Photo & Graphic Designer Reviews
"This friendly, highly polished illustration package exels at creating graphics and logos, and can turn its hand to desktop publishing and even web design" - Computer Shopper
"What it does, it does well: this simple, template-based tool is good for beginners." - Computer active
Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 9
Quite simply the world's fastest graphics software, with revolutionary photo handling and truly flexible illustration and design tools. A single application for all types of creative graphic design work involving photos, graphics and text.
Here are just some of the reasons why we believe Xara stands out from the competition, making Photo & Graphic Designer a great choice for all your photo and graphic design needs. Photo & Graphic Designer allows you to do amazing things with photos, includes really intuitive vector drawing tools and advanced text handling, all in one seamlessly integrated environment.
A simple but incredibly effective tool that can be used to erase spots, scratches and blemishes from photos. In fact it can be used like a 'paint brush' for the magic erase feature, so you can erase even quite large features from your photo with amazingly seamless results.
A really quick, easy and effective way of cutting complex objects out of photos, so you can place them on alternative backgrounds.
New Masking Tools
It's a pretty common requirement to want to work on just one part of your photo (or indeed vector image) - for example brightening a selected area of a photo, or cropping a specific shape out of a photo or vector image.
With the new mask and region tools it couldn't be simpler. With the region painter tool you can draw a selection region to apply effects to (such as you brightness change, or crop) or you can use the mask painter tool to protect an area from being altered.
New Photo FX Plug-ins
11 all-new photo plug-ins for a dazzling array of creative photo effects:
- Fake HDR: simulates the effect of HDR images
- Tilt Shift: Certain image areas are blurred resulting in a miniature world look
- Orton: Blurs the image in a special way which makes the colors stand out
- Little Planet: Turns the image into a mini planet
- Pencil: Transforms the photo into a pencil drawing
- Lomo: Gives the image a processed appearance by distorting its colors
- Color Splash: Specific areas of the image are in color and the rest is black and white
- Polarised greyscale: Converts the image into greyscale after treatment of certain color filters
- Color Mix: Mixes up the red/green/blue color channels
- Sepia: Transforms color photos to give the impression that it's on old paper
- Thermal: Certain parts of the photo are colorized, without affecting the brightness, similar to a thermal imaging camera
Photo & Graphic Designer includes two valuable free additions from the MAGIX range:
- The Premium version of MAGIX Online Photo Album, free for one year. Share your photos with friends, families and colleagues with an online album
- A free copy of MAGIX Photo Manager, a useful utility for sorting, searching and creating back-ups of your photos
Design & Useability Enhancements
An easy way of re-coloring elements in complex grouped objects
There's a new and much faster way of changing the individual colors in grouped objects such as clipart and buttons. When you drag & drop a color onto the group, you'll see a list of all the colors in the group, simply pick the one you want to change (changing a theme color converts it to a local color).
Shape Painter Tool
This tool enables you to 'paint' onto an existing shape to enlarge it, add new areas or adjust the shape or outline. It does this in a vector way, and is a much more direct and often easier way than using the Shape Editor tool. You can adjust the size of the 'brush' as well as its aspect ratio and rotation angle.
The Shape Painter InfoBar provides controls over brush size, the roundness, brush tip angle and the softness, as well as a smoothness control which adjusts how accurately the brush stroke follows your mouse movement.
Direct support for Google Fonts & a new Google Font picker
Every document has the perfect font, so you can never have too many of them. Google has recently shaken up the font world by offering a large and growing collection of fonts for free. We bring that collection right into the font picker with a new Google Fonts section where you can preview and select fonts from the current 600+ Google Fonts collection. What's more, if you import a document with Google fonts then the fonts will be automatically downloaded and installed.
Support for multi-weight fonts in the font menu
Where a font has more than the usual bold and italic versions, the full font family is now displayed.
Graphical bullets & numbers
You can now create and use your own graphical designs for the bullet character or the number at the start of bullet or numbered lists, which can make a significant improvement in the presentation quality and impact of any bulleted or numbered list. You can use any of the in-built drawing and text tools to create your own bullet and number graphics and we also supply a collection of ready-made examples in the Designs Gallery.
New & Updated Templates
Some categories (such as photo calendars) have been updated, plus we've added new collections of customizable bullets & numbers (Page Elements > Graphic Elements > Bullets & Numbers) and logos (Page Elements > Graphic Elements > Logos).
