NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article
Microsoft Photo Editor 3.0
By Bob Frye - August 97

My new computer came with MS Office 97 Small Business Edition (SBE) pre- installed. Among the new features I found was a program called Microsoft Photo Editor (Insert/Object/ MS Photo Editor). According to the Help/About screen, Photo Editor is based on Halo's Desktop Imager software. Photo Editor is fully integrated with Office 97 SBE so that I can access it from Word, Excel or Publisher (Power Point and Access are not included in Office 97 SBE). Photo Editor is OLE complaint so that it can be used with any other OLE program too. If you want to add Photo Editor, look in the Word/OS/MS Apps folder on the Office 97 CD-ROM.

Photo Editor offers three main features:

  1. Input images using the Photo Editor Scan tool from any Twain complaint device. You can also use image files from disk or CD-ROM.
  2. Manipulate images with resize, rotate, zoom and crop tools. You can adjust image contrast, gamma, brightness and transparency.
  3. Add effects with soften, sharpen, negative, chalk and charcoal, emboss, watercolor, stamp, stained glass and texturize tools.

Photo Editor can import JPEG and GIF clipart, as well as Kodak Photo CD images. To import an image from a scanner or digital camera, you just click on the scanner icon in the Photo editor toolbar. If you are working in an Office 97 application, you can select Insert/Picture/From Scanner, which opens Photo Editor and its scanner input function. Either way makes short work of gaining access to images.

The image editing tools are straightforward to use. Image manipulation tools are accessed via menu selections. You can size or crop the image by specifying exact dimensions (in inches, centimeters or pixels). Cropping deletes part of the original image, while sizing keeps the whole image but changes its exterior dimensions. You can invert, mirror and transpose images plus rotate them in one-degree increments. The Auto Balance feature helps the image editor novice by automatically adjusting brightness and contrast levels. You can also use slider controls to select custom settings for brightness and contrast separately. All these tools effect the whole image when applied.

You can apply any of the effect tools to all or a portion of the image. The Sharpen and Smudge tools are accessed from the toolbar and are primarily used for working small portions of the image. You can select "brush" size and shape by right clicking on the tool buttons. You can select square, circular or line shaped brushes, as well as adjust the "pressure" and edge blend. Special effects can be applied to the whole image or to pre-selected rectangular areas. I especially like the chalk and charcoal, and the texture effects. Chalk and charcoal gives a photo image the look of a custom art sketch without requiring anymore skill from me than a mouse click. Combining the canvas texture with some softening gives a plain portrait photo the look of a painting.

The Undo command only removes the last tool action (one level undo), although you can use the Revert command to remove all changes. Your Photo Editor image can be saved as a JPEG, GIF, TIFF, PNG, windows bitmap or PC Paintbrush file, as well as pasted to any Office application or even sent as an e-mail attachment.

Although no match for heavy-duty image editors like Adobe PhotoShop, Microsoft Photo Editor is a welcome addition to the Office application suite and may fulfill many users' needs.

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