Tag Archives: transparency

Artificial Intelligence at work: Remove Background (Office 2010 and above)

Quick Feed

Remove Background is available across Office tools from version 2010 onwards. It helps you remove unwanted parts of pictures quickly and easily – without using any external photo editing software. If you like these examples, go ahead and read how to do it.

Before After
image Cow after remove background
image image
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image Toy after remove background

How to remove background?

Very simple.

  1. Click on the picture – Choose Picture Tools from the top menu (ribbon)
  2. Choose the first option from left is Remove Backgroundimage
  3. The picture will not be analyzed and some part of it will become dark pink.
    Dark Pink part will be removed and become transparent.image
  4. It shows an adjustable rectangle in the picture. Resize it so that the area of your interest is fully within the rectangle.image
  5. Now click Keep Changesimage

This works for simple pictures. For more complex pictures it requires some adjustments.

Refining the background removal

The logic of detecting what is foreground and what is background is based upon very sophisticated mathematics. It is very intelligent. But in case of complex pictures it needs some help from you.

Consider this picture where the rectangle already encompasses the object of interest.

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It has removed most of the image but some part of the twig is still retained. Now we need to assist the Remove Background feature.

The menu gives you multiple options.

image

In this case, we need to specify – visually- that the branch (twig) should have been removed. For finer adjustments – it is a good idea to ZOOM IN to the picture.

Click Mark Areas to Remove and then just draw a line across the unwanted portion. Be careful not to extend the line into the areas you want to keep.

SNAGHTML8fb0ade

Few such adjustments are enough to get what you want.

The Science behind it

The mathematical algorithm behind this feature is very complex. It is called GrabCut. It was created by researchers from Microsoft Research. For those interested in the details, the research paper can be downloaded from here. We must thank and appreciate the researchers Carsten Rother, Vladimir Kolmogorov, and Andrew Blake for creating this amazing feature.

Practical Example

Download and view this presentation. Run the presentation. It has only one slide. Click on the slide to run the animation. The text appears to originate from behind the buildings.

How is that done? Edit the presentation and learn how it was done. This is a smart way to use remove background to achieve an impossible sounding effect.

image

Skyline Presentation Download

Tight Wrap in Word – How to wrap text around images with irregular borders

In the last post, I had posted a quiz. We already have a winner (Nicholas) and the gift will be sent to him.

The question was the difference between SQUARE and TIGHT wrap around a picture or object in Word.

If the picture is rectangular – which most pictures are – there is no visual difference.

But if the picture has an irregular shape, TIGHT option wraps around the shape and SQUARE wraps around the rectangle.

Here is the difference…

image

Things are much simpler if it is an irregular shaped clipart…

image

Question: How do you create a picture with irregular borders?

Most pictures have rectangular border. If the picture has a transparency around an object, it has irregular borders. Most standard pictures, captured from cameras or downloaded from Microsoft Clipart are rectangular with NO transparency.

So how do you create transparency to retain what we want?

Here is an example.  The original picture in the above logo was like this – with a white background. (I have put a border to illustrate the boundary of the picture)

MaxOffice - Only image - white background

The white area around the actual logo is unwanted – and therefore, should be transparent. How do we do that?

  1. Click on the picture (double clicking the pictures opens the menu)
  2. Choose Picture Tools menu
  3. Choose Remove background (Office 2010 and above)
  4. Now PowerPoint attempts to guess what could be the foreground and what should be removed. It indicates the outcome as an altered image as shown below. The pink portions would be removed (make them transparent) and rest would be kept.image
  5. Readjust the inner rectangle to enclose the logo completely within it. Click on Keep Changes Button.Remove background
  6. Now it is a transparent picture. Whatever was shown in pink color has been converted to transparency.
  7. Now using the TIGHT option wraps text around the irregular shape.Tight wrap in Word

Refine the wrapping with Edit Wrap Points

Tight wrap edit wrap points

Next article

We will cover the amazing Remove Background feature of PowerPoint in detail.