Applying a Live Effect

To apply a Live Effect:

  1. Select the object or objects in the usual way.
  2. Select the Live Effects Tool.
  3. Click the New button on the left side of the InfoBar. This displays a partitioned list of available effects in a menu. The first set of effects listed in the menu are Picture Editor effects. The second set are effects provided by the built in Xara Feather and Shadow Tools. The third set of effects are "New-style" Photoshop plug-in effects and the final set are "Old-style" Photoshop plug-in effects (see below for an explanation of these different types).
  4. Select the effect you want to apply from the list.
  5. This will display a dialog or tool that belongs to the effect. You can adjust the various controls and you usually get a small preview of the effect in the dialog.

Click OK when you're done to return to Xara Designer.

Editing shapes

If you apply a Live Effect to a shape or text, the object remains fully editable. Each time you edit it in any way, the Live Effect is automatically re-applied to the object. For locked effects this is not possible, and you must remove the effect using the Delete button on the Live Effect InfoBar, edit the shape, and then re-apply the effect.

Locking effects

When you resize or rotate an object which has a Live Effect applied, Xara takes this to be an edit and re-generates the effect. This may not be what you want, so it's useful sometimes to be able to lock an effect.

Old-style Photoshop plug-ins are Locked as soon as you apply them. This means the underlying shape can't be edited. You can also lock a Live Effect and then when you resize or rotate the object the effect remains fixed, as if you were resizing/rotating a bitmap.

As an example of this, imagine a plug-in that always applies horizontal ripples (the "Television" Live Effect shown does something similar). Apply this effect to a shape, and you'd then see horizontal lines across it. If you then rotated the shape, would you want the ripples to rotate with it? If so, lock the effect before the rotation. Or would you want the horizontal ripple effect to be re-applied to your now rotated rectangle? If so, leave the effect unlocked.

When a Live Effects is locked the effect rotates with the object (left).

When giving designs to other people to load, if they do not have the plug-ins that are used in the design, then they won't see the effects applied. To get around this problem, you can lock the effects. Locked effects are saved as bitmaps in the document so anyone can see them, even if they don't have the plug-ins that generated the effects.

To lock an effect, select the object or objects and in the Live Effects InfoBar click the Padlock icon. To unlock an effect that has been locked this way, just click the Padlock icon again.

You can still alter the resolution of the effect. For printing, you may want to use a higher resolution than if the work is just for screen use.

Live Effect resolution

For screen and web use it's best to leave the resolution at the default 96 DPI; the same as the screen resolution. If you require a higher resolution image, for example if you're printing or wanting to export a high-resolution bitmap, then you can increase this to 150 DPI or even higher. The higher the resolution, the longer it takes to generate or re-generate the effect (because it has to work with a much larger bitmap) and the more memory is required.

You can set the resolution of a Live Effect to "Automatic", instead of choosing a fixed DPI value. With this setting, the effect will be automatically re-generated when required, at the most appropriate resolution. For example, if you print a design containing Live Effects, any effects set to Automatic will be re-generated at print resolution if they are not already at that resolution or higher. In a large design with many effects, note that this can make printing much slower as each effect has to be re-generated at high resolution.

You can change the resolution that's used to render effects in the Effects & Plug-ins tab of the Options dialog. For more on the Options dialog see Customizing Designer. To change the resolution of an effect that has already been applied, use the DPI control on the Live Effects toolbar.

Saving and transferring files

When you transfer a file to someone else, unless they have the same plug-ins installed on their computer, they will not see the effects (this is similar to the problem of fonts; the recipient needs to have all the fonts used in the design to see an accurate representation of the text in the document). In order to guarantee that recipients can see the effects in your design, lock them before saving.

Because locked effects are saved in the design file as a bitmap, this means the files are much larger than for unlocked Live Effects.

Copying Live Effects

For more on Copy and Paste, see Object Handling.

You can copy Live Effects in your design from one object to another using Paste Attributes, just as you can copy other object attributes. Simply select the object with the effect(s) you want to copy and select "Edit -> Copy". Select the object or objects you want to copy the effects onto, and select "Edit -> Paste Attributes".

Note that you cannot copy "old-style" Photoshop plug-in effects in this way because those effects do not have the ability to re-apply themselves.


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