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The Outsider's Featured Tutorials are selected from a variety of sources included the best tutorials from the impressive archive on The Xara Xone (created by Gary Priester), Guest Tutorials submitted by Xara enthusiasts and new material created by Xara.


An Introduction to Xara Xtreme V4 by Gary Priester

  • What's New?
  • The Improved Text Tool
  • The New Photo Tool
  • NEW! HTML Web Page Creation
  • NEW! The Extrude Tool

whats-new

Xara Xtreme 4.0 and Xara Xtreme Pro 4.0 are filled with pleasant surprises, a few of which are illustrated above and which I will cover in this Special Edition Workbook.

There are two new tools, the Photo Tool and the Extrude Tool! I'll cover these two new tools in depth on the next few pages. There are many improvements and new features in the Text Tool including Wrapping Text Around an Object! Xara calls it Repel Text and it is easy, and really cool. The Text Tool additions and The Photo Tool are covered below.

What is that Internet Explorer 7 e icon doing on the page? It was created when I exported a web page with the new WYSIWYG HTML Export option. This is really hot and integrates the features you love best in Xara with web page and web site creation.

The View Quality slider has been simplified and expanded at the same time. There are fewer tick marks on the slider but one more View Quality setting; Super High Quality . If you have noticed that bitmap images displayed at a higher than screen resolution—say a 300dpi image displayed at 100% zoom factor—appear pixelated unless you zoom in to 300%, then you will appreciate that these images now display at 100% Zoom factor as good as they would at 300%. Seeing in this case is believing. And normal bitmaps and vector objects are now rendered even sharper and faster to boot.

Xtreme Pro 4.0 now can take full advantage of multi-core processors making the World's Fastest Vector Drawing Program even faster. Fasten your seat belts! (did I really say that?)

There is now a handy dandy Color Picker (the eye dropper) just to the left of the on screen color palette. Just drag over any color and the color is sampled and the color space (RGB, CMYK, HSV, etc.) and Hexadecimal number displayed.

For those of you who always whine about Illustrator's method of Object Selection, now you can stop whining. You can have it both ways. A new option in the Page Options menu, General section lets you define a selection just if part of the selection rectangle touches the object.

Here are a few additional improvements that did not fit into the other sections of this Workbook.

eye-dropper-tool

A Color Picker (the eye dropper tool) has been added to the Color Line at the bottom of the page. Drag it over any color and the selected object change color. A tool tip appears over the sampled color and gives the color model and values, plus the Hexadecimal equivalent. Hexadecimal values are used in HTML documents to specify colors.

 

live-effects-01

The Live Effects Tool is bursting with new additions as shown above. And unlike some of the filters found in the drop down list which are trial versions, these are included at no additional cost. As in FREE! And these filter effects are non-destructive. Which means you can apply one, two, or two hundred effects and then in a minute or two minutes, a decade, you can remove or edit any or all and return to your original photo. So try though you might (and I am sure you will try) you cannot destroy the original photo. Trust me, I'm a doctor and I know these things. OK, I'm not a doctor, but just trust me anyway, OK?

 

color-editor-01

The Color Editor has seen some improvements and additions as well.

If you have a photo selected and have opted not to have those pesky menus pop up when you right click on a color on the screen palette, you can still create a Contone (a continuous tone photo with two colors like a duotone). Just select Light Contone or Dark Contone from the Choose Color to Edit drop down menu and make your edits. They are applied in real time.

This next screen capture relates to the new Extrude Tool, covered below. You can edit individual light colors or if you have a group of extruded objects selected, you can edit all the light colors at one time. Xara 3D users will be familiar with these three colored light sources.

Xara Xtreme and Xtreme Pro 4.0

Shown above is the new and improved text display. An actual specimen of each font is displayed in the Font drop down menu. If a font has more than one style, for example, Italic, Bold, Bold Italic, these are displayed in a fly out menu. What might take a bit of getting used to for Xara users is Bold and Italic styles applied on the Infobar to a font will only apply if the selected font has these styles. In the past, programs often simulated an italic or bold face if one was not part of the font. But these simulated styles were not supported by other programs. So now if you see the style in the fly out menu, then you can apply it. If you press the B or I icons and the font does not have these styles, a dialog will appear informing you that the specific style is not available.

As you cursor over the font selections, the selected font changes to reflect the current font. This happens in real time. If you have a paragraph of text in Caslon and you cursor over Garamond Premr Pro Italic, the highlighted text instantly changes to the new font selection. It's totally unreal except that it is real!

 

Xara Xtreme and Xtreme Pro 4.0

For years loyal users have been begging for text wrapping. This is where the text flows around an object, such as the sphere shown above. Well text wrap is here at last. And it's quick and easy and very effective. Here's how:

  • Bring the object to the front.
  • Right click on the object or group of objects and select Repel Text Under...
  • The Text Repelling Properties dialog opens. The default setting is 0, but looks better if you add a little air between the text and the object. Specify the repel distance and press Repel.
  • The text automatically backs away from the selected object (does the text find the object repellent?)

