Glen Millar PowerPoint WorkBench PowerPoint MVP
since 2003
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Welcome to these tutorials, many of which were unique concepts when first published!


Visualize: techniques to visualize your presentation

artistic clip art ] crop image multi-ways ] camtasia capture ] color schemes ] connectors ] connectors 2 ] connectors 3 ] connectors 4 ] fotolia addin (new) ] natural art ] perspector 1 ] perspector 2 ] powerpoint to word ] ppt diagrams in word ] rolled 3d images ] slideshow on desktop ] [ transparent images ] unbelievable 3d ] wrap around ] awesome image fills ] search-clip-art ] super compress presentation ]


Semi-Transparent Images

Logic: use PowerPoint's image functions to export an image keeping its transparency settings

OK. First, I didn't ever plan to write a tutorial on semi-transparent images. There are some really good ones around, and I suggest you read them first. This is because they will help you understand how semi-transparent images work, and then you will know the limitations of this method.

This method will only produce faded graphics at various levels, and not gradient fades.

Transparent Graphics in PowerPoint

PowerPoint and Alpha Channels

Adam's Transparency Tutorial

Bitmap Size

OK, so the last one wasn't about semi-transparent images. But it is still very important to know.

The trick behind this tutorial is that you can produce various levels of semi-transparent images for applications right within PowerPoint, save them, and keep them for reuse. But version XP only.


1. Draw a rectangle, and makes its fill the picture you want (there should be enough material elsewhere on this site for you to know how. After all,, if I keep telling you, you will never have to remember yourself. Besides, I am running out of web space).

2. Get rid of the outside line of the rectangle.

3. Set the image to be at what ever level of transparency you want. Mine are 50%.

You do this by right clicking on the autoshape, select Format Autoshape, and it is under the colour and lines option.

format autoshape

You now click OK enough times to set all of these options. Then,

4. Right click on the image and select "Save as Picture". Depending on the type of file you save it as, the image transparency will remain intact for later use. Now to the research to explain the best file type to save as.

image types

The image shows the original and then the formats available to save to within PowerPoint. Note the resultant images were shrunk to be smaller than the original for display purposes. Now, forget bmp and jpg straight away, as the transparency does not stay intact. After that, there are some options that are better than others.

File type
Gif 2 channels Small
jpg RGB Small
png RGB + Alpha OK
tif RGB + Alpha OK
BMP RGB Bigger
wmf RGB + Something? Big
emf RGB + Grey Biggest

RGB? A mix of red, green and blue. The plus something? Who cares <g>.

Now, as I said, forget jpg and bmp as far as transparency is concerned. Also forget gif as the output is a mess. In my opinion, wmf and emf, while they work with semi-transparent images, are too big in file size.

Tif is excellent, but for best file size and acceptable display results with semi-transparent images, my recommendation is png. It will also display well in PowerPoint.

So, if you have PowerPoint XP, you can produce semi-transparent images that are transferable to other applications. Handy to know.

Glen Millar

Last Updated: April 02, 2005





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