Recently I did some slide makeovers for a client, a medical researcher. He was giving a presentation on epigenetics to the general public called, “Mind over DNA: Transforming Your DNA from the Inside-Out.”
I needed a striking graphic for the first slide that combined the concept of the mind with an image of DNA. I certainly wasn’t going to find it, so I knew I had to create a custom image.
I started with an image that I’ve used before. You can find it by searching for “brain.”
Next, I removed the black background using the Remove Background feature that’s available in PowerPoint 2010 and later. Because this image contains black within the body, if you try the simpler Set Transparent Color method, you end up with holes in the image.
Next, I looked for a DNA image. I found a clear one and inserted it. This image is a WMF file, which means that I can convert it to PowerPoint objects.
To convert the DNA image, you ungroup it. I had to ungroup it 3 times to get it down to its basic components. See the blue background? Once everything was all ungrouped, I was able to select and delete the blue background–after a couple of tries. Then I selected everything and grouped it back up.
The DNA isn’t long enough, so I duplicated the image To put the two DNA images, I needed to change the orientation of the duplicate. To do that I selected it, clicked the Format tab, and chose Rotate, Flip Vertical and then Flip Horizontal. Then I put the duplicate above the original, overlapping them. It wasn’t perfect, but didn’t need to be. Here’s the result.
I wanted to put one image on top of the other so I needed to make the brain image semi-transparent. You can’t make an image semi-transparent, so you need to use a cool trick. Here’s how it works:
- Right-click the image and choose Save as Picture. Save it in PNG or JPG format. (In the past, you needed to use PNG to get transparency, but no longer. I tried this with both formats and it worked.)
- Insert a rectangle. You want the rectangle to be the same proportion as the image. One way to judge that is to drag the rectangle over the image.
- On the Format tab, choose Shape Outline, No Outline.
- Then choose Shape Fill, Picture. Select the image you just saved. The rectangle now looks just like the image but PowerPoint treats it differently because it’s really a rectangle with a picture fill.
- Right-click the picture-filled rectangle and choose Format Shape. Use the Transparency slider to set the transparency to about 50%.
You can delete the original image at this point.
Resize the second image as necessary. I made it taller by dragging down the bottom handle. Usually, you shouldn’t distort an image, but in this case the DNA is really just a schematic and you can adjust its height.
Move the second image under the first one. If the semi-transparent image isn’t on top, right-click and choose Bring to Front. Here’s the actual slide that Dr. Schneider used..