Turn digital pictures into PowerPoint backgrounds with some Photoshop tweaks

We all use backgrounds images for PowerPoint and MediaShout, but unfortunately a lot of people don’t know anything better than to use an image with plain text titles. Not only is this sometimes difficult to read, but it almost annoying to look at. Here’s an example of how you can easily turn a digital photo into a slick background image.

For our example, we’ll use a picture my wife randomly took of some markers. Right-click here and “Save File As/Save Target As” if you want to play around with the original image. I’m using PhotoShop CS2 in the screenshots below, but these tools are also available in the slimmed down PhotoShop Elements (available for Windows and Mac) and other image editing applications.

Screen shot #1 and #2. Open the image you want to use as a PowerPoint or MediaShout background and change the image size to the screen resolution you’ll use with the projector. In my case, I’ll use the typical 1024×768, which is probably sufficient for 95% of the cases. (This helps keep your PowerPoint file size smaller so you’re not embedding an 8.0 megapixel image into your slide show.)

Screen shot #3. The text should stand out from the background image, not blend into it, so let’s lighten the image a little. There are various ways to do this, but in the example below I create a new layer, use the Paint Bucket tool to paint it white and then change the layer’s Opacity to 66% so the background layer beneath shows through a little.

Screen shot #4. Next, create another new layer, select the Type Tool and type your title on the image. Change the text color to be something that easily stands out. In my case, I’ll use black. You can change the font and size in the toolbar at the top.

Screen shot #5 and #6. To make the title stand out a bit from the rest of the text that will be displayed in PowerPoint, l’ll add a new layer style to the text layer. First I zoom in to 100% under the View menu so I can see the title at it’s full resolution as I manipulate it. Now let’s try Bevel and Emboss. (Play around with the other layer styles in the left column sometime, too.) In this image I’m using the Inner Bevel style with the Chisel Hard technique to add a bit of 2D perception to the title. Click OK when you’re finished setting the layer style the way you like it. (Hint: Simple is better. Don’t use too many styles together.)

Screen shot #7. Now save the image as a JPEG. In PhotoShop, go to File, Save As, and change the drop-down format menu to JPEG. Give the image a name, save it and use it as your new PowerPoint or MediaShout background!

Here’s my final image if you’d like to see it full-screen or even use it for an upcoming presentation.

The other advantage to this is that you don’t lose your special fonts styles when you transfer the presentation to a computer that doesn’t have the same fonts installed. Everything stays in-tact perfectly.

Posted on March 26, 2008

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