Xara Designer Pro X — a shortcut to dynamite designs

Whether you are a gifted, experienced graphic designer or a newbie, up-and-coming graphic designer, you know the right tools can make your creativity soar. I propose then, that Xara Designer Pro X is going to be your next best friend if you haven’t tried it already. This is a combined Graphic design & illustrator program, a web design program, an image editing program and a desktop publishing program — all wrapped neatly into one.

You could spend $636 every year to rent Creative Cloud to do all that Xara Designer Pro X does, but for less than half that, you could own your own copy of Designer Pro. Not only that, Designer Pro version 16 has features that you won’t find in any of the Creative Cloud products.

I first wrote about Xara Designer Pro 365 back in August of 2017. I was quite smitten with its capabilities for web design, photo editing and desktop publishing. You can read about that here. But now, with the introduction of Designer Pro X, version 16, it has added more features that are perfect for today’s graphic artists. With so much effort going into creating assets for social media, the “Autofit” feature was a God-send.

You know the drill…your boss accumulates some text, some bullet points, and a couple graphics, sticks them all in a Word doc and tells you he wants a social media post in 30 minutes. Oh yeah, he wants one properly proportioned for Twitter, another for Pinterest, another one for Instagram and one for Facebook.

Well, that would have been a chore in the old days, but, Designer Pro will actually open Word files in its graphic editor, so you’re off and running. First, create a workspace for one of your intended sizes, like Pinterest, and import the doc into Xara.

Assign it a background color if desired and move the images into place. Save your Pinterest graphic.

Now, click File > Page Options> Page Size > Paper Size and select Twitter Post (1024 x 512). The “Autofit all objects” option resizes and relocates the objects to fit the new proportions of the Twitter post. Tweak their placement if needed and save you Twitter Post.

Same drill, but this time pick Instagram.

Lastly, with still fifteen minutes to spare, select Facebook.

Hmmm, I’m not crazy about the two long, slender images. We’ve got time, so let’s modify them for better effect.

[Now, before anyone complains that the type is too small and there’s too much of it, tell it to the boss, not me. I’m only illustrating it here to show what can be done — in a hurry — in a pinch. And besides, who’d of thought that Word doc could look so good so quick.]

Want to know more? Check all the additional customization options available in Autofit by reading this Release Note from Xara about V16.

Continuing with the “time is always a factor” theme, there’s another blow-you-away feature that came out in this release. It’s called “Color Palette from Photo.”

Much as the name implies, your entire document can change its look and feel, depending on the photo you drop into your template. And we aren’t talking about a limited range of templates here — you’ll create your own in minutes. Let’s do it.

Start by creating a page size — here I’ve picked Pinterest, and dropped in a photo.

Then I’ve added two solid color boxes above and below the photo and added my text. Don’t worry about what colors to use for the boxes or the type just yet. Select the photo. Go ahead now and using the photo flyout…

Click the last icon to the right “Palette from photo”.

The software will analyze the colors in the photograph and select groupings in five color themes that will all compliment the photo. You can now assign colors to the boxes and to the type that will work with your design — keeping in mind that the type should be much lighter or darker than the box behind it.

Now the fun begins. Drop an entirely different colored image by right clicking on the photo and selecting Replace photo>with Stock Photo. You’ll be taken to Pixabay where you can search for related graphics and select one. As you can see, I picked one with a blue sky and it redeveloped the color schemes into five new colors and automatically applied them to the graphic. I exported it to a JPEG file.

Isn’t this fun? Let’s do it again, this time making it more romantic. Selecting a photo from my files, I again Replace photo and viola, an entirely different looking graphic — done in under a minute!

For more information on Color Palette from Photo, read this release note — page 9. In total, there are 20 pages of new goodies in this newest release. Check it out.

There are so many cool new features, that you’ll want to play for hours (notice, I didn’t say work). With all the new features (here are just a few) you’ll be looking for projects to use them on. I’m looking forward to doing some more desktop publishing with Xara, using their OpenType ligatures. Look at what they’ve got going here.

This really is a giant step forward in graphic design — enough that beginners can easily pick up and learn the tools, while letting the experienced artist soar to heights formerly difficult to obtain. Lots of tutorials on their site will get you started quickly. You can download a free trial here. If you give it a try, leave a comment below telling us your favorite new capabilities of Xara Designer Pro X version 16.

Disclosure: Xara provided us with a copy of Designer Pro X to try out for this review. Opinions expressed, however, are and always will be strictly our own.

Originally published at Doug Bardwell.

Writer & photographer in print & online. Proud husband, father & grandfather. Engaged volunteer with Red Cross, human trafficking prevention & social concerns.