by Bob Corr
CorelDRAW 8 is arguably the most significant, all inclusive,
featured packed graphic arts program available to the PC user. Having
worked with several other similar programs in both Mac and Windows platforms,
I was very impressed with CorelDRAW 8 from start to finish.
I started with the custom install because I wanted everything at my finger
tips. My Pentium has plenty of disk space and 64 meg of RAM -- my goal
was to use it all. However, CorelDRAW 8 will run on a mere 16 meg of RAM
(32 recommended). The program installed with the options I selected without
any problems. The minimum installation requires 80 meg of disk space.
With my options, I used 282 meg of hard drive. CorelDRAW 8, and it's companion
programs Photo-Paint and Dream 3D (included) all installed from one CD.
Included with the program suite is four substantial manuals and two additional
CDs. The first CD is loaded down with 40,000 beautiful clipart images
on just about any subject you can imagine. A variety of full color photos
is also included. Full color thumbnail photos of all the clipart, and
clear examples of the more than 1,000 fonts are included in a fully indexed
manual. The last CD is a nice collection of objects, brush textures, photo
edges, images, fonts and tiles all needed to make your work professional
Corel did not include the customary "quick start guide" that
has become so common with modern software programs. Although I was up
and running very quickly, the CorelDRAW 8 manual of 800 pages can seem
a little intimidating at first. A small quick start guide or tutorial
would have been nice. The first steps are very intuitive, and I quickly
felt as though I knew what I was doing. As with other Corel products,
there are many ways to accomplish most desired tasks. It has a very friendly
user interface that made me feel as though I had used the program before.
I quickly realized it was less clumsy to use than the Mac versions of
Photoshop and Illustrator I had previous experience with.
It is important to understand one fundamental difference between CorelDRAW
8 and other popular graphics programs like Photoshop. CorelDRAW 8 creates
vector based images. Most other professional grade programs create bitmap
images. A vector based program creates images as mathematically defined
vectors. Which is to say, a series of positions plotted on a grid (your
screen or page) and then connected with lines. Something like a highly
sophisticated "connect the dots" puzzle, sans dots. A bitmaped
image defines an image as an enormous list of pixles (dots). All the pixles
are the same size and are assembled on the page to create the image.
An image created as a series of vectors is more efficient. Vector file
sizes are much smaller than those required to assemble massive quantities
of pixles. Vector based images are easy to re-size without sacrificing
detail. If you have ever tried to enlarge a bitmap file you know what
it's like. As the image increases in size, the pixles are made larger,
or more square pixles are placed adjacent to the original, thus making
the edges jagged. A vector based image is enlarged by mathematically interpolating
the position of intermediary vector placement, thus retaining the smooth
curves of your image. This is true even if you reduce to a thumbnail size
or increase to the size of a billboard.
The mathematically defined vector curves created by CorelDRAW 8 retain
their smoothness even when enlarged. Bitmap images become grainy and uneven
when enlarged. Then why are bitmap images used by other programs?
There are several reasons. First color photos require the use of bitmap
technology. Only a bitmap can provide the detail shades necessary for
photo manipulation. CorelDRAW 8's companion product PhotoPaint 8 uses
bitmaps. Also, bitmap images are required for use on the Web. The low
resolution of most computer monitors make the use of vector images impractical.
Both GIF and JPEG are bitmap formats. I won't go into detail on that subject
here. However, Corel has eliminated the concern for this as CorelDRAW
8 easily imports and exports CorelDRAW 8 files to bitmap formats for use
in other programs as well as it's companion programs. It should be noted
that Corel's program, WordPerfect also uses vector based images. This
is one of the reasons that WordPerfect was such an enormous success in
the early days of PC word processors. Other word processors were not able
to produce the quality graphic images that were common in WordPerfect
because of the vector based technology.
One of the first things noticed when starting CorelDRAW 8 is the large
work area around the page on the screen. This work area allows you to
drag items off the printed page surface while keeping those items with
the page file. If you were trying to decide which holiday decoration to
include on your greeting card you could save several possible choices
with the card and then easily move them on or off to review the possibilities
before the final decision was made. Only the graphics and text placed
on the shaded page outline will print.
