Today I want to share a few experiences with the recently released Xara Photo & Graphic Designer v9. If you want to know what’s new, you’ll find the press release in Xara Photo & Graphic Design v9 Released. What exactly is it? It is a tool targeted at consumers for creating and editing graphics. Could it replace CorelDRAW Graphics Suite or Adobe Creative Suite? Sure, but it doesn’t have all of the tools found in those products. Nor does it fully replace Xara Designer Pro, its big brother. For those of you who are hobbyists or simply want to create/edit a few graphics for friends and family, it is perfect and it is priced accordingly with a list price of $89. When I looked at the site as I was writing this review, it is currently discounted to $69 (I don’t know when this special pricing might expire).
Just because it targets the consumer market, don’t think that it lacks the ability and the tools to create some great looking graphics. One thing it does that the pro tools don’t do is combine bitmap and vector editing into a single program. Some of the most popular tools for fixing photos such as a healing brush and a background eraser are here and they do a very good job. Need to mask out a specific area to make adjustments? Yes, you’ll find masking tools here. Remember, this isn’t a tool targeted for professional photographers so it does a great job of editing photos for the market it targets.
Many of the vector editing tools familiar from the high-end products are also found here. It was simple to use, had a lot of fill options and could do most everything wanted. If there is a nitpick, the node editing didn’t seem as easy as that of CorelDRAW with which I am most familiar.
The upside is the various advanced effects that allow you to do some cool stuff easily. The most interesting are the tools for creating the illusion of 3D and the brush tools. Note that some of the effects will truly be creating bitmap graphics which could be an issue if you need all vector output. Those designing graphics for the Web won’t have any problem with that.
For the consumer market, often designs will start with a template and Xara Photo & Graphic Designer provides a large number of templates to get you started. Above right is a screen shot of the Designs Gallery showing just a small number of the greeting card templates provided. Note that greeting cards are just one of many categories of templates.
Much of the art you create will be exported in one way or the other. This could be to a file format for upload to the Web or it could be in a format to be imported into other software. There are a long list of formats supported and I had no problems getting artwork into programs such as Microsoft Word and CorelDRAW.
Xara Photo & Graphic Designer provides the consumer market with a lot of bang for the buck. If you are not a professional designer in need of every bell and whistle, this is a tool you should download and try. Even power users may want to consider adding it to their design toolbox for some of the cool effects it can create.