EJ Subscription Ad 

Corel X5: Review: Part 4

Copyright © 2010 by Davis Multimedia, Int'l. All Rights Reserved.
As Printed in December 2010, Volume 36, No. 6 of The Engravers Journal
Figure 1: The values that were input to create the first ellipse for a hole cutout on a control panel.   Figure 2: The four hole cutouts precisely positioned on a 6"x6" page.

   This article is the fourth installment in a series of articles on the new version of CorelDRAW—CorelDRAW X5. In part 3 of this series (Nov. 10), I introduced the Object Coordinates docker, a new set of tools for creating, positioning and manipulating objects in a layout.
   If you read part 3, you know that the layout tools that are found in the Object Coordinates docker are not actually new features per se, but are pre-existing features from the previous version of CorelDRAW. What is new, though, is that the features have been repackaged into a much more usable format in one convenient docker. In the previous version of CorelDRAW, the commands were only located in various other menus and dockers, and to access them you had to click on several different tabs or buttons to perform functions like positioning an object, rotating it and sizing it.
   The new Object Coordinates docker has consolidated and grouped together these commands in one window, putting them in easy reach. The commands in this docker also allow you to create and position objects by entering precise coordinates, which is extremely useful for many engraving jobs. I find this new configuration to be much easier to use, not to mention a fantastic timesaver, which is why I chose to highlight it in these reviews.
   In this article I will show you how to create a layout using the commands in the Object Coordinates docker that we learned about in part 3. If you had any questions after reading that article, this will give you some hands-on experience that will hopefully answer them. The second part of this article will deal with the final two commands that are in the Object Coordinates docker—the 2-point line command and the Multipoint line command.
Creating a Simple Panel Layout
   In this example, we will use the rectangle and ellipse tools in the Object Coordinates to create a simple control panel layout. For this job, we are going to create and position four hole cutouts on a 6"x6" plate.
   After creating a 6"x6" page size, open the Object Coordinates docker by clicking on WINDOW | DOCKERS | OBJECT COORDINATES. The first step is to create and position the four holes. To do this, select the ellipse tool (Fig. 1, marker 1) and make sure the center origin is selected. When the center origin is selected, any measurements or values that you input relate to the coordinates in the center of the ellipse. The red arrow in Figure 1 indicates that the center of the ellipse relates to the center origin.

Figure 3: The values that need to be entered to create a 6"x6" rectangle.   Figure 4: The 2-point line command can be used to create, position and rotate a line.

     For this control panel, the center of the first hole cutout should be at 2" on the X-axis and 4.5" on the Y-axis (Fig. 1, markers 2 and 3). The size of the hole is 1"x1" as shown by markers 5 and 6 in Figure 1. For this job, I have also checked the Proportional command (Fig. 1, marker 4). This command allows you to change the size of an object proportionally so that any changes to the height of the object will automatically change the width in proportion to the height, and vice versa. Once all of these coordinates are input, click on the “Create Object” button and the circle is automatically positioned within the layout.
   Now you can use the same procedure to position the next three hole cutouts with the following values: hole 2 has the values of X=4 and Y=4.5; hole 3 has the values of X=2 and Y=1.5; hole 4 has the values of X=4 and Y=1.5. Remember that each ellipse measures 1" by 1". After the values for each hole are input, click on Create Object to create each one. There are now four circles created at the exact coordinates for the job (Fig. 2).
   The next step is to create a 6" by 6" inch rectangle that will be used to cut out the control panel from a larger piece of material. To do this, first select the rectangle command at the top of the Object Coordinates docker. Make sure the origin for the rectangle is set to center (Fig. 3, marker 1). Figure 3 shows the values that need to be entered to create the rectangle. The X and Y locations are both 3" (markers 2 and 3). This positions the rectangle in the middle of the page. Once again, I checked the Proportional command (marker 4). The size of the rectangle is to be 6" wide by 6" high (markers 5 and 6). Click on Create Object and the rectangle is created and positioned exactly where I need it to be.
   As you can see from this example, the tools in the Object Coordinates docker are extremely important and useful when it comes to precisely positioning objects by inputting actual numbers as opposed to positioning objects by eye. Although this example is a simple one, it does illustrate how easily and accurately you can create objects in CorelDRAW using this docker. It is much easier to accurately position objects using numeric dimensions rather than doing it visually, and it is a must for certain types of jobs requiring extreme precision, like control panels.
Creating a 2-point Line
   Part 3 of this article series examined the first three buttons in the Object Coordinates docker—the tools you use to create a rectangle, ellipse and polygon. In this final review, I will look at the last two buttons in this docker.

