Xara® Xtreme 5: The Official Guide
Xara Xtreme 5:
The Official Guide
®
Gary David Bouton
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ISBN: 978-0-07-162560-9
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cause arises in contract, tort or otherwise.
This book is dedicated to my father, Jack Orvin Bouton,
who bought me my first set of pencils.
About the Author
Gary David Bouton has been illustrating professionally for over 30 years; he became an
author of graphics software documentation in 1992 and this is his 25th book. A user of
Xara since 1995, Gary is a firm believer in the convergence of art tools and the synergy of
combining digital and traditional artistic concepts and ideas.
Gary has received four international awards in desktop publishing and illustration, and
he teaches what he practices, through books ranging from the Inside Adobe Photoshop
series, to video editing and CGI, modeling and rendering, vector drawing, and creating web
content. Gary and his wife Barbara host The Pixel Dust Forum at theboutons.com, a haven
for artists and anyone who appreciates art. The site also offers support for this and Gary’s
past books and contains several repositories for downloading free content (and some nonfree creations at the store).
About the Technical Editor
Mara Zebest is a graphic artist who uses her knowledge and skills in both volunteer
and commercial work. Mara has taught classes on Adobe and Microsoft programs for a
local school district and has been a guest instructor at a nearby community college. She
has experience working in a graphics marketing department, which has also afforded her
printing production experience. Mara has been a contributing author and technical editor
for numerous books covering a multitude of Adobe and Microsoft products.
Contents at a Glance
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
Up and Running with Xara Xtreme . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Options and Customizing Xara Xtreme . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Working with Paths . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Transforming Shapes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Working with Fills . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Basic Magic: Blends, Contours, and Moulds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Creating Photorealistic Effects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Logos and Typography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Desktop Publishing with Xara Xtreme . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Creating Web Animations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Building Interactive Web Pages . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Tracing for Commerce and Fine Art . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Changing and Creating Photographic Elements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1
23
55
79
97
125
141
167
191
225
239
273
293
GrandMaster Gallery
........................................
314
....................................................
323
Index
iv
Contents
Foreword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
CHAPTER 1
CHAPTER 2
Up and Running with Xara Xtreme
x
xi
xiii
..........................
1
Understanding Today’s Drawing Programs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Bitmaps and Vectors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Draw Once with Vectors, Use Many Times . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Exploring the Xara Interface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Items in the Interface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Understanding the Elements of a Shape . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Checking Out the Toolbar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Exploring the Cool Stuff . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Fill Tool and Gradients . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Work with Transparency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Make Instant Shadows . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Painless and Professional 3D with the Extrude Tool . . . . . . . . .
1
2
3
6
6
10
12
13
13
15
17
19
Options and Customizing Xara Xtreme
......................
23
Make Menu Items into Workspace Buttons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Build Your Own Control Bar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Adding a Control Bar to Your Workspace . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Creating One-Stop Zoom Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Collecting, Adding, and Organizing Color Swatches . . . . . . . .
Exploring (and Exercising) Your Options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Use Nudge Distance for Pattern Creation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Units Options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Grid and Ruler Options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mouse Characteristics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
View Options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Page Size Options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Other Options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Make Your Own Guides . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
23
25
26
27
28
31
37
40
41
42
45
48
48
50
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Xara Xtreme 5: The Official Guide
CHAPTER 3
CHAPTER 4
CHAPTER 5
Working with Paths
......................................
55
The Components of a Path . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Trace Out a Path . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Work with the Pen Tool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Editing a Path‘s Components . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Joining Paths . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Scale Line Widths . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Adding Properties to Paths . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Cap and Join Properties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Fancy Outlines for Your Paths . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Lines Gallery Folders: Applying Styles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Creating Your Own Brush Stroke . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
55
58
60
64
68
70
70
70
72
72
73
Transforming Shapes
.....................................
79
Moving and Stretching Shapes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Working with the Infobar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Hands-On with Shape Transformation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Duplicating and Changing Object Centers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Transforming QuickShapes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Undoing a QuickShape Transformation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Create Round-Corner Rectangles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
QuickShapes and Modifying Polygons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Converting a QuickShape . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Aligning and Distributing Shapes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Combining Shapes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
A Shape Combination Exercise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
79
79
82
84
85
85
85
86
87
88
91
92
Working with Fills
........................................
