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Xara's Helpful Imagery 

Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 9 does what it says on the tin and is aimed at having broad appeal. On the basis that not all users are experts, it incorporates extensive help and guidance which is so important to enable new users to edit their photos and get to work with their drawings. It also incorporates the wide range of features that will satisfy the needs of the advanced user.

Xara Photo and Graphic Designer 2013
click image to enlarge

Although the opening screen looks very busy it is well laid out with the working desktop having controls on all four sides. As one would expect with a Windows program, there is the title bar and the menu and formatting bars at the top. Then the main toolbar is down the left hand side. Some of these tools have fly-out bars containing more tool icons. The colour “line” along the bottom shows the current line and fill colours as well as providing access to all the colour palettes.

Down the right hand side are the Gallery tabs. When one clicks on a particular tab, the relevant appropriate Designs, Page & Layer, Font and Colour etc. gallery options fly out. Similarly, when selecting a tool from the toolbar, the associated attributes are presented above the work area. So that, with the text tool selected, font, size, bold etc. are all available for selection. Then, similarly,on selecting the eraser tool, options included are the size, shape and angle of the eraser “tip” are shown.

While essentially easy to use, PGD9 has a very wide range of features and so one needs to devote a fair amount of time to learning how to get the best out it. For example, it sometimes took a little while to find a particular command or action when one is searching through a number of control bars on the screen plus menus and tabs. The extensive nature of help made it almost like a useful tutorial in quite a number of areas, nevertheless, I sometimes felt that it was an aide memoire for the experienced user rather than always being help for the newbie.

Experienced users will want to make use of the new tools such as the “photo healing” facility for dealing with blemishes and the new masking tools which can be used to work on specific, sometimes complex, shapes and then brightened, cropped or even dropped onto different backgrounds.

One of the behind the scenes features of PGD9 is that it uses a non-destructive photo editing process. Sometimes known as parametric editing a masters folder contains the original JPG image together with the edit list, all stored in an .xar file. When an edited JPG is opened it recovers the edit list from this file, allowing you to make further edits, or even to remove or adjust the existing edits. This has the advantage that photos can be edited without the loss of quality normally experienced when working with JPG images.

Overall, PSD9 should meet virtually everyone’s needs in a package which is not daunting to get to grips with.

Available from www.xara.com at a normal price of £69.99 there is currently an introductory offer of £59.99.

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Features10
Performance10
Value10
Ease of use10
Design10
OverallXara Photo & Graphic Designer 9 rated 88 out of 100

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