Creating Custom Backgrounds Using Faded Images

The inspiration for this post was the Articulate e-Learning Heroes weekly challenge #117 Design an e-Learning Cover Slide with This Visual Design Tip and Tom Kuhlmann’s post -Here’s a Visual Design Tip to Make Your Slides Look Great.

Establishing context by customising background images is one way to create an engaging visual design and set the stage for an e-Learning course.  In Tom’s post and video he explains how to create what he calls a “transparent echo effect” by enlarging an image and increasing the transparency to blend the image into the background – a technique that’s commonly used in advertising and product photography.

Here’s an overview of how I worked through this process to create some different effects.

Firstly, I chose an image that I could separate from the background – this could be a person, an animal or some type of object.  You should also make sure the image is of a good quality.

In this example I started with this image of an owl, downloaded from Pixabay.

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I used PowerPoint to remove the background.  I then went back to the original image and cropped the image to leave just a portion of the background, then stretched this remaining portion to create a new background for my custom slide.

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I then used the Paint Brush effect in Artistic Effects in PowerPoint to change the appearance of the owl slightly (not necessary for this effect, but I wanted the owl to appear more like a drawing than a photograph).

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I chose to create the final slide in Articulate Storyline – so the next step was to add all these individual images to the Storyline  slide.

To create the transparency for the enlarged owl image, I set the Fill Transparency option in Format Picture to 85%.

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The other technique I tried was creating an overlay by inserting a rectangle shape, filling the shape with a custom colour from the background image using the Eyedropper, then setting the transparency to 12%, leaving the enlarged owl image at its original transparency – two quite different effects, but I preferred the striped background, so this was the one I worked with.

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When it came to adding the text to the slide, I chose the font colour using the Eyedropper, selecting one of the darker colours from the owl image.

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One of the bonus features of Storyline is that you can add this colour to Custom Colours in your Storyline file so you can quickly and easily use this again in your design.

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Here’s what the final slide design looks like.  You can view this in a published Storyline format here.

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Here are some more designs I’ve been working on.  You can view these in more detail on my e-Portfolio here.

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