diagonal Stripe shape to No Line? That's because a line may add some extra thickness around the shape area, and may not allow you to accurately place this shape above the top left corner of your picture placeholder.
  12. We then duplicated the Diagonal Strip shape (press Ctrl + D) thrice, and placed instances on all four corners of the picture placeholder rotating individual shapes as required, as shown in Figure 6, below.
  13. Extra Shapes inserted and rotated
    Figure 6: Extra Shapes inserted and rotated
  14. Deselect the corner shapes and make sure that the picture placeholder is selected now. Then access the Drawing Tools Format tab, click the Edit Shape button (highlighted in red within Figure 7, below).
  15. Edit Shape button
    Figure 7: Edit Shape button
  16. This brings up a sub-menu, as shown in Figure 7, above. Choose the Change Shape option (highlighted in blue within Figure 7) to bring up the Shapes gallery. From the Shapes gallery choose another shape, even if you choose a Rectangle again! Changing the shape to another shape is important. In fact, the next step explained will not be possible unless you do so.
  17. With the picture placeholder still selected, click the Edit Shape button again (highlighted in red within Figure 7, above) to bring up a sub-menu, as shown in Figure 8, below. Choose the Edit Points option (see Figure 8, again).
  18. Edit Points option selected
    Figure 8: Edit Points option selected
  19. Unless you changed the shape in the previous step, you will find that the Edit Points option will be grayed out.
  20. You now need to combine the corner shapes with the picture placeholder. This combine feature requires that you have PowerPoint's Shape Combine commands visible.
  21. Note: The Shape Combine command is one of the four new Shape commands that are not visible by default in PowerPoint 2010. You need to enable them as explained in Add Combine Shapes Commands to the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) in PowerPoint 2010.
  22. Make sure your picture placeholder is selected. Then select all the inserted corner shapes and click the Combine Shapes icon within the QAT to bring up a drop-down menu, as shown in Figure 9.
  23. Combine Shapes drop-down menu
    Figure 9: Combine Shapes drop-down menu
  24. Within this drop-down menu, select the Shape Combine option (refer to Figure 9 above). This results in a custom picture placeholder as shown in Figure 10.
  25. Picture placeholder created using combine shape options
    Figure 10: Picture placeholder created using combine shape options
  26. For this tutorial we used the Shape Combine option. You can even use the Shape Union, Shape Intersect, and Shape Subtract. Results will differ based on the Shape Combine option you choose and also on the order in which the shapes are selected before they are combined. Play around with these options.
  27. Note: Not getting the result shown in Figure 10 above? Do you instead see a full solid color picture placeholder, as shown in Figure 11, below? This may occur depending on whichever slide object you selected first. If you select any of the corner shapes first, and then the picture placeholder you'll get the results shown in Figure 11, below. So, always opt for selecting the picture placeholder first and then the corner shapes to achieve results shown in Figure 10 above.

    Picture placeholder with solid color
    Figure 11: Picture placeholder with solid color

  28. When done, access the Slide Master tab of the Ribbon, and click the Close Master View button as shown highlighted in red within Figure 12. This will get you back to Normal View.
  29. Close Master View button
    Figure 12: Close Master View button
  30. Access the Home tab of the Ribbon and click the Layout button to bring up the Layout drop-down gallery you see in Figure 13, below. Notice that your new Custom Layout (highlighted in red within Figure 13) shows up here, ready to be used to create a new picture slide.
  31. New Slide Layout with the picture placeholder added
    Figure 13: New Slide Layout with the picture placeholder added
  32. Note: The new layouts you create are saved as part of the presentation, and are not available in any other presentations you create. Other than adding placeholders to your new slide layouts, you can also change their slide backgrounds.
  33. Save your presentation often.

See Also:

Create Custom Shaped Picture Placeholders in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows
Create Custom Shaped Picture Placeholders in PowerPoint 2016 for Mac
Create Custom Shaped Picture Placeholders in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows
Create Custom Shaped Picture Placeholders in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac

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