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Instant Alpha Tool - Wrapping text around images in Pages

The Instant Alpha tool in Apple's Pages allows you to remove an unwanted background color from an image and make it transparent. This magic-wand style tool, once exclusive to the world of Photoshop users, is now freely available to anyone within Pages, Keynote and also iWeb.

This enables you to effortlessly create alpha images without using a separate application. You can use this feature to give your documents a professional layout by having text wrap around an image. Moreover, the process is fun and quick to achieve! Here's how...

Step 1

Let's pick a picture. I've taken one from MorgueFile.com where many of the images are free to be remixed and used commercially. Here's a simple image with a white background:

The trick is to choose a picture with a single color background and where there is good contrast between the background colors and the area of the image you wish to preserve. A silhouette will be extremely easy to work with, but with some practice you can use more complex images and achieve great results too.

Step 2

Drag the image into a Pages document and position it where you would like it to appear on your page.

Step 3

Choose Format > Instant Alpha from the menu

Position your mouse cursor over the background of the image and the mouse cursor will turn into a crosshair.

Click on the color (or plain background) and drag to select the area to be removed. The more you drag the greater the area selected. This selected area to be removed will turn gray.

Step 4

If you find you select parts of the image you don't want to remove, undo, then carefully drag less and release the mouse button and then repeat the process until all the unwanted color or background has been removed.

When you are happy with the results click outside of the image.

Step 5

Finally, some finishing touches are required to integrate the image into your document. Position the image carefully and make sure the 'Object causes wrap' box is selected in the Wrap Inspector. Set the wrap style as desired. I've set this one to 'Wrap text around the object' and the Extra Space is set to 12pt. You can add a reflection and/or shadow to the preserved part of your image by choosing the relevant options in the Graphic Inspector.

Play around with these settings to find what works best for your document to help you achieve the design-style you want!

Want to learn more about the "instant Alpha Tool" check out the Pages'09 101 Tutorial!

Rounik Sethi

Rounik Sethi | Articles by this author

Rounik is the Executive Editor for Ask.Audio & the macProVideo Hub. As an Apple Certified Trainer for Logic (and a self-confessed Mac fanatic) he's taught teachers, professional musicians and hobbyists how to get the best out of Apple's creative software. He has been a visiting lecturer at Bath Spa University's Teacher training program, facilitating workshops on using music and digital media tools in the classroom. If you're looking for Rounik, you'll most likely find him (and his articles) on Ask.Audio & macProVideo.com.

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