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Making the white background of a bitmap transparent when exporting as a GIF image TIP: While re-exporting some bitmap files with white backgrounds, I discovered a way to make the white background transparent. While this is not as effective as exporting a vector object, it works pretty well. Just apply a Stained Glass transparency, 0%. When you export the bitmap, select Transparent Background (the wine glass icon). (GIF and 8-bit PNG)

Increasing the color in a washed out photo image TIP: Make a duplicate image, and apply a Flat, 50-70% Stained Glass transparency. This adds a little more oomph to the image.

Ed Nadie Clarifies Xara’s Nudge Factor (nudge refers to using the arrow keys on your keyboard to move a selected object or objects)

If you have your nudge factor set to 1 pixel, (Page Options > General) you probably know you can use ctrl-shift with a cursor key (arrow) to nudge 0.2 pixel.

Sometimes that doesn't position your objects the way you want -- but you don't have to reset your nudge factor, or call it close enough: zoom in and nudge with alt.

nudge factor set at x:
arrow 1x
ctrl-arrow 5x
shift-arrow 10x
ctrl-shift-arrow 0.2x

nudge distance (at zoom 100):
alt-arrow 1 pixel
alt-shift-arrow 10 pixels

The four x-factor nudges are independent of zoom; and one and ten pixels sound like set amounts, but with alt and alt-shift, the nudge distance changes in proportion to zoom -- the more you zoom in, the smaller the nudge. (Not mentioned in Help.)

alt-arrow nudge examples:
at zoom 10: 10.0 pixels
at zoom 100: 1.0 Pixel
at zoom 1000: 0.1 pixel
at zoom 2000: 0.05 pixel
at zoom 25000: 0.004 pixel

That's an amazing range; and Xara X is accurate too!

text on a bitmap tip

Two Heads are Better Than One When adding text to an image for export, make a duplicate of the text in place (Ctrl K or Arrange > Clone). For some unexplained reason, the type is a little heavier and a little easier to read.

vignette transparency tip

Daniel Will Harris’s Soft Vignette TIP To vignette a photo image, apply an Elliptical transparency. Make several in place duplicates (Ctrl K) to increase the intensity of the image.

In later versions of Xara, you can create an ellipse, or any other shape, and apply Feathering.

More selection options within a group. Ivan Louette, the Brushmeister, points out, ”If you hold down Ctrl and Shift keys while clicking, you can select several objects in a group and not just one!” Ivan adds, “With Ctrl Shift you can even select obects inside several different groups and given a name to your selection, which is another method of grouping objects!”

Ctrl clicking on grouped objects tip

Taking Control with Grouped Objects. To select an object in a group of objects click on the object while holding down the Ctrl key. With one object in the group selected, press the Tab key to cycle though the group of objects.

To drag-and-drop a color onto an object in a group, hold down the Ctrl while you drag the color from the screen palette and drop it onto the grouped object.

Creating a Bitmap Copy in the exact same place When you create a bitmap copy (Arrange > Create Bitmap Copy), Xara places the bitmap in the exact center of the screen. Normally this is fine. But there might be times when you want to create a bitmap copy in the exact same location as the original objects from which the bitmap is being made. No problem, just hold down the Shift key when you press Create.

monochrome brush tip

Brush TIP:
To create a monochrome version of a custom brush, select the brush with the Freehand Tool, then select Edit Brush (on the Infobar). In the Fill Properties tabbed section, Select Local Color Replaces: All Brush Colors. Zowie. What happened? Everything is black.

Don’t panic. Right click on a color on the screen palette, then adjust the Transparency amount as needed.

To achieve the colorful variation shown at the bottom of the illustration, I selected Local Brush Replaces: Named Brush Colors. In the Fill Properties section, set the Hue slider setting to 0-180 (right in the middle). Apply a red outline.

The glass bead brush is from Gary’s Glass Bead Brush set and is available free in the Fills and Brushes page.

Sean Sedwards GIF Slimming Regimen TIP: Many of us may use the Max colours value on the GIF export dialog to reduce the file size, especially on simple designs. It's also possible to make significant savings on complicated images with little loss of quality by combining a reduced palette with the Error diffusion dithering option. On closer inspection however, it appears that Xara X isn't doing all it can to reduce the file size, specifically when the number of colours chosen is less than or equal to half the maximum available (i.e. <=128 for 256 colours or <=8 for 16 colours). Here's the workaround:

Simply copy and paste your artwork to a single frame in a new animation document and export from there. The animation export options don't allow for sophisticated palette manipulation, but you can choose the number of colours and select transparency. If you need to manipulate the palette, make a bitmap copy of your drawing and export that from an animation document.

Explanation: Although the normal GIF export uses a reduced palette, the file still contains the maximum number of colours, each taking 3 bytes (e.g. a 64 colour GIF will contain 192 x 3 = 576 bytes of unused palette). What's worse is that the palette is not arranged for maximum efficiency, so the compression is less good too. You can use any values but the GIF file format supports palette sizes in powers of 2 (2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128 & 256) and the animation export takes full advantage.

Addendum to the above TIP: In theory, the optimum quality / file size ratio is achieved when the palette size is a power of 2, however I've discovered the animation export has its own quirk (a bug really). If you choose 64 colours, say, and transparency, the GIF has 63 foreground and 1 transparent background colour, as expected, but the file has a 128 colour palette! It's still smaller than going the normal route, but you can improve it further by choosing 63 colours (generally, (power of 2)-1 ) or deselecting transparency.

sepia photo tipColor to Sepia Tone Photo TIP: You can change any 24-bit bitmap photo image from color to two-color by selecting the photo and changing the fill and outline colors. To create the Sepia Tone effect shown above, apply a dark brown Fill color and then edit the fill color in the Color Editor to the RGB color shown. Do the same for the Outline color. The Outline color replaces the darker colors white the Fill color replaces the lighter colors.

(Right click on a color on the screen palette to apply the Outline color and Left click on a color to apply the Fill color).


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