Pros / The software includes tools for editing both vector and raster images.
Cons / You must pay extra to use photo filters and templates.
Verdict / Xara Photo & Graphic Designer includes a wide selection of illustration tools and photo editing features. While it’s a decent program, other software gives you more built-in creative freedom.
Xara Photo & Graphic Designer offers an extensive selection of illustration tools. With the pen tool and vector brushes, you can create illustrations that will maintain their quality as you resize and manipulate them. The graphic design program also has vector tracing; it can outline bitmaps and convert them to an editable vector image.
At $59.99, Xara Photo & Graphic Designer is the second-least-expensive software we tested. Xara also offers a 30-day free trial, so you can see if you like the program before buying it.
Xara Photo & Graphic Designer offers a variety of brushes, as well as the ability to create custom brushes. You can adjust the weight, color and stroke of the brush. The program is compatible with drawing tablets, which you can use to customize the pressure of your brushes. Likewise, you can make changes to fonts – such as altering the color, opacity, size and wrapping around an image – or even add 3D effects. When we attempted to copy and paste text into the program, the text had a different color background that we couldn’t remove. We had to type out everything ourselves within the program so that this background coloring wouldn’t show up. This can be frustrating if you’re pasting large text sections into your project.
When you create your designs, you can use several tools to help ensure accuracy. With rulers, grids and snap-to alignment, the software lets you measure and place elements of your design precisely where you want them. Unfortunately, the program does not offer custom guides for more control.
Photo & Image Tools
Xara Photo & Graphic Designer includes several image editing tools. There is a decent library of photo filters, but you need to pay to use them. These photo filters can manipulate the color and texture of your images. You can even merge photos into a panorama. It also includes tools that help improve the photo. For example, you can correct the colors, remove noise or fix any distortions caused by the lens.
The software comes with templates you can place your photos on, but you must pay for those, too. This is somewhat disappointing, considering other programs offer a number of free filters and templates.
Xara Photo & Graphic Designer includes content-aware scaling, which lets you resize your photos without distorting them, so you can place them into the templates. The software’s masking tools allow you to remove unwanted objects or subjects from your images. You can even add dimension to your photos with the perspective-based editing feature. Although the software does not have a history log, you can use the Undo button to reverse your actions. After you have finished creating a design or editing a photo, you can export it directly to social media.
Xara Photo & Graphic Designer’s opening screen offers several tips and guidelines to help you get started. We were able to manipulate photos and create designs with little difficulty, and the software was responsive throughout the process.
This software offers plenty of illustration tools and photo editing features to get you started. But the program isn’t as easy to use as some others, and it limits creative freedom by making you pay for filters and templates. If you’re looking for a relatively affordable program with a wide range of tools and features, we recommend checking out Photoshop Elements.
Like Xara’s other programs, Xara Photo & Graphic Designer is designed with printing excellence in mind. You can adjust the bleed and add printer’s marks to your designs to make sure ink covers every area of your final design. You’ll also be warned if a printing error is detected.
Help & Support
Xara offers several support resources on its website. You can join support forum conversations, view video tutorials and search the online manual, which is also available within the application. Or, you can contact support representatives by email. Unfortunately, Xara does not offer live chat on its website.
The best graphic design software includes a combination of illustration and photo editing capabilities, and Xara Photo & Graphic Designer does this. The software has several vector tools for converting your photos into editable vector images. Although the software makes you pay for templates and filters and lacks some basic features and capabilities, it offers other methods. It isn’t the best graphic design software on the market, but it’s a decent option if you’re willing to pay to open up more options.