The Microsoft MVP Award Program Blog

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The Microsoft MVP Award Program Blog

Independent Experts. Real World Answers.

MVPs for Office and SharePoint 2010: Custom Shapes Made Easier with PowerPoint 2010

MVPs for Office and SharePoint 2010: Custom Shapes Made Easier with PowerPoint 2010

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Editor's Note: The following is a guest post by MVP Julie Terberg as part of the MVP Award Program Blog's "MVPs for Office and SharePoint 2010" series. Julie Terberg has been designing unique presentations since 1985. As the owner of Terberg Design, she helps her clients communicate visually with an audience. Julie is honored to be a Microsoft PowerPoint MVP. She enjoys sharing knowledge with others via custom workshops, web-based training, and live conferences.

Custom Shapes Made Easier with PowerPoint 2010

This three-dimensional megaphone with sections was created in PowerPoint 2010 using the Combine Shapes commands.

 

The Combine Shapes commands are some of my favorite new features in PowerPoint 2010. Instead of reaching for another drawing program, you can save time and effort by creating custom shapes directly in PowerPoint.

Graphic concepts are used in presentations to help communicate complex ideas in a simpler, visual form. This example concept features a megaphone graphic with four sections. The concept works well as a metaphor for a team working toward a common goal.

 

Tip: This example was created using the Combine Shapes commands. To access this command, you must add it to the Quick Access Toolbar, located above the File tab.  To customize the Quick Access Toolbar, do the following:

1. Click the arrow next to the Quick Access Toolbar, and then under Customize Quick Access Toolbar click More Commands.

2. In the PowerPoint Options dialog box, in the Choose commands from list, select All Commands

3. In the list of commands, click Combine Shapes, and then click Add.

Combine Shapes commands added to the QAT.

 

Begin the megaphone by drawing a large trapezoid. On the Home tab, in the Shapes group, select the Trapezoid shape. Draw a trapezoid in the center of the slide. Select the trapezoid. Under Drawing Tools, on the Format tab, in the Size group, enter 7.5” in the Height box and 4” in the Width box. On the Home tab, in the Drawing group, click Arrange, point to Rotate, and then click Rotate Left 90°. 

The next step is to add a curved end on the left side of the trapezoid. On the Home tab, in the Shapes group, select the Circle shape. Draw a circle (tall oval) on the left side of the trapezoid. Select the circle shape. Under Drawing Tools, on the Format tab, in the Size group, enter 2” in the Height box and .75” in the Width box. Move the circle as needed so that it is centered on the left side of the trapezoid. Select the trapezoid, then the circle. On the Quick Access Toolbar, click Combine Shapes, and then click Shape Union.

Align the circle (green) with the left side of the trapezoid before combining the two shapes.

Create the first section by drawing a rectangle shape over the right side of the megaphone. On the Home tab, in the Shapes group, select the Rectangle shape. Draw a tall rectangle on top of the megaphone. Select the rectangle shape. Under Drawing Tools, on the Format tab, in the Size group, enter 4.5” in the Height box and 2” in the Width box. Reposition the rectangle as needed so that approximately 1/3” of the megaphone appears to the right side of the rectangle. On the Home tab, in the Drawing group, click Arrange, point to Align, and then click Align Middle. 

Draw a rectangle and move it slightly from the right side of the megaphone shape.

To create the curved sides for the sections, you will combine two circles with the rectangle. On the Home tab, in the Shapes group, select the Circle shape. Draw a tall circle shape (oval) on top of the rectangle. Reposition the circle to be centered on the left edge of the rectangle. This circle should match the height of the megaphone shape where it meets the left edge of the rectangle. Select the circle shape. Hold the Shift key and drag a corner handle to make the circle larger. OR under Drawing Tools, on the Format tab, in the Size group, enter 3.37” in the Height box and 1.27” in the Width box. On the Home tab, in the Drawing group, click Arrange, point to Align, and then click Align Middle. Duplicate the circle and reposition it to be centered on the right edge of the rectangle. Resize this circle to match the height of the megaphone shape in the back. Hold the Shift key and drag a corner handle to make the circle larger OR under Drawing Tools, on the Format tab, in the Size group, enter 3.9” in the Height box and 1.46” in the Width box.

