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#1
antoniocarlos

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Hi

Is anyone using Xara for cartography? It looks pretty good. And not as expensive as Ilustrator

http://www.xara.com/products/xtreme/

Cheers

#2
Andrew

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Hi

Is anyone using Xara for cartography? It looks pretty good. And not as expensive as Ilustrator

http://www.xara.com/products/xtreme/

Cheers


I only had a quick look but didn't see where it listed files types that the software could import?

#3
Gamerprinter

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I'm one of those fantasy cartographers from Cartographers's Guild.

I've been using Xara Xtreme since its first version to its current Pro 4.0, I run a graphic design studio / reprographics shop / sign shop and use that App as my primary tool despite having Photoshop/Illustrator as part of my software collection. I almost use Xara Xtreme exclusively for all my graphics.

I've been creating fantasy maps using Xara for about a year and a half. Some are completely created within Xara, some are hand-drawn work that is scanned, imported to Xara, then colored/textured and composited within that App. I have a few tutorials for creating maps in Xara at cartographersguild.com - however, I suspect the techniques I use really don't apply to real world maps, but it might be worth checking out in the Tutorials Forum: Regional Maps using Xara Xtreme 4.0, and a couple others.

Xtreme is extremely fast, managing memory usage for creating graphics much more efficiently than Adobe products. Its easy to use, quick to grasp and very powerful. I don't have Illustrator CS, but an earlier version, however, I find Xara a far easier to use, faster which means more time for actual creation than thinking how to do it or multiple steps to implement. Anything I would need to create with a program like Illustrator, I can do in Xara, so I am absolutely sure you guys might find Xara useful.

Also Xara Xtreme could be considered a hybrid raster/vector application. Really more of a Desktop Publishing and Vector Drawing application, but any effect that could be applied to a vector object can be done to a raster object as well. Actually the raster image once manipulated with an effect really becomes a vector object with a raster texture fill. Functions like tranparency, beveling, contours, shape envelopes, drop shadows, edge feathering all have slider tools to offer multiple adjustments within each tool. Combining two objects, subtracting one from another, slicing objects are simple, fast and intutive. Any function you could apply to a vector/raster object you can do with text as well (and still be text editable).

I also create multipage PDF files with hypertext links, complete web designs with java dropdown menus and searchable text even Google Maps inserted - all within Xara, not requiring Acrobat or Dreamweaver to do the work.

Still I can't say it has all the features of CS, as I do not have anything newer than PS 7 and same aged Illustrator and GoLive. Compared to those apps, I prefer Xara, however.

Import format: EPS (many versions), JPG, PNG, GIF, TIF, EMF/WMF, RTF, RAW (multiple formats), PDF, XPS, HD Photo, PSD, AI up to version CS2, JPEG2000, BMP, CDR, CMX, HTML/HTM, PAL (pallettes for Adobe, Corel, many others), DCX, CUT, ICO, PCT, PCD, RAS, TGA, XBM, DCM, FAX, SGI, PPM (Thus it doesn't import CAD or GIS formats, only vector work-arounds like EPS, WMF, CDR, AI, etc.)

Exports to SVG in addition the import formats above plus many more.

Though I use the PRO version, the basic version is still useable for map-making. No need for the Pro version, if your intention is just making maps. Basic app costs are $80, while the Pro version runs around $240 - Pro version really for desktop publishing work, with emphasis on text functions, as well as all functionality of normal version.

GP

#4
ELeFevre

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Hey Gamerprinter,
Welcome to the forum and great post! Thanks!



#5
Gamerprinter

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Hey Gamerprinter,
Welcome to the forum and great post! Thanks!


Thank you, sir!

Sorry, didn't mean to come off sounding like a Xara sales rep. Its just an application I am very familiar with and saw the thread with a question I could answer! I've often lurked at the site, not knowing how I could contribute, so I never joined until now. Great site, and I do adapt ideas here in to my gaming map work.

Because, as I say, Xara is so easy to use and because my fantasy cartography allows for some artistic license (versus a real world map), I am always experimenting with new techniques or expansions of known techniques to improve my work. If it were difficult to use (or undo if I screw up) my creativity might be heavily curtailed. Though I still have to meet the exacting needs for clients, I can always try to improve on the vision.

