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Xara Xtreme 5: The Official Guide Paperback – Import, 16 Jan 2010
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About the Author
Gary David Bouton is the author of over 20 books on computer graphics and video, included five on CorelDRAW. A native of Central New York, Mr. Bouton has won numerous international awards from Corel Corp., IBM, and other software companies for his illustration and desktop publishing designs. A regular contributor to design.com (a bald-faced lie) and other forums, Gary is also a regular communist with Studio Monthly and somehow finds the time to post tips and tutorials on major sites and TheBoutons.com, a terrific resource for anyone who has the need to express themselves using a visual medium.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
With Xara Xtreme Pro 5, Xara has so much added functionality - fully integrated Web site design and development, 3-d ability etc. etc., with no compromise in speed or price, that it is hard to imagine anyone having the time to learn to use all its power properly, least of all amateurs like me. Not any more! Gary Boulton's book is the best software support guide I have ever seen. With humour, intelligence, and a great deal of skill, he guides you through every aspect of using Xara Xtreme, ranging from invaluable insights into professional graphic design to personal interface tweaks that make the system work the way you want it to. Suddenly, I realised that I've needed this book for years! The designs I've done with Xara over that time would have been immeasurably easier, and so much more professional.
This is a great book; informative, entertaining, and beautifully produced - a perfect marriage with the best graphic design software on the market. Buy them both - together they are less than half the price of the inferior leading software competitor!
Xara is a vector drawing program and competes in the same space as Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw. Xara has been an innovator in the field and is the preferred tool of many professional illustrators - and a lot of amateurs like me.
Xara Xtreme can be used for many, many purposes. It has excellent bitmap handling capabilities, can be used to create full-fledged web pages, animated GIFs, text effects and much more.
Xara has always been big on support, providing manuals (usually in PDF form), tutorials, teaching movies and with the help of a large, very supported and often extremely talented user community.
The Xara Xtreme manual has 450 pages and is pretty much like most manuals in that it explains each function and feature in detail. What Gary Bouton does is to demonstrate how to meld various Xtreme features into real-life projects so the user can really grasp the techniques of using the program and its power.
Bouton pulls it off marvelously well. It helps to have some basic familiarity with Xtreme. Lessons are downloadable from the web and each one is complete. None of them are extraordinarily complex and all of them teach you facets of Xteme. The first few chapters sort of deal with the basics of Xtreme; sort of in the sense that it is the basics on steroids. Lots of little tricks and tips that go beyond Xara's manual. This is real-life Xara Xtreme From Chapter 5 onward, Bouton moves into specific aspects of Xtreme, such as blends, contours and moulds; creating photorealistic effects, logos and typography, web animations, building interactive web pages, changing and creating photographic elements and tracing bitmaps. All in all, this is one of those relatively rare teaching books that is a lot of fun to learn from. All of the examples are fresh and original. Bouton's writing style is crystal clear.
If you use Xara Xtreme or are thinking about it, get this book. It is a delight and you'll learn a lot.
There is a plethora of tutorials out there for XX, as well as a thriving on-line community. Still, given my experience looking through all that material, I've suffered from the kid-in-a-candy-store syndrome: all that "stuff" is great but it lacks focus. Where to start? What's a good workflow? Where's Waldo?
Enter Gary's book. He starts you out with a brief discussion of vector graphics in general: what are they? Why are they useful? Who cares? He then leads you by the hand on a guided tour of the XX interface, and quickly assigns you some simple but illustrative hands-on examples to showcase a few of XX's great features. From there he works you through some not-so-trivial exercises to show you how the basic building blocks are created, and from there it's fasten your seatbelt time! In less time than you might think possible he'll have you exercising these building blocks to create effects that I never knew you could accomplish in a vector-based form. His approach isn't scatter-shot--far from it. He takes you on a task-oriented workflow from concept, through application of tools, to final product in a way that's both thorough and easy to understand and follow.
Here's a personal recommendation: when you're doing the invisible ghost exercise (one of the first in the book), break from the script. Unlock the layer holding the room itself, and pick apart the image. You may not immediately realize it's a vector image built in XX itself, and the way Gary combines shapes (including some 3D extrusions) to form the final composition was, to me, as impressive a learning tool about what you can do in this medium as anything I could think of.
Gary is well-versed in this material, having been an XX power user since before it was called that, and his in-depth knowledge shows--as does his wit and humor. This book is far from a dry laundry list of click-this-and-drag-that, and the narrative is further spiced with outstanding full-color (if you get the print version) illustrations clearly showing you what's what.
If you're in my situation, an XX newbie somewhat overwhelmed by the task of navigating a path towards being an effective user, you really, really need this book! Even if you're already an accomplished XX wizard I predict you'll find his take on its uses and powers a compelling read.