Draw a circle (green) centered along the left edge of the rectangle. Draw another circle (red) centered along the right edge of the rectangle. The circle height should match the megaphone shape in the back (gray).

 

Now you will use the Combine Shapes commands to form a curved section shape. Select the rectangle then select the left circle. On the Quick Access Toolbar, click Combine Shapes, and then click Shape Union. With the custom shape selected, select the right circle. On the Quick Access Toolbar, click Combine Shapes, and then click Shape Subtract.

The new custom shape must be trimmed at the top and bottom to match the angle of the megaphone. Duplicate the megaphone (Hold Ctrl key and click D key). With the duplicate selected, on the Home tab, in the Arrange group, point to Rotate, and then click Flip Horizontal. Reposition the duplicate so that it covers the bottom area to be trimmed from the custom shape. Duplicate this new, flipped megaphone shape. Reposition the new shape to cover the top area to be trimmed from the custom shape. Select the curved section shape, and then one of the duplicate megaphone shapes.  On the Quick Access Toolbar, click Combine Shapes, and then click Shape Subtract. With the custom shape selected, select the other duplicate megaphone shapes. On the Quick Access Toolbar, click Combine Shapes, and then click Shape Subtract.

Duplicate the megaphone shape (red), flip it horizontally and move it to mask the area to be trimmed from the curved section shape (blue).

 

Now that the curved shape is complete, you can duplicate and resize it for the other three sections. Duplicate the curved shape. Move it to the left of the first shape. Hold the Shift key and drag a corner sizing handle to make the duplicate shape smaller. The curved shape should match the size of the megaphone in the back. Repeat for the remaining two sections.

The megaphone needs some finishing on the right side. On the Home tab, in the Shapes group, select the Circle shape. Draw a tall circle shape (oval). Reposition the circle to be centered on the right edge of the megaphone. Select the circle shape. Under Drawing Tools, on the Format tab, in the Size group, enter 4” in the Height box and 1.5” in the Width box.

 

The last step: add dimension to the megaphone with custom gradient fills and bevels. 

 

Duplicate and resize the curved shape to create the remaining sections. Add a circle on the right edge to complete the megaphone.

The Combine Shapes commands are easy to use, quick to master, and save so much time when creating custom shapes. You may never use Edit Points again.

To download the example PPTX file - click on the below attachment.

Attachment: megaphone_v8.11_B.PPTX
  • I already love using the combine shapes tools but THAT is so clever!

  • Are you kidding me? This is awesome! I've been using Visio to do stuff like this. Knowing I can leverage advanced shape operations directly in PowerPoint will really improve my efficiency. Could this feature have been buried any deeper?

  • Soooo clever! Verrrra sneaky, lassie. (I love 'em, too, John, but I tend to do pretty simple stuff. Julie really makes 'em sing!)

  • This is a great tool, but is there anyway to save the custom shape so that it can be used again.  There are some shapes that I use frequently and it would be ideal if I could, perhaps save the custom shape to a menu and reproduce it later.  This would save time of having to remake the shape or find the .pptx that I last used it in.

  • I agree with Rex.  I've found directions to save custom shapes but they don't work in 2010.  Now we have this great new feature, and the method of saving the shapes seems to be gone.

  • Just save a presentation with one each of all your favorite custom shapes. Then, any time you need one, just pull that presentation up and copy and paste the shapes you want.

  • This is awesome! Is it possible to copy shapes from Powerpoint and paste them into publisher as shapes? When I paste into publisher the shapes are converted into un-editable images.

  • i am using PowerPoint 2010 and do not have "Combine Shapes" as a selection in the "all commands" list.  is there another way to do this?

  • I'm late to the party, so thanks for leaving the PPTX file available.

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