I try to live my life without regrets but there are several things I wish I’d known when I was younger.
- I wish I’d known technical school was an option. Having a trade seems a little more solid and useful than figuring out how to put a rare liberal arts degree to use.
- I also wish I’d known I could be a CSI if I wanted to. So what if my knees buckle every time I see blood and never mind the fact that I dropped Biology 101 before my instructor could fail me. I love a good mystery and may have been a very good CSI had I know the profession existed.
- I also wish I’d learned to play tennis (yes, I can learn now – but still).
- And I wish I’d known the secret to drawing. Secret? Yes, there is a secret and I will let you in on it in just a second.
I love to draw but the truth is I’m not very good at it, and because I’m not very good at it I don’t do it too much anymore. I can never seem to get my hand to do what my mind says, and that makes drawing pretty frustrating for me. I still draw with the kids but they are far better artists than I am (come look at a creation or two still left on my walls) – probably because they are still committed to their craft and haven’t given up like I have.
So when I discovered I could ‘draw’ in programs like Powerpoint and Keynote I was pretty excited. The precision of the software programs made it much easier to translate my thought into reality; I could actually draw what I saw in my head. I wish it could be that way with housework.
Over a little bit of time – and with some practice – I’ve become pretty good at drawing with software even though I am not a trained designer and have no background in drawing beyond 3rd grade art class.
Guess what? You can be too. It’s not hard, you don’t need any special skills. You just need the tools you probably already have, a willingness to try, and a little bit of practice.
In this blog post we’re going to show you how to draw using Powerpoint and Keynote. We can’t promise Picasso or Monet, but we can promise a pretty comprehensive look at the drawings tools in those programs. Most of the information can be transferred to Word and Pages as well.
OK, so are you ready for the secret? The secret to drawing is shapes. That’s it. All objects can be broken down into a collection of shapes, and if you can draw the shapes that the object is comprised of you can draw the object. Seems simple, doesn’t it?
I attended a hand drawing class with my daughter a few years ago and the instructor asked us to look at different animals and then identify the shapes we saw. Drawing animals, she explained, is as easy as putting the correct shapes together.
Let’s try it. What shapes do you see in this sheep?
So the essence of this sheep can be captured by an oval and a couple of triangles.
Let’s try it with this koala.
Do you see an oval with two half circles?
Logos can be broken down in much the same way.
We’ll start with Target.
This logo is basically a red circle laid on top of a white circle laid on top of a red circle.
Two rounded rectangles, a slim white rectangle dividing the red rounded rectangle, and some white circles.
The NBC Peacock.
This one is a collection of circles and triangles that have been joined together.
Now let’s take this picture of two people climbing a rock.
It becomes a collection of shapes that can easily be drawn and combined:
The more you practice the easier breaking things into shapes becomes. Your refrigerator becomes rectangles and squares. Your clock becomes a circle with rectangles for the hands. Anything you can think of can be built by simply combining shapes, and once you’ve mastered the art of drawing shapes you can draw anything you put your mind to.
Now that you have a new perspective you are ready to go. Fire up your computer! Launch Powerpoint or Keynote!
Obviously the first place we’re going to start is just inserting a shape into your document, so go to Powerpoint or Keynote and open a new document. Then insert a shape. In Powerpoint it looks like this:
Powerpoint visually shows the variety of shapes you can insert.
Keynote, on the other hand, uses text to describe its images. In Keynote it looks like this:
So pick a shape and insert it into your document.
Mission Control: Powerpoint’s Drawing Tools and Keynote’s drawing pane
When you insert a shape in Powerpoint and then select the shape (some would say “click on the shape”), the Drawing Tools tab jumps into action and provides you with a bunch of drawing options. We’ve highlighted the Drawing Tools tab in the screen shots below. You can edit everything about your shapes (color, size, positioning, aligning, rotating) using this tab. The Drawing Tools tab will disappear if you don’t have an image selected, so if you are looking for the tab and can’t find it (I have done this many times) click on a shape and it will come up for you.
When you select a shape in Keynote the navigation pane on the right will automatically give you your options for modifying your selected shape. The “Style Tab” will give you options for borders, color fill, and shadows. The “Arrange Tab” will give you options for positioning, aligning, rotating, and sizing the object.
So we’ve inserted the shape of a circle into our Powerpoint and Keynote documents.
Now we can edit the shape.
Powerpoint lets us change one shape into another shape. It also allows us to click on a shape’s point and drag it, so it looks different. Here we’ve changed a circle to a square and then altered one side of the square.
In Keynote we can change the shape of the selected shape by editing its points.
Group and Bring Forward/Send Backward
Two very useful tools for drawing are the grouping tool and the bring forward/send backward tools. Grouping allows you to move the objects at the same time without losing their positioning. Bring forward/send backward allows you to order the layering of objects. If something disappears from your screen it is possible that it hasn’t been deleted – it just might be hidden under some other shapes. Use the “bring forward” tool to bring it into view again.
You may want to rotate an object you’ve drawn. Here’s how:
Now that you’ve mastered grouping, moving, and rotating objects it’s time to move on to adding and subtracting shapes. We’ll look at combining shapes first with the “Shape Union” tool.
In Powerpoint the “Shape Union” tool is found within the “Combine Shapes” tool on the Drawing Tools tab. Shape union allows you to merge two shapes together while keeping the outline of the combined shapes.
In Keynote the tool is called Unite and it’s found in the Arrange tab.
Another shape combining tool is the “Shape Combine” tool, which keeps the outline of the shapes together, but excludes their shared portion.
In Keynote this tool is called “Exclude”.
Shape intersect is a tool we use a lot.
It is called intersect in Keynote, too.
Our last combine shapes tool is subtract, and it gets a lot of use as well.
This one is called subtract in Keynote, too.
So how might you use these tools?? Good question. Say you want to make a flower. One way you could make this happen is shown below.
- 1. Draw two circles, use shape intersect and you have your petal.
2. We want a flower with five petals so we’ve made four copies of the petal.
3. We want the petals evenly spaced, so divide 360 by 5 (that’s 72 for you math whizzes out there – I had to get my calculator) and rotate each successive petal by 72 degrees.
4. Arrange the petals so they look like a flower and,
5. With all of the petals selected, unite the petals using the “Shape Union” tool.
6. Now draw a small circle for the flower’s center.
7. Subtract the circle from the flower.
You may also want to remove the background from a picture in Powerpoint or Keynote.
First step: insert the picture.
Select the picture (or click on it), the Picture Tools tab will appear. You want to select the “Remove Background” tool on the left side.
And your background disappears. Just like that.
The process is similar in Keynote. Click the “Image” tab next to “Arrange” and then click “Instant Alpha” (because that’s descriptive, right?) and your background will disappear. It’s a little more work in Keynote than it is in Powerpoint.
If you’ve read to the end of this post – congratulations! You have a great start on drawing in Powerpoint, Keynote, Word and Pages and making custom designs to suit your needs.
Who knew drawing could be this easy?
Want a little practice? The more you use it the better you’ll be. Head to our Icons Inspired page where we breakdown the making of often used icons.