The ProShow Blog

Tips, tutorials & inspiration for making slideshows

Using Composition Tools in ProShow

Composition is all about the conscious arrangement of the elements in your slideshow to achieve the result you want. You probably already have learned first-hand, that the different ways you might present your images, video text and music, can inspire vastly different moods and reactions.

The good news is that anybody, not just artists, can use basic composition techniques to create more attractive and interesting slideshows. ProShow Gold and ProShow Producer offer some pretty handy, built-in composition tools that can help you utilize these techniques.

The Rule of Thirds
The Rule of Thirds is probably the most basic, yet adaptable composition technique that you can have in your ‘toolbox’, and it’s used by artists everyday. There’s a lot of theoretical explanation about why it works, but I’ll spare you the details. The main gist is — images tend to be more interesting and dramatic when you don’t place the important focal points (like a face, or a horizon line) right smack in the middle. Doing so often makes things look dull and predictable.

To implement ‘The Rule of Thirds’, you would draw two imaginary horizontal lines and two vertical lines through your composition, dividing it into nine equal parts, like a tic-tac-toe square. By placing the focal points of your image away from the center square, and preferably anywhere where the lines intersect, you will instantly have a more dynamic composition. You may have noticed that your camera has these grid lines as an option to help you compose your shots when taking a photo.

Ideally, you would apply The Rule of Thirds when first shooting your photos. However, you still have the ability to give a hum-drum photo a little makeover using the same technique in ProShow. Both ProShow Gold and Producer have built-in Composition Lines to help you. Use them as your guides for optimally repositioning and zooming into the focal points of an image.

Here’s how you activate Composition Lines:

1. Add a slide to your show by dragging and dropping any image or video from the File List into the Slide List.

2. Double-click on the slide to launch Slide Options.

3. In any of the tabs, right-click on the preview window and select < Show Composition Lines >.

4. Now, there is a 3×3 grid displayed.

Now, line up vertical and horizontal elements in your image according to the grid. Position important elements where the lines intersect. Use the zoom slider (or your mouse scroll wheel) to zoom in or out as needed. Try not to put important things in the very center, or way off in the corners.

Alignment Grids
Another simple technique that can help bring unity to multiple elements in a composition is alignment. The human eye is naturally drawn to balance and order. When objects are slightly out of line with each other, even an untrained eye tends to notice it, though it might be on a subtle level. This can result in producing unwanted tension and sense of disorderliness about the composition. When you have multiple photos and/or captions in your slide composition, lining them up according to a common edge can really help pull it all together. The result will convey a sense of unity and purposeful intent behind the composition. Not just another sloppy, haphazard layout.

ProShow Producer has built-in alignment grids that you can customize according to your preferences. Use them to neatly and easily line up layers, images and captions in your slides. You can even turn on a feature that will make parts of your slides ‘snap’ to the grid, making it even easier to line up elements in your show.

To Show the Alignment Grid:
1. Add a slide to your show by dragging and dropping any image or video from the File List into the Slide List.

2. Double-click on the slide to launch Slide Options. In any of the tabs, right-click on the preview window and select < Show Grid >.

3. If you want to change the color, size or layout of the grid, right-click on the preview window again and select < Define Grid >.

4. If you want elements in your show to ‘snap’ to the nearest gridline when you move them, right-click on the preview again and select < Snap to Grid >.

Now, you can easily line up captions and layers in each slide, without having to copy settings from one place to the next.

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Leslie

As the head of the Creative team at Photodex, Leslie is involved in the design & production of ProShow demos, slideshows & special effects. She is a self-professed Crazy Cat Lady who is into horror movies, music, good food, and riding her bike around Austin.