One of your goals with creating the presentation is that it shouldn’t be boring. Boring manifests itself in lots of ways – from your verbal delivery to the content of your slides. Another point of “boring-ness,” however, is how the presentation looks. A well-designed layout goes a long way in engaging an audience. Although there are endless themes that you can download for your Google Slides and/or PowerPoint presentations, a design that is customized towards your topic will further elevate the content.
In this tutorial, we’ll look at a few ways to make custom graphics for a slide deck presentation (I will be using Google Slides as my platform of choice, but these can be easily adapted for PowerPoint) It is in your best interest to look at existing templates for slide decks, however, to get an understanding of what types of slides you may need to create.
Before we get started, let’s make some considerations as to what makes a strong visual presentation i.e. the Editorial Design of your slide deck.
- The goal of the visual design is to not confuse your viewer but to guide them through the content. The more consistent the design elements can be the less the viewer has to interpret each slide. Through a limited palette of design elements, you can reinforce the viewer’s expectations as to what is the primary focus for each slide.
- Use a color palette limited to 3 to 5 colors.
- Use a consistent typeface – 2 at the max (1 for major headlines, an 1 for captions, or the same for both.) Typefaces that have a variety of styles (bold, italic, bold italic) are encouraged.
- Backgrounds can be a solid color, employ graphic embellishments, have textures or images. Regardless of what you choose, the backgrounds must not compete with the content.
- All slides do not have to be designed the same but should be approached using a similar aesthetic. Using a combination of simple elements (type, color, graphic elements) will allow your slides to offer endless combinations yet maintain a visual connection to one another.
This tutorial will take you through the steps of making two types of backgrounds – an image-based one as well as a texture-based one. It will also show you how to make a custom graphic in Illustrator that can be easily modified in Photoshop to change the color and then be deployed in your presentation.
PART 1 – An image-based background. For this background, we want an image that suggests the content of the presentation without competing with the text or graphics. We will create a black and white version of an image so that it can be transparently overlayed on a color background in your presentation.
1. Download this image or use one of your own.
2. In Photoshop, make a new document that is 1920 px by 1080 px by 72 pixels per inch. This is standard screen size and the size Google Slides uses as a default. The resolution is 72 pixels per inch because the image will only be existing on a screen – anything larger than that is superfluous and will take too long to load.
3. Go to the FILE menu > PLACE EMBEDDED and select the file you downloaded, scale it so that it fits the screen – it is OK if the image exceeds the boundaries of the document. Hit Enter on your keyboard or click the checkmark on the options bar.
4. In the layers panel, go to the Layer Adjustments Icon and select Black and White
This will turn the image into Black and White and allow you to control how each color turns into grayscale.
5. Once adjusted, go to the FILE menu > EXPORT > QUICK EXPORT AS PNG. Give it a name and put it in your folder.
6. In Google Slides, right-click on a blank area of a slide or click the Background button at the top to change the color of the background.
You can pick from one of the standard colors OR if you have a predefined color palette, you can use the hexadecimal code and use that when you select Custom.
For this example will use the custom color of #1b4168
7. Go to the INSERT menu > IMAGE > UPLOAD FROM COMPUTER and select the Black and White PNG exported from Step 5. Scale it so that it fills the screen
8. Go to the FORMAT menu > FORMAT OPTIONS > ADJUSTMENTS and change the Transparency to about 75%.
PART 2 – A texture-based background. For this, we will create a texture in Photoshop (although this can easily be done in Illustrator) that has white as the fill color on a transparent background.
1. In Photoshop, make a new document that is 1920 px by 1080 px by 72 pixels per inch and in the RGB color model.
2. Go to the Channels Panel and make a new channel by clicking on the New Channel icon at the bottom.
3. Click on the Gradient icon on the toolbar (keyboard shortcut g.) Change the gradient to Black to White and draw a linear gradient across the screen – make it black on the left and white on the right.
4. Go to the FILTER menu > PIXELATE > COLOR HALFTONE (this filter is typically used to make a photographic image appear as if it is a magnified 4 color or CMYK print blown up, but for this tutorial, we will be using it to make just black and white dots.) Change the Max Radius to 32 pixels and each channel change to 45 degrees. Click OK.
5. Go to the IMAGE menu > IMAGE ADJUSTMENTS > INVERT.
6. In the Channels Panel, click on the RGB channel.
Open the Layers Panel. Go to the SELECT menu > LOAD SELECTION and load Alpha 1 (the halftone dots channel)
7. Go to the Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the Layer panel and click Solid Color.
Change the color to white and click OK.
8. Turn off the background layer.
Go to the FILE menu > EXPORT > QUICK EXPORT as PNG. Give it a name and put it in your folder.
9. In Google Slides, right-click on a blank area of a slide or click the Background button to change the color of the background. For this example, we will use the custom color of #5890cc
10. Go to the INSERT menu > IMAGE > UPLOAD FROM COMPUTER and select the Halftone Dots PNG exported from Step 8. Scale it so that it fills the screen.
11. Go to the FORMAT menu > FORMAT OPTIONS > ADJUSTMENTS and change the Transparency to about 85%.
PART 3 Custom Shapes from Illustrator – Although Google Slides and PowerPoint have a large library of pre-designed shapes it lacks the ability to make and modify vector shapes. You can easily make the shapes you want with Illustrator and quickly insert them into your presentation.
1. In Illustrator, make a new document – 1920 px by 1080 px (there is no need to define a resolution as Illustrator is resolution independent, meaning you can use what you make for a variety of purposes)
2. Draw a line across the artboard about a third of the way from the bottom.
3. Go to the EFFECT menu > DISTORT & TRANSFORM > ZIG ZAG. Change the size to 10 px and Absolute, the number of Ridges Per Segment to 15, and the Points to Smooth.
4. Go to the OBJECT menu > EXPAND APPEARANCE – this breaks the line segment from the effect and will allow us to make a closed shape.
5. Zoom out a bit so that you can see the Artboard and some of the Gray workspace around it. With the Pen tool, click on the left-hand end of the wavy line and then click on the bottom left corner, then the bottom right and finally on the right-hand side of the way line.
6. Change the Fill to White and Stroke to None.
7. Open the Asset Export panel (under the WINDOW menu) and drag the shape into the Panel. Click below the thumbnail and rename it Wavy Lower Third and export it as a PNG.
8. In Google Slides, on top of a background with color or one of the backgrounds from above, go to the INSERT menu > IMAGE > UPLOAD FROM COMPUTER and select the Wavy Lower Third.png Scale it so that it fits the width of the screen.
9. To easily change the color of the lower third, open the PNG in Photoshop and in the Layer panel, click the FX icon and select Color Overlay.
Change the color to one of your predefined palette colors – for this, I am using #f3ffa3.
10. Go to the FILE menu > EXPORT > QUICK EXPORT as PNG and rename it Yellow Wavy Lower Third.