97
Applying Solid Color Fills . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Identifying Items on the Color Line . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Examining the Color Editor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Using the Fill Tool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Working with Gradients . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Defining Fractal Fills . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Distorting a Fractal Fill . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Using and Customizing Bitmap Fills . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Adding Bitmaps to a Document . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Avoiding Bitmap Edges in Shapes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Working with a Contone Image . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Naming Colors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Options for Named Colors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
97
99
100
103
104
111
113
114
114
115
117
118
123
Contents
CHAPTER 6
CHAPTER 7
CHAPTER 8
CHAPTER 9
Basic Magic: Blends, Contours, and Moulds
................
125
Multiply Your Art by Using Blends . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Blending Between Dissimilar Control Points . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Let There Be Neon! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Blending a Blend . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Using the Contour Tool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Creating Bevel Shapes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Using the Mould Tool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Envelope, Please . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Adding Perspective . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mould Options and Guides for Making Your Own Mould . . . .
125
128
129
131
133
135
137
137
139
139
Creating Photorealistic Effects
.............................
141
Working with Shadows . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Putting Things in Perspective . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Creating Glass and Liquid Drawings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Multiply Your Glass Effect: Making a Brush Stroke . . . . . . . . .
Creating Chrome and Building Reflections . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Creating Extruded Metal Text . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
141
144
148
151
154
159
Logos and Typography
....................................
167
Working with the Text Tool Infobar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Checking Out the Text Tool Infobar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Choosing from Categories of Fonts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Setting a Tone for Your Text Message . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Logos and Logotypes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Different Approaches to Logos and Logotypes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Logotypes and Using Varying Font Weights . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Use Wide Character Tracking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Heraldic Logo Treatment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Adding 3D Text to a Logo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
167
168
173
175
176
177
177
178
179
182
Desktop Publishing with Xara Xtreme
......................
191
What’s on the Menu Today? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Setting Up Guides . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Fitting Text Along a Curve . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Turning Fancy Text into a Logo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Putting the Front Page in the Right Place . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Pouring Text into the Layout . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Performing Spel-Chekking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Using Fonts and Font Sizes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
191
192
194
196
198
198
200
201
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Xara Xtreme 5: The Official Guide
Formatting the Menu Items . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Setting Tabs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Use Linked Paragraph Frames . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Create Hanging Indents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Finishing the Booklet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Magazine Page Layout . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Learn to Love the Grid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Using a Headline as a Graphical Element . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Create a Grid, Import, and Repel Text . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Creating a Lead-in Paragraph . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
A Variation on the Page Layout . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Create a Two-Page Spread . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Export to PDF for Commercial Printing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
CHAPTER 10
CHAPTER 11
Creating Web Animations
203
204
206
209
211
212
212
214
215
218
219
220
223
.................................
225
Understanding the Capabilities (and Limits) of Web Animation . . . . .
Your Director’s Options for the Script and Casting . . . . . . . . . .
Object Properties You Can Animate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Objects and Fills that Flash Supports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Animation Jump-Start Tutorial . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Making a GIF Web Emoticon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Manually Keying a Flash Animation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
An After-Class Special . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
225
226
227
228
230
233
236
237
Building Interactive Web Pages
...........................
239
What Do You Want to Broadcast Today? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Creating a Website from Scratch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Build Elements and Add the Folder to the Designs Gallery . . .
Set Options Before You Begin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Plan a Website’s Topology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Adding the Background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Repeating Elements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Add a Static Graphic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
GIF Animations and Web Page Placeholders . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Placing Text . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Create a Placeholder for Flash Content . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Previewing a Website . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Creating Navigation Bars and Rollover Buttons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Making a Three-State Rollover Button . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Assigning a Link to the Button . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
External Links for Sales and Publicity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
239
240
241
242
242
243
244
246
248
250
253
253
254
255
258
259
Contents
The Tour Guide Google Map Page . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Google Maps on your Website . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Adding a Schedule Widget . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Create a Photo Gallery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Create a Video Page . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Use a Widget to Play a Video . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Linking Pages . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Adding Contact Info . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Publishing or Uploading Your Site . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
CHAPTER 12
CHAPTER 13
Tracing for Commerce and Fine Art
259
259
263
264
266
267
269
270
271
.........................
273
Understanding How Auto-Tracing Works . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Your Options in Bitmap Tracer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Cleaning Up a Logo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Tracing a Photograph . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Hand-Trace Diffuse, Unimportant Areas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Prepping the Photo for Tracing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Refining the Trace, Integrating Photo with Vectors . . . . . . . . . .
Being Creative with the Freedom of Vector Traces . . . . . . . . . .
