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Do you have $1000? Go ahead and buy a copy of Adobe Photoshop CS6. The skills to use it aren't part of the package, but with the help of Photoshop tutorials and our very own Photoshop guides, you can get a smidgen of them. But if you don't have the Benjamin's and aren't too inclined to climb the steep learning curve but still want to conjure up some imaging magic, look elsewhere.
Don't bring out the telescope yet, because a nice little software that goes by the name of Microsoft Word is sitting there on your computer. What! MS Word as a replacement for Photoshop! Perish the thought. It can't hold a candle against the giant, but it does have a few tools to light some creative fires.
There are some amazing image editing feats you can do with MS Word 2010 and its image editing tools. Let's fire up the creative Zen.
Head for the Picture Tools
Most of the image editing magic in MS Word 2010 lies in the Picture Tools tab. It gets activated as a Ribbon as soon as you insert an image in a document. The entire Ribbon is reserved for your love of images and the ways you can manipulate them. It is a giant stride from MS Word 2007 which had limited controls. The Picture tools work on all image types you insert in Word document. Most of the options are self-explanatory, but it's the image editing feats you can do with them or in combination with options like Text Effects that makes it all interesting.
It Could Start With a Screenshot
It could just have escaped you, but Microsoft Word (and the other apps too) does have a handy screenshot tool. You can quickly use it to take a screen clip of the open Windows (including browser windows) or something on the desktop and insert into your open document. With Screen Clipping, your entire window turns temporarily become opaque or "frosted over". Your selection will show through this opaqueness when you drag to select it.
Remove Red Eye with the Picture Manager
You can find the Microsoft Office Picture Manager under Microsoft Office 2010 Tool. After locating your pictures, you can apply various Auto Correct options to the picture like Brightness, Contrast, Color, Crop, Rotate and Flip. The Red Eye Removal Tool is another you should keep in mind for times when you don't have an image editor at hand.
You can also use the Picture Manager to resize and compress the final pictures.
Embed an Image in a Shape
You can create interesting graphics by using a combination of a shape and a picture inside it letting the shape acts as a frame.
1. Choose Insert – Shape. Choose any shape…even a free-form shape can be filled with an image. You can press the Shift key while drawing the shape to draw perfectly proportioned shape.
2. With the shape on the canvas and selected, the Drawing Tools appear on the Ribbon. Select Shape Fill – Picture.
3. Click on Insert and the picture is 'embedded' inside the shape.
4. To finetune the graphic, you can right-click on the picture and choose Format Shape. For instance, you can use the Crop settings to position the picture. You can also go to the Fill settings and change the transparency level.
Give Your Edges a Softer Touch
Instead of just inserting an image, you can stylize it a bit by introducing soft edges to the picture. It gives the appearance of the image slowly fading into the background of the page.
1. Insert your picture. You can select the Soft Edge Rectangle under Picture Styles.
2. To enhance the softness, right-click on the image and bring up the Format Picture dialog box.
3. You can play around with the options here – specifically the Glow and Soft Edges settings. For Soft Edges, you can use the presets or drag the slider to change the look. The effect looks really nice with black & white photos.
1. Insert an image in a document. The Remove Background feature is a part of the Picture Tools Ribbon menu.
2. Move one of the handles on the bounding lines and then drag the lines so that you include the portion of the image that you wish to keep and exclude the areas you wish to remove. For linear shapes it works well, but for more complicated shapes, you have to finetune it a bit.
3. Click on Mark Areas to Keep to demarcate the parts of the picture you do want removed.
4. Click on Mark Areas to Remove to demarcate the parts of the picture you want removed.
5. You can always click on Delete Mark to correct the marker points.
6. Finally, click on Keep Changes to finalize the background removal and close the tool.
Read a detailed explanation of the Remove Background feature on the official blog of the development team.
Use "Layers" In Word
No, image editing on Word isn't as advanced as Photoshop when it comes to layers. But there is a workaround. Word has an option called – In Front of Text. You can find it under Picture Tools – Warp Text.
Selecting In Front of Text helps you stack multiple images on top of one another like layers and apply interesting effects. Let's take one example here. We are using two copies of the same image in combination to duplicate the layer effects of Photoshop. We will remove the background of the top image, so that only the cabana in the foreground remains. This will allow us to make visible any artistic effects we apply on the bottom picture.
1. Using the Remove Background tool, apply Mark Areas to Keep at different points around the cabana. Then use Mark Areas to Remove to mark areas you want to remove.
Select Keep Changes to save the changes and remove the background from the top 'layer'.
2. Now, you can use different color effects (e.g. change color saturation or recolor) and/or Artistic effects to the bottom image and create interesting combinations. For instance, you can recolor the bottom image to sepia, while keeping the colored cabana on top.
3. Use the arrow keys to line up both images precisely on top of each other.
Give Your Documents A Bit of Curve and Shape
Remember the Pen tool in Photoshop which gives you a powerful way to create interesting shapes? Say hello to Edit Points in MS Word. You can use Edit Points on a shape in MS Word and manipulate it to create interesting shapes. Word uses vector graphics instead of raster graphics, so it is easy to squish and enlarge the shapes you create without any loss in detail. The how-to on using lines, shapes, gridlines, and edit points is rather detailed, so I have searched out an 18 minute long video from YouTube which goes into the details of using shapes and modifying them.
Not A Replacement But A Handy Stand-In
There's so much more one can do with images and MS Word 2010. This brief article can only serve as an introductory stepping stone to the graphical adventures ahead. I have left out some of the more obvious image editing feats you can perform like apply artistic effects change the brightness, contrast, or blurriness of a picture; or in the end save the original version of an edited picture to the linked tutorials.
As these tips demonstrate, Word 2010 has enough image editing juice now to reduce the dependency on an external image editor. Word 2013 promises more with expanded photo management features. Do you know an amazing image editing feat which one can perform on MS Word? Share with us.