This month I’m going to explain the feathering technique in Xara Xtreme.
Feathering is a technique used in Xara to soften the edges of any object (including groups, bitmaps and even vector objects.  It is a powerful feature
that was pioneered by Xara when Xara X (version 1.0) was released back in January 2001 (Figure 1.1), and is still not currently present in many
comparable graphics software.
Until vector feathering came along in Xara, a blend between a similar transparent object was
typically used to simulate soft edges.  This technique is still used today for specialised
circumstances but feathering is more commonly applied.
In December 2005, Xara Xtreme 2.0 was released and introduced the Live Effect tool.  Within
this tool was a plug-in for bitmap feathering, which has particular uses for feathering bitmaps
with an alpha channel, as discussed in bitmap feathering section.
This tutorial discusses how to apply each type of feathering, and discusses the distinction
between them both with example.  It also briefly discusses the difference between feathering
and Gaussian blurring.
Note 1: This printable .docx document has been written in MS Word 2007, and it is
recommended that it be read in this format to take full advantage of the features
offered.  For readers without MS Word 2007, a free Word 2007 .docx file viewer can be
obtained here.  For those with earlier versions of Word, the MS Word 2007 compatibility
pack—which allows users to open, edit and save files in the new .docx format—can be obtained from here.
Note 2: Using the latest features of Xara, all images in the document were pasted directly from the application, and are thus Xara OLE objects; simply
double-clicking on them will load them directly back into Xara for easier, interactive inspection.
Note 3: The latest version of this document can be found on my web space, specifically: here.
Note 4: A document tree is available in Word to see the structure of the document and make navigation easier:
• In Word 2003 and below: go to View > Document Map.
• In Word 2007: go to the View tab > check the Document Map checkbox in the Show/Hide palette.
Note 5: This document also contains cross-references to key parts of the document.  For example, Ctrl-clicking on text such as ‘Figure 1.1’ will cause
the document to jump to the relevant location.  Sections and figures references take advantage of this feature.
How to Feather an Object
Any object can be feathered—whether it be vector or bitmap—or group of objects in Xara.  There are two distinct types of feathering: vector and
bitmap.  Vector feathering is the most likely used of the two, and the distinction between them is slight but significant.  These will be addressed in the
vector and bitmap section.
It should be noted that in versions of Xara between 1.0 to 4 inclusive, there is a 50 pixel feathering limit that can be applied to objects.  This is
apparently due to performance issues, as will be discussed later; however with processing power increasing, it’s uncertain how long such a limit will
Figure 1.1. A screenshot showing the inception of
vector feathering: Xara X1 (version 1.0) back in
January 2001.