Pop Art and Bitmap Tracing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
273
274
277
286
286
287
289
290
291
Changing and Creating Photographic Elements
..............
293
Replacing Signage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Finding a Font for a Logo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Use the Mould Tool for Customizing Text . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Wrapping the Label Around the Can in a Photo . . . . . . . . . . . .
Lighting the Label . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Creating Signage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Sign Design and Extruding Text . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Working with Extrude’s Lighting Features . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Create a Sharp Outdoor Shadow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Visually Integrating the Fake Sign . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Create a Sign by Editing a Copy of the Original . . . . . . . . . . . .
Adding a Little 2D Signage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
293
294
296
298
301
304
304
307
309
310
311
312
GrandMaster Gallery
.....................................
314
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323
Index
ix
Foreword
When designers and artists today need to express an idea, it is no longer the familiar pencil and
brush we turn to. A creative synergy made up of traditional and new media types is the Gold
Standard, a combination of illustrations, photographs, text, and even animation can be found in
the final work. So naturally we are obliged to turn to Program A, and then Program B, and so on
to realize a completed vision.
To accommodate the designers’ desire to avoid switching applications every minute to
complete their graphical ideas, many applications today extend their features with each new
version. A popular photo editing program has grown from a shop into a warehouse, with new
features and tools that address fields other than photography. Each new release of the leading
vector drawing package adds desktop publishing tools and templates, and desktop publishing
programs adopt photo correction tools.
In addition to extending a program’s features, this method of coping with user needs obliges
artists to reacquaint themselves with the interface and heightens a learning curve that is often already
too steep. While it is true that good graphic design requires the mastery of many skills, it only makes
sense to combine the tools required by those skills into single, flexible program. Why should people
be forced to buy and learn three or more separate applications to create one document?
I wanted to build a sleek, integrated multifunction Swiss Army knife for document creation
and not an ungainly “3 separate apps in one” invention. Xara Xtreme takes the convergence of
media types in visual communications to the obvious and logical conclusion. With Xara Xtreme,
you have a single creative application that fuses the best of vector graphics, photo editing,
website building, animation, and page layout features into one powerful, fully integrated software
program. With Xara Xtreme you work in one consistent environment and use tools that serve
several functions in a truly intuitive fashion, which gives you the results you desire very quickly.
Gary Bouton has followed the history of Xara from its beginning, in 1995, through to the
very latest version. He has seen the program evolve from being a very fast drawing program, sold
by Corel, to being the versatile, all-around graphics program it is today.
Gary has authored and co-authored more than 25 books from a variety of publishers, covering
a range of media disciplines. But regardless of the topic, all of his books have something in
common. They not only teach readers how to use graphics software—understanding the settings
and tools and commands—but they teach readers how to express themselves artistically.
Gary is not only a capable and confident writer, he is also a talented and versatile artist. To
really show off the capabilities of the software and to inspire others, you need to be an artist as
well as a great writer. As you can see from the scores of tutorials he’s created throughout this
book, Gary knows how to get the most out of the program. His examples, along with the gallery
of Xara artists from around the world included in the book, will inspire you and show just how
much Xara Xtreme is capable of.
Give it a try! In this wired and competitive visual world, you’ll want to take your ideas to the
extreme. Let our workspace and this wonderful book unleash your creative imagination right now!
Charles Moir
Principle Designer of Xara Xtreme
Founder, The Xara Group
x
Acknowledgments
This book would not be a book without the fine, seasoned, brilliant programmers at The Xara
Group. I’d like to thank:
N Charles Moir, CEO and founder of The Xara Group For his invaluable assistance
and advice, usually at a moment’s notice, verifying specific steps and the inner workings
of various tools in this new version of Xtreme.
N Bhavesh Bhavan, Neil Howe, and the rest of the terrific folks at The Xara
Group They went the extra mile and answered technical questions, in PlainSpeak, as
they were busting to meet their own deadlines for the release of Version 5.
N Kate Moir and Nova Fisher For burning the midnight oil getting the first Xara
GrandMaster Awards in order.
N Daniel Will-Harris, Gary Priester, and Chris Dickman For agreeing to the
Herculean task of helping judge the GrandMaster Awards, when there were scores of
world-class compositions we had to narrow down to six.
Other gifted individuals also helped to make this book what it is, and happily I’m still friends
with them! Thanks to:
N Matt Wagner My agent, for helping me find the right publisher for this book. It has
been a 10-year pipe dream of which Matt has shared the past three.
