Designer Pro is the solution for all types of graphic design work, whether it's vector illustrations, DTP, photo composition, web graphics or Flash animation.
Xara Designer has the world's most sophisticated, highest performance vector rendering engine. For the user this speed means less wait, and a more satisfying working environment. It also means more productivity and the ability to create more complex drawings, in less time.
Many graphics packages will keep you waiting a few seconds while objects are drawn on the screen. In a complex document that can mean you waste a significant amount of time. With Xara Designer , when you create an image it appears instantly on the screen.
Speed isn't just restricted to creating and moving objects though - any time you manipulate an object by using one of the Direct Action Tools or the Color Editor for example, any changes you make also appear instantly. This constant live-preview of all actions contrasts dramatically with other programs where you typically have a 'try it - wait - try it again until you get it right' approach.
Import and Export
Xara Designer is used by many different types of customer in a spectacular range of uses - for drawings, text and photos, for print and the web - so we understand how important it is to offer compatibility with other products and users. Designer offers support for a very large range of file formats, making it easy to exchange your work with other users and programs.
Xara Designer supports all the common graphics formats, including bitmap types like GIF, JPEG, BMP, PNG, TIFF and PSD, and the import of photos as RAW or JPEG XR (Designer Pro only). Plus it supports the key vector types like PDF and AI (Adobe Illustrator)/EPS, EMF (extended metafile) and WMF (Windows metafile), and SVG; early versions of CorelDRAW CDR and CMX and many others that are not so well known.
For text Xara Designer supports RTF (Rich Text Format). You can import and export text in RTF format so it includes style information such as font, font size, color, margins, special and foreign characters (Unicode supported). For presentations Designer Pro can import Open Office Impress .odp and PowerPoint .pptx.
Plus there's clipboard compatibility with the common Microsoft applications such as Outlook and Word.
Xara Designer offers full support for importing and exporting Adobe Photoshop® PSD files including layer support (Designer layers are exported as PSD layers and PSD layers are imported as Designer layers), including alpha channel and (in Designer Pro only) 16-bit color and CMYK layer conversion.
Adobe Photoshop® is the industry standard bitmap editing solution, and for many professionals Designer is their standard vector graphics tool. Now the two are more closely integrated than ever.
Xara's PDF export tool creates super-clean, very compact PDF files. This includes support for graduated color fills, for flat transparency and graduated transparency. And when you export as PDF everything remains pixel perfect, resolution-independent vector graphics*.
The PDF exporter has also been designed to allow the files to be opened by Adobe Illustrator®, so providing significantly improved Illustrator compatibility which means that vector artwork including graduated color and transparency can now be imported cleanly into Illustrator versions 9 onwards.
Xara Designer also offers reliable PDF import.
*PDF can only support the basic Xara graduated fill and transparency types of flat, linear and radial. Other graduated types are automatically rasterized (flattened) to any required resolution on export.
Direct Action Tools
Xara Designer's Direct Action Tools allow you to create effects such as transparency, bevels or gradient fills by selecting the tool then dragging over the image itself to affect the required change. For example you can drag across an object to apply a graduated color (in the fill tool) or transparency (in the transparency tool), or drag on a shadow to position it (in the shadow tool), or drag on an object to rotate it in 3D (in the 3D extrude tool).
Traditionally, to apply these sort of effects you would need to enter values in a dialog box and they are transferred to the drawing. With Xara Designer's Direct Action Tools, you can apply all these effects on the object itself - without having to enter any numbers in a dialog box! And the changes take place instantly - it's as close to using your hands as you will get with a graphics package.
This is a BIG advantage, because it not only saves time, but also keeps the creative work and the image itself at the center of your focus. It makes experimenting with effects and settings much easier too.
Direct Action Tools include the Bevel, Shadow, Transparency, Fill, Contour, 3D Extrude and Blend tools.
Drag and Drop
Many tasks in Xara Designer benefit from being able to use the drag and drop principle, which is more intuitive and a great time saver.
For example, when changing the color of an object, you can just drag a color from the Color Line and drop it onto the object, or its outline. And with color gradients, you can drop colors along the gradient path and make multi-color fills.
Designer also supports drag and drop import of files, such as photos.
Solid Object Editing
Xara Designer offers one of the world's first live solid dragging, scaling and rotating of objects, for the ultimate in WYSIWYG editing. That means that as you reposition, resize or rotate an object the whole object moves, rather than just an outline, making it far easier to judge the effect of your edits in real time.
V6 extended this to object creation so you see a solid line or quickshape as you draw it, complete with line and fill colors and other attributes, not just an outline. Completely WYSIWYG drawing.
Undo / Redo
Being able to change what you have done is vital in a graphics package. Xara Designer allows you to easily Undo your most recent changes to a document.
Undo allows you to get rid of changes which you've applied by mistake, those which went wrong or ones which you simply don't like the look of. Undo is a very powerful tool when combined with Redo because it gives you the freedom to experiment with a drawing, secure in the knowledge that you can always undo any changes or if you eventually decide you do actually like the changes, to redo them again.
Some graphics packages only let you undo a limited amount of actions, but Xara Designer has an unlimited undo so it remembers everything you've done.
The Zoom Tool allows you to alter the magnification of the current document, giving you a closer, or more distant view.
