Welcome to QuarkVista

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QuarkVista isn’t the scenic view from Quark’s penthouse suite in Denver; it’s the most significant addition to version 6.5 of QuarkXPress. QuarkVista lets you edit images—including correcting colors and applying effects filters—directly in a QuarkXPress layout.

When to Use QuarkVista

Here’s a pre-6.5 scenario: Your first proof is hot off the printer, but the client wants more emphasis on the main image’s highlights. You open the image in Photoshop, adjust its levels, save the file, update the image in the QuarkXPress layout, and print another proof. The client’s partner thinks the image is too harsh: “Can you blur it a little bit, make it look out of focus?” So you make the change in Photoshop, save the file, update the layout again, and print a new proof.

And then the client’s partner decides she doesn’t like the blurred image. “Can you make it look more like a painting?” she asks.

This can go on for a zillion rounds, and each round brings its own problems. Did you save each change as a different version of the file? Do you remember exactly what changes you made and in what order? QuarkVista can make this very real scenario easier to manage (See screenshot).

The adjustments available with QuarkVista are among the most commonly used features of Photoshop; QuarkVista filters such as Curves, Levels, Color Balance, Gaussian Blur, Unsharp Mask, Emboss, and Noise are the only Photoshop filters some people ever employ.

Get Started

To begin using QuarkVista, open an existing XPress document that includes images. Select any picture box containing a TIFF, JPEG, PNG, SCT, GIF, PICT, or BMP image. (QuarkVista doesn’t work on EPS and PDF files.) Open the Picture Effects palette (Window: Picture Effects). Click on the Adjustments button (far left) or Filters button (second from left) in the palette, and choose the effect you want to apply. All but four of the effects open dialog boxes where you define the specifics of the adjustment. XPress automatically executes the Invert, Desaturate, Despeckle, and Find Edges effects.

The Picture Effects palette lists adjustments in the order in which you make them (unless you manually change that order); you can step back through your changes by deactivating the effects in reverse order, and you can preview the image with any combination of the adjustments you’ve applied.

Click on an adjustment in the palette to select it. To review its settings, click on the arrow on the left. To remove a specific adjustment temporarily, click on the check box on the left side of the palette. You can toggle specific changes on and off and still maintain the settings you applied for that change.

You have a couple of options if you want to experiment with different settings for the same type of adjustment. Say you’ve adjusted the levels in an image. You can adjust the levels a second time, and two separate Levels items will appear in the Picture Effects palette; turn each one on independently to see which you like better. If you don’t want two versions of the same adjustment, you can also edit the specific settings of the applied effects. Double-clicking on an item in the palette (or clicking on the Pencil icon) opens the appropriate dialog box, where you can change the settings for the selected effect.

QuarkVista doesn’t affect the physical file data, so you can test various combinations of changes without altering (or accidentally destroying) the original file. You don’t need to create different layer sets for each variation, or save multiple versions of the same file. Not sure if you like something? Just turn it off and try something else; you can always turn it back on later.

When you output the layout, XPress will apply the adjustments you’ve selected in the palette to the image.

Automate Your Workflow

You can save QuarkVista settings as presets and reload them for other images. For example, you can apply a specific combination of Gaussian Blur and Unsharp Mask to an image and save those settings as a preset. You can then load the saved preset for other images and apply the same combination of effects to the other images—without having to open the dialog boxes and remember exactly what settings you used for each effect or adjustment. QuarkVista presets offer the same time-saving benefits as print styles—make your choices once, and then call upon them whenever you need them.

Save Modified Images

The changes you make using QuarkVista filters are nondestructive. In other words, your changes affect the placed preview in the layout and apply to the actual image data when you output the file. This frees you to experiment with effects until you find the combination that best suits your needs. You can also use the same picture in more than one place and modify only specific instances while still using only one file.

You also have the option of saving a manipulated image to a new file, which comes in handy if you want to use the manipulated image in another application, or if you’re sending the file to a service provider who doesn’t have Quark 6.5. Previous versions of QuarkXPress (including 6.1) can’t recognize QuarkVista adjustments, so you have to apply the changes to the image file itself if you need to work with the layout in an older version of XPress.

In the Picture Export Options dialog box (File: Save Picture), you’ll see that XPress lists all applied adjustments and transformations—including scaling and cropping—in the top window and selects them by default. (You can also access Picture Export Options when you use the Collect For Output utility to create a job package.)

As with the Picture Effects palette, you can use the check boxes in this window to choose which transformations XPress will include; it will include selected items in the resulting file.

You can use Color Mode to export the final files as CMYK, RGB, or gray scale. But you can’t convert to specific color profiles as you can in Photoshop, and using this option can result in washed-out images and unpredictable color. If you want high-quality, managed-color results, convert images to the appropriate color model in Photoshop before placing them in an XPress layout.

You can save adjusted images in any of eight graphics formats (TIFF, JPEG, BMP, EPS, GIF, PICT, PNG, or Scitex CT). Once you’ve saved an edited file from a Quark layout, you can use it just as you would any other image file.

By default, the Save Picture command creates new files in the location you define when you click on OK. This keeps your original files intact so you can use them again in another context. If you select Overwrite Original Picture, the saved pictures overwrite your original image files—an action you can’t undo.

If you choose Link Layout To New Picture, QuarkVista redirects the links in your layout to the new files you’ve created, and you can’t modify your transformations because QuarkVista applies them permanently to the exported files. You can still replace the original files and reapply the transformations, but you can’t access the modifications in the exported files.

A Good Alternative

QuarkVista is a powerful tool, but it’s not without limitations. You can’t use it to manipulate individual layers or channels in a placed image. (The new PSD Import XTension does have this capability, but it has its own restrictions.) You can’t create raster images from scratch, and you can’t retouch the individual pixels of an image placed into XPress. You also can’t select and modify specific areas of a picture; the changes you make with QuarkVista apply to the entire placed image.

Is QuarkVista a replacement for Photoshop? Of course not. But is QuarkVista a viable tool for correcting color and adding visual appeal with effects and filters? Absolutely.

[ Erika Kendra is the author of QuarkXPress 6: Creating Digital Documents ( Against the Clock, 2003) and QuarkXPress 6.5: Upgrading from Version 4 (Against the Clock, 2004). ]

Before the debut of XPress 6.5 and the QuarkVista XTension, you had to resort to Edit Original when clients wanted to blur a photo (top) or find it’s edges (bottom) once you’d placed the image in a layout.
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