Rating What's Hot:
When you first launch CorelDraw you’ll see a welcome screen that allows you to start a new file, open an existing one, create a file from a template, or access CorelTUTOR. CorelTUTOR provides step-by-step instructions for completing dozens of tasks such as Workspace tutor (which gives you an introduction to the tools in CorelDraw), information on creating a logo, working with layouts, and how to convert bitmaps into vector-based images. CorelTUTOR is a browser-based help system designed to help you learn more about the application. It's an excellent feature for people new to CorelDraw.
Another new feature that you’ll notice as soon as you launch CorelDraw is the Hints sidebar docked to the right of your screen. If you’ve never used CorelDraw before, you may find that it has a steep learning curve. The Hints sidebar gives you quick access to a wide number of tips and tutorials for getting you started. The really cool thing about this sidebar is that topics are activated when you click on tool or when you start using a tool. This eliminates the need for the user to search through help files for the information they’re looking for. You can chose to leave the Hints docker active or hide it once you’ve become more familiar with the tool. There are also a number of other dockers that you can select from on the main menu bar to give you easy access to program features and settings.
As I’ve mentioned, CorelDraw Graphics Suite X3 includes a number of different products. The main program is CorelDraw, which is used for creating vector-based graphics. There are a number of significant new improvements from previous versions but for users of an older version, the learning curve in upgrading to X3 is an easy one. This is because the user interface for the program hasn’t changed much over the years.
CorelDraw comes with an assortment of new text tools that give you greater control over formatting and page layout. There’s also an improved "Interactive Fit Text to Path" tool for creating curved text. In earlier versions of CorelDraw, getting text to fit to a curve wasn’t always the easiest undertaking.
CorelDraw has never been a leader in desktop publishing. When I needed to create a brochure, page layout, or other presentation, I would do my graphics in CorelDraw and then export them to a format that I could then import into PageMaker or QuarkXpress. While I still don’t see CorelDraw as a formidable desktop publishing package, there are a number of new features that move it up a notch. Two of them are the new Character and Paragraph dockers, which give you easy access to text-formatting settings such as selecting fonts, alignment, character effects, spacing, and other tools presentation designers need.
In addition to CorelDraw, you also get Corel Photo-Paint and Corel Capture. Corel Photo-Paint has pretty much the same features that you’d find in any image-editing software (such as Adobe Photoshop, PaintShop Pro or Microsoft Digital Image Suite), but it does add a few new interesting features. One of these is the ability to create and edit movies. You can insert and delete frames, do some limited editing, and then export your movie to AVI or QuickTime Movie formats. While it’s not as sophisticated as other movie editing software, it is a nice added feature.
The other product in the suite is Corel Capture, a screen capture utility that can capture your entire screen or just selected parts of it. This is a very handy utility and comes with a wide assortment of configuration options for choosing what you want to capture, setting hot keys, choosing resolution and color depth, and eliminating your cursor from the capture. I used Corel Capture for the screenshots in this review, and it worked extremely well.
I’ve always liked CorelDraw for creating and editing graphics (especially clipart), but it’s still lacking in many of the advanced features you’d find in some of the other higher-end desktop publishing programs and illustration software. As a long-time Photoshop user, I find that the features in Photo-Paint are adequate for the average home user but lacking in power for more advanced photo editing.
As with previous versions of CorelDraw, if you create a layout with a lot of vector-based graphics or clipart, you may find that you aren’t able to print it. These types of graphics are made up of many geometrical shapes, and you need a printer with a lot of memory to be able to handle them. I created a quick flyer with several graphics on it, and only half of it spooled to the printer. Once I cut down on the number of images, I was able to print it. The better way to do this is to create your graphics in CorelDraw, export them to another format (such as a Windows Metafile), and then import them into Microsoft Word or Publisher to complete your layout and print it.
The movie-editing features in Photo-Paint are very basic and although adding them to the program has merit, Corel needs to either take them more seriously in future version or remove them altogether. You can easily accomplish the same thing, and more, with the free Movie Maker program that comes with Windows. For higher-end movie editing, you should consider a program like Pinnacle Studio or Adobe Premiere Elements.