The first advice that any professional designer gives for creating captivating slides is to use images. They are absolutely right in saying so. Firstly, because we are visual learners and empirical evidence shows that images are remembered more than text. Secondly, visuals add aesthetic value to a slide- add color, characters, and personalize an otherwise impersonal message.
Many presenters follow this advice but still fall short of creating captivating slides. They do not know how to leverage the power of visuals. Knowing how to use images is as important as just using images.
In this article, we are sharing with you one hack for using visuals that will make any slide look good- Use Bleeding Images. Simply put, images that cover the complete slide canvas. There is no boundary or blank spaces detracting from the beauty of the image. The image should bleed into the edges of the slide area; that’s what I like and trust me, audiences do too.
There is one condition to using this hack successfully- Do not dump loads of text over the beautiful image. Why use a full-screen image in first place if it is to be buried under text, right? You must be thinking...
Why Make Images Bleed in the First Place?
Which looks better- a passport size photograph of your favorite actor/actress or a full size poster decorating your wall? Obviously, the bigger the image, the better.
However, very often, presenters insert an image that occupies just a portion of the slide. No matter how breathtaking the visual is, if it is made to sit in the middle of a slide like some frame, it will fail to achieve that intended effect. If you download a high quality image, then you can easily drag it to cover the complete slide area without worrying the image would pixelate.
Check out the before and after below. That is what we mean by image bleeding. It creates a powerful effect and immediately grabs the attention of the audience. Place your message on the less significant areas of an image, add a transparent shape if the readability is less and a captivating slide is ready!
If you have been keeping images small simply because you didn’t know how to place text over the image, then master this technique by reading the hacks below:
Another mistake that presenters make is by adding multiple images in a slide. Even worse, they are not arranged properly to remotely resemble a collage. The result is no visual gets the attention it deserves. Instead pick one attention-grabbing visual and play it up on the slide by making it bleed, like in the example below:
How to Make Images Bleed in Your Presentation
There are 3 ways to do this depending on the image- the easy way and when that does not work out, the clever way.
For Images With Lot of Empty Space
Hack #1 (Easy)- Drag the Image to Cover the Slide
Duh! You probably knew that. But there is a way to drag an image that most presenters never follow. They expand an image from one corner of the slide and keep dragging it till it covers the complete slide area. If some area is left naked, they drag it from the center points messing up the dimensions of the image.
“Who will notice a slight stretching of the image?” But trust me, everybody comes to know even if that forced stretch is very small.
How to avoid that? Press the Ctrl key (Cmd on Mac) and then drag any corner handle outwards. The image will expand proportionately from all sides and there will no scope of error. If the image is still not covering the complete slide canvas, drag it outside the slide boundaries. Just ensure the less important areas of the image are getting chopped off, and not the face or some other body part that will make the image look awkward.
In the above example, we do not want the boy’s head to be cropped. A good thing is that we have plenty of unwanted space on his right that can be sacrificed. So, instead of pressing the Control key, press the Shift key (so that image expands from one side only) and drag the image from the corner right handle till it covers the slide from bottom. Locate the Crop button from the Format tab (see the screenshot below)
Drag the cropping handle inwards (see the screenshot below) till the image is chopped off till the borders of your slide.
For Images With Flat/Solid Background Colors
Hack #2 (Easy)- Fill the Slide Background with Image Background
Sometimes, following hack 1 lands you in a sticky situation. The image covers up the entire slide area for sure but there’s no space left for you to place your presentation content. Take this image below:
If we enlarge this image, the objects in the image cover the slide edge to edge leaving just a small strip at the top. One will have to literally squeeze his presentation title in that small area which won’t look professional.
A workaround for this kind of problem is to leave the image as it is. If the background of the image is a plain solid color (like turquoise in this example), then you can simply fill up the remaining slide area with the same color and nobody can differentiate image background from the slide background. To get that perfect match...
