Saturday, June 30, 2012

Crop around an image

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Sometimes, you want to crop around an image with a complex shape. Most people do this in Adobe Photoshop or another image-editing program, but you can do it in PowerPoint if you don't have or know another program.

If you have PowerPoint for the Mac, the Picture toolbar has two lasso buttons that you can use. These are similar to the lasso tools found in image-editing programs and I wish that PowerPoint for the PC had them. But if you're on a PC, here's another option:

Let's say you'd like to crop around this photo, to remove the background.

Follow these steps:

1. Insert the image that you want to use. It needs to be a separate file, rather than pasted from the Clipboard.

2. Increase the zoom to at least 100%, more for a complex outline. Make sure that the entire image is on the screen. (Closing an open task bar helps.)

3. From the Drawing toolbar, choose AutoShapes>Lines>Freeform. (In 2007, use the Insert tab and click Shapes. Choose the Freeform button in the Lines section.)

4. Click anywhere along the edge where you want to crop and drag around the image (with the mouse button held down). For straight lines, you can release the mouse button and click at the end of the line. When you're back to the start point, release the mouse button and the freeform should complete itself.

Note: It doesn't have to be perfect; you can edit it later. Also, I must admit that using a mouse is somewhat awkward and I used instead a Wacom tablet with a stylus. This is the ideal tool for the job.

5. Double-click the freeform to open the Format AutoShape dialog box. (In 2007, this displays the Format tab.) Change the fill to No Fill, but leave the outline alone. (For this tutorial, I made the outline thicker, so you could see it clearly.)

6. Now you'll see some places that need to be adjusted. For example, on the right side of the image, the line is too far away from the collar and shoulder.

7. Select the freeform and on the Drawing toolbar, choose Draw>Edit Points. (In 2007, click the Format tab and choose Edit Shape>Edit Points. You now see lots of dots around the outline.

8. To adjust a point, click it and drag it to the desired location. You can also right-click a point that you don't want and choose Delete Point. Continue until your freeform closely follows the outline of the image.

9. Delete the image.

10. Double-click the freeform. Click the Fill Color drop-down list and choose Fill Effects. Click the Picture tab. (In 2007, click Shape Fill on the Format tab and choose Picture.) Choose the picture you chose before and click Insert.

11. The picture now fills the freeform. Because the freeform is the shape of the image (minus the background that you don't want), the result is to crop the picture!

12. Format the freeform again and set the outline to No Outline.

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