Adding and Manipulating Pictures
The Microsoft Office applications enable you to insert a number of different digital picture file formats into your Office documents. Because it is true that a picture is worth a thousand words, you can use pictures to enhance your Word documents, PowerPoint slides, Excel worksheets, and even your Outlook emails. Some of the commonly used digital picture file formats are as follows:
- Windows Bitmap (.bmp)
- Graphics Interchange Format (.gif)
- Joint Photographic Experts Group (.jpg)
- Portable Network Graphics (.png)
- Tagged Image File Format (.tif)
- Windows Metafile (.wmf)
Digital image files are compressed and the compression scheme used by a particular file format can have an effect on the overall quality of the image. Lossless compression schemes compress the file without discarding any of the file data; the lossy compression scheme actually discards some of the file's data to compress the image file. Image files also differ in the number of colors they can provide, so you will find that each file format definitely has its own plus and minuses. For example, GIF files provide for a total number of only 256 colors, but GIF files are often small (in terms of size) and can be used as pictures on websites. The PNG format provides millions of colors and uses a lossless compression scheme, so you get a fantastic-looking image but the file size can be quite large. A JPG image uses a lossy compression scheme and so might not look as good as a PNG file but it will definitely provide you with a smaller file size.
Most digital cameras shoot either JPG or PNG files by default. Most digital cameras also enable you to adjust the number of megapixels used in a shot, which relates to the resolution of the picture and the file size created.
In terms of using digital images in your Office applications, you don't really need to worry about file size, megapixels, or file type. The Office applications can deal with most of the common file types and will typically size the image to fit into the shape or frame that will hold the image.
The Picture command is on the Ruler's Insert menu. To insert a picture, follow these steps:
- Select the Picture command. The Insert Picture dialog box will open as shown in Figure 4.8.
Figure 4.8 The Insert Picture dialog box.
- Locate and select the picture file that you want to insert.
- Select the Insert button. The Insert Picture dialog box will close and the picture will be inserted into the document.
After the image has been inserted in the document, you can size the document using the handles provided on the picture frame. The image size can also be modified using the Height and Width spinner boxes, which are provided in the Size group of the Pictures Tool Format tab. The Picture Tools are available on the Ribbon when the picture is selected.
The Picture Tools Format tab provides commands that modify different aspects of the picture. For example, the Picture Styles gallery enables you to change the border type and the shape, and to apply some 3D effects to the picture. The picture border and the effects applied to the picture such as settings for the shadow, glow, or 3D rotation can be accessed using the Picture Border and Picture Effects commands, respectively.
You will find that many of the commands provided on the Picture Tools Format tab are the same as those found on the SmartArt Tools Format tab. For example, the Position, Wrap Text, and other Arrange Group commands will be the same for a picture, SmartArt graphic, or shape. However, the Picture Tools tab does provide the Adjust group, which contains a number of extremely useful commands specific to digital pictures. The Adjust group commands are as follows:
- Remove Background: This command enables you to remove the background from the picture. This is a new tool for the Microsoft Office applications. We look at using this tool later in the chapter.
- Corrections: With this command you can select from a gallery of choices that enables you to sharpen and soften the image or adjust the brightness and contrast. Thumbnails of your image are provided in this gallery with different correction settings applied to them. All you have to do is select one of the possibilities. To view the actual brightness and contrast settings for one of the gallery thumbnails, place the mouse on that thumbnail to view a screen tip that provides the percent brightness and contrast.
Color: This command provides a gallery of different color saturations and tones as well as a number of recolor settings for your image. The Color Saturation gallery is shown in Figure 4.9. Color saturations are denoted by percent saturation such as 100%, 200%, and so on. The color tones are denoted by degrees Kelvin (lower numbers are "cooler" and tend toward the blues; higher numbers are "warmer" and tend toward yellow). To apply a setting from the gallery, select the thumbnail of your image that provides the color changes that you want to make to your picture.
Figure 4.9 The Color gallery for a picture.
- Artistic Effects: This command provides a gallery of different photo effects such as Pencil Sketch, Cement, and Plastic Wrap. You can preview any of the effects on your picture by placing the mouse on a particular effect in the gallery. Some of the possibilities are mind-blowing (of course I grew up in the 1960s).
- Compress Pictures: This command enables you to compress the image so that its size (in terms of file size, not size in the document) is smaller and therefore your entire document file size will be smaller. When you select Compress Pictures, the Compress Pictures dialog box opens. It enables you to delete any cropped areas of the picture and to select a target output size such as 96 ppi pixels per inch) for emails and 150 ppi for web pages.
- Change Picture: Use this command to open the Insert Picture dialog box and select a picture to replace the current image.
- Reset Picture: This command will throw out all the formatting changes that you have made to the picture. This enables you to return to square one with no harm, no foul.
