Price When Reviewed: £419.99
Celebrating ten years of its flagship graphic-arts application, Corel has rolled out an upgrade to CorelDraw bumping it to – appropriately – version 10. A long-time player in the Windows market, and having made significant in-roads in the Mac market from version 8, this established graphics suite includes significant workflow updates to both CorelDraw and Corel Photo-Paint, and also sees the addition of a Web-animation application dubbed Corel RAVE, which stands for Real Animated Vector Effects. The addition of yet another piece of bundled software might not seem appealing to some long-time users. Corel has a history of mixing in a mish-mash of often unrelated applications in a bid to beef up the suite – ranging from the useful CorelMosaic (a neat image browser) to the rather poor Corel OCR-Trace. At first glance therefore, tossing RAVE into the cooking pot might seem mere garnish. Yet this is one recipe that Corel has got right. RAVE brings much-needed Web functionality to the suite and – being based on Macromedia Flash – is surprisingly feature-rich for a version 1.0 release. Corel calls version 10 its most significant upgrade in the product’s history, and not just because of the Web-animation injection that is RAVE – much work has been done under the bonnet to tighten integration between the packages, and to enhance application speed. You get a lot of graphical bang for your buck. As well as CorelDraw, Photo-Paint, and RAVE, the package includes CorelTrace (a bitmap-to-vector tool), Capture (desktop image capture), Texture (natural texture generation), Canto Cumulus Desktop LE 5.0 (a digital asset database tool), Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications 6.2 for extending CorelDraw, and 25,000 pieces of clip-art and typefaces. Corel has sensibly focused much of its efforts on adding suite-wide features that extend the functionality of all the applications. The interface has seen a radical overhaul – and one that works in its favour. Menu items include an icon listed beside them, and menus can be customized to suit any layout requirements. There are less dialog boxes as well: effects are selected and previewed on-screen in real-time, eliminating the annoying apply-&-undo workflow if you didn’t like that effect. For graphics professionals, the inclusion of one of the best colour-management tools I’ve ever seen across the suite is a major boon. All essential colour-management tools are available in one idiot-proof dialog box, with users able to establish workflow schematics, select ICC profiles and other colour profiles for every device in the colour chain. You can also embed ICC colour profiles in PDF documents. Likewise, PDF has become a central part of the CorelDraw workflow. Each package can now export to PDF, and there is a comprehensive export menu. New to version 10 is the welcome addition of adding crop marks, calibration bars, file information, registration marks and even densitometer scales to PDF documents. PDF documents can be saved as version 3 or 4, or conforming to the PDF/X-1 standard. Preflight options also debut for ensuring perfect PDF documents. Preflight tools have been extended to not only offer more options – there are new warnings and you can save preflight styles for guaranteeing fidelity across departments or jobs. Additionally, you can choose in-RIP trapping and specify plate order. Better yet is the way Corel has included access to preflighting for Web and PDF documents – a major timesaver when set up correctly. Also included are presets for most interactive tools, such as the Interactive Drop Shadow tool – letting you apply and save presets to tools and then drag-&-drop them onto objects. A navigator window has been added for panning around an image without having to zoom, although that has been available in rival Adobe Photoshop for some time. Also borrowed from Photoshop is a new Undo/Redo docker – Corel’s name for the History palette – where you can roll back several stages or record actions for later playback on different documents. Both CorelDraw and Photo-Paint have been updated individually as well. CorelDraw now sports features such as PerfectShapes, improved multipage document organization, better text handling, more interactive tools, and all-round tighter control over textures, fills, objects and drawing tools. Admittedly it doesn’t sound much, but all are valuable additions. Text editing now makes sense and if you undo a text format (such as changing a sentence to italic) it will just revert to roman, and not undo the entire text creation operation. Also, you can use multiple languages in a text box, and the text-formatting dialog has been updated. Layers The entire shebang is simpler to manage. Included is an excellent update to the Object Manager docker. It now displays layers and objects within a hierarchical tree diagram, with designers able to modify an object’s properties, order, styles, overprinting and more. It now sports drag-&-drop layer and object ordering as well. A Web-graphics optimizer has been included as well, making the creation of perfect JPEG, PNG or GIF files streamlined Photo-Paint has been similarly feature bumped. More effective text tools allow for text-on-a-path creation, and masking has been much improved. Masks are now treated as floating objects, meaning they can be drag-&-dropped between documents. A bunch of filters debut, including red-eye removal tools and smart blur, although these prove more geared to the beginner than the design professional. The addition of RAVE as an application is a wise one. Deploying the same interface as CorelDraw, it includes a timeline with drag-&-drop keyframe capabilities, plus a whole host of animation goodies: onion skinning, object and motion tweening, audio and so on. The bonus is that Corel hasn’t tried to reinvent the wheel, instead exporting the entire project in Macromedia Flash format. OK, so it might not include scripting, but it darn near does everything else. CorelDraw 10 is big on new features, but what it does deliver is a faster, leaner, more together application suite that caters to the changing design environment. The new interface is cracking, and RAVE is – at last – an intelligent bonus package.