thinking outside the box

Photo Editing Guide Part 2 - A Summary of the Photo Tools

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In the first part of our Guide to Photo Editing in Xara, we covered the basics of opening photos, zooming, sizing photos, saving and gave a brief summary of the Photo Enhance Tool.  The third tutorial in the series will go into more detail about the options in the Enhance Tool, the workhorse controls that are used in just about every photo edit. In this tutorial we’ll introduce all the tools in the photo fly-out menu. Note: This tutorial has been updated to cover Photo & Graphic Designer (May 2016) and Designer Pro X (July 2016) 365 versions. Below we give a summary of each of the main photo editing tools you will find in the Photo Tool fly-out menu shown below. The main photo tools appear on a fly-out menu of controls under the camera icon.  To access the fly-out menu just hover the mouse pointer over the Camera icon tool. When you select any of the tools in the fly-out it will replace the Camera icon (which is actually the Photo Enhance tool, the first in the list). Click on any of these links to quickly jump to that section below: Photo Enhance Tool Whole Photo or Part: Regions Color Select - or ‘enhance by color’ Clip Tool Clone / Magic Erase Tool Healing Tool Effect Painter Red-eye removal Live Effects Content aware resize Levels Dialog and White Balance Panorama stitcher Perspective Correction Photo EXIF information

The Photo Enhance Tool:

This provides the workhorse controls for the main photo enhance operations, such as adjusting the brightness, shadows, color, sharpen etc. When you select this tool the InfoBar shows this set of controls: Click the small right-arrow next to each to show a slider control to adjust each of these values. We have created a tutorial describing each of these controls. See Part 3 The Enhance Options for examples and details of each of these controls.

Whole image or part?

If you select the image and adjust one of the above settings, the effect will usually be applied to the whole image. But what if you wanted to enhance just a part or region of a photo? Or maybe adjust only certain colors? Or a combination of these to adjust, say, the intensity of the blue sky, but no other blue items in the picture.  This is all possible and remarkably easy using Regions and Color Select.


You can create Masks or Regions on a photo so the Enhance operations listed above apply only to the defined region. Use the set of Region Tools from the main tool bar: The Region Painter and other region and mask tools The Region Painter Tool allows you to ‘paint’ a region onto your photos - it’s shown with an animated dotted outline. Hold the Shift key down and you can un-paint, that is cut-away, parts of your region.  If you now switch back into the Enhance Tool,   now the various enhance operations listed will apply only to the region. Feather the edges : An important control when using Regions is the Feather Control on the top right of the toolbars. This allows you to blend the edge of the region. The other Region Tools on the fly-out menu shown above are: Magnetic Lasso Tool, which enables you to draw a freehand outline around a part of the photo, with ‘magnetic’ snap to the edges of objects. Rectangle Region Tool, which creates rectangular regions. Mask Painter Tool.  The Mask Painter is like in inverted Region Painter. Instead of creating a region where effects are applied inside the region, a Mask is an area that protects the image from being altered.  Masks are shown in pink.  So if you want to adjust an image, with the exception of a small part, it’s easier using the Mask Painter to mask over the exclusion area first, then make the required adjustments. The masked area will remain unaffected. The last three icons represent: Show / Hide the dotted outline of the Mask or Region. Invert the Mask or Region - but NB this only works whilst creating the Region or Mask, once you’ve applied an effect, then you can’t invert it. Clear the Mask or Region.

Color Select - ‘enhance by color’:

The second way to limit an enhance effect is by making it apply only to certain colors, and you can do this with the ‘Color Select’ feature. At the right hand end of the Enhance Tool InfoBar there’s another major photo editing control, Color Select, that allows you to apply any of the above enhance controls to selected colors only. This is useful, for example, if you want to change the brightness or perhaps the blueness of a blue sky without affecting other parts of the picture. Or perhaps you want to change a red dress to be a green one, or just tone down the grass in your photo. By selecting only the yellow colors on this image, and using the Color Tint control you can adjust the yellow to be just about any hue you like, without affecting the other colors in this image.  Note that this has altered the lighter and darker yellows of the original to retain the correct shading in order to make this realistic. To limit any enhance operation to specific colors only, in the Enhance Tool first select the Color Select Tool,  and now click on the color you want to select on the photo. As you do this you’ll see a brief ‘checker-board’ flash and a color select control handle will be placed on the image. You can click and hold to see exactly which parts of the photo will be affected, as shown by a checker-board pattern (or drag on your photo to adjust exactly which colors are selected).  You can click again to apply multiple additional color-select handles.  Right click on the handle to see additional options. Now when you use any of the normal Enhance controls the changes will be applied to only the selected colors, instead of the whole image. Color Select is a super-powerful tool, and there a dedicated tutorial describing this in more detail: Part 4, Changing Colors in Photos.

The Clip Tool:

Dragging across the image when in the Photo Enhance Tool is an easy, direct way to crop photos as described in Part 1 of the Photo Editing Guide, but this dedicated Clip Tool provides additional controls to crop to a specific pixel size, or specific aspect ratio. This is a non-destructive operation so if you don’t like it you can adjust the crop later, or un-crop, even after a save.  You can enter the crop size in the W and H fields, and use any unit you like. For example, enter 4in and it will create a crop region 4 inches in size (measurements are based on 96ppi - pixels per inch, the standard Windows screen measure).  If you select the lock-aspect check-box you can set either the width or the height and the other measurement will automatically resize to keep your image aspect correct, or you can select from one of the pre- set aspect ratios shown.  Click un-clip to restore the original full image.

The Clone or Magic Erase Tool:

The Clone tool can perform two functions. It can copy (clone) any region of a photo to any other region. This is most often used to hide objects or cover up parts of a photo. It can even copy parts of one photo onto another. Secondly, it can perform a ‘magic erase’ around a drawn region which is an intelligent ‘fill’ that tries to remove objects, filling in with a background texture. You can feather the edges of the clone or filled region to make a more seamless blend with the background. For more information see the tutorials Magic Erase and Removing Unwanted Objects from your Photo.
Clip Enhance Clone & Magic Erase Effect Painter Healing Brush Plug-in  Live Effects Levels & White Balance Perspective Correction Red-eye Content Aware Resize Panorama EXIF data
Warm / Cold
Sharpen / Blur
Color Tint
Colour Select
Compare before / after toggle
Levels dialog