Believe it or not, it is possible to create good quality images and graphics in PowerPoint. When I’ve told people this I’ve seen every reaction possible, but whether it’s shock and awe or laughter, it’s always followed by one question: how? It’s something I picked up when I was younger and got familiar with before I had the opportunity to use Photoshop or any other editing software.  It became second nature, a quick and easy way to put together posters, presentations, and projects for class.

Now, even with Adobe CS5 on my computer, PowerPoint remains my first choice for quick, rough outlines of what I want to create. For me, it’s faster, easier, and more streamlined to create several ideas in PowerPoint and then create a final graphic in Photoshop or Illustrator. Both Microsoft PowerPoint and Microsoft Word have greatly increased the tools that create graphics over time, and have simplified otherwise lengthy procedures.  PowerPoint also has many different preset shapes and fill and gradient options that simplify creating graphics or icons.

The following is a tutorial for creating a light bulb using PowerPoint. You can also view the tutorial as an infographic by clicking the image below or download a PDF of this tutorial to keep as reference next time you’re creating graphics.


1. Under the “Insert” tab on the top ribbon, select “Shape” to create the shapes below.  After they’re all created, select each one.  This will display the “Format” tab on the top ribbon.  Find the “Shape Fill” drop-down and fill each one with the corresponding colors.

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2. Select the shape that is filled in light yellow, and under the “Format” tab, click the “Edit Shape” drop-down, then select “Edit points.” This gives you the outline of the shape that you can move, add, or change points.  By changing the angle of the points you can create the shape shown below.


3. This shape is the base of the bulb.  Place it under the circle like shown. (It’s okay if your shapes are layered differently). Select one shape, then the other (holding ctrl) so that both are selected. On the “Home” tab press the “Arrange” drop-down and select “Group.” With your new image selected, change the fill color as shown in Step 1.


4. Select each shape and under the “Format” tab, use the “Shape Fill” and “Shape Effects” drop-downs to select preset gradient options and fill options. Using a linear gradient on the light bulb, and inner shadows on the dark grey horizontal shapes, will give you the effects shown here. Also, the two lighter grey shapes are created from preset shape effects that include bevel and gradient options. To create your own gradients you can select “More gradients” and the choose your own combinations.

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Stack and offset the grey horizontal shapes and layer them to achieve the image on the right. If your layers are off, you can select a shape, click the “Format” tab and then choose “Send Forward” or “Send backward” options.

5. For additional highlighting, create on more shape (an oval shown here). With the shape selected, go to the “Format” tab, select “Shape Fill,” “Gradient,” “More Gradients….” Select the options that are shown below. The white color should be “Transparency: 0%” and the yellow should be set at 92%. Layer this shape over the light bulb as shown.

step4_21step5_11 step51

6. All that’s left is to select all the pieces, and select “Group” as explained above.  Then, under the “Format” tab, select “Shape Effects” and choose a reflection.


Congrats! You’ve now made a light bulb in PowerPoint!

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