N Roger Stewart For really believing in this title. From the word “go,” Roger saw that
Xara Xtreme is an important program, and he has been nothing less than 200% supportive
of our effort to make this application irresistible in the hands of those who have a deep
desire to express themselves graphically.
N Nick Curtis Typographer Extraordinaire and all-around Good Guy, for giving
McGraw-Hill Professional and The Xara Group permission to distribute special editions
of several of his most popular typefaces.
N Mara Zebest Who has put up with technical editing my books for longer than I can
remember. Thanks, Mara!
N Barbara Bouton My wife and partner, without whose unflagging devotion and creative
support during these marathon stretches, writing books would probably leave me wandering
out in our yard with a divining rod and an aluminum foil hat.
N Nicky Elliott-Producer at Monkey Pants Media in Australia For helping us secure
permissions to use Bang Shang A Lang’s media in this book. Also, for allowing us to
feature BSL’s music video. Visit www.monkeypants.com.au if you can’t physically make
it to Oz, mate.
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Xara Xtreme 5: The Official Guide
N Bruce Carter and Mark Mulligan, Head Bangers For graciously allowing us to use
the band’s media in Chapter 11.
N Special thanks to Jody McKenzie, Jim Kussow, Malinda McCain, Smita Rajan,
and the rest of the fine people at McGraw-Hill
anticipated and much more than I dreamed of.
For making this book everything I
Introduction
Guiding Yourself to Artistic Accomplishments
You have probably heard at least once in your life the difference between knowledge and wisdom.
Knowledge resides in a vacuum; you need to take its lid off and wave the container around a few
times before the contents settle into wisdom.
This has similarly been my experience writing documentation about computer software. I
believe that some facts are good, but facts need to be contextualized—they need to germinate—
before they can become a part of a solution to a goal set before you.
Xara Xtreme 5: The Official Guide would not be a guide at all if it did not lead you
someplace. For example (a poor example), you come to a dead end when the instructions for
using a tool consist only of:
1. To draw a circle, choose Tool, hold CTRL, and then drag.
We would be in a lot of trouble if the instructions for operating a chain saw were this
presumptuous.
Circles are fine to draw, but seldom do they represent a complete artistic idea. In Xtreme,
complex, visually interesting compositions often begin with simple shapes, so a tutorial needs to
reflect this. As a complete idea—and a complete tutorial in which drawing a circle is in context—
let us try drawing a crescent moon.
1. Create a circle by holding CTRL while dragging with the Ellipse Tool.
2. Using the Selector Tool, drag the circle above and to the left of the circle’s original
position on the page. Before releasing the mouse button, tap the right mouse button to
drop a copy of the circle above the original.
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Xara Xtreme 5: The Official Guide
3. Press CTRL-A to select all, and then press CTRL-2 to subtract the copy of the circle from the
original (or choose Arrange | Combine Shapes | Subtract Shapes).
1. CTRL and drag
with Ellipse Tool.
2. Drag with Selector Tool,
right-click, and then release
both mouse buttons.
3. Select both circles
and then press CTRL-2
to subtract.
That is really as hard as it gets with the tutorials in this book; you are guided toward a goal,
you can modify the goal to suit scores of personal art needs, and the end goal is as simple or
as ambitious as the situation calls for. The Xara Xtreme interface provides no mysteries but
only things you have not discovered yet. The intention of this book is to work the element of
discovery into a creative process: you pick up the knowledge of how a tool or feature works,
you discover several purposes for the tool, and finally you take your newfound wisdom and
apply it—to realize an idea on paper. The thing we call skill lies outside of The Official Guide’s
curriculum: skill comes with time and practice. If you take the time, this book provides you
with the other stuff, so your footing is sound in a new application, your bearings are based first
on knowledge and eventually on instinct, and sooner than you know it, WYIIWYG: What you
imagine is what you get.
What You Need to Bring to the Party
In a word, you will get the most out of Xara Xtreme if you bring along the right attitude. If you
are serious, somber, and intent on conquering a new application, you will defeat the purpose of
learning to work with a design program. Work can be fun—Leonardo DaVinci was an extremely
light and fun guy (or so Mona said)—and getting into the spirit of self-expression is an essential.
