CorelDraw X3 Graphics Suite review

  • Expert Rating: We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10 We rate this 7 out of 10

  • Price When Reviewed: 329 . 149

  • Pros: Overhaul of main components results in faster, friendlier workflow. Enhanced toolset, extensive software bundle, improved

  • Cons: No integrated Camera RAW support, and No Corel RAVE. Not as powerful for professional use as Adobe competition. Some bundled software needs updating.

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Now in its thirteenth incarnation, Corel Graphics Suite seems confident enough to take on Adobe’s Creative Suite 2, armed with a stack of new functions and an attractive price. Its features are strong, but there’s obviously a desire not to tempt fate – the company decided against naming it CorelDraw 13.

First impressions are good. The suite contains several main components, starting with CorelDraw itself for page layout and illustration tasks. New tools intended to make life easier for the graphics user include both complex and simple star-drawing tools. Unsurprisingly, this is something Adobe offers too, but not to this extent. Adobe does include the Flare tool in this line, however.

Previous versions of CorelDraw lacked a dedicated Crop tool. This has now been rectified, putting one up on Illustrator’s offerings. The Smart Fill tool – which applies colour fills to enclosed areas, creating a new object each time – is Corel’s response to Adobe’s Live Paint. Both are equally handy for saving time.

The program now supports spot colours in mesh and fountain fills, as well as effects such as drop shadow and transparency. Support is enhanced within the import/export workflow, preserving spot colours in PDF, EPS, PSD, and AI files, or when sent for printing.

Text massaging

There are new controls for reducing the amount of nodes on a curved object as well as smoothing options, while control handles have been enhanced for better curve shaping.

Text handling is much improved. There are new controls for alignment, tabs, drop caps, and other page layout paraphernalia, while the Insert Formatting Code menu gives access to em dash, non-breaking hyphens and other specialized characters. Keyboard shortcuts are available. Other textual treats include a fairly accurate font matching utility, improved hyphenation, and two new dockers (palettes) to interactively control text and paragraph formatting. You could run text along a path in Draw before, but this has been greatly improved with X3 – controlling the position and scaling of the text has received an interactive polish.

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In response perhaps to Adobe’s LiveTrace feature in CS 2, CorelDraw now includes bitmap tracing, courtesy of a fully integrated PowerTrace module (above). This doesn’t match up to the options and control offered by Adobe’s smart new tool, but it’s quick and easy to use. It allows a fine level of control over the colour palette in vector artwork, and offers support for spot colours. Sadly, vector animation is a lost cause for the suite, as the previously included Corel RAVE component has fallen by the wayside.
Photo-Paint, the component that takes on Photoshop, is armed with enhancements to image adjustment and cut-out tools. These are to be found in Lab dialogs that provide a before-&-after preview of the process. Both are useful for image editing, but while the Image Adjustment lab again doesn’t quite match up to its Adobe equivalent, the Cutout lab (below) doesn’t have an integrated rival in Photoshop.
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