How to Draw a Jigsaw Puzzle in Microsoft PowerPoint
Part one of a five-part series of blogs

This blog series shows you how to use some advanced drawing techniques in Microsoft PowerPoint to create a set jigsaw puzzle shapes. If you've ever wondered how pedantic a person can get about aligning objects in PowerPoint, read this article to find out!

  1. Creating Jigsaw Puzzle Shapes in Microsoft PowerPoint (this blog)
  2. Duplicating and Positioning Shapes in PowerPoint
  3. Aligning Shapes Accurately in Microsoft PowerPoint
  4. Grouping and Ungrouping Shapes in PowerPoint
  5. Creating Cut Out Effects in Shapes

Posted by Andrew Gould on 15 June 2011 | 5 comments

Creating Jigsaw Puzzle Shapes in Microsoft PowerPoint

Microsoft PowerPoint has lots of built-in shapes, or AutoShapes, available to help you draw diagrams in a presentation, but they tend to be quite basic.  With a bit of careful formatting and combining of the existing shapes you can create much more interesting designs, like the jigsaw puzzle described in this article.

A jigsaw puzzle in PowerPoint

Ok, so the colours are hideous, but it's the shape that's important for this article!

If you're thinking that the example above looks a bit basic, you're right!  Of course, as this is a Wise Owl blog we're not satisfied with the basic way of doing things - once we've got the simple version of our jigsaw created, we're then going to show you how to make sure you can pull the jigsaw to pieces and put it back together!

The broken apart jigsaw effect

And yes, we are sticking with our horrible colour scheme throughout!

To follow this tutorial all you need is a new slide inserted into a PowerPoint presentation (any version will do), and a reasonably large amount of patience.

Drawing a Perfect Square

We aren't all anal-retentive pedants here at the Owlery, but sometimes precision is important.  Creating our jigsaw will be much easier if we can guarantee that we're working with perfect square shapes.  Unfortunately (and somewhat unbelievably), you can't choose to draw a square shape using the PowerPoint AutoShapes!  Apparently, the closest you can get is a rectangle.

PowerPoint 2003 AutoShapes PowerPoint 2007 AutoShapes
In PowerPoint 2003, find the AutoShapes menu at the bottom of the screen. In PowerPoint 2007 or 2010, head to the Insert tab on the Ribbon and find the Shapes button.

Fortunately, there's a little trick you can use to ensure that when you draw a rectangle, it comes out as a square.  To do this:

  1. Choose to draw a rectangle shape by clicking on one of the tools shown in the pictures above.
  2. Now, before you start drawing the shape onto the slide, hold down the Shift key on the keyboard.
  3. Continue to hold down the Shift key as you click and drag with the mouse to draw your shape on the slide.
  4. When your shape gets to the size you want, release the mouse button, and then finally let go of the Shift key.
A perfect square

As long as you hold the Shift key down, you'll end up with a perfect square.

 

An even more accurate way to set the size of your shape is to use a dialog box to edit its width and height after you've drawn it.  To do this, right-click on the shape you have just drawn, and then:

  • In PowerPoint 2003,  choose Format AutoShape… from the menu, and then select the Size tab on the dialog box that appears.
  • In PowerPoint 2007 or 2010, choose Size and Position… from the menu.

You can now specify the precise dimensions of the shape by typing numbers into the appropriate boxes.

Setting the width and height

Here we're making our shape exactly 5cm by 5cm, but you can increase or decrease this if you need to.

 

It's worth mentioning that the two techniques shown above work in exactly the same way for drawing perfect circles.  You start by choosing the Oval shape and then either hold down the Shift key while drawing, or change the width and height using the dialog box after you've drawn the shape.

Removing a Shape's Border

Now that we've drawn a square to the precise dimensions we require, we need to apply a little formatting to it.  The most important thing to do in this example is to remove the borders from around the shapes, otherwise we'll end up with a bizarre looking jigsaw.

Shapes with borders

Not quite the effect we're looking for!

 

To remove the border from around the shape, select it, and then:

  • In PowerPoint 2003, find the Line Color tool on the Drawing toolbar at the bottom of the screen.
  • In PowerPoint 2007 or 2010, go to the Format tab of the Ribbon and find the Shape Outline tool.

You can then specify that the shape should have no outline, as shown in the diagram below:

Line options in PowerPoint 2003 Line options in PowerPoint 2007 and 2010
You need this tool in PowerPoint 2003 - it's usually at the bottom of the screen. In PowerPoint 2007 or 2010 the tool you need is clearly labelled as the Shape Outline tool.

If you've been following up to this point you should now have a single, perfect square with no outline sitting on your slide.  Our next job is to create lots of duplicates of this shape to make up the individual pieces of our jigsaw.  Read on to find out how.

A single, perfect square

It's basic at the moment, but it's the perfect starting point to rapidly create lots of jigsaw pieces.

 

This blog has 5 comments

Comment added on 02 October 2012 at 01:54 GMT
This was an excellent tutorial - exactly what I was looking for.  Thank you.
Comment added on 16 December 2012 at 18:48 GMT
just bumped into this site...
great tutorial...

looking forward to learn more

Reply from Andrew Gould

Glad you liked it, thanks for reading

Comment added on 08 February 2013 at 10:49 GMT
This is a very clear and precise tutorial. Thank you very much
Reply from Andrew Gould
Happy you found it useful.
Comment added on 08 February 2013 at 18:17 GMT

found this through google and absolutely brilliant - need to do a presentation for a new job interview - visualised it but didnt know how to draw it!

Now i do :-))))

Reply from Andrew Gould
Excellent!  Good luck with the interview!
Comment added on 02 April 2013 at 11:53 GMT
Do you know how to copy a position, height and width of an object / textbox. even shortcut would be great? thanks. 
Reply from Andrew Gould

Copying the width and height is fairly straighforward - CTRL + C to copy and CTRL + V to paste will do that for you.

Copying the position isn't quite so simple, but see this link for some possible solutions:

http://notes.indezine.com/2007/11/paste-in-place-in-powerpoint.html

A full-blown discussion forum is being built for this site, which will allow you once more to add comments and discussion threads.