N By design, Xara Xtreme is laid out so it is almost transparent to the user. This should
be your personal goal while learning Xtreme. You will know you have arrived at a new
creative stratum when you are drawing something and are concentrating on your work
rather than on the tool you are using. Most of Xara’s Toolbox tools serve more than
one function, depending on your mouse gestures and any keyboard modifiers you are
pressing. Therefore, after you have taken time to develop skill, you will feel as though the
Xtreme workspace is something different from a standard computer program interface. It
is responsive, truly intuitive to use, and gives you the feedback artists need when they use
physical media. If you find yourself becoming immersed in Xara Xtreme, do not freak.
You are simply in your element, doing what it is that brings an idea to life.
Introduction
N You will find more than you imagine in Xtreme if you allow for some yin and yang
to occur. That is, you command Xtreme to perform certain calculations, but also leave
yourself open to letting the application’s features influence your work and your ideas.
You will quickly discover new purposes for tools; the TalkGraphics forums have
new posts almost daily about something strange and wonderful an Xtreme user has
discovered. Xara Xtreme is as extensible as your own curiosity allows it to be.
N Get excited about all the unrealized possibilities you have before you with Xara Xtreme.
It is not just an artist’s prerogative to have a passion about waking up each morning and
contemplating all the great new stuff you will accomplish; it is a personal responsibility. I
have been working with Xara for over a decade (taking breaks once in a while) and do not
feel I have plumbed its depths. Do not see this as intimidating, but rather as a source for
excitement. You have wrapped presents under the tree every day.
The Structure of The Official Guide
A new version of a program is always a challenge to document, to address the needs of firsttime users plus current users who have upgraded. The content of The Official Guide, therefore,
is structured to get you up and running in the first few chapters, and then the book branches
out to cover new, specific areas of Version 5. If you are new to vector drawing, Chapter 1 is
an excellent place to begin; by Chapter 5—which shows you how to create and apply object
fills—you will have enough details tucked away to go exploring some of the how-tos described
in chapters dedicated to a single artistic area. Chapter 13, for example, shows you how to draw
elements into photographs whose presence is undetectable from the photo. Chapter 11 flattens
the learning curve for creating a multi-page website—complete with links to video and web
widgets that will make your first website look like you have been doing this for years.
Although books are analog devices, the truly useful aspect of them that has survived the ages
is that you can bookmark a place a lot faster than in a web browser. Learn exactly what it is you
want to learn today, lend your learning experience some quality time (shut the door to your study
after soundproofing it), and I think you will be exceptionally satisfied with what you will see you
can create.
How to Download the Tutorial Files
About the tutorial files: You can download all the files you’ll need to complete the tutorials
in this book—and some bonus content here and there—at www.mhprofessional.com/
computingdownload and at theboutons.com, a mirror site for files. At the beginning of each
chapter, you’ll see a Downloads icon. Download Chapter 04.zip, for example, before you begin
Chapter 4’s exercises; extract the files to a location that you can easily find on your hard disk.
Then, when a step calls for you to load “Zebra acquires non-voting stock.xar” (or any native
Xara file—the author’s just being silly here), you do so in your copy of Xara Xtreme.
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Xara Xtreme 5: The Official Guide
Similarly, several typefaces are included with the example files; you should install these fonts
before beginning a tutorial that calls for the fonts. Bitmaps are also part of the tutorials; in Xara
Xtreme, you import a copy of these bitmaps by pressing CTRL-ALT-I or choosing File | Import.
Photographic Retouching
The PDF Bonus Chapter “Photographic Retouching”—and the tutorial files—show you how to
alter bitmap images. If you want to resize only the important part of a photo, Xara Xtreme 5 now
features Content-Aware Photo Resizing.
Live Effects work on both vector and bitmap images to correct and stylize photography.
The Panorama Maker is an easy-to-use, scripted feature that intelligently stitches a series of
photos together. The Bonus Chapter also shows you how to retouch a significant object out of a
photograph—using vector shapes.
Download and dig in! It’s our gift to our readers and everyone who loves flawlessly enhanced
photography.
www.mhprofessional.com/computingdownload
mirror site:
www.theboutons.com
1
Up and Running with
Xara Xtreme
A
fter you’ve launched Xara Xtreme and closed the Tips box, you’re presented with a new blank
document. The interface might look sparser than other graphics applications, but tremendous
design power is there—it’s simply not in the way so you can concentrate on your work.
This chapter provides an orientation to where the features are located, how to access and use
tools and other features. Also, if you are just starting out with vector drawing, you’ll learn about
shapes, how to create something visually meaningful and interesting, and in general how vector
artwork differs from bitmap paintings and photos.