If you reformat the text or move the object, the text reconfigures in real time.

 

Xara Xtreme and Xtreme Pro 4.0

There is a new (and in your editor's always humble opinion) confusing Interactive Size slider right next to the text Size drop down list. Confusing because it is easy to confuse one with the other. But here's what is really awesome. Say you have a newsletter and you have three columns of linked text area. Well, darn, after adding those repellant objects, the text is a paragraph too long. Well, not a problem, Just select all the text and move the Interactive Slider with your mouse wheel (or manually) and the selected text automatically increases or decreases in size. In real time. Just do this until the text fits like you were a type specifying pro. I'm blown away by this.

 

Xara Xtreme and Xtreme Pro 4.0

Big things come in small packages. I have always been less than thrilled that I could not select a word or a few words of text and copy just that selection to the clipboard. I mean, you can do this in every other Windows application. Well, the Xara product development team must have heard me grumbling all the way across the big pond because now you can copy just the selected text and paste it wherever you wish. Thank you Xara.

In addition there is improved font (Unicode) handling. I'm not entirely certain but I think this means greater support for non-English language fonts.

The new Photo Tool is a lot like the old XPE (Xara Picture Editor) with a few cool new features added. And unlike XPE which is a separate utility, the Photo Tool controls are all on the Infobar.

Xara tells us the new Photo Tool is Integrated, Ultra-fast and Non-destructive. What does all this mean exactly? Let me explain.

Integrated because now when you select a bitmap image with the Photo Tool, all the controls appear on the Infobar (did I just say that?), so there is no going back and forth between Xtreme 4.0 and XPE.

Ultra-fast is self explanatory. It be quick.

And Non-Destructive because Xara remembers all the edits you have made and stores them in the document. So if you make some adjustments to the levels, bump up the Saturation, add a Live Effect or two, or three or a dozen, Xara dutifully remembers all of these and you can edit or remove any or all of these at any time.

 

Xara Xtreme and Xtreme Pro 4.0

Shown above top are the Photo Tool Infobar controls. Xara users know that the Infobar is context sensitive and changes to offer options for the selected tool. Curious Illustrator and Corel users, who are checking out Xtreme 4.0, will scoff and say, but yeah, my program has that too. And you are correct. But did your program have an interactive, context sensitive Infobar ten years ago? I think not. But Xara did.

The same Enhance sliders from the Xara Picture Editor are now on the Infobar and include: Brightness, Contrast, Saturation and Blur/Sharpen. In addition there's Clip (crop - I'll explain why it's called Clip in a moment), Levels, Red Eye Removal, and a new, fun feature Panorama.

The Enhance button lets Xara try to automatically make your image better. Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn't. But it is always worth a try. Compare lets you see the before and after. It also removes all the edits.

 

Xara Xtreme and Xtreme Pro 4.0

The Brightness / Levels Tool has been improved. Especially the Auto function which in your editor's opinion is much better than the Enhance button. It automatically estimates the black, white, and gray point levels. You can't see the entire BEFORE image above, but believe me, the Auto corrected image is a terrific improvement.

Or you can set your own black, gray and white points with the Set Point eyedropper tools. OK you Photoshop users say, and you PSP and Corel PAINT users say, what's the big deal here? We have had set point tools since the dinosaurs. Yeah, OK, true that. But, when you drag your set point color picker over an image does the image update automatically as the color picker moves? I didn't think so. Well in Xara Xtreme and Pro 4 it does.

 

Xara Xtreme and Xtreme Pro 4.0

Clip is what you might call crop. I was curious why Xara decided to call it clip instead or crop. The answer is simple. Unlike crop, which is a done deal, unless you undo, and the undo does not last longer than the time the document is open, Xara's new Clip Tool can be Un-clipped. Tomorrow. The next day. Or some time in the near or distant future. In other words it is a live effect or as Xara calls it, Non-destructive. Pretty cool!

Clear just removes the crop, er, the clipping grid and restores the image.

    TIP: You can use Clip to resize a photo too. Enter the new size in the W and H text entry boxes and press Enter. Check Lock Aspect if you want the resize to be proportional.

 

Xara Xtreme and Xtreme Pro 4.0

Some of you may be aware of Panorama tools. These tools take a series of photos and "stitch" them together into one continuous panorama. For those of you to which this is new, it's really simple. Shoot a couple of photos such as the three shown above. The photos should have some overlap, that is some of the same elements in each photo. Select the photos, press Create Panorama. Don't go away, if your images are low resolution the process is almost instantaneous. It will take longer for larger high resolution photos.

    NOTE: This is included in both 4.0 versions. But Pro 4 users can get a free upgraded utility, on the CD I think, that can handle enough photos to do a 360 and other cool stuff.

