In Lieu of Talent


Posted 05/20/2013:

Many visitors to my site may be put off by the deluge of computer generated “art” pieces. I usually preface a story with a header graphic to add visual appeal to the story.  In the interest of not presenting myself as a boring, art challenged sort of fellow, I fall back to the secret technique used by all of the other non-artists.  It’s something I’m driven to do because I have no graphics (i.e. drawing) talent whatsoever.

I decided a long time ago to put no graphic on any site or blog unless I had created the artwork myself.  Many years ago I purchased some commercial clip art for a website … but for a long time now I’ve not taken that approach.  Maybe I’m too cheap, or maybe I’ve actually grown fond of the (practically speaking) hobby associated with creating artwork via the use of “power assisted” art software.

Despite the “power assisted” part, creating computer assisted art can be time consuming, but it’s also a lot of fun.  Photography is another branch of art where the pretenders can play a little bit.  So, I sometimes mix the computer art with the photography.

The graphic at the top of this post is the result my playing with yet another piece of software I stumbled across on the net, and that was originally produced by a company called Xara. I think Xara is famous in the Windows world, but it’s a very niche program in the Linux/Unix world.  The company, based in the U.K., has been building graphics software since 1981. They created a nice little graphics editor for Linux, then delivered it in the 2006/2007 timeframe, but have yet to release any further update for it (on Linux).  I believe the Windows version might be more up-to-date.  I decided to give Xara a try, in spite of the age of the Linux version.

The program can be found at:

I believe the editor uses SVG internally. At least I think it does, but I’m not sure.  Its native file format is a binary type, yet the editor has the feel of SVG.  I’ve not put the hex-curse on any of the outputted graphics files, so haven’t discovered – for certain – the shape of the format.  Internal SVG is my guess.  The program, as downloaded from the Xara site, turned out to be a November 2007 binary, so I dug around in the bit-box, found a very old copy of Linux, and installed Xara on that.

At first blush, it did indeed present itself as being 2007ish.  I was a little bit inclined to sigh, say “ah well,” and relegate it to the “maybe I’ll find a use for it someday pile.”  I’m glad I didn’t act on my initial reaction to the Linux version, because it’s not so bad, for some of the things a bloke might want to do, even today.

It took a little diddling, but I eventually found a fairly pleasurable result, using the contour and bevel tools.  With those two tools, I generated the header graphic, and the other ones, shown below:


Hutchy is one of my dogs (they’re pretty ubiquitous features on all of my blogs 🙂


The orb graphic was done by creating a simple circle shape, applying a “contour” and then converting the contour to what the program docs refer to as a simple “editable” shape. This was done with a right click. A round bevel was then applied to the simple shape, and the “lighting angle” of the bevel adjusted until it looked like an orb.

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