Xtreme Photo & Graphic Designer consists of three programs rolled into one. The main two are Magix Xtreme Photo Designer 7, a comprehensive photo editor, and Xtreme Graphic Designer, the remit of which is vector-based graphics editing. Rounding the package off is Magix Photo Manager 2007, a media management tool.
Installation of the program was a straightforward affair, save for one annoyance. Just like the last Magix product we reviewed, this one installed a Music Manager program without us requesting it to do so. That might be fine for those who want it, but we didn’t, and quite frankly it felt like having our hard drive spammed. We chose the standard install, and while ‘custom’ does allow you to make a choice, the fact is the default installation should also ask if you want extra stuff putting on your system.
Anyhow, we didn’t let this slight tomfoolery colour our view of the package, which is without doubt a quality affair. The program runs from a neat central interface that offers a range of simple options such as “Optimise photos fast” or “Make a greetings card.” A wide range of common design and editing tasks are covered, from DTP through Web design to freehand drawing, and whichever you pick, the appropriate application is automatically opened.
Not only that, but the appropriate tool set is readied too. For example, if you choose to make a photo calendar, the Graphic Designer program pops up with the clipart gallery window already open on the calendar templates. This ease of use extends throughout, so when you go into Photo Designer to edit your images, the tools to remove red-eye or sharpen up pictures are simple click-and-use affairs.
Some of the effects aren’t perfect, mind you, as we found that the automatic sharpening process didn’t cope too well with a few slightly blurred photos we challenged it with, but on the whole there wasn’t much cause for complaint.
The only area in which the novice designer is likely to come unstuck is when getting to grips with the more advanced features of Xtreme Graphic Designer. This is actually a version of Xara Xtreme, and you’ll know if you’re familiar with the Xara product that it’s a heavyweight and powerful application that allows speedy real-time vector graphics editing (vectors can be freely manipulated without distortion, as opposed to pixels, which can’t).
Using it on a basic level is easy enough, however, and the freehand drawing tool is surprisingly intuitive, plus there are plenty of templates provided for the various different projects you can undertake, so you can build on top of them and glean inspiration that way.
Alongside the central two programs, the Photo Manager helps you organise your photos, view them in a slideshow format or burn them onto a CD. It’s a useful little extra.
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