Grayscale and Color Picture Effect in PowerPoint 2010

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
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. You can 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 2010 presentation. 

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PowerPoint 2010 Color Effect

Change a color picture to color and grayscale in PowerPoint
Change a color picture to color and grayscale in PowerPoint. © Wendy Russell

One nice feature about PowerPoint 2010 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.

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Remove Background of Picture

Remove background from color picture in PowerPoint screenshot

Wendy Russell

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 go to an empty slide.
  2. Click on the Insert tab of the ribbon.
  3. In the Images section of the ribbon, click on the Picture button.
  4. Navigate to the location on your computer where you saved the picture and select that picture to place it on the PowerPoint slide.
  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. Make sure that the Picture Tools toolbar is visible. If not, click on the Picture Tools button above the Format tab of the ribbon.
  3. In the Adjust section, click on the Remove Background button. The focal point of the picture should remain, while the remainder of the picture on the slide turns a magenta color.
  4. Drag the selection handles to enlarge or reduce the focus section as required.
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Fine-Tuning the Background Removal Process

Color picture with background removed in PowerPoint screenshot

Wendy Russell

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.

The Background Removal toolbar appears above the slide. The buttons do the following tasks.

  • Mark Areas to Keep – Click this button and then click on areas of the background that you wish to keep as part of the focal point of the picture.
  • Mark Areas to Remove – Click this button and then click on areas of the background that you wish to remove, as they are not part of the focal point of the picture.
  • Delete Mark – Click this button and then click on an area of the background that you have marked by mistake.
  • Discard All Changes – Click this button if you are unhappy with the result so far.
  • Keep Changes – Click this button when you are happy with the result.
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Import Image Again and Convert to Grayscale

Change picture from color to grayscale in PowerPoint screenshot

Wendy Russell

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).

As before, click on the Insert tab of the ribbon. Select Picture and navigate to the same photo you selected the first time to bring it into PowerPoint again. 

It is critically important to this effect that the newly inserted image is stacked exactly on top of the first picture and is identical in size.

Convert Picture to Grayscale

  1. Click on the newly imported picture on the slide to select it.
  2. You should see that the buttons on the ribbon have changed to the Picture Tools. If this is not the case, click on the Picture Tools button above the Format tab on the ribbon to activate it.
  3. In the Adjust section of the Picture Tools toolbar, click on the Color button.
  4. From the drop-down menu that appears, click on the second option in the first row of the Recolor section. The tooltip Grayscale should appear as you hover over the button if you are unsure. The picture is converted to grayscale.
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Send Grayscale Image Behind Color Picture

Move grayscale picture to back on the PowerPoint slide screenshot

Wendy Russell

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. If the Picture Tools toolbar does not appear, click on Picture Tools button just above the Format tab of the ribbon.
  3. Right-click on the grayscale picture and select Send to Back > Send to Back from the shortcut menu that appears.
  4. If the photo-alignment is exact, you should see the color focal point perfectly positioned on top of its grayscale counterpart in the grayscale image.
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Finished Image

Grayscale and color photo on PowerPoint slide

Wendy Russell

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