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The Shape Painter Tool

The Shape Painter Tool lets you add and subtract from a selected shape as well as paint hard and soft edge freehand brush strokes. You can vary the size, angle, and hardness or softness of the stroke using the settings on the Infobar. The stokes are vector shapes and can be edited with the Shape Tool and the Shape Tool Smoothing slider. You can use the Shape Painter Tool to extend a selected shape, or hold down the Shift key and erase from the selected shape. So it becomes a brush and an eraser all rolled into one tool.
The photo on the right has been cropped and the entire image actually extends beyond the rectangle in which it is clipped. Using the Shape Painter Tool I was able to add to the photo creating more cloud shapes. I also painted an orange shape over the photo as shown in the image on the right below.
In the example on the left, I added a soft shape to the non-selected photo that covered some wispy clouds I wanted to remove. I applied a Linear fill with the Fill Tool to the soft-edged shape matching the lighter and darker sky colors to create a seamless patch. If you use a tablet (and you can draw), you are going to love the Shape Painter Tool.

Object Recoloring

This is one of the most colorful new features. And it is so simple it does not require much explanation. In the example below, I have added a Sticker from the Designs Gallery > Page Elements. But instead of the bronzey orange, I wanted the color to be magenta. I simply dragged the color from the screen palette (you can also drag a color from the Color Editor) and dropped it onto the sticker. The dialog on the left appears and asks which color I want to replace. I selected Theme Color 1a and pressed Replace. And quicker than you can say, Bob’s your uncle, the bronzey orange became magenta! The white and the shadow color can also be replaced.
The Color Editor can be used to replace and/or edit colors. In the example on the right, I selected the grouped graphic, opened the Color Editor and edited the green color and the color of the text. All colors in the group appear in the drop down list so editing one or more of the colors is all done at the same time. If you have a Navigation Bar or buttons that you are using for a website, you can edit both the visible MouseOver button as well as colors for the button on the MouseOff layer which is hidden behind the MouseOver button. If you are editing a Named Color (each of the groups of colors on the screen palette are instances of Named Colors), then editing one color changes all of the other colors as well. This is great if you have created an illustration or graphic using named colors and then you want to quickly audition other color variations. Move the Hue slider in the Color Editor or use the Value and Saturation sliders to edit the colors. The possibilities are endless.
First Look By Gary W. Priester You get tons of useful, well designed free clip art, templates, and other great stuff!
So what are you waiting for? Click here to download your free 30 day trial version today. There are a lot of really cool goodies packed into this powerful, easy to learn, easy to use software package. And remember, help is right at your fingertips. Visit and go directly to the Xara Graphics Chat Forum. The members are friendly, helpful, knowledgeable and supportive. And show us your creations in the TalkGraphics Xara Art Gallery. NOTE: This First Look review was written with a pre-release version of Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 9. Some features may change and some methods may be different in the final released version.

More Colorful Improvements

Adding color to your page is now even easier. You can drag and drop a color or a bitmap onto the page or pasteboard area (hold down the Ctrl key to drop a bitmap). OK, this is not new. But Now you can right click on the page and select Edit Page  Color and edit the color in the Color Editor. But wait, it gets better! I created the dark gray tiling bitmap (shown above) for my page background. I right click on the page and select Edit Page Color. The Color Editor opens up and I can edit both the light and dark Contone colors creating the subtle gray blue and pale gray tiling background. You can edit the two colors til the cows come home.

Other Changes and Improvements

If you right click on the page tab or tabs at the top of the screen , you now get a menu of handy options as you can see in the screen capture on the right. Windows 7 and 8 have a Windows Explorer > View setting Extra Large Thumbnails, which makes it easier to determine the content of your .XAR and .WEB files as you can see on the screen capture on the left. The large thumbnail is in fact a small bitmap of the entire page. Faster, Better Quality JPEG Support. I won’t get technical, but exporting JPEG images is now faster and the image quality is a bit better. OK? For those of you who are design and/or time challenged, not to worry. Not only do you get a first rate set of design and photo editing tools with Xara Photo & Graphics Designer 9, you also get a wealth of clip art, photos, templates, pre-built presentations, and just about everything but the kitchen sink, and for all I know, you’ll find a kitchen sink also in the clip art section.
Gary W. Priester created and hosted the Xara Xone from 1995 – 2012. A native of Los Angeles, California, he now resides in Placitas, New Mexico where he is semi-retired. Priester is the author of 5 books of 3D stereograms and creates custom 3D stereograms for advertising and sales promotion. Visit his website or write him a note.
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