How to Draw a Jigsaw Puzzle in Microsoft PowerPoint
Part four 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
  2. Duplicating and Positioning Shapes in PowerPoint
  3. Aligning Shapes Accurately in Microsoft PowerPoint
  4. Grouping and Ungrouping Shapes in PowerPoint (this blog)
  5. Creating Cut Out Effects in Shapes

Posted by Andrew Gould on 15 June 2011

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Grouping and Ungrouping Shapes in PowerPoint

If you've been following this series of blogs, you'll remember that in the previous article we had just aligned two shapes to each other but were left with the problem that they were no longer aligned to the rest of our shapes.  In this part of the series we're finally going to get all of the shapes aligned properly!  If you need a copy of the presentation we've been working on you can download a version for PowerPoint 2007 or 2010 here, and a version for PowerPoint 2003 here.

The problem

The problem we're about to solve!

 

Temporarily Grouping Shapes

What we need to do with the shapes in the diagram shown above is to align the bottom of the pink square with the bottom of the blue square.  This isn't a problem by itself, but we also need to make sure that the blue circle stays in the middle of the pink square.  To make sure this happens, we're going to temporarily group the blue circle and pink square so that they move around as a single shape.  To do this, select the two shapes, right-click on one of them and then:

  • In PowerPoint 2003, from the menu select: Grouping -> Group
  • In PowerPoint 2007 or 2010, from the menu select: Group -> Group

If you get this right, you should see that one of the set of selection handles has disappeared from around the shapes.

Square and circle ungrouped Grouped square and circle
Ungrouped Grouped

We should now be able to align the grouped shapes with the rest of the squares and still maintain the position of the circle relative to the pink square.  To do this, select the grouped shape and one of the other squares in the top row of the grid, and then:

  • In PowerPoint 2003, from the menu select: Draw -> Align or Distribute -> Align Bottom 
  • In PowerPoint 2007 or 2010, from the Ribbon select: Home -> Arrange -> Align -> Align Bottom
Unaligned shapes Aligned shapes
Before alignment After alignment

Ungrouping Shapes

Phew!  Now that we've successfully aligned our shapes we need to ungroup the blue circle and pink square so that we can manipulate them independently again.  To do this, select the grouped shape, right-click on it and then:

  • In PowerPoint 2003, from the menu select: Grouping -> Ungroup
  • In PowerPoint 2007 or 2010, from the menu select: Group -> Ungroup

We can finally select the circle shape and nudge it to the left by pressing the left cursor key on the keyboard to complete the effect.

Before nudging the shape into position After nudging the shape into position
Before you nudge the shape into position it still looks like a circle sitting next to a square. After a little nudge to the left the shapes are beginning to look a lot more like a jigsaw.

Remember that you can hold down the Ctrl key on the keyboard while you nudge a shape to make it move a shorter distance each time you press the cursor key.

Repeating the Steps to Create the Full Jigsaw Effect

You now know all the techniques you need to create a single image that looks like a jigsaw.  All you need is a bit of time and patience to add all of the extra circles.  Hopefully you'll end up with something that looks a little bit like this (only with less hideous colours):

The completed jigsaw effect

The finished jigsaw, ready for you to add the text.

If that's the effect you're after then you're finished!  Pat yourself on the back and breathe a sigh of relief.  You might also want to group the entire set of shapes together at this point to avoid accidentally moving something and ruining all of your hard work!  If something went horrifically wrong with your example, you can download a complete version of the jigsaw puzzle for PowerPoint 2007 or 2010 by clicking here, or a version for PowerPoint 2003 by clicking here.

More Advanced Effects

If you want to create more advanced effects, such as the ability to move each jigsaw piece around independently, then you've got a bit more work to do yet.  Read the next article in this series to find out what's involved.

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