Using the Zoom Tool you can zoom to the whole page, so you see the complete document, you can zoom to the drawing, which magnifies just the drawn image as opposed to the whole page, or you can select an object and then zoom to that selection.
Another method is to zoom to a particular area by clicking and dragging the tool over the area.
The Xara Designer Zoom Tool is capable of zooming in to 25,601% - that's over 25,000 dpi (dots per inch).
Xara introduced the world's first vector anti-aliasing to bring maximum screen quality. It still pioneers with the fastest, highest quality anti-aliasing available in any drawing program.
Anti-aliasing improves the quality of on-screen images by smoothing the edges of objects. It does this by blending the edges with the background. This has the effect of smoothing lines and edges and of appearing to improve the resolution of the display. Anti-aliasing is particularly useful for web graphics.
When you do use anti-aliasing in Xara Designer, it works in real-time so you can see the effect straight away. You can use anti-aliasing when working with vector images and bitmap images.
Xara Designer has a comprehensive color system which enables you to alter the colors of objects directly or create your own colors, with names, which you can apply to multiple objects.
The fill tool allows you to quickly and easily apply color graduations to any object, simply be clicking and dragging across the object, so like many features in Xara Designer, color editing is interactive and immediate.
New in V8 is the powerful Color Select & Erase tool, which allows you to remove or edit selected colors in a photo.
The Text Tool allows you to enter as many lines of text as you want, at any place in your document. And Xara Designer'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 path - so you could draw a line or curve and make the text follow it, curves and all. Additionally, just like any drawn object in Xara Designer, you can grab hold of the corners of the text object and 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.
Designer supports three types of text object: Simple text, text columns and text areas. You can have linked flowing text stories across text areas and columns, in any order or direction. And it also supports multi-page documents, automated text flow around objects and anchored graphics. This brings Xara Designer well into the Desk Top Publishing arena. Given the lightning fast screen update, Designer is perfect for producing documents such as brochures and flyers.
Xara Designer includes support for multiple page documents, which makes Designer a great option for producing leaflets, newsletters and more. Pages can be single or double page spreads (left and right sides). Flexible controls include the ability to change individual page sizes and, via the Page and Layer Gallery easily re-order, add or delete pages in your document. Combined with the powerful text controls this makes Designer a great choice for any DTP task.
In Designer Pro, multi-page documents can also be used in combination with the HTML feature to create multi-page websites and presentations.
Xara Designer provides a wide variety of options for printing your documents. For example, you can choose paper orientation, how to fit images on the paper (including 'best fit' and 'automatic fit'), which layers to print and so on. You can display print borders and there's also a useful 'simulate print colors' option to give you guidance on how your printed colors might look (compared to on screen colors).
The Designs Gallery
Xara Designer includes a Designs Gallery full of useful clipart (3000 items), photos, ready-made templates (such as cards, stationery, newsletters, postcards, photo albums, web graphics etc) and inspiring example illustrations.
The example illustrations include inspirational drawings and photo work offered by existing owners of Xara Designer to demonstrate techniques and possibilities and the sheer variety of styles achievable. The gallery is updated regularly and new images can be downloaded directly to the Gallery at any time or you can add your own. Simply doubleclick to load a Galley item or drag and drop it on to your document.
Designer includes a multi-language spell checker offering check-as-you-type, word suggestions and a user-dictionary. You can even mark different regions as being in different languages.
Supported languages include English (US and UK), German (Germany, Swizterland and Austria), Italian, Dutch, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian, Czech, Slovak, Hungarian, Polish and Turkish.
Xara Designer is ideal for creating your own designs from scratch of course, but the Designer CD also includes a large and varied collection of professionally designed, ready-made templates which can be simply drag and dropped on to your document and are an absolute snap to customize with your own message.
Templates include greetings cards for every occasion, business stationery of every sort (letterheads, business cards etc), text panels, certificates, calendars, brochures and flyers, presentations, scrapbooking, photo frames, photo albums, newsletters and newspapers, useful web graphics such as buttons, headings and icons and a large selection of photo gallery layouts, and many more categories. If you have the Designer trial, you can see a small selection of the total set in the Designs Gallery and we also have some previews on our site.
Simply enter your own text and/or drop in your own photo (enhanced in the integrated photo tool if necessary) and you can have professional looking results in minutes. And it's just as easy to change the colors using Xara Designer’s unique Color Linking feature (just change the master theme color and all linked shades and tones adjust automatically). All templates are designed using Linked Colors and also make good use of the Linked Stretching feature.
Page and Layer Gallery
The Page & Layer Gallery is a powerful and flexible tool for viewing, re-ordering, hiding and locking not just layers, but everything from individual objects on the page to pages in your document.
Everything in your document is presented in a heirarchical, expandable list. At the top level are the pages, and inside each page are the named layers of the document. In Designer Pro you can go to the next level which shows all the objects on the page. The Gallery provides thumbnail views of all objects.
The Page & Layer Gallery makes it easy to find, select, lock or hide objects inside complex drawings, or objects inside groups or even hidden under other objects on the page.
The Page & Layer Gallery also includes a 'Solo' mode option which allows a specific layer to be viewed and worked on in isolation, and a 'Layers' mode which adjusts the Gallery to show just the layers for the current page. Plus there is a 'Find' mode which automatically adjusts the Gallery to find and show the currently selected item in the tree structure, collapsing everything else.
