Colorizing images is a tried, true, and functional way of integrating photography into your presentations. Monotone and duotone effects especially help us to pair image and content without costing us slide real estate, allowing for the integration of imagery as textures on which type can be legibly layered.
In this post, we’ll take a look at three diverse options available to us for creating these images. I’ll break down their pros and cons, hopefully allowing you to identify the workflow that’s right for your next project.
The most purely convenient way to colorize your images is within PowerPoint itself. One program, one click; that’s a big check in the “Pros” column.
Unfortunately, these options remain comparatively limited (re: kind of trash) for our specific purposes here. They tend to err on the side of hard contrast and don’t allow you to specifically choose color combinations. You can make adjustments to the former issue within the Format Picture menu, but the pain of trial and error there simply doesn’t outweigh the generally scuffed result.
It’s worth talking about preferred workarounds here though, as we always want a relatively easy, in-program solution in our back pocket for our non-designer friends and clients.
I prefer to set up a design system where we layer a colored shape with transparency on top of our image. In the above, I’ve opted to colorize my image to one of the default PowerPoint monotone options and over top of that I've placed a multi-colored gradient with transparency tweaks. With this approach, the user is more often copying and pasting shapes for their gradients, the image adjustments are limited to a single click, and we err toward ensuring text will always be legible in the hands of most users.
Photoshop and other image editing software will, by and large, give you the finest-tuned controls over your image adjustments. There just isn’t an in-PowerPoint substitute for gradient maps and layer masking.
There are cons for non-designers, of course. Versatile software solutions like the Adobe suite a) tend to cost actual cash money, and b) will genuinely have a bit more of a learning curve. Sure there’s great freeware out there, too, but if all you’re looking for is occasional, fast image work to spruce up a slide here and there, it’s entirely possible the value isn’t here for you and our next option(s) is the way to go.
Duotone is a web application by ShapeFactory that allows you to duotone an image, all the way for free, right in your browser. You can upload your preferred image, select your colors via color picker or hex code, and download the image to your hard drive. Bing bang boom.
But that’s somehow not all. Thanks to its integration with the outstanding, hi-res image resource Unsplash.com, you can run a real-time search in the Unsplash collection and see the duotone applied directly to your search results. Then it’s the bing bang boom download again.
Want a smidge more fine-tuned control? Try duotones by Medialoot. You’ll trade the convenience of the exceedingly broad image search for the ability to manually adjust brightness and contrast, or select from a handful of presets (like "posterize" in the above image).
Free, accessible, fast, and convenient is quite a list of pros for professionals and non-professionals alike. The only major downside to either option is the lack of a user profile-style feature to retain your color combinations between visits, but that is by no means a dealbreaker.
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