Veteran UK developer Xara has released a brand new version of its acclaimed creative design tool, Xara Photo and Graphics Designer 9.1.0. Version 9 concentrates on revamping the package’s photo tools, with the introduction of Photo Healing, Background Erase and new masking tools and photo FX plug-ins.
Version 9 also adds other new features including a Shape Painter tool, support for graphical bulleting and numbers, and improved font support, with multi-weight fonts now accessible from the Fonts menu and direct support for Google Fonts implemented.
Xara Photo and Graphics Designer 9’s new photo tools are designed to be both easy to use and effective. The new Photo Healing tool – like those in other packages – is designed to quickly erase spots, scratches and other unwanted blemishes from photos, but is also designed to be used in conjunction with the program’s magic erase feature, making it possible to eradicate large unwanted parts of images with the promise of “amazingly seamless results”.
The Background Erase tool, meanwhile, is designed to allow users to quickly cut complex images out of photos for placing on alternative backgrounds, while the new masking tools are designed to simplify the task of selecting parts of an image for applying selected effects too. These include both region painter and mask painter tools for selecting or protecting parts of the image from alterations.
Version 9 also debuts 11 new Photo FX plug-ins. These are used for creating striking effects, such as simulating the effect of High Dynamic Range images with the Fake HDR tool, or marking specific parts of an image as colour before rendering the rest of the image in black and white.
Away from the photo-editing component, Photo and Graphics Designer 9 also implements a new and easier way to recolour elements in complex grouped objects such as clipart or buttons. Users can now simply drag and drop a colour onto the group, then pick the colour it’s intended to replace.
Also added in version 9 is a new Shape Painter tool for painting on to an existing shape to enlarge it, add new areas or adjust its shape or outline – it’s designed to offer a simpler alternative to the existing Shape Editor tool.
Font support has also been improved with support for selecting multi-weighted fonts in the program’s font menu joined by the implementation of direct support for Google Fonts, the free collection of fonts recently made available by the search engine giant. A new Google Font picker makes it easy to select from the entire collection – currently numbering over 600.
The new build also sports some minor improvements: fly-out toolbars are now easier to use, JPEG/PNG conversion is now quicker and subtly better thanks to a new converter tool, while version 8 also adds compatibility with Windows 8 touch devices. Many of these subtle tweaks mirror those made to Xara’s Web Designer 9 tool, which was also recently released.
Xara Photo and Graphic Designer 9.1.0 is available now as a free trial download for PCs running Windows XP or later. The full version retails for $89.99 plus VAT.