its finally here. Thats right. Corel Corporation has finally
released version 11 of its flagship program, CorelDRAW Suite. Its release
date comes almost two years to the day from the release of version 10.
As usual, I tried to order my copy on the day it was released. Unfortunately,
for some reason I had to wait a week and a half for stock to come into
the major Canadian software wholesaler before I got my copy (It looks
like the big box stores are not carrying the program so you may need to
order online at least in Canada).
So with bated breath I opened up my copy, popped
it into my CD-ROM drive and installed the latest version on my computer.
I had read a few prerelease reviews, as well as Corels reviewers
guide. I knew the major features that were included in this release. Now
I was loading the software, patiently waiting to test it out. Would my
two-year wait be worth the $249 (U.S.) I spent to get my upgrade?
For those familiar with any of the Corel Suites
you will know that the suite is made up of a number of programs. The CorelDRAW
11 Suite is no exception. Included in the suite are the following programs:
1. CorelDRAW A graphic design and
page layout program.
2. Corel PhotoPaint An image editing
and graphic program.
3. Corel Rave A program for creating
Web graphics and vector animations. (Because this program has no use in
our industry, I will leave it out of this review.)
The CorelDRAW 11 Suite also comes with a number
of supporting utilities. The more notable are:
Navigator Allows you to manage your fonts easily.
Allows you to trace bitmaps to convert them into vector images.
Basic for Applications Allows 3rd party developers to build
custom applications for the CorelDRAW 11 Graphic Suite.
In this review, I intend to go over the main features
that have been released in this version. I will try to give you as many
examples of the features as I can. At the end of the review I will provide
So without further ado, lets take the new
version for a test drive!
Some of you may wonder why I am starting here.
I would usually leave this section until the end. Considering that the
CorelDRAW 10 Suite came with basically no documentation other than three
meager notebooks, I was quite happy to see that Corel decided to include
good sized manuals with this version. I like Corels manuals and
they tend to be quite informative and helpful when you are trying to learn
a new tool or function.
They also updated the clip art CD with some new
1: Four files created in CorelDRAW. The files that use the "Symbols"
function are slightly larger.
A file created with symbols from the Symbols Library.
as has been customary in previous versions, has kept its myriad of import
and export filters. Version 11 now comes with over 100 import and export
filters. For those that bought version 10, version 11 includes the .plt
filter in the standard install (When I install, I do a custom install
and install all the filters.). Our main filters, the .plt, .dxf and .ai,
all seem to work fine, except that Corel has yet to fix the simulated
fill in the .plt filter that was broken in version 10. AutoCAD is supposed
to be .dxf compatible.
You have probably heard a lot about stability recently. Lets get
one thing straight here a computer systems stability is directly
related to the ability of the Operating System to control the hardware
and the software. Although bad programming can cause instability in an
actual program, Corel is not a badly written program. Thus, stability
is relegated to the Operating System. Win 98, compared to Windows 2000
and Windows XP, is like comparing a manual machine to a laser in a production
environment it was fine in its time but its time for it to
retire. Win 98 does little to control hardware and software, which is
the direct cause of system crashes or the familiar General Protection
Faults. Corel (as well as most other companies) have recognized that everyone
is moving, or should move, to Windows XP. Therefore, the company has written
its software to run optimally under this OS. Windows XP is a lot better
at providing a stable system to work on. Some people have reported issues
running Corel 11 under Windows 98. For this reason I would keep my previous
version of Corel on my computer if I were installing Corel 11 on a Windows
98 system. There is no problem running more that one version on your computer
(I run three.).
claims that they have done extensive testing for bugs; and thus, this
should be less of an issue than what we saw in previous versions.
One of the features that looked exciting to me was the symbols
library function. This feature promised smaller file sizes, as well as
an easier way to reuse existing objects. So I set out to check out how
small the files are.
3: The "Roughen Brush" tool creates a ripple effect.
Corel 11 allows for three options when importing text.
we talk about the symbol tool and file size, lets look at how CorelDRAW
does when it comes to keeping file sizes in check. Typically CorelDRAW
has done an excellent job of keeping file sizes down. If you try to compress
a file with a zip program, the size doesnt change that much. Also
if you have an image in Corel that you duplicate, the resulting file size
is almost negligible. For example, lets say I have a file with one
photo in it. The file size is 410K. If I duplicate the color photo in
the file, the file size becomes 411K. The difference between the two files
is quite negligible. So CorelDRAW does a good job of keeping file sizes
down when you duplicate objects.
mentioned earlier, the symbol function allows us to easily reuse objects
in documents. When I first heard of this function, I imagined having a
collection of my most commonly used images at my finger tips sort
of like using the symbols and special symbols docker. It is quite easy
to create a symbol. Figure 1 lists four files that I created in CorelDRAW.