Although the galleries provided by a number of the Adjust group commands might be sufficient for your needs in terms of changing an image's attributes, you can fine-tune these settings using the Format Picture dialog box. You can access the dialog box by selecting the additional Options link provided at the bottom of the Corrections, Color, and Artistic Effects galleries. For example, if I select Picture Corrections Options at the bottom of the Corrections gallery, the Format Picture dialog box opens as shown in Figure 4.10 with Picture Corrections selected.
Figure 4.10 The Format Picture dialog box.
You can use the different settings provided in the Format Picture dialog box to specify the fill, line color, line style, and the 3D format and rotation for the image. You can also fine-tune changes that you have made to the picture, such as brightness and contrast corrections, color changes, and the addition of artistic effects. For example, the Picture Corrections settings (shown in Figure 4.10) can be adjusted using slider bars that can soften or sharpen an image or change the brightness and contrast of the image.
Cropping an Image
Another useful command for adjusting an image is the Crop command. Although this command isn't included in the Adjust group, the Crop command is very useful in cases where you want to trim unneeded parts of the image. It is located at the other end of the Format tab in the Size group.
The Crop command actually provides you with more than one possibility for cropping an image. When you select the Crop command the following options are provided:
- Crop: Select Crop to place the crop frame around the image. You can then adjust the cropping handles as needed. Select the Crop command again to apply your cropping settings.
- Crop to Shape: You can apply a shape to the image from the Shape gallery and have the image cropped to that specific shape.
- Aspect Ratio: You can have the image cropped using a specific aspect ratio such as 1:1 (square), 2:3 (portrait), or 3:2 (landscape).
- Fill: The image will be resized to fill the entire picture area (such as a picture box) and the portions of the image that fall outside the picture area will be cropped.
- Fit: The image will be resized to fit in the picture area, maintaining the original aspect ratio of the image (this is actually the opposite of cropping).
If you find that you have gone overboard on the cropping, you can remove the cropping by using the Undo command on the Quick Access Toolbar. The Reset Picture command will not undo cropping.
Using the Background Removal Tool
The Background Removal tool is probably one of the most intriguing additions to the Office application in terms of working with images. The Remove Background command does exactly what it claims to do: It enables you to remove the background from an image.
The great thing about this tool is that it is intuitively able to differentiate the background from the foreground elements in your photo and so will automatically select the background areas to be removed from the photo. How well this works will depend on the photo. Some photos contain color combinations or low contrast between the elements in the photo that make it difficult to easily separate the background from the foreground elements. However, after the Background Removal tool takes the first cut at selecting the background of the photo, you can step in and fine-tune the selection so that you can end up with some good results.
To use the Remove Background tool, select a photo in your Office application. Then click the Remove Background command. The Background Removal tab will appear on the Ribbon as shown in Figure 4.11.
Figure 4.11 The Background Removal tab and a selected picture.
The commands provided on the Background Removal tab are self-explanatory. Two command groups are provided: Refine and Close. The Refine group provides commands that enable you to refine the initial selection of the background. The Close group provides you with two possibilities that enable you to either discard the changes or keep the changes.
On first inspection after selecting the Remove Background command, you will find that the background areas that have been designated in the photo for removal are designated by a magenta overlay. A marquee with sizing handles is also floated on your image to specify the area of the image that contains the foreground elements to keep. If the marquee has excluded foreground items that you want to keep, you can change the size of the marquee or move the marquee's position as required.
Adjusting the marquee isn't going to get you much, so for greater refinement, you will need to take advantage of the Refine group commands. Let's start with marking areas that you want to keep: Select the Mark Areas to Keep command. The mouse pointer will become a pencil. Use the pencil to outline each area that you want to keep that has been marked for removal. Click the pencil to place a mark point on an area and then continue to drag the mouse. Marking points makes it easier to connect the dots and get all of an area that you want to mark to keep. You might find that you enclose only a portion of an area to keep using the mouse when the Background Removal tool suddenly catches on and finishes the selection for you by removing the magenta overlay from that area.
You can also mark areas to remove. Select the Mark Areas to Remove command and use the pencil to mark areas that should be removed. When the area has been marked for removal, the magenta overlay is applied to that area of the image.
When you are ready to complete the process by keeping all the fine-tuning that you did with the Mark Areas to Keep and the Mark Areas to Remove commands, select the Keep Changes command. The background will be removed from the image. Now you can take advantage of the picture styles that provide background fill colors or shadow effects.
If you have ever attempted to manipulate digital photos, you are probably aware that many of the possibilities we have discussed here would normally require a sophisticated piece of digital image-editing software. It is pretty amazing that you can quickly correct such image parameters as brightness and contrast and apply artistic effects to an image with only a couple clicks of a mouse.