Xara Photo & Graphic Designer is an all-in-one tool that can
edit photos, 2D and 3D graphics, animation, text, and page
layouts–for online or print media–seamlessly, without switching
programs. A welcome surprise: Xara’s Photo & Graphic Designer
hits the mark for both the novice and the power user.
For more experienced users, the page layout aspect of Photo
& Graphic Designer can seem a little lacking at first. Where
are all the complicated settings and technical names for things?
When manipulating text, Photo & Graphic Designer works more
like a word processing program than a typical page layout program
like InDesign or Quark does. For example, leading is called “line
spacing”; and paragraph indents are set with a sliding triangle on
the ruler rather than a number attribute in a dialog box. Layers
are semi-automated, but they’re a little counter-intuitive to an
Adobe user. But most of the features you’d find in InDesign are
here, with the exception of support for PANTONE and CMYK color
separation. Print design gurus should look at Xara Designer Pro 7
for these, and a few other high-end power-user features.
Directly comparing Photo & Graphic Designer’s photo editing
tools with industry standard Adobe Photoshop leaves Adobe in the
dust. There are a few things to learn; it’s difficult to find basic
commands like rotate and resize if you’re used to looking in menus
rather than on Xara’s infobar; and Xara’s focus on the novice
sometimes gets in the way of doing things manually, easily. But
whether you’re a novice using the automated tools, or an expert
doing pro-image manipulation, Photo & Graphic Designer really
Seamlessly blurring a chosen area of your image takes three
mouse clicks; red-eye removal is a preset transparent circle that
you place over the red part of the eye; you can even automatically
correct perspective and “magically erase” parts of your photo,
although the results vary widely from useable to poor depending on
the image you start with. For a pro, Xara Photo & Graphic
Designer does everything Photoshop can do, often with many fewer
All the features of Xara Web Designer
7 are incorporated into Photo & Graphic Designer, including
templates, widget support, and hosting, are here. Some higher-end
features, such as navbar and popup creation, webinar and Web
presentation support, and sitemaps are missing, but are included in
Xara Designer Pro 7.
Xara Photo & Graphic Designer’s coups de
grâce are the addition of standards like repeating
items–regardless of whether you’re designing for print or Web,
placing text, images, or graphic elements in the same place on the
same page every time involves one right click of the mouse–and
automatically saving a native .XAR file, your original (untouched)
image, as well as your exported .PDF, .HTML, .JPG, or .PNG files.
Frankly, it’s just smart, and the more I use Xara Photo &
Graphic Designer, the more features I discover and the more I love
the program, whether I’m creating a logo, manipulating images for a
website, or preparing a print brochure for a client.
If you are considering splashing out about $1000 on Adobe
Creative Suite Standard (Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign
bundled) or pretty much any other photo editor, illustrator, or
page layout program, try out Xara’s Photo & Graphic Designer
first. The staggeringly affordable Photo & Graphic Designer is
worth your time and the price of a few antacids while you learn.
Plus, with $910 change in your pocket, you may never look back.