The WebXealot  Page 4

Xara X. Create Bitmap Copy

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Sometimes you need to convert objects in Xara (that you are going to use in Xara), to bitmap.

You could export the image and then import it back into Xara. But why?

You can Create a Bitmap Copy right in Xara. There are two ways to do this: 1) right click on the selection and select Create Bitmap Copy, or 2) select this function in the Arrange pull down menu at the top of the screen.

Xara presents a range of bitmap options which we will cover in this section.

The Create Bitmap Options dialog (shown above) opens with two preview windows which you can use for side-by-side comparison. While the Help menu says we can preview the image in any number of file formats (GIF, JPEG, PNG and BMP) in reality you can only preview in PNG mode. (You can preview in these other formats when you export an image to bitmap). This is fine because PNG files can have between 2 colors to 16.7 million colors, with and without background transparency. Click in the right window and select a color depth and other options and the results are shown at the bottom of the preview window.

By default, Create Bitmap Copy selects a Color Depth of True Color + Alpha. This is 24 bit color with an additional 8 bits of alpha channel transparency. The other options are TrueColor (16.7 million colors), 256 colors, 16 colors and 2 colors.

When you select TrueColor with or without Alpha, the Dithering, palette, and Max. Colors options are grayed out.

If you select a Color Depth of 256 or 16 colors, you have a Dithering choice of Error Diffusion or None.

TrueColor produces the smoothest blend with no banding.

256 Colors, with or without Error Diffusion, produces a smooth transition at this small size as well.

16 Colors with No Dithering is banded and 16 Colors with Error Diffusion is only by degrees better. But, if you are creating bitmaps to use in Xara, why be cheap? Go for the gold and use either TrueColor or TrueColor + Alpha. Worry about the other settings when you get ready to export your image.

If you want the bitmap's background to be transparent, use the TrueColor + Alpha Color Depth option. You can see how seamlessly it integrates with the background photo.

Do not include a rectangular background behind your object when you Create Bitmap Copy or Xara will include it in the bitmap and the background will not be transparent.

If your image does not need a transparent background then select the TrueColor option.

Between the two side-by-side preview windows is the Control Bar. The two preview windows let you try different options and compare the results. Click in either window to select it and then try different Color Depth and Palette options. The results are displayed at the bottom of the preview window along with the increase or decrease in file size.

The Control Bar contains a Zoom Tool for magnifying a section of the preview image, a Push Tool for sliding the image around in the preview window, Zoom to Fit, which reduces the image to fit inside the preview windows, 100% which scales the image to full size, and 1:1, similar to 100% but displays non-GIF images at the same size they appear on screen at 100% Zoom Factor. The Color Picker (the eyedropper) only works on images of 256 colors or less and can be used to designate transparent colors.

NOTE: We will cover the creation of transparent GIF files in next month's issue. All file options in the Save Bitmap Copy dialog are PNG images. There are many similarities between PNG, GIF, and JPEG which we will sort out next month as well.