The single files that were created contained eight images.
The non-symbol file is the eight images just created in Corel. The symbol
file is the same file with the same images in the file but they are in
the symbols library. The second set of files marked double
had each image duplicated four times. You will notice that the files that
use the symbols are slightly bigger. The file size reduction only seems
to come into effect if you export the file to a flash format (which we
do not use in our industry).
from the file size issue, I like this feature because you can take all
those images that you typically import into your jobs and keep a repository.
When you need to retrieve one of these images, all you need to do is cut
and paste the symbol into your new drawing. The only thing that I would
like to see with this tool is that it be made accessible to other drawings,
so that you just have to drag and drop the image into your drawing without
opening the file that holds the symbol library. Right now you have to
save a file that holds the symbols and open it every time you want to
use a symbol. Figure 2 shows a file set up with the symbols I used. For
those that use the symbol and special character docker it is now the Insert
Character and can be found in the Text menu.
5: Special effects can be created by converting paragraph text to
Smudge & Roughen Brushes
brushes are designed to allow you to quickly modify an existing shape.
These tools are pressure sensitive and work best with a tablet.
Brush Applies to curved objects. This tool smudges the outline
of an object.
Brush Also applies to curved objects. This tool creates a so-called
ripple in the affected area of the curve that is selected.
Roughen brush can easily create a motion blur effect. See Figure 3.
3-Point Drawing Tools
has included three new 3-point drawing tools. These tools allow you to
accurately create, position and angle one of the three new tools with
just two clicks. The three tools are:
3-Point Ellipse tool
3-Point Rectangle tool
3-point Curve tool
three tools make drawing any of these predefined shapes considerably easier
than before. They function more like similar tools found in CAD programs.
This is a welcome addition.
PolyLine Tool The new PolyLine tool now combines
the various modes of the freehand tool. You can now click and drag and
alternate between curved and straight lines. This makes it a lot easier
when you are tracing out a logo.
Tool Not to be outdone by the PolyLine tool, Corel also added
the Pen tool to its arsenal. This tool gives greater control over your
drawing abilities. It is now a lot easier to create straight lines and
Enhanced Text Features
Options One of the problems with importing text through the
file import command or cutting and pasting is that you lose certain aspects
of the original text. CorelDRAW 11 now gives us three options when we
are importing text (see Figure 4). The first is to maintain the fonts
and formatting of the original text. The second is to discard the fonts
and keep formatting. Or third, you can discard all the font and formatting
information. Figure 4 shows the dialogue box that comes up. If you find
yourself having to bring customer-supplied formatted text into Corel,
this can be an excellent feature that can save you time. The problem is,
it didnt always work when I tried it! I cut and pasted a drop case
sentence from Microsoft Word and told Corel to maintain the fonts and
formatting. However, CorelDRAW lost the drop case information. So be careful
with this one.
6: A typical "red eye" photo.
7: The same photo, after the easy-to-use "Red Eye" tool
in PhotoPaint 11 has been applied. Notice that the highlights in
the eyes are still visible.
Paragraph Text to Curves This is one of those features
that a number of people have asked for. Although you can assign a number
of formatting options to paragraph text, you cant do some of the
neat effects such as drop shadows. Now you can convert the paragraph text
to curves so that you can use these special effects. All paragraph formatting,
such as bullets and justification, is kept.
Support As some other reviewers have noted, the use of macros
in Corel is inconsistent at best. In my testing, I can attest that certain
actions were not recognized by CorelDRAW and thus could not be played
back. I like using macros, as they make certain repetitive tasks easier.
Hopefully this will be fixed in a future service pack.
Features Other features that have been added are enhanced snapping,
enhanced shaping, and even an enhanced means of closing lines which
helps a lot. Corel has also given us an enhanced align and distribute
feature, as well as enhanced DXF/DWG support.
Eye One of the classic problems with photographing in dark
areas is creating people or animals with the dreaded disease called Red
Eye. Although it is not that hard to get rid of red eye, it still
requires a number of steps. PhotoPaint 11 has added a new tool that almost
instantly gets the red out. All you need to do is select the
tool, change your brush size and then start clicking on the red eyes.
