Ah, the Suite
Corel Corporations annual
upgrade to its flagship DRAW! Suite is full of subtle and not-so-subtle
enhancements aimed at pleasing the graphics professional.
CorelDRAW! 8 (for Windows 95/NT
and Power Macintosh) is a lovely product that includes the DRAW 8 vector
illustration program, Corel Photo-Paint 8 bitmap editing program, and
CorelDREAM 8 3D rendering app. And, as is usual with Corel, theres
enough other stuff in the box to choke a horse, including supplementary
applications like Corel Capture, Texture, Scan, OCR Trace, and even a
bar code wizard.
Throw in about 40,000 clipart
images and symbols, 1000 photos, another 1000 fonts, and a batch of "floating
objects" and templates, and you have a really suite deal.
CorelDRAW 7 was a delight,
with its interactive toolbars and beefed up text handing capabilities,
but 8 is even better and I think its faster, though I havent
sat by my monitor with a stop watch
The first thing I noticed upon
installation (and my relatively full install required a whopping 340 megabytes
of hard disk space!) was the smooth look of the toolbars, à la
Office 97 and WordPerfect 8. More important is the new support for the
wheel on Microsofts Intellimouse, though I was disappointed to find
that it will only zoom or pan, whereas Id have preferred to scroll
up and down like with other applications. Still, its much better
than no support at all and, to be fair, the more I use it the more happy
I became with what it does.
As always, the more robust
your computer is the happier CorelDRAW is, and a Pentium 133 with at least
32 Mb of RAM are the recommended baselines. Thats what I used, and
it worked fine, though it did slow down when things got hot and heavy,
Like the rest of the suite,
CorelDRAW is a fully 32-bit extravaganza that not only lets you create
and edit vector graphics, but which is a darn good page layout application,
too. In fact, if you own this suite, and your favourite printing house
supports it, you can pretty well throw away your DTP program and do your
newsletters, brochures, or whatever, right in DRAW.
DRAW is more customizable than
ever, though the interface is so good the only thing I changed on it was
to add the zoom toolbar to the default display.
And I was delighted to discover
that the "duplicate" command is now much more intelligent. Whereas
duplicating an object in earlier versions merely created another one near
the original, the new feature learns from where you position the first
duplicate and continues that trend in subsequent copies. I used this when
creating gridlines for a table; after I dragged the first duplicate to
its position, the next duplicates appeared exactly where I wanted them
without me having to drag them anywhere.
Imagine an intelligent
computer program that actually makes life easier!
DRAWs interactive controls
are extremely handy, too. With them, you can mess around with an objects
parameters right from the object on the page, via little sliders and/or
dragging and dropping with the mouse. Its a nice way to add drop
shadows to objects, distort them or give them a special fill.
And a little more of PhotoPaint
seems to have leaked over into DRAW, undoubtedly by osmosis. For instance,
you can do quite a bit of messing around with the parameters of imported
bitmaps without having to load PhotoPaint, which is a real bonus considering
the resources these apps use.
These are just a few of the
many thoughtful little touches that contribute to DRAW 8 being a real
pleasure to use.
Photo-Paint 8 speeds up your
retouching by offering MMX support and a new, low-res image editing feature
that writes a script as you edit a "dumbed down" version of
your bitmap then plays it back and copies your edits back onto
a high res image.
The interactive toolbars and
property bars work really well here, too, though I thought it was a bit
of an oversight for Corel not to have put "undo" and "redo"
buttons on the main toolbar. Theyre the buttons I used the most!
And while there are dozens
of new features and enhanced old features, the thing that struck me most
was the thoughtful way you can now preview images before you save them.
For example, when converting a Photo-Paint image to a JPEG, you now get
a dialogue box that not only shows you how the image will look when converted
and gives you a number of settings you can adjust but also
how much space the file will take up. Nice.
Corel Dream 3D isnt something
I use much, but that doesnt mean it isnt a nifty application.
Its a good way to create 3D objects for use in logos, on web sites,
or wherever else you might need them.
The Eighth Incarnation gives
you new VRML and 3DMF support for those with a hankering for creating
Virtual Reality, and a new Scene Wizard helps with the creation of your
vision via a series of templates.
You can also create and manage
objects with new "object links" and deformation tools
and you can make the background reflect on the object, which is kind of
Theres more lighting
control now, too, and Corel has added a "cloudy fog atmosphere"
My biggest problem is thinking
in 3D on a 2D computer screen, but after a while it gets a lot easier.
Strangely, theres no
printed manual for Dream 8 (you get books for DRAW and Photo-Paint) so
getting up and running may not be the easiest thing for first time users,
though the "scene wizard" can help a lot.
CorelDRAW 8 is more powerful
than ever, which says a lot, but that power may be lost on non-power users.
It has other advantages youll quickly learn to love, however, because
its more intuitive and intelligent than before, and it makes tasks
easier and quicker to accomplish.
Corel is aiming DRAW at graphics
professionals (read "people who know what theyre doing"),
and thats great. Its definitely a high end piece of technology.
Still, despite the fact that
I have no formal graphic design training, CorelDRAW! 8 allowed me to stretch
my limited abilities to new heights merely by putting tools and features
right under my nose where Id trip over them. This encouraged
experimentation and caused me to use features that I had never discovered
before, either because they werent there or because Im too
stubborn to open the manual unless its an emergency.
So if youre an honest
to goodness designer, youll probably find a lot to love in DRAW!
8. If you arent, youre in for an eye opening experience.
And once again Im left
wondering what new things theyll dream up for Version 9.
Tell us at TechnoFile what YOU think