Figure 5: The values needed to create the first graduation line for the ruler at the 1" mark. Figure 6: The values needed to create the second graduation line for the ruler at the 2" mark. Figure 7: The values needed to create the first graduation line at the .5" mark.
   The next command is called the “2-point line.” With this button activated, you can create a 2-point line or, in other words, a straight line that runs from one point to another. This tool can be used for a number of different applications. As one example, I recently used it to create a ruler for one of my customers (which will be discussed later in this article). In previous versions of CorelDRAW, creating a 2-point line was accomplished using the Freehand tool in CorelDRAW. However, now that the tool is included in the Object Coordinates docker, you can not only create a 2-point line, but you can input the size and location of the line all in one window. Once again, this saves a lot of time and mouse movements since you don’t have to switch to different menus, dockers or windows for creating, sizing and positioning a line.
   Figure 4 shows the docker with the 2-point command open. Marker 1 shows the button to press to activate this command. Below the 2-point command are two sets of positioning coordinates. The x1 and y1 coordinates relate to the X and Y positions of the start node of the line, while the x2 and y2 coordinates indicate the positions of the end node. The example in Figure 4 shows a line that is running from top to bottom. In this example, the x1 location, or the horizontal location of the start node, is 2" (marker 2) and refers to the top of the line. The y1 position, or the vertical location of the start node, is 1.375" which is also the top of the line (marker 3).
   The x2 value (Fig. 4, marker 4) indicates the location of the end node or in this case the bottom of the line. Because the line runs from top to bottom, the x1 value and the x2 value are the same (2"). The y2 value (marker 5) is .625" which is the bottom of the line. Note: In CorelDRAW X5 (also version X4) you can see the direction of the line by activating the Shape tool and clicking on the line. As shown in Figure 4, this will activate directional arrows that indicate the direction of the line. The start node is the first node that has the arrow pointing down and is located at the top of the line and the end node, also with an arrow pointing down, is the bottom of the line.
   The next section of the Object Coordinates docker is where you can input the length of the line which, in this example, is .75" (Fig. 4, marker 6). You can also input a rotation angle to rotate the line in any direction. In this case, the rotation angle is 270 (marker 7), which indicates that the line is straight up and down. To create the line, all you need to do is to select the Create Object button (marker 8).


Figure 8: The values needed to create the second graduation line at the 1.5" mark.


Creating a Ruler
   To better understand how the 2-point line command works, let’s create a simple ruler. The ruler in this example is going to be 6" wide and 1.5" high. The ruler will have graduation lines at the 1", 2", 3", 4" and 5" marks and are each .75" high. A second graduation line will be located at each of the .5" points in the ruler that are .5" high.
   For this example, I created a page size that is 6" wide and 1.5" high. After the ruler lines are created, I will create a box that is 6" wide by 1.5" high in order to cut out the ruler from the material (more about this later).
   Figure 5 shows the setup that is needed in the 2-point line command to create the first .75" graduation line. The value for the start node at the top of the line is 1" for the x1 value and .75" for the y1 value (markers 1 and 2). The x1 value indicates the horizontal starting point for the line, which you can see from the desktop ruler is positioned at 1" on the page. In this case, the bottom of the page is set at 0.0" and since we are starting the line at the bottom of the page, the y1 value is .75" because that is the height of the line. The x2 and y2 values (Fig. 5, markers 3 and 4) indicate the position for the end node on the line. In this case, the x2 value is 1", which is the same as the start node (x1 value) because the line is straight up and down. The y2 value is 0.0" because the end node is at the bottom of the page. Now simply input the length of the line, which is .75" (Fig. 5, marker 5), and click on Create Object to create the line at the 1" mark.
   Now we need to create the second .75" line for the ruler. In this case, the second line has the same attributes as the first line except that it is positioned at the 2" mark as opposed to the 1" mark. So the only difference here will be in the X values. As shown in Figure 6 the x1 value is now 2", which is reflected in the 2" mark on the desktop ruler (marker 1). The x2 value is also going to have a value of 2" (marker 2). The y1 and y2 values will remain at .75" and 0.0", respectively. With this information entered, click on the Create Object button to create the line at the 2" mark.
   There are now two lines in the layout. One line is at the 1" mark and the second line is at the 2" mark. Each line is .75" high and starts at the bottom of the page and ends at the .75" mark. Now we need to create a line at the 3" mark. Again, all you need to do is to change the x1 value and the x2 value to 3" and click on Create Object to create a new line at the 3" mark. Continue and make a line at the 4" mark and the 5" mark. In this example, forget the 6" mark as I am going to cut the ruler out so the edge of the cutout is going to be the 6" mark.
   Now that we have created our five inch-mark graduations, we need to create half-inch graduation lines. This means the ruler will have a graduation line at .5", 1.5", 2.5", etc.
   To create the .5" line, enter in the values of x1=.5" and y1=.5" (Fig. 7, markers 1 and 2). Again, these are the values to create the top node on the line. The bottom value is as follows: x2 is .5" and y2 is 0.0" (markers 3 and 4). Finally, enter the line length .5" (marker 5) and click on Create Object.
   Figure 8 shows the coordinates for the next line at the 1.5" mark. Markers 1 and 2 shows that the x1 and x2 values both need to be 1.5". The y1 value remains at .5" and the y2 value remains at 0.0". Continue with this same procedure to create lines at 2.5", 3.5", 4.5" and 5.5". We are now finished creating the ruler graduations.



