Monday, July 18, 2011

How to Use Shapes to Create Curves in PowerPoint And Word

One of things Microsoft has added to Office 2010 products is Shapes, which gives users the ability to add custom shapes to their presentation and documents. Shapes can be used to add decorative elements to slides - putting a box around a portion of the text to highlight it, for instance.

Shapes is available on the Insert tab in PowerPoint 2010 and Word 2010 grouped under Illustrations along with SmartArt and Charts. If you open the Shapes menu, you can see a vast number of pre-built shapes – rectangles, circles, triangles, arrows, and fancy shapes like half moon, star, heart, and lightening strikes. There is also a curve tool that lets you create smooth curves of any shape.

shapes-face

Although not immediately apparent, the Shapes tool is infinitely flexible. You can use a pre-built shape as the starting ground and build complex shapes upon it. This what I’m going to show you in this tutorial - how to use Shapes to create beautiful geometric shapes for your slides.

shapes

Open a new PowerPoint presentation and turn on Gridlines from the View tab in the ribbon. Gridlines will give us precise control over the shape.

From the Shape menu, select the rectangle shape. Click the mouse button, hold and drag to create a rectangular shape 1 box in height and 6 box in length as shown below.

shapes1

Right click on the shape and select ‘Edit points’. Now comes the interesting part. By changing the position of the points you can bend and twist this rectangle and make it assume any shape you want.

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Click on the lower edge of the rectangle, two boxes from the left and drag your mouse vertically up so that the end of blue axis touch the opposite edge of the rectangle. Release the mouse button.

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If you did this right, you should get a smooth curve.

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Click on the right corner of the rectangle to display two short axis. Grab the end of the horizontal axis, which should be two boxes from the right and drag your mouse vertically down 1 box in height. Release the mouse button.

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Copy the shape, invert it, drag it to the bottom of the slide, and recolor it. Resize if necessary. You get a simple but eye catching design.

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Another trick is to add new points along the edge of the shape and maneuver the points to attain new shapes. Anybody who has used the Pen tool in Photoshop will immediately find themselves at home, because this is exactly like the Pen tool. Unfortunately, the Pen tool is one of the most difficult tool to use in Photoshop and so is Shapes. The shapes seem to have a mind of it’s own. It will take some time before you can master them.

Once you are able to move them in the direction you desire, you can completely do away with photo editing software and create new designs for your slides right in PowerPoint. Of course, these tools are also available in Word 2010.

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