Though one could create a National Geographic styled map in Xara, as you might in Illustrator, there are many ways to go in your mapping.

Recently I've been playing with creating maps using high resolution terrain textures - beaches, turbulent water, ground cover, aerial views of forests, layered stone textures, etc (obtained free at CGTextures.com). I create vector shapes of regions and landforms with the drawing tool, import the texture images, then apply appropriate image as a fill for given object. Next I go to the Transparency Tool, use a fractal filter that I adjust levels of transparency within the landform shape - like meadows in forest or broken forest edging. I apply a feather onto the shape and a forest realistically blends with the ground cover beneath.

I use the layered stone textures both as a base (with variated levels of transparency over base groundcover texture beneath) and for my mountains. First I create the base shape of my proposed mountain or range, then I apply a straight bevel, adjust levels of contrast and sun elevation to soften the shadowing applied. Immediately I apply a heavy 20 pixel feather on the beveled mountain base so it doesn't appear to float above the ground surface beneath - it blends right in. On higher mountains I place a photo texture of a snowy field to create snowy mountain tops and glaciers, I follow the shape of my base mountain, apply a bevel and soften the shadowing.

For an artificial means of rendering mountains and forests, combining feathers, bevels, transparency filters and photo textures make for an authentic look.

I could create and post a tutorial PDF, showing samples and above techniques used to create specific landforms, if anyone's interested.

Thoughts?

Sample of map in above style (really just a big thumbnail, low res):

http://www.gamer-pri...lanta-thumb.jpg

GP

#6
A. Fenix

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Hey Gamerprinter,
Welcome to the forum and great post! Thanks!


Thank you, sir!

Sorry, didn't mean to come off sounding like a Xara sales rep. Its just an application I am very familiar with and saw the thread with a question I could answer! I've often lurked at the site, not knowing how I could contribute, so I never joined until now. Great site, and I do adapt ideas here in to my gaming map work.

Because, as I say, Xara is so easy to use and because my fantasy cartography allows for some artistic license (versus a real world map), I am always experimenting with new techniques or expansions of known techniques to improve my work. If it were difficult to use (or undo if I screw up) my creativity might be heavily curtailed. Though I still have to meet the exacting needs for clients, I can always try to improve on the vision.

Though one could create a National Geographic styled map in Xara, as you might in Illustrator, there are many ways to go in your mapping.

Recently I've been playing with creating maps using high resolution terrain textures - beaches, turbulent water, ground cover, aerial views of forests, layered stone textures, etc (obtained free at CGTextures.com). I create vector shapes of regions and landforms with the drawing tool, import the texture images, then apply appropriate image as a fill for given object. Next I go to the Transparency Tool, use a fractal filter that I adjust levels of transparency within the landform shape - like meadows in forest or broken forest edging. I apply a feather onto the shape and a forest realistically blends with the ground cover beneath.

I use the layered stone textures both as a base (with variated levels of transparency over base groundcover texture beneath) and for my mountains. First I create the base shape of my proposed mountain or range, then I apply a straight bevel, adjust levels of contrast and sun elevation to soften the shadowing applied. Immediately I apply a heavy 20 pixel feather on the beveled mountain base so it doesn't appear to float above the ground surface beneath - it blends right in. On higher mountains I place a photo texture of a snowy field to create snowy mountain tops and glaciers, I follow the shape of my base mountain, apply a bevel and soften the shadowing.

For an artificial means of rendering mountains and forests, combining feathers, bevels, transparency filters and photo textures make for an authentic look.

I could create and post a tutorial PDF, showing samples and above techniques used to create specific landforms, if anyone's interested.

Thoughts?

Sample of map in above style (really just a big thumbnail, low res):

http://www.gamer-pri...lanta-thumb.jpg

GP


Hello GP,

Thank you for your very informative posts on Xara. I hadn't heard of the package before and am downloading it as I type this. I'm really looking forward to checking out what it can do, and perhaps adding it into my work flow. With your resounding positive reply you have peaked my interest (to say the least). Those of us who work for non-profits are always looking for ways to help our budget restrictions. This just may be the ticket to get the rest of our analysts a graphics package to touch up their analytical results with.