Other Minor Enhancements
- Fly-out toolbars easier to use - Version 9 release makes it easier to traverse the fly-out menu without it closing.
- Improved speed and quality for JPEG / PNG - A new and improved JPEG / PNG converter means significantly improved import / export times, and a subtle quality improvement.
- Windows 8 touch compatibility - v9 is now compatible with Windows 8 touch devices.
- Useful right-click menu options on document tabs - We've added some useful right-click menu options on document tabs: save as, close all but this, discard, close all, discard all.
- Larger thumbnails - In v9 .web files are saved with extra large thumbnails so you can take advantage of the 'extra large icon' view option in Windows File Explorer (Windows 7 & 8)
- Simple page color change - There is a new quick and easy right click option to change the color of the page or pageboard background.
Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 9 Features
Fast, non-destructive photo handling
Photo & Graphic Designer photo handling beats other graphics programs on many fronts. It's much, much faster, produces smaller files and it's non-destructive. It makes the perfect photo composition tool.
Photo & Graphic Designer offers completely non-destructive photo editing (which means you can edit your photo as many times as you like without the loss of quality that is normal in other photo programs), and it uses a fraction of the RAM required by other products. It can handle multiple very high resolution images with ease, even on a modest PC.
Photo & Graphic Designer is also unique in the way it handles and stores photos, which means that files containing photos can be anywhere from 3 to 100 times smaller than with other programs.
Integrated Photo Tool
Photo & Graphic Designer includes a revolutionary integrated, ultra-fast, non-destructive photo editing tool. It offers both manual and automatic real-time photo enhance (brightness and contrast, sharpen/ blur, saturation and temperature) plus real-time scaling and rotation even on 50 Megapixel images. Other features include flexible cropping, red eye removal, advanced levels control, perspective correction, photo erase and masking tools and the innovative content aware scaling and zooming (you can find more on some of these below).
Combine this with features such as vector masking, layer blending, feathering - all in the non-destructive, memory efficient way - and you have something that no other photo tool can provide.
Magic Photo Erase tools
The powerful photo erase tools can produce almost miraculous changes and improvements to your photos!
The Magic Photo Erase tool makes it quick and easy to seamlessly erase unwanted objects from your photo completely.
The Color Select & Erase tool is another powerful tool for photo manipulation. You can erase or make transparent parts of a photo based on a color, or edit just those color-selected areas.
The new Background Erase tool does what it says on the tin, removes the background from your photo so you can place it on a different background.
And then there's the Photo Healing tool which can seamlessly remove spots, blemishes and scratches from your image, or for even larger scale deletions it can be used as a 'paint brush' for the Magic Erase tool.
Perhaps the easiest to use panorama maker. Drop a series of photos on the page, click one button and you'll get a perfect, seamless joined panoramic image.
The Photo Tool includes innovative intelligent image scaling technology that allows 'content aware scaling', which means images can be stretched or squashed while retaining the proportions of important parts of the picture.
This can provide a near miraculous ability to stretch and change the aspect ratio of photos, without apparently distorting the content of the photo.
And there is also 'content aware zooming', which works in a similar way but allows you to resize the object that is the center of interest without increasing the size of the total image.
Photo & Graphic Designer's powerful bitmap tracer can convert your bitmaps - typically photos, line-art or logos - into editable vector shapes.
Photo & Graphic Designer is the primary tool of many illustrators and includes a set of powerful but really easy to use vector line and shape drawing and editing tools.
The Quickshape tools (rectangle, circle etc) allow you to draw pre-set shapes very quickly and easily. Editing shapes and lines is easy and the Freehand line drawing tool even offers a slider for retroactive smoothing after you've drawn your line. And there's support for pressure sensitive tablets too.
The powerful new Shape Eraser and Shaper Builder tools allow you to easily erase or build on your image with a 'paintbrush' type action, whether it's a vector drawing or a photo.
Advanced Text Handling
Photo & Graphic Designer offers everything you need for adding creative text to your designs.
The Text Tool allows you to enter as many lines of text as you want, at any place in your document. And Xara's industry leading screen rendering makes it easier to read text on screen, especially at small sizes or rotated.
You can enter your text at any angle and you can also set your text along a curved path. Additionally, just like any drawn object in Photo & Graphic Designer, you can freely resize it on the page, and apply any of the effects, such as transparency, fills, molds and so on - and yet the text remains editable.