Shortcut key configuration
Users can configure the Xara Designer Pro key shortcuts and save / load custom configurations (for example to achieve compatability with another program).
PANTONE® color support
Xara Designer Pro includes PANTONE® color libraries for use as both spot color and PANTONE® process color equivalents.
Color Separation Support
Xara Designer Pro offers the ability to produce CMYK color separations. This includes on-screen preview of CMYK and spot color plates, PANTONE® color support, spot colors, on-screen printer gamut preview and a lot more. Designer is now able to produce professional CMYK print results either via PDF/X support or via direct four color and spot-color separation via the print dialog.
Both options include crop and printer's marks. The direct separations printing includes control over print screening and screen types, emulsion side down and other advanced settings.
PDF has become the industry standard way of transferring documents of all types from one person to another, ensuring exact WYSIWYG fidelity.
Xara Designer Pro offers class-leading PDF support including these features:
Xara Designer Pro supports XPS export (and includes a beta import filter).
XPS is a ‘page description’ file format invented by Microsoft. The benefit of XPS format is that it’s vector based, and so is ideal as a resolution-independent portable document format. Fonts are embedded into the document and so you are assured of a very high quality WYSIWYG document. If you’re using Windows Vista or 7 you can view and print these documents directly. If you’re using older versions of Windows you can obtain a free XPS Viewer download from the Microsoft web site to provide viewing and printing of these files.
Xara Designer has always had by far the highest performing graphics rendering engine, up to ten times faster than Adobe Illustrator. V4 introduced support for multi-core processors in Xara Designer Pro making it even faster than before! Tests show approximate speed gains of 40% for a dual core processor with large screen images, and greater gains with more cores. Large full screen photos can render up to 75% faster on a dual core processor.
Photo Handling Overview
Xara Designer's photo and bitmap handling is faster and more powerful than you'll find in other graphics programs. Xara Designer uses compression techniques that means that Xara files including photos can be up to ten times smaller than equivalent images in other drawing programs, with enormous benefits for speed and usability. Plus Xara's unique non-destructive editing maintains the high quality of your original photo, however many times you edit it, and gives you the ability to undo any edits you've made to your photo, even after saving and reloading. As a result many people use Xara Designer as their primary, general purpose image composition tool.
Almost anything you can do to vector drawings you can also do to photos/bitmaps in Designer. For example, you can edit the shape, alter the transparency, including graduated transparency, use bitmaps as fills on any shape, add a drop shadow, feather the edges and a lot more - all in real-time.
Xara Designer also includes a fully integrated, very fast photo editing tool which offers all the common photo editing features such as cropping, rotating, enhancing, sharpening, red-eye removal and perspective correction etc with a fast, interactive, live-preview of all edits. Plus it includes an effective photo panorama creator, and a 'magic' photo erase feature which makes it easy to seamlessly remove unwanted objects from your photo. One sophisticated feature of the photo editing tool is the content aware scaling and zooming which allows images to be stretched or squashed while retaining the proportions of important parts of the picture. New in v8 the photo editing tool includes a hue adjustment feature, which can be used in combination with the new Color Select & Erase tool to re-color selected areas (Color Select & Erase is also perfect for removing colored backgrounds or selecting parts of the photo for editing).
Xara Designer includes a fast bitmap tracer to help convert bitmaps to vector shapes.
Xara Designer also supports third party plug-ins such as Adobe Photoshop plug-ins to expand the range of available effects that you can apply to your photos.
Xara Designer supports all the common bitmap formats, for both import and export. Add to this the ability to handle multi-layer 32-bit alpha channel (semi-transparent) bitmaps and Xara Designer is a supreme image composition tool.
Finally Designer includes a collection of professionally designed, fully editable templates that include photo frames and photo album layouts.
Xara Designer embeds your master JPEG in the Xara file, resulting in huge file size savings. A 5 Megapixel JPEG photo from a digital camera would expand to be typically 20Mbytes in other graphics programs. Use two or three such photos in your image, or make copies to edit and you've now got a file that might easily be 60Mbytes large. The Xara Designer file will be ten times smaller.
What's more you can make your files even smaller using Designer's new JPEG auto-optimization options, invaluable if you have lots of JPEGs in your document or (in Pro) your website.
This plus the amazingly compact nature of Xara Designer’s native file format means that such files are much faster to save and reload. The instant redraw makes working with photos a pleasure, even photos from modern, very high resolution cameras. And this is an added bonus if you are exchanging files via email with other Xara Designer owners.
By keeping track of the original master photo and a list of edits performed, Xara Designer offers the seemingly magic ability to undo changes to saved photos.
Say you've altered the brightness of a photo and saved the result. If you load this in the future you can undo the brightness change. This does not take the saved image and alter the brightness (that would result in cumulative distortion). Instead it re-creates a new image, identical to the one just loaded, from the original master. Perfect copies every time, plus the ability to alter or undo any edit
Try this with any other photo editing software:
• Load a photo, crop just a small section and save this cropped image
• Quit the program
• Now load the cropped version back in and try to Undo or recover the cropped parts.
With Xara Designer you can!
Maintaining Photo Quality
A fundamental problem with conventional photo editing software is that each time you load and save a JPEG image, it deteriorates slightly. Load and save an image more than a few times and this becomes noticeable. This cumulative distortion is unavoidable if you use JPEG format photos.
