Hand-Drawn Charts in PowerPoint 2007

By Helen Bradley
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When you incorporate charts into a PowerPoint presentation the simplest way to do so is with the software's chart tool. However, sometimes the presentation lends itself to charts that are less formal and less businesslike in nature.

In fact, what you need in these cases is something more like an illustration than a chart. New chart features in PowerPoint 2007 make it a simple process for you to create some very interesting and graphic charts to enhance your PowerPoint presentations without going anywhere near the chart tool.

» A Word of Warning

Before we begin, a word of warning is in order. If your charts are meant to be accurate representations of your data or if the data that your chart is based on is likely to alter, then the charts you're about to learn how to create are unlikely to be the best ones to use. These charts will be drawn as opposed to being created as links to live data, so they can't be easily updated if the data they are based on alters.

In addition, because they are designed more as graphic elements than charts, 100% accuracy is not possible — just where do you draw a line to divide a horse in half, as in an example will take a look at in a short bit? However, if you're looking to create elements that resemble charts and that can be used to add some visual impact to your presentations and you're willing to sacrifice a little accuracy in the process, then these charts are well worth the effort you'll put into creating them.

» Creating a Picture Chart

Consider the situation where you want to show someone what the cost of ownership of a horse would be. You could do this using an Excel chart, but it's not very interesting or relevant to the topic. On the flip side, creating a chart that is actually based on an image of a horse is likely to be much more captivating.

A sample of such a chart is shown in the figure where the horse is divided into three segments and colored differently to show the relative proportion of the cost of owning it.

To create a chart like this, start with a new PowerPoint slide and use the Insert tab to insert a picture of a horse onto the slide. The image I used is a clipart image of a horse from the online Microsoft Office Clip Art collection.

Copy the image twice to make three horses in total. To do this, hold the Control key as you drag a duplicate of the image away from the original. Select the first image and from the Picture Tools > Format tab select the Crop tool. Crop the right side of the image away to leave just the front end of the horse. Repeat this on the next image, this time cropping from the left and leaving the tail. On the third image crop from the left and right to leave just the middle of the horse. Line up the images to reassemble the horse.

To recolor the horse, click one piece to select it and choose Picture Tools > Format tab and select the Recolor option. From the palette of options, select a color for that part of the horse. This tool flattens some of the colors in the image and makes them monochromatic. Recolor another of the three pieces.

To create the lines to separate the portions of the image choose Insert > Shapes and select the Line tool. Drag a line onto the slide and then, from the Drawing Tools > Format menu select the Shape Outline dropdown list and choose Weight to alter the weight of the line and its color. Size the line to the length you want it to be and then duplicate it by holding the Control key as you drag a duplicate of the line away from the original. Drag the lines over the places where the pieces of the horse join.

The percentage values are created using WordArt. To do this, choose Insert > WordArt and drag a WordArt shape onto the slide. Type the first value into it and then select Drawing Tools > Format tab and select a WordArt style and color to match the colors in the image below. Repeat for the other percentage amounts.

If it is necessary to place a WordArt object on top of the image, as I have done, you can fill the WordArt with a semitransparent fill by right clicking the shape and choosing Format Shape. From the Fill collection, choose Solid Fill and fill the shape with White and adjust the transparency to 25 percent. Filled shapes often look best with a thin border line around them, which can also be created in the Format Shape dialog.

Often you will need to change the layering of objects to bring one forward or to send it behind. To do this, right click the object and choose Bring to Front > Bring to Front or Send to Back > Send to Back. If you find it difficult to select an object because it is behind another object, from the Home tab click the Select dropdown list and choose Selection Pane. In the Selection Pane you can select an object by clicking on its name and change its layering by reordering it using the Reorder buttons.

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This article was originally published on January 24, 2008
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