You can uncheck the Show Tips On StartUp if you don’t want to see the Tips box each time
you launch Xara Xtreme. If you want to see the box in the future, you can access it from the
Help | Tip Of The Day menu; the toggle box to turn it on can be reactivated here.
Download and extract the contents of Chapter01.zip, which contains everything you need to
work through this chapter’s tutorial steps.
Understanding Today’s Drawing Programs
When your goal is to explore what can be done with an application, it makes sense to understand
an application’s target purpose. Today’s design programs can be roughly divided into two
categories: raster (more commonly called pixel and bitmap) paint-type programs and vector
drawing programs. Xara Xtreme belongs to the category of vector drawing programs, as do its
competitors, CorelDraw and Adobe Illustrator. However, most vector drawing applications can
also handle bitmap imports and even generate bitmap images, so the dividing line has become
somewhat smudged. More designers are familiar with bitmap paint programs than with vector
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Xara Xtreme 5: The Official Guide
drawing programs, and the following sections describe the
differences. As you work through this book, you proceed with a
concrete understanding of how to get the most out of what Xara
Xtreme does.
Bitmaps and Vectors
Bitmap-based design work is relatively simple to understand
when compared to vector drawing: A bitmap is a “canvas,”
divided into cells to which you apply color by using a brush or
other tool. The cell, the basic unit of color in a bitmap, is called
a pixel, a placeholder for color, which has an undefined size
until an artist contextualizes a bitmap drawing by using realworld units. Bitmaps are measured in resolution, a fractional
expression called pixels per inch. Dots per inch is slang we
use; it actually refers to print resolution, but the two terms are
used synonymously. Although bitmap programs enable artists
to change the size of a bitmap image, this usually leads to some
blurriness or other type of visual distortion. This is because
all bitmap images are resolution-dependent, unlike vector
drawings. The visual content of a bitmap-based image is a
“done deal” with respect to resolution the moment you create a
new document, such as a digital photo or painting. You cannot
ask a bitmap application to intelligently change the resolution
of a bitmap image any more than you can ask a digital camera
to go back and add detail to a photo you’re unhappy with.
Enlarging a bitmap always introduces some loss of focus and
duplicated pixels without adding visual data.
Understanding the Unique Characteristics
of Vector Artwork
Although paint programs might be fairly intuitive to use, they
do not own the category of digital design media, largely because
of the resolution dependence of bitmap images.
Vector drawing tools bring with them a host of design
advantages over bitmap-based artwork:
N Vector artwork can scale without distortion
Drawing programs do not use the canvas and pixel
sort of math that bitmap programs do. The building
blocks of vector artwork are paths and the attributes
you assign to paths, most commonly outline width and
shape fill. Vector artwork is resolution-independent;
CHAPTER 1:
Up and Running with Xara Xtreme
the components of your design work are pure geometry
(math), not based on page size or any other constraint.
When, for example, you design something that
eventually needs to be twice the size that you originally
drew it, and you command Xara to scale the design
up to 200%, the geometry of your design remains
intact and only the design’s scale on the page changes.
Whether you print to a postage-stamp size or to the
side of a camper van, you can use the same file for
printing. The design details are shown exactly the same
because the program is able to perform the mathematical
calculations on the equations when resizing the lines and
shapes you create. Happily, all you need to do is build
the path lines and the application does the math for you.
N Objects are not affixed to a canvas Part of the
flexibility in designing vector artwork is that a new
page is not only blank, but it’s also a vacuum; shapes
you create always float. If you have experience with
bitmap-based programs such as Photoshop or Painter,
an analogy is that vector programs surround shapes
with transparency. However, shapes are independent of
one another; they can be moved, scaled, and rotated ad
infinitum, and they have a front-to-back order not only
on the page but also on any number of layers you choose
to create.
N You edit to correct, with no need to erase Although
a physical pencil usually has an eraser on its other end,
you don’t erase shapes, parts of shapes, or anything else
when you’ve made a mistake. In fact, Xara doesn’t have
an eraser tool as most bitmap editing programs have.
When you make a mistake designing a shape, you press
CTRL-Z to perform Edit | Undo, you use the Shape Editor
Tool and the Selector Tool to refine a nearly perfect
shape, or you delete the shape or the points and line
segments that make up unwanted parts of the shape.
Xara will generate bitmaps on-the-fly, so sharing a JPEG
rendering of Xara artwork with a friend is quite easy.
Draw Once with Vectors, Use Many Times
A good question to ask yourself is when a bitmap paint program is
appropriate for design work, and when you’d be wiser to turn to
3
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