Xara Designer has another trick to help with photo quality - a new bi-cubic photo display that considerably improves the on-screen quality of scaled down photos compared with all other photo software. Simply select the 'very high quality' option on the View Quality slider.
Integrated Photo Tool
Xara Designer includes a fully integrated, ultra-fast, non-destructive photo tool, with instantaneous editing of even the largest digital photos.
Features include a fast, live and interactive photo enhance tool for correcting brighness, contrast, sharpness etc, an interactive crop tool, photo panoramas, red-eye removal, an advanced brightness levels control, a perspective correction tool and the innovative content aware photo scaling and zooming tools. Plus there's the popular 'magic' photo erase tool which allows you to seamlessly remove unwanted objects from your photo.
New in v8, the photo tool includes a hue adjustment feature which allows you to easily adjust the hue of a whole photo, or in combination with the new Color Select & Erase tool, gives you the ability to adjust the color of selected objects in the photo.
Magic Photo Erase
V7 includes a complete replacement of the Clone tool, now called the Magic Photo Erase tool, which makes it quick and easy to seamlessly erase an object from your photo, by automatically copying parts of a photo from one place to another.
Simply draw a freehand line around the area you want to erase, then one click on the 'magic erase' button and the object is automatically erased and replaced with an appropriate background texture sampled from other parts of the photo. This can often work better than any manual clone (copy / paste) and can produce perfectly seamless object erasing.
See more examples
Color Select & Erase
This powerful new tool serves two purposes; to erase (make transparent) parts of photos based on colors, and secondly to allow only those color-selected areas to be adjusted using the Photo Tool Enhance operations (such as Brightness, Blur, Hue Adjustment etc).
So you can, for example, easily adjust the brightness of the blue sky in your photo or remove it completely, or change the color of a flower, without affecting other parts of the picture.
See some examples.
As with most operations in Designer this is fast, real-time, and non-destructive in nature (in other words no pixels of the original image are permanently affected and everything can be undone).
Crop & Rotate
The Xara Designer integrated photo tool offers supremely intuitive crop and rotate tools, and Xara’s unique photo handling technology means that it’s real-time, interactive and completely smooth.
To crop your photo simply select the Photo Tool, then click and drag over your photo to define the crop area, which can be subsequently repositioned or resized. And you can uncrop a photo later – even after it’s been saved! Rotating a photo is even easier - just click the rotate arrows.
Easy photo enhance
Many photographs from digital cameras are under-exposed - too dark. Making individual adjustments of brightness, contrast, and color controls can be both time consuming and a confusing process for a great many users. The integrated photo tool provides an automatic single-click enhance which can instantly improve almost all badly exposed images.
You can also manually adjust the brightness, contrast, sharpness/blur, color saturation and temperature individually if you wish to, and a handy Compare button allows you to compare before and after. For advanced users there is a Brightness Levels control.
You can apply any of these photo enhancements to a photo or a selected region of a photo using the 'mask' feature.
Content-Aware Scaling and Zoom
The Photo Tool includes innovative intelligent image scaling technology that allows 'content aware scaling', that is images can 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.
Take this example of a photo of the famous Torii Gate in Japan. The first photo is the original, clearly the gate itself is the main subject of this picture. The second photo has been stretched in the normal way with the Selector tool. Even with moderate stretching it's obvious the proportions of the gate have been badly distorted. In the third photo we've using Content Aware Scaling - and now the gate proportions are in tact even at this extreme stretch, which is twice as wide as the original.
A new option is '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.
Using the integrated photo tool in Xara Designer you can easily create panorama pictures. The integrated panorama picture assistant helps you seamlessly attach the individual pictures of your panorama-to-be to one another. Simply import your pictures, optimize the picture transitions, and you're done. In just a few clicks you can turn your individual pictures into tailor-made panorama pictures.
Designer Pro includes a more advanced version of the panorama maker called Panorama Studio.
For the advanced user the integrated photo tool of Xara Designer now includes a Levels control to adjust brightness levels of images. This single controls offers:
Red Eye Removal
One of the most common requirements for anyone working with photos is red eye removal. The photo tool in Xara Designer offers an integrated, intuitive red eye removal tool that is fast and simple.
The Perspective Correction tool offers a simple one-click way to automatically correct common perspective effects, like the one shown in this example photo.
Adobe Photoshop® Plug-ins
Xara Designer supports Adobe Photoshop plug-ins. There's already a huge range of such plug-ins available, both free and commercial, for creating a variety of effects that would take a lifetime to explore - metallic effects, color and image distortions, glows, water ripples, crumples etc etc.
These plug-ins can be used with both bitmaps and vector drawn images - check out the Live Effects tool.
We have bundled a selection of the best plug-ins with Xara Designer, including examples from Redfield, AV Bros and Mehdi, plus more than 35 new plug-ins from MAGIX. Click here to view them.
RAW photo import
You can import RAW digital camera files (either using the Import menu option or just drag and drop the file onto the Xara Designer window).
Xara Designer’s powerful bitmap tracer can convert your bitmaps – typically photos, line-art or logos – into editable vector shapes. The Tracer offers great flexibility, with control over the number of colors, the fidelity of the trace to the original and a useful ‘noise’ cleaner that can remove imperfections from your bitmap (for example caused by scanning photos). So if for example you need to edit your logo and all if you have is a bitmap, all is not lost!
