Grayscale and Color Picture Effect in PowerPoint

Create a hybrid color/grayscale image for your next presentation

La Cage, Bilodeau, St Paul pub and other shops and restaurants on Rue St Paul historic street of old town in Montreal, Quebec, Canada at sunset. Rue S

Oleksiy Maksymenko/Getty Images

When you add color to part of a grayscale photo, you draw attention to that part of the image because it jumps out at you. Get this effect by starting with a full-color image and removing the color in part of the picture. You may want to use this trick for your next PowerPoint presentation. 

Instructions in this article apply to PowerPoint 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010; and PowerPoint for Office 365.

PowerPoint Color Effect

One nice feature about PowerPoint is that you can make color changes to part of an image in just a few minutes without special photo-editing software like Photoshop. This tutorial takes you through the steps to create a picture on a slide that is a combination of color and grayscale.

For simplicity, choose a picture that is already in landscape layout. This ensures that the whole slide is covered with no slide background color showing, although this technique also works on smaller photos.

Select a picture with the focus on an object that has crisp and well-defined lines as its outline. This tutorial uses an example image with a large rose as the focal point of the picture.

Import the Color Image Into PowerPoint

  1. Open a PowerPoint file and select an empty slide.

  2. Go to Insert.

    PowerPoint displaying the Insert tab options.
  3. In the Images group, select Pictures.

  4. Navigate to the location on your computer where you saved the picture, choose the picture, and select Open to place it on the PowerPoint slide.

    PowerPoint displaying the Insert Pictures dialog.
  5. Resize the picture if necessary to cover the whole slide. 

Remove the Background of the Color Picture

  1. Click on the color picture to select it.

  2. Go to Picture Tools Format.

    PowerPoint displaying the Format picture tools options.
  3. In the Adjust group, select Remove Background. The focal point of the picture remains, while the remainder of the picture on the slide turns a magenta color.

    Background removal options in PowerPoint.
  4. If you're satisfied with the results, select Keep Changes. If not all of the background was removed or if part of the image is removed, fine-tune the background.

Fine-Tune the Background Removal Process

After the background (the magenta section of the picture) is removed, you may notice that some portions of the picture were not removed as you had hoped or too many parts were removed. This is easily corrected.

To fine-tune the background, go to Background Removal and:

  • Select Mark Areas to Keep and drag across areas of the background that you wish to keep as part of the focal point of the picture.
  • Select Mark Areas to Remove and drag across areas of the background that you wish to remove, as they are not part of the focal point of the picture.

If you don't like the changes you made, select Discard All Changes and start over. Or, press Ctrl+Z to undo the last change you made. When you're happy with the result, select Keep Changes.

Import Image Again and Convert to Grayscale

The next step is to stack a copy of the original color picture on top of the picture that now shows only the focal point (in this example, the focal point is the large rose).

  1. Go to Insert.

  2. Select Picture and navigate to the same photo. Choose it and select Open

Make sure this second image is the same size as the first image and is stacked exactly on top of the first picture.

Convert Picture to Grayscale

  1. Click on the newly imported picture on the slide to select it.

  2. Go to Picture Tools Format.

  3. In the Adjust group, select Color.

    PowerPoint displaying the Adjust color options.
  4. In the Recolor section, select Grayscale. It's the second option in the first row of the Recolor section.

    PowerPoint displaying the Color saturation options.
  5. The tooltip Grayscale appears when you hover over the button if you are unsure. The picture is converted to grayscale.

Send Grayscale Image Behind Color Picture

Now you are going to send the grayscale version of the image to the back so that it is behind the color focal point of the first image.

  1. Click on the grayscale picture to select it

  2. Go to Picture Tools Format.

  3. Select Send Backward. Or, right-click on the grayscale picture and select Send to Back > Send to Back.

    PowerPoint displaying the Send to Back options.
  4. If the photo-alignment is exact, the color focal point is perfectly positioned on top of its grayscale counterpart in the grayscale image.

Finished Image

This final result appears to be a single picture with a combination of both grayscale and color. There's no doubt what the focal point of this image is.

PowerPoint slide showing the head of a rose in color with the background in grayscale.