3. Adjusting Picture, Shape, and Color

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Learn the various ways of adjusting the shape of an image as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each. Make corrections or add effects to your image to change its look and tone.


Lesson Goal

Demonstrate how to improve the look of images in Word.

Change the shape and size of an image

There two ways of changing the size or shape of an image. The first is cropping. This effectively cuts off portions of the image. It’s useful when you want to change the shape of your image without distorting it. But you may have to remove parts of the image you want to keep.

The other is resizing. This changes the size of the image without removing parts of the image. There are two ways to resize an image. One which keeps the aspect ratio and one which does not. Aspect ratio is the ratio of the width to the height of a rectangle image.

If you resize while also changing the aspect ratio, you will distort it by stretching it out. If you resize it without distorting it, you will not be able to change the aspect ratio.

In other words, adjusting the shape or size of an image always comes with a drawback. Either you lose parts of the image, you distort the image or you can’t change the aspect ratio of the image.

Changing the color of an image

From the Format tab under Picture Tools, there are a variety of color formatting options.

Under Corrections, we can soften or sharpen an image, as well as change the brightness. This can be useful for images that are too blurry, too sharp, too bright or too dark. But even in well-adjusted images, you can subtly apply these effects to change the tone. A slightly brighter and softer image evokes a warm and sentimental feeling.

From theColor command, we can change the saturation, tone and even recolor the image. Slightly changing the color tone can also be justified as a stylistic choice, but in most cases, it’s safe to leave these settings.

The Transparency command simply makes the image more transparent.

Lastly, Picture Themes add different effects to the image. Most of these are excessive for professional documents, but a simple frame can improve the look of an image.


In the previous lesson, we imported some pictures into Word. We'll now make some subtle changes to one of our pictures to improve it. More generally, in this lesson we'll explore how to improve the look of pictures in Word.

We'll just straight back into the case study document and return to the stock photo we inserted in the previous lesson.

As you may remember, we said that this picture should compliment the testimonials section. We eventually want to place this picture next to the text in the testimonial section, but right now it's too big. We need to make it smaller if it's going to fit. There are two ways of doing this: cropping and resizing.

Cropping works by removing parts of the picture. To crop, right-click the picture and select crop.

This reveals black markers on the edge of the picture.

We'll drag these markers inwards to crop out portions of the picture and hit enter when we're done.

This doesn't look right, so we'll undo these changes.

Instead, we'll adjust the picture size.

We'll click the picture to reveal the adjusting nodes.

This picture is a little too wide to fit in with the testimonials text, so let's drag the right node inwards to make the picture narrower.

The picture is now narrower, but it's distorted, so we'll undo this action.

This distortion happens any time you change the aspect ratio. In other words, to avoid this kind of a distortion, the ratio between the height and width must stay the same.

Resizing with the corner nodes keeps the aspect ratio consistent, so let's use the bottom, right node to make the picture smaller.

Next, we'll make some minor visual enhancements. The picture is a little small now, so we'll zoom in our view by holding control and scrolling up to better see the edits we're making. There are a lot of picture formatting options, but it's important to know that many of these options are not useful.

We'll focus on the useful tools. First is corrections. These tools can correct pictures which have visual flaws affecting the sharpness, brightness, or color contrasts.

We can also use this tool to apply subtle effects that can change the aesthetic tone of the picture.

We'll navigate to the contextual format tab and click the corrections command to view the presets.

First, we'll look at the sharpen and soften options.

Softening will add a blur effect that can often make the primary focus of the image stand out.

In this case, any softening makes the image look a little too blurry. This is because the image may have already been softened.

Instead, we'll slightly sharpen the image and see that it looks more normal than the original setting.

Beneath the sharp and soft options there's the grid of brightness and contrast. The default setting is the center tile.

Tiles above and below represent degrees of contrast. Tiles to the left and right represent degrees of brightness.

It's hard to add subtle degrees of contrast, so we'll keep the default. However, we'll add a little brightness to lighten the mood of the picture.

Next, we'll examine the color command.

In this drop down, we can add different tints, which can also affect the tone of the picture.

Keeping in mind that we should stick to subtle changes, the saturation presets look a little too heavy handed and the recolor presets are far too abstract.

Let's have a look at color tone.

Warmer tones compliment the soft features of the photo, so we'll select a slightly warmer color tone.

Finally, the distinction between the picture and the white background is too sharp. We can use picture styles to add a border. Note that almost all these styles are excessive. We'll choose a simple one.

We can see from the previews that only the first few styles are appropriate.

The rest start adding shadow, mirror, and 3D effects.

We'll simply opt for the first style, the thin, white border.

There are a number of other changes we can make from this tab, but they're all far too drastic.

Let's stop the lesson here.

In the next lesson, we'll complete our work on pictures by demonstrating how to arrange pictures in the document.

Designing with Shapes, Pictures, and Themes


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