Word 2010 Photo Effects

Word 2010 has added an extra category to SmartArt graphics - Picture graphics. It opens a whole new area of design, where you can incorporate photo images into many different styles of graphic. When a SmartArt Picture graphic is inserted, text and photos of your choosing can be added, to make a finished page element, which looks professional and modern.

Also new to the latest Word are photo effect filters, which can be used to correct simple defects in photos added to a page and apply special effects. You don't need any Photoshop skills to use them as they're applied by pointing and shooting from a palette of thumbnails.

To try out a new SmartArt Picture graphic, select SmartArt from the Insert tab in the ribbon. Select Picture from the left-hand column in the Choose a SmartArt Graphic dialog and click on a graphic thumbnail to pick from the 36 pre-drawn designs. The graphic appears on the Word page.

To add descriptive text to the elements in the graphic, you can either click on the placeholders or open the outline panel for the object, by clicking the double arrow in the left-hand edge of its frame. The text can be freely edited.

Photos can be inserted in much the same way, by clicking on the photo placeholders in the main graphic or in the outline panel. Clicking opens a file selector, to browse to the photo file you want to use. The photo is automatically scaled to fit the graphic, but this can be changed using the Crop panel of the Format Shape option on the object's right-button menu.

To change the style of elements within the graphic, click on selections in the SmartArt Styles selector of the ribbon's SmartArt Tools tab.

Photos in a SmartArt Picture graphic, or just in a photo placed directly on the page, can be easily adjusted. Click on the photo and select the Picture Tools tab in the ribbon. As well as properties like border, shadow and bevel, there are the new Corrections and Color palettes in the ribbon.

The Corrections palette offers Sharpen and Soften and Brightness and Contrast palettes, where thumbnails of the selected photo are shown with a range of alterations applied. Hovering the mouse pointer over a thumbnail previews the correction on the photo in situ and clicking the thumbnail applies the effect.

The Color palette does the same for Saturation, Tone and Recoloring and there are other effects available within the Picture Tools tab options, too. Click on Remove Background, for example and the program does its best to determine the foreground elements of the photo and remove everything else.

Unless the foreground is very well defined and the background very plain, it's unlikely the automated process will work perfectly first time, but you can add and remove areas of the selection, to outline the parts you want. The new SmartArt and photo adjustments within Word 2010 offer considerable scope to add images to documents and improve the messages they are trying to convey.