As usual, we will use PowerPoint 2016, but if you have PowerPoint 2013 or 2010, it will be the same. Follow these steps to get started with Merge/Combine Shapes in PowerPoint (or you can watch the video tutorial on YouTube here):

Step 1:

In this tutorial, We’ll make a flat design tree. So, the first thing that we need to do is to insert one rectangle and one circle (please insert the rectangle first, and then insert the circle). Once you’ve inserted them, change their position as shown in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1. The circle is on the top of rectangle and the rectangle is at the bottom of the circle.
Figure 1. The circle is on the top of rectangle and the rectangle is at the bottom of the circle.

Step 2:

Select the drawings (shapes), select the circle first (1), and to be followed with the rectangle (2). Then you will see the Ribbon area now shows the Drawing Tools Format tab (3). Within the Drawing Tools Format tab, click the Merge Shapes button (4) to view a drop-down menu.

Figure 2. How to get into Merge Shapes tool interface.
Figure 2. How to get into Merge Shapes tool interface.

And, within Merge Shapes drop-down menu, choose the Subtract option. After that, you will see the new shape. It will look like a half circle shape as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3. Subtract the shapes.
Figure 3. Subtract the shapes.

Step 3:

Now, insert a new circle that has the same width and height with the half circle shape (1). After that, right-click the shape and choose Send to Back option in the shown context menu (2).

Figure 4. Make a new circle and send it to back.
Figure 4. Make a new circle and send it to back.

After that, re-position all shapes just like shown in Figure 5 (below).

Figure 5. The shapes now looks like this. The half circle is on top of the full circle.
Figure 5. The shapes now looks like this. The half circle is on top of the full circle.

Step 4:

Give dark green color to the half circle and light green color to the full circle. The final appearance will look like Figure 6 (below).

Figure 6. The final color of the shapes.
Figure 6. The final color of the shapes.

And then, select all shapes and remove the shapes outline color. You can also follow the instruction in the following image below (Figure 7).

Figure 7. Set no outline to the shapes.
Figure 7. Set no outline to the shapes.

The final appearance will look like Figure 8 (below). Notice the difference. The shapes are now border-less.

Figure 8. The shapes now are border-less (shown in the right side).
Figure 8. The shapes are now border-less (shown in the right side).

Step 5:

Now insert a vertical rectangle with the brown color, and send it to back. Set the vertical rectangle outline to none and re-position all shapes. You will see the final appearance as shown in Figure 9 (below).

Figure 9. A simple flat design tree.
Figure 9. A simple flat design tree.

And, that’s all. You already have your flat design tree 😀. You can also learn more about Selection Pane in the next tutorial. Happy editing.

Remember: If you’re planning to save it as a picture and place it to your storage, just right-click on the shape/object, and then in the context menu, select Save as Picture...

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