I would love to see a tutorial if you happen to have the time to make one.

Thanks again for the insight!

Analisa
Analisa Fenix
GIS Manager/Chief Cartographer
Ecotrust

#7
Gamerprinter

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Hey Gamerprinter,
Welcome to the forum and great post! Thanks!


Thank you, sir!

Sorry, didn't mean to come off sounding like a Xara sales rep. Its just an application I am very familiar with and saw the thread with a question I could answer! I've often lurked at the site, not knowing how I could contribute, so I never joined until now. Great site, and I do adapt ideas here in to my gaming map work.

Because, as I say, Xara is so easy to use and because my fantasy cartography allows for some artistic license (versus a real world map), I am always experimenting with new techniques or expansions of known techniques to improve my work. If it were difficult to use (or undo if I screw up) my creativity might be heavily curtailed. Though I still have to meet the exacting needs for clients, I can always try to improve on the vision.

Though one could create a National Geographic styled map in Xara, as you might in Illustrator, there are many ways to go in your mapping.

Recently I've been playing with creating maps using high resolution terrain textures - beaches, turbulent water, ground cover, aerial views of forests, layered stone textures, etc (obtained free at CGTextures.com). I create vector shapes of regions and landforms with the drawing tool, import the texture images, then apply appropriate image as a fill for given object. Next I go to the Transparency Tool, use a fractal filter that I adjust levels of transparency within the landform shape - like meadows in forest or broken forest edging. I apply a feather onto the shape and a forest realistically blends with the ground cover beneath.

I use the layered stone textures both as a base (with variated levels of transparency over base groundcover texture beneath) and for my mountains. First I create the base shape of my proposed mountain or range, then I apply a straight bevel, adjust levels of contrast and sun elevation to soften the shadowing applied. Immediately I apply a heavy 20 pixel feather on the beveled mountain base so it doesn't appear to float above the ground surface beneath - it blends right in. On higher mountains I place a photo texture of a snowy field to create snowy mountain tops and glaciers, I follow the shape of my base mountain, apply a bevel and soften the shadowing.

For an artificial means of rendering mountains and forests, combining feathers, bevels, transparency filters and photo textures make for an authentic look.

I could create and post a tutorial PDF, showing samples and above techniques used to create specific landforms, if anyone's interested.

Thoughts?

Sample of map in above style (really just a big thumbnail, low res):

http://www.gamer-pri...lanta-thumb.jpg

GP


Hello GP,

Thank you for your very informative posts on Xara. I hadn't heard of the package before and am downloading it as I type this. I'm really looking forward to checking out what it can do, and perhaps adding it into my work flow. With your resounding positive reply you have peaked my interest (to say the least). Those of us who work for non-profits are always looking for ways to help our budget restrictions. This just may be the ticket to get the rest of our analysts a graphics package to touch up their analytical results with.

I would love to see a tutorial if you happen to have the time to make one.

Thanks again for the insight!

Analisa


OK, here's my tutorial PDF (2 MB) 10 pages describing my new techniques for creating realistic forests and mountains using Xara Xtreme and photo textures. I use this technique for personal and commissioned maps.

I would really like to create a tutorial for a specific need you might have, Analisa (or anyone else interested for that mattter.) I know what I do for fantasy maps may not apply to your needs.

Give me a suggestion for a specific tutorial, I'd love to enlighten you if I can!

GP

Below is the link to the tutorial PDF (I tried to upload it through Insert Special Items, but it failed to convert...not sure what a scribed PDF is)
http://www.gamer-pri...me-tutorial.pdf

#8
Gamerprinter

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Here's another tutorial that might prove more useful, though the content still involves fantasy mapping operations, this tutorial really focuses on the Arrange > Combine Shapes functions: Add, Subtract, Intersect and Slice. This is a very powerful feature. You can infer your own uses from the step-by-step of creating the objects described.

Again here's a link to the PDF file, 1.2 MB, 5 page mini-tutorial.

GP

http://www.gamer-pri...ne-tutorial.pdf




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