LibreOffice Impress: Pictures


As we pointed out previously, Impress is inherently a graphical, and even multimedia, way of communicating. In fact, we saw in the previous tutorials that Impress and Draw share a common set of Styles that apply to both programs, and I have often seen in documentation that Impress and Draw are often mentioned in the same breath, so to speak. So it is important that we start developing an understanding of the graphical elements in Impress.

I will start this by looking at pictures. Using pictures in your presentations can add a great deal to the presentation. This does not only mean photographs, though they are certainly pictures, but more broadly I think of pictures as pre-existing graphical objects, frequently in a common format like *.png (Portable Network Graphics), *.gif (Graphics Interchange Format), or *.jpeg (Joint Photographic Experts Group). These can be dropped in to your presentation and used as needed. For example, in the previous tutorial about a Template for Hacker Public Radio, I used a logo from, the  HPR web site that was in *.png format, and a background I downloaded from a web site that was in *.gif format. The other kinds of images you might work with are Drawing objects, which you create using Draw directly or indirectly via the Drawing toolbar in Impress, which you can edit and change using the built-in tools. Those will be the subject of a future tutorial.

To start with, the default new slide will look like this:

Default New Slide

Default New Slide








The center of this slide has four buttons on it for inserting objects. In most cases if you started typing in text where it says “Click to add Text” these buttons would immediately disappear. But they can be used to insert objects as follows:

Default New Slide labeled








The quadrant on the upper left is labeled “Insert Table”, on the upper right is labeled “Insert Chart”, on the lower left is labeled “Insert Image”, and on the lower right is labeled “Insert Movie”. We’ll talk about all of these options at some point, but for now I want to focus on Insert Image. If you know you want an image on the slide you can insert it here, but be aware of one thing. The default new slide comes with two AutoLayout areas, one for the slide Title (Title Area for AutoLayouts), and the other for content (Object Area for AutoLayouts). This lower area, the Object Area, is usually where you put in text such as bullet points, but if you use the Insert Image the text ability goes away. You could manipulate your image to make room and put in a text box, but then it is governed by the Drawing Object Styles that apply, and you could get confused. So I use this when I know that the only content I plan to use on this slide is an image. Otherwise I put in my text content first, so that it is governed by the appropriate Presentation Style, and then insert my image (presumably a small one) by going to Insert–>Image–>From file, and selecting the image I want to put in. You can move it around the screen as you wish, but if you already have some text content you can continue to add to it and edit it.

When you do this, you will get a window for selecting the file:

Insert Image







This has the usual File manager to locate and select your image, but it also has two check boxes in the lower left. One of them is Preview, and if you check that you will see your image previewed as a thumbnail on the right, which is almost always useful, particularly when you have a directory full of images to go through. For example, I have over 100 screenshots from LibreOffice in my Media Library for this site, and it would be easy get confused without a preview feature.

The other check box is Link, and that would put in a link to the image without embedding it in the presentation. I rarely use linking because it makes sharing presentations impossible. I have created a number of presentations for my Linux Users Group, for talks I have given at conferences, and so on, and I always make my presentations available, including placing them on SlideShare under a CC-BY-SA license, which is how I license all of my content. For this kind of sharing, embedding the pictures is a must. But linking can make sense in some situations, as the LibreOffice documentation makes clear:

  • When the image file is quite large and linking rather than embedding will dramatically reduce the size of the presentation file.
  • When the same image file is used in many presentations. For example, when using the same background image for all the presentations created.
  • When the linked file will be available when loading the presentation. For example, if the presentation is a slide show of holiday photographs.

Photo Album

Note that there are other sources of images than just From File, though that is probably used the most. Another cool option is a Photo Album. This feature was introduced in LibreOffice 4.1, and when you need it, it is wonderful. The idea here is to create a slide show from a bunch of photos. When you combine that with automated slide shows you can have a show of rotating pictures that runs continuously, which can be lots of fun for family occasions like birthdays and anniversaries.

