Creating Masks in PowerPoint

on Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sometimes you want to highlight a section on a graphic by masking out the rest of it with a semi-transparent mask. An example is below. Here's how you do it in PowerPoint.

1) Insert the graphic (Insert>Picture).

2) Use the drawing tool to draw a rectangle over the graphic (Insert>Shapes, then choose the rectangle tool and draw it).

Then, right click the rectangle, choose Format Picture and dial the transparency up to 25% or so.

It should now look like this:

3) Draw an oval over the bit you want to highlight. Use the Fill Color tool to make it a different color.

4) Select the oval, hold down Ctrl, and select the rectangle. Right-click, and choose Save as Picture. Name it "mask.png".

5) Delete the rectangle and the oval. Then insert the mask.png graphic you just made (Insert>Picture, and browse to "mask.png").

6) Click Recolor Picture. Select Set Transparent Color. Then click the oval. This will make it transparent.

To see a live demonstration of this process, and learn how to animate it so the mask dissolves in and moves from item to item, show up for next Wednesday's Connect session on PowerPoint 07, from 9 to 10:30 a.m.. There will be an announcement in Monday's email, or you can contact me at


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