The impressive feature with this tool is that the highlights in the eyes
are not eliminated. Figures 6 and 7 are before and after
shots. Notice that the highlights in the eyes are still in the fixed
photograph in Figure 7.
have always advocated that learning this trick can help you increase your
bottom line. Getting rid of red eye in a photograph should be a service
that you offer. There is no reason why you cant say to your customer
that for an extra 5 or 10 dollars, I can get rid of the red in the
eyes of the people in the photo. Not only will you make the photo
look a lot better, but it will make your finished product look that much
For those PhotoShop users who may be envious of this tool, Andromeda software
has released a plug-in that instantly gets rid of the red.
8: The CutOut tool in action.
9: An image that was recombined to make one photo.
One of the harder techniques to learn in a bitmap editing program
such as Corel PhotoPaint is extracting parts of images out of existing
images. For example, you may have a customer who brings in a photo to
be sublimated and is very unhappy with the background of the photograph.
Being able to take the background out and leaving the rest of the image
can be the difference between a happy customer and a not-so-happy customer.
It can also offer you some added income by allowing you to charge more
to extract the needed image. To make the extraction process easier, Corel
PhotoPaint gives us the CutOut tool. For those of you who are familiar
with PhotoShops extract command, you know that on certain images
extracting can be quite easy.
new cutout tool is quite good although it is still rudimentary.
However, when it comes to extracting some of those photos that have a
lot of wispy hair, programs such as Corels Knockout is the only
way to go. I was quite impressed with this tool on certain photos, and
certainly the addition of this tool to a sublimators arsenal is
a must. I am sure that in future versions we will see this tool given
more features. Figure 8 shows an image from Figure 7 cutout.
Stitching One of the problems when taking photographs is that
you are usually restricted to the image that fits within your cameras
field of view. The only way to create a bigger picture is to take a series
of photos and stitch them together. There are a number of
programs on the market that give you this ability. Now this tool is available
in PhotoPaint. Again, as with the CutOut tool, this tool lacks some of
the extra features that you find in stand- alone programs,
but on the photos that I experimented with, Corel did a good job of combining
the separate photos into one larger photo. Figure 9 shows an image that
was recombined to make one photo.
Drop Shadow Although its relatively easy to create drop
shadows in CorelDRAW, Corel PhotoPaint has always done it better. In this
version, Corel has added the ability for the user to add a Gaussian
Blur to the shadow. This allows the user to adjust a shadows
feathering that gives a more realistic look. If you want to make your
images or your text stand out, this is the tool for you. Figure 10 shows
the effect in action.
features that have been added include a new spot filter effect. A new
lighting effect tool allows you to control location, color, angle and
aperture. A new bevel effect has been added, while a lens flare has been
improved and dust and scratch removal effects have been enhanced, too.
For anyone using this program for Web applications, there is now an enhanced
Web optimizer as well as support for the JPEG 2000 specification and rollovers.
For digital camera users, Corel PhotoPaint has included support for the
EXIF file format. This format, which is used by a number of cameras, allows
for additional information about a camera, such as camera settings, color
space and more, to be saved with the file.
there you have it. Corel has given us a number of new tools, as well as
making a number of existing ones better. For the most part, I am impressed
with what Corel has supplied with this release. Certainly, CorelDRAW has
given us some good design tools in this release. The add-ons in PhotoPaint
certainly are impressive, especially for those of you who are doing sublimation.
problem, though, is that this program is designed for Windows 2000 and
Windows XP. Considering that a lot of people are still running Windows
98 or Windows ME this presents a problem. To take advantage of this upgrade,
these people require an expensive operating system upgrade. If the components
in your computer are not compatible with XP or 2000 you will require new
components, or maybe a new computer. To add another hurdle to this situation,
there is a learning curve that must be overcome when switching operating
systems. As I mentioned earlier, Windows 98 and Windows ME are not good
operating systems when compared to Windows XP and Windows 2000. They offer
little in the way of providing stability and they are horrible when it
comes to security. The sooner we all leave this OS, the better we all
have spoken to a number of people regarding this upgrade. I still feel
that, for the most part, Corel refuses to acknowledge our industry. This
is evident in the fact that we do not see a major tool being developed
for our industry. How about text condensing or an easy multiple plate
set up? If we got one of these features I am sure that there would be
a lot more incentive for those who are running older versions and operating
systems to upgrade. For those who already have version 10 or are running
XP or Windows 2000, you have an easier decision as to what you want to
do. As far as my situation goes, I am always the first in line to upgrade.
So my life becomes a little easier.
10: The addition of the "Gaussian Blur" allows for adjustments
in the shadows feathering.