If you were creating an image of a person for the company newsletter,
it would be simple to modify that image with the variety of hair styles,
nose sizes, smiles, and face shapes that are part of thousands of images
included with the package.
If your plan is for a quality commercial document, Corel includes a "Commercial
Printing Guide" in the box. This guide explains in detail how to
prepare a commercial grade product. The guide includes a glossary of terms
and a troubleshooting section. Everything you need to know when dealing
with a commercial production facility or Service Bureau.
CorelDRAW 8 ships two other programs; Corel Photo-Paint 8 and Corel Dream
3D. Corel PhotoPaint 8 is very similar to CorelDRAW 8 except that it works
with bitmap images. Working with color photos requires using a bitmap
editor. PhotoPaint 8 includes all the necessary tools and special effects
needed for professional color image manipulation. Images quickly import
back and forth between the two programs. Image editing can be done in
low resolution for speed and space saving. Web page design with high quality
color images is a snap. Keep in mind during any web page design that color
bitmap images consume more disk space. Large (high resolution) files load
slower and may discourage web site visitors from spending more time at
your site. For more information about PhotoPaint 8 visit this web site;
Corel's Dream 3D, as you might have guessed, is a program to add a 3 dimensional
prospective to your work. The idea in 3-D is to create an image that "jumps"
off the page to catch the reader's eye and draw more attention to your
work. Three dimensional shadowing can also instantaneously create a sense
of positioning or time that no amount of text could. It can also be used
to create an illusion, or add to inter-activity at a web site. Architectural
drawings come to life in 3-D to visualize that new addition, or help sell
that new product. Shades and contrasts are better defined in a 3-D image.
Corel's Dream 3D adds another level of excitement and professionalism
to your document.
I decided to put CorelDRAW 8 through it's paces with two different tests
using most of CorelDraw 8's features. Since my artistic abilities are
less than zero I decided to start with graphic manipulation. I imported
a photo from the many included on the CD library. I began with one of
the many templates supplied by Corel. By simply selecting a template,
editing a little text, and scanning in a photo of my daughter, I was able
to create a customized letterhead for her with her photo. With a little
editing I removed and replaced the photo background. Then I added a photo
of her pet dog so that the dog was looking up at her, corrected for the
color difference in the three photos, and added a brush effect to smooth
the edges. All completed in less than thirty minutes.
My second project was to scan in a black and white photo of my great grandparents
wedding from November, 1854. This 144 year old photo was in reasonably
good shape, but had definite signs of time torture. With a little editing
in PhotoPaint 8 I was able to repair nature's damage, and add a slight
tinted background. It gives them a fresh new look. I have sent the new
photo to a lab for reproduction. I can't wait to see the final product.
I spent several hours on this project to get it just the way I wanted
For those of us who are a little reluctant to engage a program of this
stature, Corel has provided a helper, CorelTutor. CorelTutor is a built
in demo program. It provides you with step by step instructions on completing
dozens of tasks from creating objects... to publishing your work. It is
a series of basic tutorials and workshops that fully demonstrate the features
of CorelDRAW 8. If you are familiar with the PerfectExpert feature of
WordPerfect, this could be considered the next generation.
As if this isn't enough, CorelDRAW 8 ships with a utility bundle that
includes Kodak's digital color management system for accurate color, OCR-Trace
for direct text recognition editing, OLE script editing, a screen capture
utility, a font navigator, texture editor, scanning software, over 450
templates, 750 floating objects, 40,000 clipart images, 1,000 photos,
and 1,000 TrueType fonts. All in all, there are more than 100 new features
since the last upgrade.
In conclusion, I believe this program is simple enough for the beginner
but powerful enough for commercial production. It is designed to work
in whatever capacity needed, always ready to provide the next level of
performance as needed by a user. You won't outgrow this gem.
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