Showdown at the OK Corel. (evaluating CorelDRAW!) (evaluation)
by Robert Bixby
It's little wonder that CorelDRAW! so dominates its market, claiming over two-thirds of high-end illustrator sales, while its nearest competitor has less than a tenth.
Four major factors account for this dominance: It's easier to learn and use; it uses wireframe representation, vastly speeding the screen-refresh process; it features associated tools for converting raster graphics to vector and for importing, exporting, and editing fonts; and its subscribes to the popular Pantone color-matching system, making it very attractive to professionals.
A fifth item is special effects. CorelDRAW! can now create blends as quickly and easily as Arts & Letters, which it surpassed by bringing out envelope distortion first. Text and graphics can also be extruded (extended into the third dimension) with the option of adding perspective. Speaking of which, you can now use an automatic routine to make your drawn objects appear to be on a plane oblique to the screen.
CorelDRAW!'s documentation has always been good. Its onscreen tool box adds to the speed of learning, and nearly all of its processes are completely logical. The only ones that might throw a newcomer off are determining how to edit existing text and how to draw with Bezier curves. Both are fully covered in the documentation.
CorelDRAW! gives you the option of viewing a wire-frame representation or a wire frame and a preview side by side. This almost completely eliminates the waiting encountered while Arts & Letters or Micrografx Designer recomposes the screen.
MOSAIC, CorelTRACE, and WFNBOSS are programs shipped with CorelDRAW!. MOSAIC changes the way you load graphics and clip art via disk. It changes the Open Drawing dialog box to a picture gallery containing thumbnail bitmaps of the CorelDRAW! drawings. Instead of depending on hastily conceived names to identify files, you can locate the file in the MOSAIC gallery and double-click on it, and it's loaded.
CorelTRACE is an autotracing utility that traces black-and-white, color, or gray-scale images into an EPS format CorelDRAW! can import. It's not as fast or sensitive as Micrografx Designer's, and you have to leave the drawing program to use it. Still, it's better than many, and it's free with CorelDRAW!. WFNBOSS can convert various font types for use in your CorelDRAW! renderings, and it allows you to export Corel's fine stable of fonts for use as downloadable fonts.
The Adobe Type 1 fonts exported by WFNBOSS don't work with Adobe Type Manager programs shipped through late spring 1991, but a phone call to Corel Systems yielded assurances that registered users should have received an updated version as early as last June, fixing this problem.
As I mentioned, CorelDRAW! subscribes to the Pantone color-matching system. You can specify a spot color by number, and your printer will be able to come up with the exact color ink to match. You can also freely mix process colors using several different mixing schemes and save your palette.
With the latest version of CorelDRAW!, you can now create bitmap and vector fills of your own or import any TIF or PCX file as a new pattern.
Envelope distortion is a new topic that may seem strange to first-time users. Essentially, it creates an enveloping rectangle around a selected object. This rectangle can then be distorted by dragging its handles. There are three set forms of distortion and a free-hand tool. The feature makes your drawing flexible--as though it were on a piece of Silly Putty. By stretching and bending, you can distort it almost infinitely.
CorelDRAW! is a treasure chest of poerful tools. It's so powerful, in fact, a printer manufacturer told me it makes PostScript printers look bad because artists can easily overwhelm the PostScript interpreters in so many printers.
Next month I'll talk about more powerful add-ons and tools for making graphic arts and desktop publishing pursuits even more fun.