Thursday, February 4, 2016

Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 11 - Review

All the design tools you need in one place

The gold standard in graphics software, Adobe's Creative Cloud, includes three separate programs for producing flat artwork: Photoshop for editing images; Illustrator for drawing with vector shapes; and InDesign for creating page layouts. Adobe's rivals, notably Serif and Corel, produce their programs along similar lines.

Xara Photo & Graphic Designer mashes them all up together at a lower price. It may not be ideal for laying out multi-page documents, nor is it a conventional image editor, but It's suitable for a wide range of tasks. If you've found yourself struggling to design a logo or a poster In word-processor or presentation software because you didn't have a more appropriate tool, this is it. And while it lacks the depth of features you'd find In programms like CorelDraw or Serif PhotoPlus, it's a1so less daunting and cluttered.

Moreover, while other graphics programs seem to struggle to find much to add in each update, Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 11 has plenty of new features. There's a set of paintbrushes that create realistic strokes in styles such as acrylic paints, fur and watercolors. These are based on vectors, which means each line you draw is stared separately, letting you go back and move, reshape or delete it

The brushes aren't as flexible or convincing as those in, say, Corel's Painter 2016, but that costs around US$420. What you get is the ability to use any vector object (basically, any shape you can draw) as a brush, which sprinkles copies of it wherever you paint With this and the SmartShapes tool introduced in version 10, Xara Photo & Graphic Designer's drawing capabilities feel pretty comprehensive.

The vector-based approach means photo editing is handled In an unusual way. Instead of opening an lmage file and editing its pixels, you import an image into a document and then apply changes to it. As with vector drawing. your edits are 'non-destructive', which means they can be altered later. The options are more limited than in Photoshop-like programs, with less emphasis on the fine control that a professional retoucher would demand

But the rest of us can get satisfying results relatively easily, partly thanks to Magic Bullet PhotoLooks 2, a co11ection of plug-in filters. The only catch is that using these tends to slow things down, which is particularly noticeable because in other respects Xara Photo & Graphic Designer feels exceptionally speedy. Where other apps might give you a preview before applying an operation, here most things happen straight away in the main window.

When you layer elements (whether image or vectors) over each other, blending modes dictate how they are affected, simply covering what's below, darkening it or altering its color. Xara Photo & Graphic Designer has always handled this in its own non-standard way, but it's now adopted a similar system to Photoshop. Ihe old modes still work in files created with earlier versions. Other additions include a spiral. drawing tool, a Warp brush to distort objects, and the ability to import PDFs (even if they use fonts that aren't on your PC).

With its clunky Import and export, lack of support for raw files from DSLRs and limited color handling. Xara Photo & Graphic Designer isn't the best photo editor. As an all-round graphic-design package, though. it's very usable, not least thanks to a large collection of templates. You can download and use It as a trial version before deciding whether to buy a license code, which can be used on two PCs at a time


As long as you're not looking for professional Image editing, this Is a great all-round graphics program


Windows 7, 8 or 10
• 3OOMB hard-drive space(15GB hard-drive space and 2GB memoryfor PhotoLooks
• Internet connection for installation

By ComputerActive

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