To set this up, first collect your photos. They don’t all need to be in the same directory, but that might make things a little easier. When you have identified them and know where they are, go to Insert–>Image–>Photo Album, and this will open the Create Photo Album window:

Create Photo Album







Click the Add button, and a File Manager window will open:

Pick Photos







Go to the the photos you want, select them, and click Open. This will take all of your photos and turn them into individual slides in one Presentation. You can then look at them in the Slide sorter and place them in the order you want. By default, they will be in the order they appeared in the directory, alphabetical by picture name, and that is not usually the way you want them ordered in the slide show.

Photo show in Slide Sorter






Once you have your photo album set up, you will probably want to run it automatically. That is not hard. The trick is that you need to put in a transition on each slide. So on the right-hand side, locate the icon for Slide transition, and click it. In the window that opens in the Side Bar, look towards the bottom for the Advance slide area:

Advance Slide Transition






Make sure you select Automatically after, and put in a reasonable number of seconds. I think 5 seconds is good, but choose what works for you. When you then run the slide show, it will change slides automatically If upon ending you want it to automatically go back to the beginning go to Slide Show–> Slide Show Settings

Slide Show Settings










In the section Type, make sure you select Auto, and then the amount of the pause before it restarts. I set this for zero seconds.

If you want to see what this looks like in action, I created a Slide Show which you can download and run from Sample Photo Album.

From a Scanner

One option you have is to insert directly from a Scanner. I will assume you have your scanner connected to your computer and operating properly. In that case, place the object to be scanned in the scanner, then go to Insert–>Image–>Scan. If you have not done this before, or have multiple scanners, you will first need to Select Source. But if you have been using this scanner before, you go right to Request. Then preview the image, crop as necessary, and click Scan. Impress will insert the scanned image into the slide, and from there you can use the formatting tools described below. Personally, I would probably scan the image to a *.png or *.jpeg file, and then insert it as above, but you may find this handy.

Formatting Pictures

In LibreOffice Impress you have some simple built-in formatting options that are good for quick-and-dirty image manipulation, but they are not at all equivalent to a real graphics or photo-editing program. But you can do a some things easily.

Re-size images

Click on the image to select it, and when you see the 8 handles you can drag one of them to re-size your image. If you choose a handle in the middle of a side, you will stretch or shrink the image in that one dimension. If you select a corner handle you can change both dimensions simultaneously. One thing to be careful of is that as a rule if you change both dimensions unequally the result will be bad. To make sure you maintain the aspect ratio, i.e. the ratio of the two dimensions, make sure you hold down the Shift key first before selecting the corner handle. And keep the Shift key down until after you have released the mouse button. Also, note that resizing bitmapped (raster) images can result in significant degradation of the image. You will frequently get better results by resizing the image in a proper image editing program. I happen to like Krita among the open source offerings, but GIMP is also good, and you may like another program. I think if it were an actual photo I would use an image editing program to resize it, but if it was a simple graphic object I might just do it inside Impress. Also see below for the Position and Size dialog.

Move images

Click on the border that contains the handles, but not on a handle, and you should get a four-way arrow head cursor or a hand cursor, depending on the operating system. You can click-and-drag the image to a new position, but sometimes it is easier to use the arrow keys to move the image and have better control. And if that is not enough control for you, you can go to Format–>Position and Size, and make really detailed changes. This is more detailed than I want to get right now, but it is nice to know it is there.

Position and Size











Click on the image to select it, then look for the Rotate button on the Line and Filling Toolbar:

Rotate Button




Click this button, and then move your cursor to a corner, and it will turn into a Rotate Cursor. Click-and-drag to rotate the image. If you need finer control, the second tab in the Position and Size dialog mentioned previously is Rotation.

This completes our initial look at Pictures in Impress. For the next Tutorial I want to focus on a very useful feature called the Gallery.

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