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Yesterday I installed the latest internal build of Office 2007 and magically many of OfficeArt's effects looked better than ever. The reason: we recently checked in all of the effect settings that will be in the final product. One of the effects that got a tremendous upgrade in this latest build is Picture Recoloring. There is a big improvement over what's in Beta2.
Psst: This post is just about picture recolor but that 3D frame effect is also one of our new "settings" for the Picture Quick Style gallery. We'll be talking about that in an upcoming post. You'll be able to create that entire graphic above with your own pictures in a few clicks. Now, don't get distracted by the pretty picture above, back to the recolor effect...
There are many types of Picture Recoloring and we've had a few of those in previous releases so it helps to clarify exactly what effect we are talking about. It's duotone recoloring. In Office 2007 this is a digital effect, but is based on a method of printing photos when using a limited number of ink colors. The effect is valuable as a way to give pictures a retro look, a very cool variation on black and white. OfficeArt's recolor options are based on Office Theme colors so your recolored pictures will always match the overall look of your document.
The effect itself essentially provides the ability to use two different colors for the dark ranges and light ranges of a picture. In a black and white photo those colors are, surprise, black and white. Duotone lets you pick two different colors.
You'll find the UI in the Picture Tools contextual tabs. On the far left of the ribbon there's an "Adjust" chunk with the Recolor gallery button. The gallery looks like this:
You'll also noticed a More Variations option at the bottom which lets you pick any RGB color you wish for the effect.
The dark recoloring variations use shades of white for the light colors and shades of a theme accent color for the dark colors. Here's what the dark variations look like using the Office default theme colors.
The light recoloring variations use shades of black for the dark colors and shades of a theme accent color for the light colors. Here's what the light variations look like using the Office default theme colors.
The Color Modes section at the top of the gallery gives you access to grayscale, sepia and "pure" black and white effects. There's also a "washout" effect which is useful for using pictures as a watermark. Of these, sepia is new kid on the block, made possible through the use of the duotone effect. The other effects are available in Office 2003 on the Picture Toolbar.
Just for completeness here are some of the other types of picture recoloring we've had in previous releases:
That's the new recolor effect. It's a far more modern and professional recoloring effect than Office has ever had. Let us know what you think and look for our upcoming posts in the OfficeArt Effects Series.
I'm probably alone, but I would find it extremely helpful if in these entries you could add a footnote referencing the relevant elements/attributes in the OOX specs. Anyway, thanks for the info, keep it coming.
You are not alone! :-) We've gotten other requests for the XML. I'm working on getting the details; I'll either add them to this post or create a new post covering several of the effects when I've got it together. Thanks,
Nice, nice, nice stuff, Howard. Your team has really worked on these recolor options, and it definitely shows. I know I'm not the only one who will miss the color substitution for metafiles, though. Since so much of the clipart coming out of Office Online is WMF, this feature was dead useful! And sooooo easy to use. Recoloring clipart in Photoshop is a hassle compared to PPT. I'll miss it terribly.
We hear you on this one. We know lots of people liked this kind of recoloring for clipart metafiles. As you probably already know you can right click on any metafile clipart and choose "Edit Picture" to convert it to OfficeArt drawing objects. They will be in a group which you can select into and change colors. It lets you accomplish the same thing, albeit more tediously for complicated metafiles. Something not mentioned in my post is that you can use our new recolor feature to substitute a color for black in simple black and white bitmaps. You can use our new feature to recolor that as well since it will substitute a color for all the black parts of that picture.
So I gave a presentation yesterday (PowerPoint 2007) which made use of some of the fine new effects and things, and afterwards a guy on another team comes up to me with a big smile on his face and says, "Looks like the work of a Mac right there!" He walked away sadly after I corrected him.
Am I imagining things, or are your descriptions for dark and light variations the wrong way round?
I'm not sure I understand the rationale behind adding sophisticated recoloring options while removing the simple ones. So now, if I want to change a photo to sepia tone I can do it in PowerPoint, but if I want to change the background color of a GIF logo I need to go to Photoshop? Doesn't this sound backward? In the corporate presos I do, color replacement has been invaluable and the removal of bitmap support was a real inconvenience. Don't underestimate the productivity hit of having to launch a separate program to perform minor changes...removing that bitmap support was a big pain point, and I hoped it would come back. To Mark's point, converting a WMF to OfficeArt only works on the most simplistic of objects. Some advanced selection tools would make this easier and would benefit many slide creation tasks (tools such as "select all objects by color/shape/style," for example, would make recoloring complex OfficeArt objects possible while also facilitating rapid editing of multi-object pages), but I haven't seen such tools mentioned. In short, given the sophisticated graphics engine work you folks have done, it seems that implementing simple graphic editing tasks would be easy. I'm just surprised that so much focus is on gourmet and not bread-and-butter. There are still a lot of legacy 16- and 256-color graphics out there. I guess working with them will continue to suck.
I miss colour subsitution too - with the lovely new colour schemes, it seems like there's even more reason now to want to make clip-art look like it was made to measure. I had to do it manually the other day (by converting the WMF to drawing objects) - eventually I gave up and ended up redrawing the whole thing myself. It cost me nearly half a day for four little pictures :o(
Thanks for the feedback everyone. Actually, the ability to change the background color in a bitmap was lost several releases ago. The dialog that did that function simply didn't scale well as a user experience when you got way above 16 -- it maxed out at (I think) around 64 colors so it didn't really work on most most bitmaps -- it just grabbed a random 64 out of the 256 GIF colors or 16M. The dialog still works on metafiles in 2003, but for this release it there was a significant cost to making it work with the new graphics platform that, quite simply, didn't make the cut. HOWEVER, if your gif background is black or white you can recolor it using the new recolor feature. And, if your GIF background is solid we sill have the ability to set a transparent color to make it a "cut out". The idea for advanced selection tools such as by color, shape are great ideas. While we didn't go that direction, we did invest substantially in an easier selection UI for complex drawings and slides. The "Selection Pane" gives you a list of your objects. YOu can rename them or multiple select them and then do whatever you want change colors/effects, move it, delete it, etc. Brent: great story about people assumming your presentation was produced on a Mac. People clearly identify superb graphics and slide design with Mac/Keynote. I think PowerPoint 2007 will change that identification. :-)