Remove Backgrounds with PowerPoint to Design Better Graphics (Pro Tip #2)

New IDs often ask me: “How can I remove the background from this image?” They’re usually working with a JPEG that needs a transparent background. The truth is, there are countless ways to achieve this; some are just easier than others. (Spoiler alert: PPT is my fave.)

When I was in my design program waaay back when at the Academy of Art University, I learned to remove backgrounds from images using Photoshop’s Magnetic Lasso tool.

I felt like an absolute rockstar knowing this technique at the time.

This is still a fine way to achieve the intended results, BUT, it’s time-consuming and tedious—plus, it requires having a copy of Photoshop to make it happen.

Today, I tend to gravitate toward a few alternative, time-saving solutions: Canva has a great background remover, and online tools like RemoveBG allow you to remove backgrounds from images with ease.

(I love Adobe Creative Cloud, but it can be cost-prohibitive for some, especially new instructional designers.)

That said, I just don’t think you can beat PowerPoint when it comes to getting the job done quickly.

Here’s why.

Using PowerPoint to Remove Backgrounds from Images

Many folks I talk to don’t even know they can use PowerPoint to remove backgrounds from images, and when I show them easy it is to do, they’re always pleasantly surprised!

It’s great because it means you can stay within a single program and not skip a beat in your workflow. Plus, it also means you don’t need a costly design program to achieve it.

Here’s a 4-minute explainer video that walks you through how to do it.

Recap: How to remove backgrounds from graphics using PowerPoint:

  1. Open PowerPoint.
  2. Insert a JPEG graphic onto your canvas:
    • Insert > Pictures > Pictures From This Device.
  3. Click to select the graphic, then go up to Picture Format.
  4. Then, click Remove Background from the Adjust ribbon. PowerPoint automatically detects the areas of the photo to remove.
  5. Select Mark Areas to Keep. Then, use the pen to draw on the graphic itself to clean up the edges of your graphic. If you accidentally do too much, you can also select Mark Areas to Remove.

By removing the background from a JPEG, you can treat it like a PNG and layer it on top of other graphics to create a beautiful graphic design composition.

Practice: Try removing backgrounds on your own!

I’ve created a FREE interactive PowerPoint workbook for you to download and practice these steps on your own! Practicing removing backgrounds from graphics in PowerPoint will help you fine-tune essential design skills you need to create graphics for eLearning.

Why is PowerPoint so great for eLearning?

PowerPoint is a dynamic tool that can be used for all sorts of fancy graphic design tricks! It’s my go-tool tool, along with Canva, whenever I’m creating high-quality eLearning visuals. It’s super easy to use, as well as intuitive and affordable. I use it as part of my Microsoft 365 suite, which comes with all of the great desktop + web-based apps.

Again, folks are always surprised when I tell them how frequently I use PowerPoint instead of Photoshop or Illustrator to create designs, but I really believe it’s an awesome tool that every new LXD should to take advantage of when learning how to become an instructional designer.

Want to create better designs using PowerPoint?

Yes? Well, I’ve created a few Learning Nuggets, just for you!

I love teaching new IDs and LXDs just how powerful PowerPoint is, and then watching them really up their graphic design game with the tricks and tips I teach them!

I’ve put together a few of my favorite techniques into small, self-paced courses which you can check out.

Each of these offerings includes video-based tutorials and interactive workbooks (like the one you downloaded above) for you to download and practice your new skills.

I created these Learning Nuggets specifically for new and aspiring IDs and LXDs hoping to learn targeted design skills that can be applied right away.

LXD Foundations: Make Your Graphics Pop With PowerPoint’s Crop Tool ($22)

Make no mistake: cropping photos is a technical artform that will drastically enhance your design skills. Most folks just don’t know how to do it right. In this course, I share four helpful techniques that will literally change the way you design forever, all thanks to the Crop Tool.

LXD Basics: Edit Graphics Like a Pro Using PowerPoint!($22)

New to instructional design, and need to build design skills fast? In this course, I share a few easy but powerful ways you can use PowerPoint to gussy up your graphics and make your work really shine.

What’s the TL;DR of this lesson?

Here’s a quick recap:

  • PowerPoint is great for removing backgrounds from graphics
  • By using PowerPoint, you can easily use a JPEG just like you would a PNG by removing the background first
  • If you like this video-based + interactive workbook style of learning, one of the above courses could be for you!

To wrap it up it up, you may be asking…

“This is great, Kathy. But where can I search to find graphics for my eLearning projects in the first place?”

Don’t you worry.

We’ll cover that part in the next lesson!

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