Apply Transparency to a Picture in PowerPoint Using Shape Fill and Prevent Distortion

by Avantix Learning Team | Updated August 2, 2020

Applies to: Microsoft® PowerPoint® 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019 and 365 (Windows)

You can make a picture transparent in PowerPoint by filling a shape with a picture and then making it transparent. This method works in all version of PowerPoint for Windows. To make an image transparent (or change its opacity), create a shape, fill it with an image and then change transparency settings either through a task pane or dialog box. You will likely encounter an issue if you resize the shape as you may distort the picture. The following method will help prevent distorting or skewing the picture in the shape.

Note: If you have an Office 365 subscription, there is now a transparency button that appears on the Picture Tools Format tab in the Ribbon that you can use to apply transparency to images.

Recommended article: How to Reduce the Size of Large PowerPoint Files

Making a picture transparent in PowerPoint 2013 and later versions

To apply transparency settings to a picture in a shape in PowerPoint 2013 and later versions:

  1. Insert a picture on your slide and ensure that it is the size you want. For example, you may want to resize the image by dragging its corner handles.
  2. Click the Insert tab in the Ribbon and then click Shapes. Select a shape (such as a rectangle) and drag on the slide to create the shape. Make sure the shape is the exact size of the picture.
  3. Click the rectangle or shape and click the Drawing Tools Format tab.
  4. Select the arrow below Send Backward and select Send Backward to send the rectangle behind the picture.
  5. Click the picture and press Control + X to cut it. It will be placed in the Clipboard.
  6. Right-click the rectangle or shape and choose Format Shape. A task pane appears.
  7. Click the Fill & Line button (paint can icon) at the top of the task pane. Click Fill and select Picture or texture fill.
  8. Click Clipboard. The image you cut will be placed in the shape.
  9. Drag the Transparency slider to change the value. You can also click the up or down arrows to the right of the Transparency slider to increase or decrease the transparency or you can type directly in the Transparency value box.
  10. You may want to click Line in the task pane and select No Line.

Below is the task pane in PowerPoint 2013 and later versions with Fill & Line selected:

Make picture transparent in PowerPoint using Format Picture task pane.

Locking aspect ratio of the shape in PowerPoint 2013 and later versions

If you hold Shift and drag a corner handle of the shape to resize it, it will maintain the aspect ratio of the shape. However, if you or other users drag a different handle or drag a corner handle but do not hold down Shift, it will likely skew the shape and the picture fill.

To lock aspect ratio and prevent distortion of the picture if the shape is resized:

  1. Right-click the shape and select Format Shape. The Format Shape task pane appears. Skip this step if the task pane is already displayed.
  2. Click the Size & Properties button (third button) at the top of the task pane.
  3. Click Size.
  4. Select Lock Aspect Ratio.

Below is the task pane in PowerPoint 2013, and later versions with Size & Properties selected:

PowerPoint Format Shape task pane with size and properties selected.

The aspect ratio will be maintained if you drag a corner handle of the shape. This does not prevent users from dragging a side handle and distorting the picture. It’s usually a good idea to get into the habit of holding down Shift and dragging a corner handle in case this setting has not been applied.

Making a picture transparent in PowerPoint 2010

To make a picture transparent in PowerPoint 2010:

  1. Insert a picture on your slide and ensure that it is the size you want. For example, you may want to resize the image by dragging its corner handles.
  2. Click the Insert tab in the Ribbon and then click Shapes. Select a shape (such as a rectangle) and drag on the slide to create the shape. Make sure the shape is the exact size of the picture.
  3. Click the rectangle or shape and click the Drawing Tools Format tab.
  4. Select the arrow below Send Backward and select Send Backward to send the rectangle behind the picture.
  5. Click the picture and press Ctrl + X to cut it. It will be placed in the Clipboard.
  6. Right-click the rectangle or shape and choose Format Shape. A dialog box appears.
  7. Click Fill in the categories on the left.
  8. Click Picture or texture fill.
  9. Click Clipboard. The image you cut will be placed in the shape.
  10. In the Format Shape dialog, drag the Transparency slider to change the value. You can also click the up or down-arrows to the right of the Transparency slider to increase or decrease the transparency or you can type directly in the Transparency value box.
  11. You may want to click Line Color in the categories on the left and choose No line.
  12. Click Close.

Below is the dialog box in PowerPoint 2010 with Fill selected:

Format Picture dialog box in PowerPoint 2010 to make picture transparent.

Locking aspect ratio of the shape in PowerPoint 2010

If you hold Shift and drag a corner handle of the shape to resize it, it will maintain the aspect ratio of the shape. However, if you or other users drag a different handle or drag a corner handle but do not hold down Shift, it will likely skew the shape and the picture fill.

To lock aspect ratio and prevent distortion of the picture if the shape is resized:

  1. Right-click the shape and select Format Shape. The Format Shape dialog box appears.
  2. Click Size in the categories on the left and select Lock Aspect Ratio.
  3. Click Close.

Below is the dialog box in PowerPoint 2010 with Size selected:

Format Shape dialog box in PowerPoint 2010 to lock aspect ratio.

The aspect ratio will be maintained if you drag a corner handle of the shape. This does not prevent users from dragging a side handle and distorting the picture. It’s usually a good idea to get into the habit of holding down Shift and dragging a corner handle in case this setting has not been applied.

This article was first published on May 19, 2018 and has been updated for clarity and content.

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Summary
How to Make a Picture Transparent in PowerPoint and Maintain Aspect Ratio (All Versions)
Article Name
How to Make a Picture Transparent in PowerPoint and Maintain Aspect Ratio (All Versions)
Description
You can make a picture transparent in PowerPoint (or change its opacity), by creating a shape, filling it with a picture and then changing transparency settings. Make images transparent using this technique to help prevent distorting or skewing the picture in the shape by locking the aspect ratio.
Author
Publisher Name
Avantix Learning

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