Geared toward corporate communications professionals, CorelDraw Graphics Suite 11 covers everything from digital illustration to image editing. But even graphics pros will discover many pleasant surprises — and improvements upon Graphics Suite 10 — in this collection, once they put aside preconceived notions.
CorelDraw Graphics Suite 11 consists of a whole cast of graphics tools: Corel Photo-Paint 11, CorelDraw 11, and Corel RAVE 2 are the above-the-title stars; Corel Trace, DiamondSoft Font Reserve, and Scansoft OmniPage SE make up the supporting cast; and an enormous stock-art, clip-art, and font library fills out the list of extras.
Photo-Paint is a very clever image-editing application, and as is the case with many such applications, a comparison to Adobe Photoshop is inevitable. Corel Photo-Paint 11 imports and exports Photoshop documents with layers intact. But Photo-Paint takes a slightly different approach to image manipulation and editing. Although the results may be the same in many cases, the tools you use will be different.
Photo-Paint’s new user interface is completely customizable, so you can make it suit your workflow. From its context-sensitive Property bar to its easily accessible fill colors, Photo-Paint 11’s interface is much less cluttered than those of previous versions, and it emphasizes accessibility to tools and settings. The Customize Interface menu lets you choose Photo-Paint’s default interface or a so-called Photoshop arrangement, in which toolbars and palettes are organized as they are in Photoshop.
You’ll find what looks like a marquee tool, as well as a lasso. But when you drag a selection across an image, you’ll find that Photo-Paint sees any selection as masking. Make a selection, and everything else on your canvas is covered with a semi-opaque, Rubylith color, leaving editable areas clear. Fortunately, you can turn off the mask view and opt for the familiar marching ants marquee, or turn off evidence of selection altogether.
Photo-Paint’s new CutOut tool is the equivalent of Photoshop’s underused Extract tool, and just like that tool, CutOut lets you extract an image from its background simply by drawing around the object, instead of applying a path point by point.
Photo-Paint also lets Web designers create image slices and optimize their graphics for the Web, as well as assign rollovers and output images to HTML. The Web Image Optimizer is a mirror of Photoshop’s Save For Web option. You can optimize whole images or slices of them in Web-friendly formats, including GIF, JPEG, and PNG.
The Image Sprayer tool acts as an effects hose, similar to the Image Hose in Procreate’s Painter, letting you apply patterns and objects across your canvas. Photo-Paint includes a variety of preset images, but you can create your own and add them to its Spraylist.
Just when we thought Photo-Paint had pulled all the tricks from its sleeve, we found the Stitch tool, which lets you use a simple drag-and-drop process to create a panorama out of any number of images. But Photo-Paint does even more: it lets you create QuickTime VR movies, too. We could hardly believe how easy it was to make a 360-degree walk-around of an office and an interactive object movie.
The next star of the Graphics Suite, CorelDraw, purports to be an illustration, page-layout, CAD, and Web-design program. Professionals used to more-focused tools might not trust a program that claims to do so much, but corporate users will welcome it as an efficient one-stop shop.
Topmost among CorelDraw’s charms are the 3-Point drawing tools, Corel’s clever new way to draw polygons, ellipses, and curves. For example, by clicking and dragging the 3-Point Rectangle tool, you can define a rectangle’s baseline and its height. Then, depending on the angle at which you drag, the rectangle’s orientation will shift. The 3-Point Ellipse tool works much the same way, and the 3-Point Curve tool lets you create curved line segments with much more precision than Adobe Illustrator’s Pen tool or Macromedia FreeHand’s Arc tool.
Outside of these new features, CorelDraw has been playing catch-up by adding many features that are standard in FreeHand and Illustrator. The Polyline and Pen tools, for making curved and straight lines in one continuous motion, are akin to competitors’ pen-tool functions. CorelDraw has enhanced the shaping tools with Simplify, Front Minus Back, and Back Minus Front commands, which are cousins to FreeHand’s Combine commands.
Saving and exporting files from CorelDraw is especially flexible. It exports to PDF, as well as Photoshop or Photo-Paint formats, with layers intact. It also imports Illustrator files along with their layers, as long as they have the PDF option embedded.
CorelDraw’s new support for symbols allows you to create objects and reuse object instances without greatly increasing a document’s file size. With the symbol library, you can make global changes and adjustments easily; if a particular symbol occurs 100 times in your document, you need only change the source symbol to change them all.
Don’t hate CorelDraw because it’s beautiful. The application does so much so well that it would be wrong to overlook it as a powerful design program in its own right.
RAVE, or Real Animated Vector Effects, is Corel’s answer to Macromedia Flash. With it, you can create interactive Flash movies without having to use Flash itself. In addition to employing an interface similar to CorelDraw’s and sharing some of that program’s drawing tools, RAVE 2 lets you import Photo-Paint and CorelDraw objects for use in your Web animations.
RAVE takes the new symbols support in CorelDraw a step further, also letting you define sprites — animated symbols that move on their own timelines, even as they run along the basic animation timeline.
These days, the most important and compelling aspect of any interactive animation program is its behavior and action-scripting capabilities. Flash has made much hay over the depth of its ActionScript support, and Corel RAVE has stepped up its own Behavior commands. While they’re not as extensive as those in Flash, they’re just as effective.
RAVE 2 also sports enhanced tweening of text and shapes, and it lets you choose to export text to Flash as text or as outlines.
Also Starring . . .
The fourth Corel program, Corel Trace, stands out as a scene-stealer for its singular focus and ease of use. Corel Trace takes raster images created in Photo-Paint and Photoshop and accurately turns them into vector art, which you can then use in CorelDraw or Adobe FreeHand or Illustrator.
Then there are the extras. Three of the CDs in this five-CD package include fonts, symbols, illustrations, thousands of clip-art files, stock photography, tiles, and a process-color chart. For new users, this bundle is a great starting point; and for seasoned users, it makes a great addition to an already extensive stock-photography and clip-art collection.
Completing the package are OmniPage SE, a pared-down version of the OmniPage Pro X OCR application (mmmh; Reviews, June 2002), and Font Reserve 3.01 (mmmm; Reviews, June 2002). (The latter is not compatible with OS X 10.2, and upgrading to the Jaguar-compatible version will cost you extra.) The breadth of Corel’s bundle of applications makes it a great value.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
Altogether, CorelDraw Graph-ics Suite 11 combines almost every aspect of digital design into a neat, affordable package of quite good programs and extras. Each application included here has something to offer even professional designers and artists, as either a replacement for or a complement to indus-try-standard image-creation and -editing programs.
Graphics Suite 10 users who upgrade to version 11 will not be disappointed, as there are enough new and interesting features to make it worth their while. Corporate communications professionals and Mac users who just want to design easily and inexpensively will find that Corel’s suite is a sleeper hit.