 

Xara Xtreme and Xtreme Pro 4.0

If you look in the Window > Quality fly out menu, you'll see a new entry, Very High Quality entry. Xara was the first vector drawing program to offer an antialiased display and antialiased rendering engine. Now Xtreme 4.0 is the first to offer the highest quality rendering engine of any program. This applies to photos and vector objects as well. The View Quality slider on the Infobar has changed too. Before there were more tick marks and settings. Now each tick mark represents just one view quality setting. Nice.

 

Xara Xtreme and Xtreme Pro 4.0

There is a new template Blank Photo which is distinguished from other templates by the dark gray background. The page size is automatically determined by the size of the photo. A one pixel grid ensures images will be exported at even pixel amounts thus eliminating the white fringe outline around rectangular bitmaps that has plagued us for so long. There are other key benefits which will be covered extensively in the next Workbook (which is to say, as soon as your editor (that's me) discovers them). Thanks to Gary David Bouton for the dancing eyeball graphic which is also the hidden image in the stereogram shown above.

For years, Xara has flirted with web page creation in Xara. Sliced images and the Nav Bar and Button Tool wrote HTML code which with a bit of arm twisting and hair pulling could be added into web page creation applications. Adding Web Addresses has been a feature for some time too. But creating an actual website in Xara? No way.

Way!

And, way cool!

While Dreamweaver or NetObjects Fusion need not worry (for the moment anyway) if you need to create a simple, or not so simple, web page or web site, now you can.

The screen capture above shows the WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) layout I created which I will show you in a minute. By using a few layers, I have created a web page with linked rollover buttons, image swaps, true HTML wrap around text (eat your heart out Dreamweaver and NetObjects, this is the real thing). I won't go into too much detail at this time as I will cover this in the next Workbook.

While I have only created a single web page, you can create a complete linked multipage website, either using your own design or by using some of the new HTML website templates.

What always amazes me about the programmers and developers at Xara is they look at something like web page design and say, how can we do that? Then they look at what they already have (case in point, you could create a multipage document by putting each page on a separate layer, which in turn led to multipage documents which led to multipage PDF documents). and then how can we make this existing technology do what we want it to do. And then of course, they do it!

Click here to see the actual web page. There are a lot of simple mouse over effects along with live text wrapping. And since all the text is HTML text, and not a bitmap, it is visible to search engines such as Google.

When you come back and before you skip to the next page (The Extrude Tool) a few additional words. Xtreme 4.0 creates the web page or web site. But it does not upload the site to a web server. To do this you need a few things: a web host (a website that provides server space for users to post websites), a domain name if you want people to go directly to your site, such as www .xaraxone,com, and an FTP (file transfer protocol) application to upload your files to the web host's server. There are many options for all these things and your editor will be happy to advise. Use the Send e-mail link on the bottom of the next page.

extrude-tool-01

It would appear that Xara 3D has found its way into Xtreme 4.0 in the guise of the new Extrude Tool. If you have used Xara 3D then you will already be familiar with a lot of the features. But in case you have not tried Xara 3D, but even if you have, I'll cover some of the features. And the next Guest Tutorial (April 15) will feature a really cool tutorial using the Extrude Tool.

 

extrude-tool-02

Here is the context sensitive Extrude Tool Infobar. You press the little 3D icon on the far left to turn the extrusion off or back on again. There are two drop down menus. The first uses the slider to adjust the three angles, the extrusion depth, the perspective, and the light angles. If you have ever lost a light behind an object, you'll really appreciate the ability to move the lights with the slider.

The second drop down list contains all the Bevel Types. If you can't find the bevel effect you are looking for in here, you probably don't need it.

 

extrude-tool-03

To the right of the Bevel Types drop down list is the Show Lights icon, and Matt / Gloss icon, and the Bevel and Rounded Corner icons.

A really handy new features is batch changes. In the example above, there are four extruded objects. With Show Lights enabled and the four extruded objects selected, if you drag one purple light, all the purple lights move in exactly the same direction. In fact, any change you make is applied to all the selected extruded shapes. Or, you can make the changes one at a time. Xara leaves it all up to you.

 

extrude-tool-04

Here is a selection of Bevel Types.

 

extrude-tool-05

The Extrude Tool cursor changes when it is over certain parts of the extruded object or over the lights. To free rotate the extruded object, place the cursor over the face of the object and drag. To increase or decrease the depth of the extrusion, drag the extruded area. To rotate the lights, drag any of the colored arrows. But remember, you have the option of doing these operations with the sliders or numerically as well as intuitively.

 

extrude-tool-06

As with beveled objects, you can drag and drop colors onto the face or the extrusion.

 

extrude-tool-07

Rotation angles can also be specified.

 

extrude-tool-08

Extruded objects can also have perspective. This just highlights some of the features of the new Extrude Tool.

And that's it for this Special Workbook edition.

2008 Gary Priester