Figure 9: The Multi-point command can be used to create objects like a rectangle for cutting out a ruler.  

Using the Multi-point Line Command
   Now we need to create a 6"x1.5" rectangle around the ruler so that it can be cut out of a piece of material. Instead of using the rectangle feature to create the box, let’s use the Multipoint command in the Object Coordinates docker to illustrate how this tool works.
   First, click on the Multi-point command, which is the last button at the top of the Object Coordinates docker (Fig. 9, marker 1). When you first click on the Multi-point line command, you may see some numbers in the command window. If you do, these will need to be deleted. To do this, click on the Delete point command at the bottom of the docker (Fig. 9, marker 4). Now to create a 6"x1.5" rectangle with this command, you need to enter five X and Y values. The reason that five values are required as opposed to four is that you need ending and beginning nodes to complete the rectangle.
   To create a node, click on the Add point command at the bottom of the docker (Fig. 9, marker 3) and enter 6" for the X value and 1.5" for the Y value. This will place the first node at the top right corner on the 6"x1.5" page. Click on the Add point button again and enter the value for the next node, which is X=6" and Y=0.0". This adds a node at the bottom right corner on the page. Continue adding in the next three sets of values as shown in Figure 9, marker 2. Note: Make sure that you enter the values for the nodes in order so they flow around the perimeter of the rectangle you are creating. Otherwise, you might create lines that move from one corner to another instead of moving around to create the box. Once you are finished entering the values, click on Create Object (Fig. 9, marker 5) to create the rectangle.
   Figure 10 shows the finished ruler. The red lines are graduations representing the half-inch marks and the black lines indicate the graduations at the inch marks. The green box is the rectangle that was created with the Multi-point Line command to cut out the ruler.



Figure 10: The finished ruler created using only Object Coordinates commands.  

Making Your Job Easy
   I have found that the Object Coordinates docker is really a valuable addition to CorelDRAW. Every element in both the control panel job and the ruler job discussed in this article was created by inputting exacting point locations. Not once did we use the freehand rectangle tool, the freehand drawing tool or the object command—there was no freehand drawing involved at all.
   For me, learning to create objects like this in CorelDRAW is very important because you can use it to place objects in a mathematically precise location simply by inputting their actual X-Y coordinates. Features like these remind me a little of the old days when we used a “fixed layout” with our rotary engraving machines using the same types of coordinates.
   Although there are times when a visual approach is perfectly fine, being able to input exact values can bring great peace of mind for most jobs. If, for example, you are positioning hole cutouts for a control panel using a visual approach, you have a greater chance for error. Even if the holes are off just a “smidge” it could be enough to render the panel useless.
   Knowing how to use these techniques in CorelDRAW is extremely important for creating dimensionally accurate layouts for engraving. If you have customers with jobs that have exact specifications, this is the best way to do those jobs. Whether it is a control panel or a logo, knowing how to use the commands in the Object Coordinates docker can greatly speed up your job creation in CorelDRAW.