While it's not for the graphically challenged, Corel's latest CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 12 offers a sophisticated suite of tools for artists and design professionals that is competition for its pricey rivals, Adobe's Illustrator and Photoshop.
Corel's suite consists of three great programs that encompass a variety of graphics capabilities. CorelDRAW 12 covers illustration, page layout and vector-based drawing; Corel PHOTO-PAINT 12 edits digital images and photos; and Corel R.A.V.E. 3 creates Web-based graphics. The enhancements in version 12, which have mostly been added to CorelDRAW, offer more precise controls and make the programs easier to use.
Lots to Draw On
The Smart Drawing tool, a new and highly touted feature, automatically recognizes basic hand-drawn shapes and replaces them with precise shapes and objects. As an example, I used the feature to draw rough freehand triangles and ovals, and the software recognized the shapes and created finished versions of both. This feature is particularly helpful when drawing flowcharts and organizational charts, and I liked the way that it recognized and drew my dotted circles.
While the Smart Drawing tool works well, its function is one that graphic pros already know how to accomplish using existing tools. Some designers, depending on what they do, may switch to the Smart Drawing tool, but I foresee the tool to be most valuable to those who are new to drawing programs.
I was more impressed with the new Dynamic Guides feature that provides temporary guides and offer precise control to create a shape, draw a line, or place an object exactly where you want it. When you turn on Dynamic Guides, the program displays temporary blue lines when your cursor travels over specific points on objects. These lines help you place (snap) objects in relation to each other. The real-time feedback appears as the cursor passes over nodes, intersections, midpoints, tangents, perpendicular points, edges, centers and more.
A new text feature lets you view and control detailed changes to type, including leading and kerning, regardless of your zoom level. You also get to choose the portion of the text object that you wish to align. New Unicode Support helps incorporate multiple languages into a design, no matter which language version of CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 12 you use.
PHOTO-PAINT has gained an adequate new touch-up brush that removes defects (dust, scratches, wrinkles etc.) from digital images and lets you view the results in real time. This tool also performs common image/photo touch-ups by covering unwanted areas. Corel RAVE features a new symbol library that lets you store and call up frequently-used objects.
New export tools support Microsoft Office, as well as Corel's own WordPerfect Office. This necessary evil (from Corel's perspective) makes it easy to export graphics created in the suite into Microsoft-based text documents, presentations and spreadsheets without worrying about file formats. Using the tools, I was able to quickly transfer graphics into Word and PowerPoint.
The suite retains support for Adobe formats, including EPS and PSD, and comes with SVG AutoCAD, Visio, and HPGL filters. When exporting to AutoCAD DXF format, CorelDRAW now retains line widths, line styles, text justification and positions. The suite also supports AutoCAD color, dot-dash patterns and line weights on import.