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Make coloring in pictures using Office to make an outline

Modern Microsoft Word (Office) has some picture tools which can convert an image into an outline that kids can use for coloring in.

We’ll be the first to admit, the image to outline options aren’t great but they are serviceable, quick and easily done with tools you have in Microsoft Word.

Print the outline version and kids have an outline to color in.

Use this trick with your own photos. Children can color-in pictures of themselves, family or friends.

Find an image

Add a photo you already have or find one online from Insert | Pictures

We searched for ‘Teddy’ in Online Pictures and found this cute little fellow.

Remove Background

We could go straight to making an outline version but first lets remove the background. That will make for a cleaner outline drawing.

Click on the image, under the Picture Tools tab is Remove Background.

Office will try to guess what’s background. In this case it’s done a good job, better than many other pictures.  You could tweak the ‘Keep’ areas, especially the right foot which is a little cut off at the bottom. Or just click ‘Keep Changes’ to proceed.

Background Removal Tool for pictures in Office

That leaves you with Teddy with a white background (strictly speaking a transparent background showing the white Word document behind the image).

Picture to Outline

Office Picture Tools don’t have a specific ‘outline’ or ‘line drawing’ option but there are choices that can do the job. Choose the one that works with your picture.

Color Saturation or Color Tone

Picture Tools | Color has some presets that remove the color from a picture. Try the presets on the left  under either Color Saturation or Color Tone.

Artistic Effects

Under Picture Tools | Artistic Effects there’s one option that might do the job; Photocopy on the bottom row. To remove more color, choose Artistic Effects Options at the bottom of the gallery.

That opens the Format Picture pane and some controls for the effect.

Transparency:  lower the % to near or Zero

Detail:  reduce to a lower value.


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