Designer includes the option to display an EXIF dialog, semi transparent and configurable, which shows the embedded EXIF values of your JPEG photo.
External Photo Editors
Xara Designer's integrated photo tool can handle all the most common photo requirements, such as control over brightness, sharpness and color saturation (including a one-click auto enhance option) photo panoramas, perspective correction, object erase and red eye removal.
However Designer also offers the ability to select an external photo editor - whether it's the bundled Xara Picture Editor or any external editor such as Corel Paintshop Pro or Adobe Photoshop. What's more, Designer monitors the photo file being edited, and detects when it's updated by the photo editor and then re-imports it back into Designer - and that means you can continue to have your photo editor open while working on the drawing in Designer. So whenever the image file is updated in your photo editor (when you click Save) your drawing is updated showing you the updated picture in context.
Xara Designer Pro has a more advanced version of the photo panorama feature, called Panorama Studio, which offers:
JPEG XR import
Xara Designer Pro imports JPEG XR format (also know as HD Photo format and Windows Media Photo). Files can be saved in this HD photo format by Adobe Photoshop CS2 and CS3 plus Microsoft Expression Design.
Xara Designer originally made its name as a supreme illustration tool and still maintains its popularity among illustrators, as you can see from some of the awesome illustration work on display in the Xara Gallery.
The key to its popularity is its speed, ease of use, uncluttered user interface and the intuitive design of its drawing and design tools. For example the interactive nature of the direct action tools, the use of drag & drop and solid object drawing and dragging all make experimentation both quick and easy.
V6 also saw a significant advance in the pressure support (Xara's pressure profile controls are particulary powerful).
The extrusion tool in Xara Designer uses the 3D rendering technology developed for Xara's popular Xara 3D Maker tool, to bring high quality 3D extrusion capabilities to Xara Designer. It provides a fast, easy way of creating simple 3D shapes from any 2D shape or outline, rendered with high quality shading and light reflections.
Creating 3D images couldn't be simpler: on screen dragging allows real time 3D object rotation, dragging of the extrusion depth, and adjustment of the lights in 3D space around the object.
Xara Designer uses two types of drawing tools: Freehand tools and Shape tools.
The Freehand tools allow you to hand-draw lines or shapes on the page. You can simply drag on the drawn lines to convert them into curves, or 'push' and 'pull' them in a very intuitive way. You can choose in advance how closely you want the computer to follow your movements, or you can smooth out any minor bumps with Xara Designer's retroactive smoothing. You can even draw one shape, then add another bit to it by drawing some more and joining up with the original object. Plus there's an extra straight line tool giving a really quick and easy way to create single-segment lines, with easy arrowhead and tail control.
Shape tools, like the rectangle, circle/ellipse and Quickshape tools allow you to draw pre-set shapes very quickly and easily.
Any object you create, either Freehand or Shape, can be resized or rotated by simply dragging its handles. Designer offers solid live line and shape drawing (instead of outlines) so you can see exactly what your shape and line will look like as you draw it. The new Shape Eraser provides a really quick and simple way of changing the outline of any freehand drawn shape.
Any object you create (including text and photos) can be made transparent using the wide variety of transparency options.
Transparency can be applied in a linear graduation or even a multi-stage graduation. Plus there's a variety of shapes such as diamond or conical transparency to get some very unusual effects. Since V6 you can even apply irregular custom shaped transparency using Opacity Masks. Another innovation is the new Enhance Transparency that allows you to create transparent 'floating' enhance shapes which enhance the brightness, contrast and/or saturation of the objects underneath them.
Transparency can be applied in any direction and is independent of color - simply select the transparency tool and then click and drag on the image to apply the transparency, completely interactive and immediate.
The Xara Designer Blend Tool allows you to blend or merge between any two objects. These objects can be any of the available object types (text, bitmaps, shapes), or even other blends.
For fine tuning, blends also have a profile control for adjusting the rate of change of steps and other attributes across the blend.
Soft vectors or 'feathering' is a technique of slightly blurring the edges of objects to help them blend into the background - until recently impossible in vector drawing programs.
Simply by selecting an object - any object including shapes, text, photos and even clipviews - and moving the slider on the feather bar, it makes the selected object merge into background objects and avoids a sharp line at the boundary. This is particularly useful when overlaying bitmaps.
Xara Designer allows you to change the feathering profile, altering the transition across the feather. You might want a regular rate of change or a more pronounced change towards one end or the center.
Note that feathering affects only the object's edge and no other part of the object.
Creating realistic shadows has commonly been the realm of the bitmap graphics package. Xara Designer's Shadow Tool changes all that and lets you apply, remove, and modify semi-transparent (or 'soft') shadows to any object, with a single click. The transparency of soft shadows increases towards the edge, which gives a very realistic effect. Shadows in Xara Designer are not bitmaps but remain vectors, the benefit is they are resolution independent, which means you can scale them without losing quality.
There are three different shadow types to choose from - Wall, Floor and Glow. Wall shading produces drop shadow effects, the Floor option works like a sundial would and Glow creates a halo effect around an object.
Any shadow you make can be manipulated in a number of ways, allowing you to change the color, blur, transparency and profile. Again, the Shadow tool takes advantage of the direct action feature.
Bevels give objects the appearance of depth instead of being flat on the page. They are particularly useful when creating buttons or headings for web pages.
