Illustrations, new graphics in Microsoft 365 Windows and Mac

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Illustrations are a new graphics option coming to Microsoft 365 that supplements the existing Icons with a wider range of visual aids for documents, emails, worksheets and slides.

They’ve appeared, without any mention, in preview versions of Microsoft 365 for Windows (version 13415.20002) and Microsoft 365 for Mac (v16.43 20102102)

On the same dialog box that shows Stock Images, Icons, Cutout People and Stickers.

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Illustrations dialog in Office 365 for Windows

Office 365 for Mac shows the same options in a side-pane. Go to Insert | Icons (or Stock Images) then choose Illustrations (use the pull-down menu).

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Illustrations Pane in Office 365 for Mac.

Both Mac and Windows versions have a search option.

What are illustrations?

They are multi-colored graphics, some are simple (like the flower or snowflake shown above) while others are more complex (see the chemistry set or laptop).

Technically illustrations are SVG graphics, same as Icons.  So all the tricks we’ve mentioned about Icons and SVG also apply to Illustrations.

See Sketchy or wriggly lines in Icons and SVG graphics
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Insert an Illustration

There’s no direct button to get to illustrations, just like Cutout People and Stickers.  Open the Insert tab | Illustrations | Icons then switch to Illustrations.

Inserting an illustration is the same as Stock Images, Icons or any other option in that dialog.

Select the illustrations you want (see the check box at top right) then click Insert when you’re done.

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Using an illustration

The current illustrations have large spaces around them, probably too large for many needs.  Start by cropping out the excess space (Graphics Format | Size | Crop).

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All the tools on the Graphics Format tab can be used but some are more useful than others.

Outlines

Illustrations have outlines included but set to nothing.  Go to Graphics Format | Graphics Styles | Outline to choose a color, weight and outline type.

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Fill

Graphics Format | Graphics Styles | Fill overwrites the whole illustration which is only useful if you want a silhouette.

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Change separate colors in illustration

Some illustrations are multicolored like this six color example.

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The basic Graphics Format tools are ‘all or nothing’ options with no way to recolor segments of an illustration or SVG. The Fill option, as shown above, will change all the segments of an Illustration.

To change colours more selectively, choose Graphics Format | Convert to Shape.  That turns the SVG into an Office shape with more editing options.  As a Shape, open the Selection Pane to see a list of the individual elements that make up a shape.  Select one of parts (Freeform Shape) and choose Fill, Outline etc to change just that element.

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The same ball Illustration/SVG as above, but with each segment colored.

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