Like any word processing program, you have full control over the text style, and indeed you can create Text Styles such as 'heading' - you can change the font, size, color and justification of the text, alter the line spacing and kerning, and have bold, italic, superscript or subscript.
Photo & Graphic Designer includes a selection of over 60 creative 'Live Effect' plug-ins that can transform both photos and vector drawings (they are called Live Effects because the object remains editable even after applying the effect). Effects include oil painting, pencil drawing, canvas, crayon, pastel, crumpled, fish-eye, television, newspaper print, waves, blinds, 'liquid paint' for creating caricatures and many, many more.
Most modern Adobe Photoshop plug-ins work as Live Effects, giving access to a huge range of plug-ins, both free and commercial, for creating a variety of effects that would take a lifetime to explore.
Transparency & Feathering
Xara was the first vector application to introduce transparency, and continues to this day to offer the easiest, most advanced transparency control of any software. With click-drag simplicity you can create graduated transparencies to any object, photo, text, and vector shape.
Xara was also the first application to offer vector feathering (sometimes called Soft Vectors). This is a technique of slightly blurring the edges of objects to help them blend into the background and enables high quality realistic images to be created more quickly and easily than in any other software.
The combination of feathering and transparency is great for any photo composition work, as well as realistic vector shading, vital for any good illustration.
The blend tool tweens or blends from one shape to another. It's ultra-fast, click-drag simple, works with vector shapes, text and photos.
Blends can be used to create complex highlights, blurred edges on objects, repetitive patterns and many other effects, in other words it's a vital tool for creative design. Photo & Graphic Designer performs blending in a very quick and memory-efficient way compared to other drawing packages - meaning less waiting for you and less draining of your systems resources.
The world's fastest, slickest, and highest quality vector 3D extrude tool.
Take any shape, and just drag on the face to create a beautifully lit and shaded 3D version. Drag on the sides to extend the extrude depth. It couldn't be easier.
Shadows, Bevels & Contours
Photo & Graphic Designer offers several powerful tools that allow you to add realistic effects with a single click. Apply, remove, and modify semi-transparent (or 'soft') shadows to any object with the Shadow tool. Use the Bevel tool to add bevels to any object, giving them the realistic appearance of depth. And add contours around objects with the Contour tool. All resolution independent (don't lose quality when you scale them)!
Animated Flash Export
Xara Photo and Graphic Designer offers a genuinely easy way to create really efficient Flash animations.
Photo & Graphic Designer is based on the world's most sophisticated, highest performance vector rendering engine. Quite simply this makes it the fastest graphics software to be found. Just what you need when you're working with complex illustrations or huge photos!
Direct Action Tools
The Direct Action Tools allow you to create effects such as transparency, shadows, bevels or gradient fills in an interactive, fast and intuitive way. No distracting dialogs - simply drag on the object!
Easy Drag & Drop
Many tasks in Photo & Graphic Designer benefit from being able to use the drag and drop principle, which is the most intuitive way of working and a great time saver. It also supports drag and drop import of files, such as photos.
Solid Object Editing
Instead of dragging outlines when you draw, move, rotate or resize objects, Photo & Graphic Designer offers solid live object manipulation, which simply makes it much easier to see what you're doing! Only Photo & Graphic Designer is fast enough to do this on complex vector graphics.
Infinite Undo / Redo
Being able to change what you have done is vital in a graphics package. Photo & Graphic Designer allows unlimited undo, making experimentation easy.
Zoom to 25,000%
The Zoom tool allows magnification up to 25,000%, perfect for detailed work. And it's super-fast and resolution independent too.
Top Quality Screen Display
Xara introduced the world's first vector anti-aliasing to bring maximum screen quality and is still a pioneer with the fastest, highest quality anti-aliasing available in any drawing program.
Import & Export
Photo & Graphic Designer offers support for a huge range of file formats, making it easy to exchange your work with other users and programs. This includes common bitmap types (eg GIF, JPEG, BMP, PNG, TIFF, PSD, and RAW photos) and key vector types (eg PDF and AI/EPS, SVG, and EMF/WMF). For text Xara Designer supports RTF (Rich Text Format).
Photo & Graphic Designer has full support for importing and exporting Adobe Photoshop PSD files including layer support.
Photo & Graphic Designer offers industry leading export of super-clean, very compact PDF files (including support for graduated color fills and flat / graduated transparency). Combined with the PDF import feature, this provides another way to interchange files.