Bevels in Xara Designer are resolution independent, which means you can scale them without any loss of quality.
Creating contours around objects is easy with the Xara Designer Contour Tool. Contouring is a special effect which adds evenly-spaced concentric rings inside or outside an object. These rings can be made to fade in to the background, or progress through a rainbow of colors.
When you have applied a contour to an object, if you resize or alter the object, the contour changes with it. The contour itself can be edited and you can change any of its properties, including the distance between the steps, the number of steps, contour width and profile.
The Inset Path button lets you convert your contoured object into a larger or smaller shape, removing the actual contours. This gives you more flexibility than simply resizing an object, as it deals with thickness as opposed to size.
You can fill an object with a color or multiple colors, or even with a photo, bitmap or fractal effect. Xara Designer offers a wide range of fill types - flat, linear, circular, conical, elliptical, diamond and three and four color fills.
You can apply fills to Quickshapes, shapes and even text. If you apply a fill to a compound object (a blend, mold or group) it affects all the objects in it.
Live Effects are plug-in effects that can be applied to any object, including vector drawings. They are called Live Effects because the vector object remains editable after applying the effect - when you edit the object, the Live Effect is re-applied automatically to the new shape.
Adobe Photoshop® plug-ins, both free and commercial, already exist for creating a range of effects that would take a lifetime to explore - metallic effects, color and image distortions, glows, water ripples, bevels etc etc. We have included a selection of the best Photoshop plug-ins that work as Live Effects in Xara Designer. Click here for more information.
Molds / envelopes
Molds allow you to distort any object you select according to a set shape - rather like a jello mold does.
There are two types of mold - Perspective Molds and Envelope Molds. Perspective Molds are ideal for creating banners and three-dimensional effects. They distort an object by making it appear to have perspective. With Envelope Molds you can have curved sides and you can distort and warp a shape using the four corners of the mold shape.
Molds and Envelopes can be applied to shapes, bitmaps and text, and all objects remain editable.
Xara Designer has several ways of using objects to "mask" or "clip" other objects. You then see part of the objects through that mask.
ClipView is one of these methods, but it is different from the others because it is dynamic. It lets you use an object as a 'window' onto other objects. You see only those parts of other objects that are within the window. We call this creating a ClipView. You can move the window object to change your view while the window object remains visible.
The real-time brush feature of the Freehand and Brush Tool is a fun but extremely powerful feature.
It enables you to create any shape, then use it to 'draw' with, giving endless possibilities. One such possibility is to create airbrush-like effects. There are also a number of pre-defined brushes that you can use. The brush feature's power lies in the fact that you have complete control over the way the brush paints to the screen. You can alter the size of instances, color, spacing, rotation and offset properties, and each of these has a randomize option which can give a less ordered look.
When using brushes, you can also take advantage of Xara's pressure sensitive feature by setting the brush to adjust the scaling or transparency of brush strokes according to how hard you press with your graphic pen.
Each brush you create is saved along with the document it's used in, so you can re-use them whenever you wish.
The closest thing to actually drawing for real comes from using a graphics tablet.
With Xara Designer using a graphics tablet can be even more realistic if you take advantage of the pressure sensitivity feature in the Brush tool.
The Brush tool gives you the option of relating the size and/or the transparency of the brush stroke to the pressure applied to the pen. You can choose whether you want the pressure to affect scaling or transparency - or both, or neither.
When adding a blend, transparency, contour, fill or shadow to an object, you can change the attributes or properties of the effect by using the Profile dialog box.
What the Profile dialog box actually allows you to do depends on which effect is being used, but in all cases, you can either choose one of the set profiles or use the sliders to create your own.
With transparency and fills you can change the rate or shape of change from start to end, while with blends and contours you can alter how the steps are spaced and how attributes like the colors, line thickness and transparencies are used. With shadows you can change the rate of change of transparency across shadow. It's all about giving you that extra little bit of control over your effects that can make all the difference.
Altogether, the Profile dialog box makes a very powerful tool to help get your graphics just right.
Opacity Masks provide an innovative and powerful way of applying transparency.
Sometimes you need a more advanced transparency ‘shape’ than simple flat or graduated transparency can provide, for example if you wanted to apply a soft variable transparency around a central object in a photo - like the example on the right. Opacity masks are a way of defining irregular transparency shapes based on a drawn object or group of objects.
Line length and area information
The Selector tool Infobar includes a field displaying the perimeter length of any selected closed shape or the line length of a selected line, and the area of any closed shape. It's particularly useful for plans where you have set up accurate unit scaling, meaning you could for example read the exact floor area in square feet or meters.
This is really two powerful tools in one, and can be used to perform hard-edged vector erasing of shapes and photos, or soft erasing.
Hard Erase: When used with a hard edge, it’s a fast and direct way of adjusting the vector outline of a shape inwards. If you stroke around the edge of a shape with your mouse, it just moves the outline inwards.
Dragging a hard-edge erase stroke completely across an object will cut it in two and create two separate objects. If you click and hold (i.e. don’t perform a brush stroke), it will simply cut a hole in the shape.
Soft Erase: You also have a soft erase option; strokes over any object (which can be any shape, text or photo) will erase, ie make transparent, the brush-stroked area. The softness control adjusts how soft the edge of the brush stroke is.
