Inserting and Manipulating Images

How to images into Powerpoint, the key to a great book cover.


In this chapter, you’ll learn to insert and position images to bring artistic flair to your book covers. You’ll learn how to size and move images and to apply various effects like transparency and color transformations.

Finding Free Images for Commercial Graphic Design

I believe in creating free book covers. Since images are integral to creating a book cover, that means that I need access to free images. Fortunately, there’s a website on the Internet called Pixabay ( that provide images free for commercial use.

To find images for your book covers, visit Pixabay and search their extensive library of images for matches of your desired search criteria. Download the images for free storing them in either a global Pictures/Pixabay directory or along with you book cover project file.

Inserting, Positioning and Configuring Images

You can insert an image into a book cover in one of two ways. Either make the image your background or use the Insert->Picture menu item to load an image that you can easily move. When loading images that will fill the background of a book cover, I prefer to load the image as my background via the Format Background pane (right click on the background and select Format Background from the pop up context menu). When using images as insets, you must use the Insert->Picture menu item to load a movable and resizable image.

Full Cover Images

If you want to have an image fill the background of your book cover, right click on the background to open the Format Background pane. Within that pane, select “Picture or texture fill” to import your image to fill the background. You can make minor adjustment to the size and position of the background image using the controls at the bottom of the pane.

Inset Image Covers

If you want an image to cover a portion of your book cover, known as an inset image, you need to use the Insert->Picture menu item to import the image onto your book cover. Once imported, you can resize and position the image and even add effects.

Adding Image Borders and Drop Shadows

To add a drop shadow to an image, simply place a black rectangle behind it, make the rectangle somewhat transparent and blur the edges. This is how you perform these steps.

  1. Insert a rectangle and stretch it so it’s the same size as the image.
  2. Place the rectangle behind the image by right-clicking on the rectangle and choosing “Send to Back” from the pop up context menu.
  3. Position the rectangle so that it just barely shows beneath the image. The more of the rectangle you show the higher it will appear that the image is off the background.
  4. Right click on the rectangle and select “Format Shape” from the pop up context menu.
  5. In the Format Shape pane, increase the rectangle’s transparency to about 50% so that you can see through it.
  6. With the rectangle selected, select the Shape Format->Shape Effects->Soft Edges menu item and choose a fairly soft rectangle from the display.

Congratulations, you’ve just created an image drop shadow. Note that the Shape Format menu ribbon also provides a Shadow effect, but I like to create my own drop shadow manually for more control.

To add a border to an image, go to the Picture Format menu item and select from the Styles displayed. Alternately, you can create a custom border using the Picture Border pull down menu.

Adding Image Effects

Powerpoint offers lots of effects that can be applied to an image. The problem is that these effects are located in a variety of areas. Here’s a brief rundown of the effects and their locations.

The first place to look for images effects is Picture Format->Picture Effects. This menu item will allow you to select from a large range of really nice images effects.

Next, move the right of the Picture Format menu ribbon and check out the effects under Transparency, Artistic Effects, Color and Corrections.

Still more image effects can be found by right-clicking on the image and selection format Picture. This will display a pane to the right of the work area with similar effects as the Picture Format->Picture Effects options.

I encourage you to play with all these effects to find your favorites. To do so, apply each effect one at a time and click the undo icon in the upper right of the screen to undo the effect before moving on to the next.

Removing Image Backgrounds

You can use Powerpoint to remove a background from an image to place the image against a different background or display it as a cutout. Note that it is easier and produces better results when removing a background that is very different from the portion of the image to be retained (e.g. a green screen). If the portion of the image to be retained blends into the background too much, you’ll have a difficult time removing the background.

To remove the background from and image select the Picture Format menu item and then Remove Background from the ribbon on the far right. You’ll be presented with a copy of the image covered by a partial purple overlay. The purple portion of the image is the portion to be removed. Alternate between “Mark Areas to Keep” and “Mark Areas to Remove” to draw the areas to keep or remove. When complete, either discard your changes or keep your changes. If you kept your changes, the image should now be a cutout of the original image.

Image Exercises

To insure you’ve mastered the concepts presented in this section, create two book covers. On the first, insert a full image background. On the second, insert an inset image. Apply effects to both images to your liking.