Corel has always provided innovative graphics software, and though the company has enjoyed success on the Windows platform, it hasn’t successfully penetrated the Mac graphics market, due to the well-established graphics programs–such as Adobe Illustrator and Macromedia FreeHand–already there. Corel’s latest attempt to capture Mac users’ attention is Corel Graphics Suite 10, a valuable bundle of applications that includes Photo-Paint, for image editing; CorelDraw, a vector-based drawing program; and the new RAVE, for creating vector-based animations.
Photo-Paint has a few very nice tricks up its sleeve–it outdoes even Adobe Photoshop as far as effects layers go. Photo-Paint also lets you apply filters, such as Sharpen and Noise, nondestructively. And it provides the usual Levels, Curves, and Hue/Saturation color-adjustment tools; they’re good, but they’re not quite in the same class as those tools in Photoshop.
Photo-Paint is impressively interactive. For example, as you scroll down a list of fonts, a large sample of each one pops out at the side. And the excellent pop-up menu for layer-blending modes applies each mode to the layer type as you move through the list with your mouse.
Other new features include Publish To PDF, a preflight engine for collating final output, and in-RIP trapping with a full range of features for PostScript 3 devices. But Photo-Paint has problems, too. Moving an object layer results in a ghosted box, whereas Photoshop shows the object in motion.
CorelDraw, the vector-drawing part of the suite, competes with Illustrator and FreeHand, which are also available for OS X. Like Photo-Paint’s, CorelDraw’s interface is well designed, and the program has many professional-level features, such as embedded ICC profiles.
Filter effects can be applied to bitmapped images, and you can convert any vector element to a bitmap inside the current file. Prepress support is excellent in CorelDraw; a handy Prepare Files For Service Bureau wizard will help less-experienced users. The streamlined color-management system is a bonus, and you can publish your job either to HTML with embedded Flash for Web output or as a PDF file.
CorelDraw doesn’t have the rich palette of calligraphic strokes found in Illustrator, but as in FreeHand, text handling is very good. The entire program is easy to learn and use.
RAVE, the third part of the Graphics Suite triumvirate, is a vector-based animation program that you can use to create all manner of animated graphics for Web pages and multimedia applications.
RAVE’s interface is almost identical to CorelDraw’s, but it has a large timeline at the screen’s bottom. You animate images by adding keyframes for elements, as is standard. RAVE supports transformations of the object as a whole or from individual points. You can animate fills, colors, and effects for interesting results.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
Despite slow updating and OS X interface problems, such as fonts that are too small to read easily, Corel Graphics Suite 10 is overall a very good package. Compared with the competition, it’s attractively priced, and it will appeal to cost-conscious professionals and enthusiasts alike. m