One of the great things about this soft erase feature is that it’s not destructive, that is it doesn’t change the underlying erased shape or photo at all, unlike most other photo editing programs.
This has some important benefits: not only can you change your mind at any point and re-adjust the erase, but you can also un-erase and even remove all the erase strokes and recover the original, unmodified shape, text or photo. What’s more you can, for example, apply a soft erase across some text, or perhaps a 3D extruded shape, and then still edit that text, or adjust the 3D extrude, after the erase has been applied.
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 Builder Info Bar 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.
Note: This tool can be used on photos, but it’s only useful to enlarge an already edited or cropped photo outline.
A powerful feature and a great time saver - Live Copies are multiple instances of an object in a document, that all update instantly and automatically when one of them is edited (sometimes called ‘live clone’).
Xara Designer has long been a popular choice for creating web graphics. High quality anti-aliasing, flexible transparency support, a comprehensive set of drawing tools, the ease with which you can mix photos, drawings and text, and simple image map creation all make Designer a good choice for creating web graphics.
The bundled templates include a large selection of professionally designed web graphics such as buttons, headings and icons plus a set of photo gallery pages. And there's even a free web hosting offer.
Xara Designer Pro builds on these strengths and includes web design features which make it a first class web authoring tool in its own right. Designer Pro can produce web pages and websites, including support for features like navigation bars and DHTML menus, widget integration, the creation of presentations and Webinars, and photo features such as pop-ups and slideshows.
Animated Flash Export
Xara Designer offers one of the easiest ways to create really efficient Flash animations.
Flash animations use vector graphics. Unfortunately existing Flash tools have a reputation for being unintuitive, difficult to master and over complex. As a result Flash has been restricted to those willing to dedicate substantial time to mastering these tools. On the other hand, the Designer drawing tools have the reputation of being extremely easy to learn and slick. So now we bring the ease of Designer to Flash animations.
Flash export (.swf)
Flash by Adobe has become a standard for vector graphic animations on the web. But, as web multimedia designers know, it's not the best tool for actually creating graphics.
Xara Designer also has its own quick and easy Flash animation feature.
Animated gifs are still a common form of animation used on the web. Used for banner advertisements, spinning buttons and character animation, animated gifs will be around for a long time yet.
The Xara Designer Frame Gallery allows you to create animations one frame at a time. It gives you complete control over every aspect of the animation from pauses between frames to the transparency of objects.
When exporting, Xara Designer is able to fully optimize animated gifs so they have as small a file size as possible, meaning you can create eye-catching animations without hindering the performance of your site.
Hexadecimal RGB web color
Being able to select colors based on their hexadecimal value is vital for web designers. That way you can match your graphics with colors from the standard web safe color palette, that you use on your web page.
Often a designer will want to match a graphic color with the background color placed in a cell of a table for example. As HTML uses hexadecimal values (eg. #CCCCFF) to represent colors, it is extremely useful to be able to specify these colors within a drawing package.
Especially for web designers, Xara Designer has a Hexadecimal RGB Web Color option which allows just this.
Image maps are used in web pages to create clickable areas or hotspots on a graphic. For example, if you had a map of the United Kingdom - as shown in the example - you can use an image map with a hotspot over each country.
Xara Designer allows you to assign a web address to any object in a document. You can then export the complete image along with the necessary HTML required to make the image map work.
When assigning a web address to an object you have the option to make the hotspot fit the object exactly or roughly outline the area with a rectangle which can produce much less code than a complex shape.
You also get the option to select where the link should point to - to a new window, the current frame, the parent frame and so on.
Exporting and optimizing
Optimization of web graphics is an essential factor if you want to keep fast download times for your web pages.
In order to make graphics have the smallest file size possible, yet still look good, it is often necessary to optimize them. Xara Designer has fantastic built-in auto-optimization for web graphics and photos, and also allows you to take complete manual control of optimization settings yourself.
This means that you can choose the exact settings you want, including: color depth, dithering and transparency. You can also lock specific colors to make sure they are retained within the image. You can preview every change you make so you can see what the result will be before committing yourself and in the Export Dialog you can compare different export options so you know which one is best.
Linked stretching is the process of using named objects to stretch or extend other named objects.
One of the most typical uses for Linked Stretching is when making a button with text on it, typically for a navigation bar on a web page. It means that when you change the text, the button automatically stretches so the text fits on it perfectly.
Web Graphic Templates
The bundled templates include a large selection of professionally designed web graphics such as buttons, headings and icons which can be dragged and dropped on to your document and easily changed to match your site.
The color, text and size of the templates are completely customizable without any loss quality (because they are vector) and especially benefit from the Linked Colors and Linked Stretching features, and it's easy to add mouseover effects. They can be exported in any of the common web formats such as GIF, JPEG or PNG.
There is also a set of photo gallery pages.
Designer Pro only: Designer Pro includes additional web design features, and so the Pro Designs Gallery includes a large selection of web page, website, presentation and NavBar templates.
The Designs Gallery includes a wide selection of photo galleries. Adding your photos couldn't be easier, simply select the photos and drag & drop them onto the page and the gallery will be automatically populated. All the photo tools such as auto-enhance and red-eye correction can be used to edit your photos individually, and the captions can be edited with the Text tool. What's more it's easy to create pop-ups (where clicking on a photo thumbnail pops-up a larger version).