Use the Eyedropper tool to Fill the Slide Background (Format Background > Solid Fill > Color drop-down box)
Here’s how the final image looks like:
This is an ideal situation. Most of the times, you won’t be lucky to have images with a solid background. It could be a gradient background, textured with lots of shadows and lights, or a real-life scene in the background. That’s when hack 3 will come to your rescue:
For Images With Intricate/Real-life Backgrounds
Hack #3 (Tricky)- Duplicate Portion of Image to Cover the Blank Space
Have you ever experienced that joy when you found just the perfect image for your slide? You go “Yay” on stumbling upon that breathtaking image. That joy is short-lived when you insert that image into your slide. The dimensions of the slide and that of the image are not a perfect match.
Hack 1 and 2 are of no use. “You want me to amputate the man’s or woman’s arms and worse, chop half their head?” No, we do not want that. Worry not, we have another trick up our sleeve. You’ll love it!
NOTE: Bleeding images becomes more difficult in widescreen presentations (16:9 aspect ratio) as it is difficult to find images composed in this dimension.
So let’s take a widescreen presentation slide this time. Here’s a powerful image but falls short of covering the entire slide canvas. Dragging the image is not a solution as we don’t want the face to be cropped.
Although it appears that the background is a plain solid one, when you try hack 2 (use eyedropper tool to fill the white area with background color), you do not get the perfect results you wished for:
The trick is to duplicate the image onto your slide (Use Ctrl + D shortcut) and fill the blank space with it. Locate the Crop button from the Format tab in the PowerPoint ribbon. Using the crop handles (see the screenshot below), take the area needed to cover up the blank slide.
This is how your slide now looks after cropping:
Still as bad as before. Just one small change and see the difference! Select the cropped image, locate the Rotate menu in the Format tab, click the drop-down menu and click the Flip Horizontal option (see the screenshot below).
Now, see how the complete image looks on bleeding:
If you were looking at the above image for the first time, could you have guessed that it was altered using the clever trick!
Let’s take another example to show how beautifully this hack works (it has saved me and my slides countless times). Here’s another image that would get badly cropped if dragged to fit the slide:
Let’s apply the same cosmetic changes we made in the above example- Duplicate the image, crop the area needed to cover up the blank screen, and flip the cropped area horizontal. Here’s our bleeding image:
And using one of the hacks from the 11 Hacks To Make Text Over Images More Readable , we crafted a stunning slide:
Wait...we have one more powerful hack to share with you. Now that you know how to make images bleed (hopefully you’ll follow this advice), you can create a STELLAR slide if you follow one more presentation tip- Follow the Rule of Thirds. The Rule of Thirds design principle is an empirically proven technique to create pleasing compositions. Put simply, it means dividing your slide into thirds horizontally and vertically and place the most important elements in an image on the points where lines intersect.
We explained everything about the rule of thirds in our last post but what we had not shared was how to crop an image so that it follows the rule. This is the perfect time to share that trick:
How to Make Images Follow the Rule of Thirds
Say you have an image like the one below where the focus of attention- the Donald Trump poster- is right in the middle of the slide.
The image is bleeding no doubt but there is also the practical problem of too little space to put any text. We need the poster to be on the left or right giving us more space for text and also take advantage of the rule of thirds. Let’s crop the image to make it follow the rule of thirds and yet keep the image bleeding.
Step 1- Crop the Image
Locate the crop button from the Format tab and crop the unwanted area:
Step 2- Place it Along the Rule of Thirds Gridline
Place the most important element in the image- the Donald Trump poster- along the power points (intersection of lines).
Step 3- Duplicate the Image & Crop the Duplicate
Now the image is not bleeding. So we need to repeat the steps we followed in hack 3- insert the image again and take only the background area needed to fill up the blank space:
This is how the slide looks after cropping the duplicate image:
Step 4- Flip the Cropped Background
Again repeat the steps to merge the original and the cropped image. Select the cropped image, go to the Rotate menu and click Flip Horizontal.
And now the image is bleeding as well as following the rule of thirds!
You now have ample space on the slide to display your content. You can add a transparent layer behind the text to make it more readable, if you wish. Here's how the final slide looks:
How did you like the presentation hacks we shared today? Did you learn something new? Share your feedback in the comments below. If you liked the post, share the post with your followers: