Xara not only makes great software for those with graphic design careers, it also boasts to have the world‘s fastest graphics software. While Adobe Illustrator might be the standard that most artists look to, Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 7 – one of the many products included in the Xara Designer Pro 7 software suite – has seen several big updates in recent years that have brought on a dramatic rise in its professional use within the industry. While its speed isn’t questioned among professionals, it’s the program’s power that’s on trial in the new version. Read on to see how well it lives up to expectations!
Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 7 Features
One thing that helps boost the program’s speed is the Direct Action Tool set that can help users create effects like transparency, shadows, bevels, or gradients in a simple cursor drag without the need for additional menus. Two new features that are greatly appreciated are solid object editing and also being able to drag and drop photos from out of window for import. The zoom depth has been improved to 25,000% and Xara now boasts unlimited undo and redo tools.
The more creative users will enjoy the Freehand tool that allows them to create any line and then control how many vector points it should contain with a number bar. 3D text is incredibly easy with extrude manipulation being as simple as dragging on the sides of the words. Both transparency and feathering effects are as simple as possible, as are creating shadows, bevels, and counters on text. Something that impresses me is the blend tool that’s basically an animation tween effect that shows the morphing of one chosen object into the other chosen object. Add a Live Effects function that can alter an image’s outer edge in a quick lasso movement and you have plenty of creative tools in your artistic arsenal.
As for the photo file handling features, Xara is proud of its ability to load huge images instantly and letting users change the lighting levels just as quick. The save quality options don’t impress me much, but I have to admit I’m still a sucker for its ability to create a panorama from a few disjointed images of a scene. I like the way cropping works and I really appreciate the “Intelligent Scaling” feature that can resize an object without equally adjusting the scene around it in the background. Fans of recent Adobe Photoshop versions will be happy to know Photo & Graphic Designer 7 offers a Magic Photo Erase tool of their own. A few dozen plugin filters similar to Photoshop are also present, but the Bitmap Tracer that can convert bitmap images into editable vector shapes stands out from the crowd.
Something I haven’t been able to try out yet but am especially eager to experiment with is the new HTML Website Creation feature (only present in Xara Designer Pro 7) that can help you create multiple pages of a site in what looks like a very powerful WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) Web page layout tool. It even covers mouse over animations, pop-up effects, navbars, menus, widgets, one click preview, and auto FTP uploads. It looks awesome enough to warrant the extra money for the full Designer Pro 7 bundle purchase. For those who only have Photo & Graphic Designer 7, you can still enjoy the easy and efficient flash animation creation capabilities.
Xara Community and Downloads
Eager users should try out all of the free trial downloads. Curious users should check out the current features. No matter which category you fall in, definitely take a look at the Xara Artist Gallery and the Xara Community.