Xara Xtreme. My prrreciousss.

First of all, I’m not going to compare Xara to other graphic programs and start everlasting debates about whether corel beats illustrator or not. Instead I once again wish to express my strong conviction: it doesn’t matter what graphic tool you use. The important thing is to have your hands attached in the right place, to have some brightness in your mind and to have no war around.

Now, directly to Xara. Why have I chosen it for work? I have not, it happened by pure accident, and firstly I used it not for icon drawing but for site design. That’s how we met.

What I like in it? It’s small, light, fast and simple. It is some sort of torture for me when a graphic program begins to enumerate unhurriedly all it’s actions while starting (so… now I’m loading… and now I’m loading… and now I’m setting up…) and then shows all the names all it’s creators, and then “I want to thank the God, the Academy and Mom and Dad.” Ok, maybe that is not such a problem, maybe I’ve got a slow computer but lets treat it as my caprice.

Xara’s interface is rather simple and very similar to the most graphic suits so you shouldn’t get any surprises here.

On the left side of a working area we have a main toolbar. On top there is an option panel for selected tool. Then a little higher there is a set of standard buttons such as “save”. “undo”, etc. And the main menu. Naturally, you can always grab a panel and drag it wherever you like.

Color palette is positioned at the bottom of working area but to be honest I hardly ever use it. I’m all right with Color Editor window (it’s on the right in the above picture). You can always summon it by pushing button on the left of color pallete.

It won’t hurt to mention Xara likes to organise collections of objects into galleries. Which objects? Any objects being possible to organise: color gallery, layer gallery, bitmap gallery, font gallery, line gallery and so on. All the galleries’ buttons you may find at the service tools panel.

But enough of boring and dull theory! In order to become familiar with the program we should start using it, so let’s draw something and learn things on our way.

I’m going to draw something important, something useful, something tasty

Usually it all starts from primitive forms, some rectangles made with a Rectangle Tool. Then I do the ‘Convert to Editable Shapes ‘ operation and move, curve, and bend it by dragging point handles.

How to color an object?

On the left of color pallette we can see a square (look at the same picture but now pay attention to the square with a thick border, not to the red arrow). This square shows us the color of the selected object fill and border. To change the fill color, you press a left mouse button on the palette or Color Editor window. To change the border color, do the same with a right mouse button.

By the way, I want to draw your attention to a pipette in the Color Editor window. If grab it with a mouse and drag it over objects, you can do the following:

Now it is necessary to swell our construction. For that, use gradient fills since it is done in Xara with a wave of a mouse. It is possible to make both: either gradient fills or gradient transparencies, separately or together at the same time. Xara provides us with a different fradient types (correspondingly fill and transparency ).

Mostly I use elliptical gradient. Not because I prefer oval things but it just happens that way.

Now we may want to add some soft glares and transparent lights. Ir can be done by using Blend Tool, but in simple cases I use a lovely tool named Feather. It’s placed on the right of service panel and looks as a sliding scale. Moving a slider we easily and unpretentiously blur the edges of our object.

At this stage we have guessed we’re drawing a beer and now want to add some bubbles, whole ones into the liquid and bursted into the foam.Of course, you can draw one bubble and copy it all around (by the way copying is performed so: grab an object, drag it into a desired location and click right mouse button there). But I prefer another way.

Draw a bubble.

Create a brush from it.

Then create another one, for the foam bubbles, setting different parameters of the bubble distance, size, etc.

Get something of the sort.

And draw lines in the beer with the brush.

Now, the shadows. First, we need a shadow right under the mug bottom. We do it again with a Feather tool – draw an oval and blur it.

And then, within a Blend tool we create a reflection-shadow.

Now we get.

And now sweets. Finally Xara Xtreme presents us what we’ve been waiting so long. And it is called Live Effect Tool. You study it bu yourself, there is a lot of useful options there, but what interests us now is Enhance effect.

What it does? It rasterizes you vector image on the fly and and imposes the following characteristics.

The image itself remain editable, so you can change what you want and see how it looks like rasterized. So, that is ‘pixel preview’ we all dreamed of.

To demonstrate this, I painted a small emblem on the mug that requires verifying each pixel for proper look an the screen.

On the left you can see the vector image, On the right there is an image with Enhance effect. And I put all the objects so that they coincide with the pixels boundaries.

And here is the result.

Which we export into the desired format and the desired God knows what we need else.

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