Once you're done, Designer includes an FTP upload feature so you can publish the gallery direct to your site from within Designer (and if you don't already have a site, Designer includes a free web hosting offer from MAGIX).
Xara Designer comes with a free website hosting offer from MAGIX, so you can publish your website as part of Magix-Online world. The offer has no time limit, includes 500MB of storage and your own web address!
In addition Designer Pro includes a top level domain name free for 12 months.
'Widgets' is a collective term used to describe a third party service which can be inserted into your web page (another popular term for the same service is 'gadgets'). Examples include Google Maps, YouTube movies, forms, news feeds, and many, many more.It's easy to add widgets to a website created in Xara Designer Pro, you can simply drag and drop the Widgets onto the page in Designer Pro and then customize them to your particular requirement.
Designer Pro includes a large collection of the most popular and useful Widgets in the Designs Gallery, including two types of widget that are particularly well used, e-commerce solutions and chart & graph widgets. There is also a new range of text and photo slideshow widgets, you can see previews of these here.
Our handy Widget Guide introduces all of the bundled widgets.
Complete Website Creation
With Xara Designer Pro you can easily create HTML web pages and even multi-page websites, in a totally WYSIWYG fashion - absolutely no HTML skills required.
The advantage of using Designer Pro to create web pages is that you get complete freedom to position items anywhere on the page, to include as many graphics as you like (even semi-transparent graphics) with text - even rotated text - wherever you like! And Xara Designer will create all the HTML for you.
Some of the great features that make Designer Pro a first class web authoring tool in its own right include easy creation of mouseover and pop-up effects, text flow around photos, Flash and animated GIF creation, single click web page and site preview, ftp upload, support for third party 'widgets' and easy one-click site wide color changes. Recent significant new features include support for NavBars with DHTML menus, drag and drop addition of external documents and videos, and support for presentations and Webinars. v8 adds a smart page resize feature, which means the page size and position of objects automatically adjust as you enter new text, plus 'font embedding' which means you are no longer limited to the small set of websafe fonts.
An as you would expect, Designer Pro produces cross browser, cross platform compatible, fully standards compliant (X)HTML. We have also invested significant effort to ensure all our templates and features are ready for mobile devices so you can be sure that your site will work when viewed in the latest iOS and Android smartphones and tablets.
You can create your own designs from scratch in Designer Pro, or you can customize the professionally designed templates - Pro comes with a selection of ready made web graphic templates, webpage and website templates, presentation templates and a Widget Library (all updated in V8).
You can see an example site created in Xara Designer Pro at designer.xara.com - it's also an introduction to the web features. Plus check out these sites created by Xara users in the Xara Website Gallery.
(Note Designer Pro X v8 includes all the features and templates of Web Designer Premium MX v8).
Navigation bars & menus
Buttons and navigation bars are an essential part of most web sites, but making them can be a time-consuming and frustrating experience.
Recent updates to the NavBar feature include support for DHMTL sub menus with various animation and transparency effects, the ability to create an automatic NavBar with buttons linked to all pages of your website (the NavBar is updated as you add / remove pages) and auto-highlighting of 'current page' NavBar button.
Pop-Ups and Slideshows
In Pro the animated photo pop-up effects have additional advanced controls including an optional soft shadow, title and captions and page dimming (the page under the pop-up can be dimmed).
If you have a number of thumbnail photos with the pop-up effect on the page, you can show this as a slideshow, with Next / Previous / Play / Pause controls and an optional thumbnail strip shown at the bottom of the window.
Charts & Graphs
Designer Pro offers full support for third party widgets that can be simply dropped onto a page as you design it. The Designs Gallery includes a large collection of fully customizable interactive charts and graphs.
The charts use interactive DHTML and SVG to render the chart in the browser, which responds to mouse-over to highlight particular chart values. You can also click on the key names to redraw the chart with those values excluded.
The current bundled widgets include a variety of column, bar, area, line and pie charts.
Designer Pro offers full support for third party widgets that can be simply dropped onto a page as you design it. The Designs Gallery includes a large collection of Widgets including a selection of the most popular and trusted e-commerce solutions. Drag the Widgets from the Designs Gallery and drop them onto your page, then customize them as required for your particular use.
The current bundled e-commerce widgets include solutions from Paypal, Wazala, Google, ecwid, Amazon and EBay.
Designer Pro is a great solution for creating web pages and even complete websites. It's possible to create your own site design from scratch but we also include a wide range of complete page and site templates that can be customized in all respects to your particlar requirement.
Each web theme includes up to 15 page layouts plus a wide range of matching components such as buttons, headings and icon. The colors can be easily changed because the theme colors use our unique Linked Colors feature, but to make things even easier the Designs Gallery includes several different color versions of each theme, ready made!
You can see previews of the website themes here. And you can see examples of websites created by Xara customers in our Website Gallery.
Presentations & Webinars
Designer Pro makes it easy to create web-based 'slide-show' style presentations that your website visitors can step through using the keyboard arrow keys. You can add animated transition effects as each step and page is displayed, and the Designs Gallery includes a range of ready-made, customizable presentation templates and components such as bullet points and arrows (although you can of course create your own presentations and components from scratch!)
You can also easily remotely host a web meeting (a ‘Webinar’) to showcase your presentation, step by step and page by page, to a group of invited participants.
Here are some example presentation templates and you can see an example presentation here.