I’ve been using PowerPoint for a long time, a long time… Throughout my PowerPoint journey I’ve found a tonne of functions in the presentation tool that match (and sometimes even beat) Photoshop. Don’t believe me? Read on…

As I write this I think to myself how many graphic designers will be glancing over this blog post thinking, “yeah right, whatever”.

It’s a common experience I’ve become accustomed to over the years of being a presentation designer. All over the world there are people that scoff at even the thought of using PowerPoint functionality to create beautiful and effective pieces of design. I think it’s about time that someone spoke out about the ways in which PowerPoint can be used for techniques that are just as effective as, and even simpler to achieve than, with many of the Adobe Creative suite programmes (Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, Flash…)

I should point out that the depth of functions offered within Adobe programmes is vast. There are far more things that you can do with images in Photoshop than will ever be available in PowerPoint. But to that point, it’s been estimated that 90% of Photoshop users use less than 10% of the functions available to them.

I’m going to prove to you that many of the functions that get used in Photoshop can actually be carried out in PowerPoint, with even greater ease. Admittedly, Microsoft haven’t done a great job at advertising some of the things I’m going to show you; perhaps they just didn’t think that the general population of non-design folk would understand or be ready for them? So instead they continue to provide all kinds of instructions and layouts enabling bullet points to be placed generously on slides!

So here’s a list of the functions that are all easily accessible from your very own copy of Microsoft PowerPoint. I’m not going to explain in depth how to carry out each of the following, we’ll save that for future posts!

Viewing layers

One of the most helpful tools that hardly anybody knows is available. The ability to see and name all the objects on your slide with a list of layers. The ability to then make an object invisible while you work on others is indispensable. This works in the same way as the Illustrator and Photoshop layers function.

Selection Pane

Removing image background

I’m sure most know about the fantastic ‘Magic wand’ tool designers use in Photoshop, enabling you to select and delete out specific parts of an image. This can be done in pretty much the same way in PowerPoint, using the ‘Remove background’ function.

Removing image background

Image blur

A really nice effect on slides is to have a blurred image in the background, allowing you to have sharp visuals containing your message in the foreground. Most of the time people send the image over to the graphics department to add a certain amount of Gaussian blur. In actual fact, the same function can be performed in PowerPoint by simply selecting artistic effects and dictating how much Gaussian blur you’d like to add to your image. This like many other functions in PowerPoint is actually much simpler to achieve than in Photoshop.

Image blur

Image reflection

This is perhaps the best example of where PowerPoint far excels Photoshop’s functionality. If you’re trying to achieve a reflection in PS, you’re going to need a multiple step process, starting with 1.duplicating the image, 2.then mirroring it, 3.cropping down up to where reflection is needed, adding transparency, the list goes on…

In PowerPoint, simple select the reflection option from the picture format window. Straight away you’ve reached the point mentioned above, but the functionality doesn’t stop there, you can now control how far the reflection reaches, whether you’d like it to blur the further away it gets, plus many mare options far outreaching the ‘do it yourself’ Photoshop way.

Image reflection

Shadows

Everyone loves the inner/drop shadow feature in Photoshop, well it’s exactly the same in PowerPoint with the ability to change the distance, blur, direction, colour etc…

Shadows

Image compression

Ever frustrated that your presentation file size is too big after inserting too many large images and then end up having to take them into Photoshop to reduce their size and resolution?

In PowerPoint there is an option to ‘compress images’ allowing you to discard any cropped areas, and reduce the image resolution to one that still looks perfect when presented, but is actually much smaller in file size than it was before.

Image compression

Image colour overlay

Have you ever needed to make your image washed out to sit against the background of your presentation? Perhaps you’d like to change the colour of the image to make it mono-tone with a specific colour that fits in with your brand identity? This can be carried out in PowerPoint with one simple click of your mouse.

Image colour overlay

Text layout

You have the ability to change the leading, kerning and many other features similar to how you’d go about working with text in Adobe software, the advantage here is that once tweaked and perfected, your text remains editable, so there are no issues down the line when others need to amend the file. NO MORE UNEDITABLE TEXT IN PRESENTATIONS!

text layout

Pen vector tool

It is possible to use the freeform tool in PowerPoint to draw your own shape – no problem – then once you’re finished, simply right click and edit the points. Now you can alter the vector lines in the same way you would in Illustrator.

pen vector tool

So there you have it, a pretty long list of functions that mirror if not exceed the same functionality as in Adobe tools.

If you’d like me to walk through any of the above examples in more detail, please comment below.

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Vincent Thompson

Creative consultant

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  1. Image of Matt Matt says:

    Please. This post is filled with falsities.

    PPT background removal is nowhere near as good as Photoshop. Once you set the removal tool settings the first time, it’s even quicker than PPT. And when you select areas to keep or remove in PPT, it almost never gets the areas you want in a few clicks.

    Layers? Well, you can see them in PPT but not the image. In photoshop you actually get that layer image in a box to easily see without caring what you named it.

    Last time I checked, you can edit any text layer you want as many times as needed, and you have about 300 more ways to reshape your words than in PPT. It’s nice to show people many unknown things in PPT they can use, but there is no comparison.

  2. Image of Vincent Thompson Vincent Thompson says:

    Hi Matt –
    Some good points you’ve raised…
    You’re quite right the remove background tool isn’t anyway near as accurate as Photoshop, but you can get pretty good results if you’re using images in presentations. PowerPoint wasn’t designed for hi-res printable editing.

    Layers – it would be handy to view the image on the layers panel, still really handy when working with complex slides.

    Text – I was referring to text created in Photoshop and then inserted into PowerPoint.

    I don’t think anything I’ve mentioned above is false, as mentioned at the beginning of the article Photoshop is a far more powerful tool, but for most people who need to use simple functionality when creating content for their presentations and don’t necessarily have the knowledge or license of Adobe software, I wanted to point out some of the functions that are available.

  3. Image of Clemence Lepers Clemence Lepers says:

    PowerPoint isn’t better than Photoshop, it’s different.
    PowerPoint helps users to do basic things people who don’t have PS would like to do (remove a background image, add layers, use vectors as you pointed out), which is great. Most of us are not designers and don’t intend to become ones, so I agree that it’s really convenient.

    I think the point of your post was to show that PPT actually has some simple edition functions that get close from the ones offered in PS, isn’t it? Your post content is great, I just think you might want to change the title – which is misleading 😉

    Clemence

  4. Image of Sergey Sergey says:

    Theses are two tools with some overlapping functionality, I don’t see much sense in comparing them..

    PS is absolute crap for making good presentations.

    The same can be said for PowerPoint and nontrivial graphics.

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