Saturday, August 14, 2010

Art Effects from Photos - using Excel 2010

A photo outing usually results in a large number of images with just a few that are worth sharing. My trip to the Georgia Aquarium was no exception. But there is one picture in particular that I seem to enjoy looking at again and again. The pose, patterns, colors, shapes, just seem to work for me. It appears to just cry out for presentation in different transformations.

So here, with apologies and all due respect to the ichthyologists out there ---

“My Variations on a Theme by Volitans Lionfish”

Most picture organizing programs, like Windows Live Photo Gallery or Picasa, provide tools for editing and improving photos. For more extensive manipulations full-featured image editors, like Adobe PhotoShop or Corel PaintShop Photo, offer a huge palette of tools. A surprising and unexpected source of artistic effect tools is Microsoft Office 2010.

Excel is not just for numbers anymore!

Not until after you insert a picture into a cell and click on it does Excel 2010 provide a “Picture Tools” tab (this is also true of Word 2010 and PowerPoint 2010). One of the commands in the Adjust section on the Ribbon is “Artistic Effects”.

It is an absolut pleasure to use. The menu shows little miniatures of the selected image with the various effects applied. Hover the mouse pointer on one of the miniatures and instantly the effect is applied to the picture so you can preview it. There are also options to adjust the effects such as brush size.

Other options allow you to soften or sharpen the image or to change brightness and contrast – with the Corrections tool – or to change the coloring with the Color command.

The Color menu allows control of color saturation and “color tone” – color temperature. It also has a palette of intriguing “recolor” options. These recolor options include some interesting black-and-white choices as well as effects for changing the overall picture coloring. You can see the miniatures here for my favorite fish. This tool also provides a control to select  additional theme colors.

I never imagined having this much fun using Excel. This is more like playing a game – far, far, from number crunching and spreadsheets.

Why, I think I will have another cup of coffee and play on…. 

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