CorelDraw X8 review
December 30, 2016 Uncategorized
Corel recently released the 18th version of their graphics software. The new version includes touch support, font management, and several other tools. It also comes with subscription pricing for commercial users. Yes folks; CorelDRAW is still a thing and it still gets updates.
The interface for CorelDRAW X8 shouldn’t be too different for current users. It comes with the option of creating a workspace to arrange tools similar to the X6 release. It can even be configured to look like Adobe Illustrator. There’s now an additional dark mode for night-time users too.
One of the most important things about the interface is that it scales properly and has high-DPI support. Everything is sized correctly on a 4K monitor and on Surface Books, rather than looking like they are oversized or too small, which is a common problem for programs running on high-resolution screens. Something CorelDRAW does really well is deal with two screens running different resolutions; such as using an old laptop and a 1080p monitor, or using an old 17-inch monitor alongside a new Surface Book. The interface will be scaled properly for each screen and windows and palettes even rescale properly when moved between screens. There are many programs that have a problem with this, so we feel Corel deserve top marks for pulling this off.
There is also better touch and pen support with the new interface. CorelDRAW now supports a range of pressure levels with Wacom and N-trig pens (and the sensitivity can be tweaked too), you can use pinch and drag gestures to pan and zoom (these gestures are sometimes used to select things in graphics software), and the program is able to recognise shapes. This means you can draw a shape roughly and have the program replace it with a neat looking shape instead. It doesn’t work well with polygons but it will turn your scribble into a real shape that you can manipulate with the shape handles.
CorelDRAW X8 has some great touch support thanks to pinch-zoom and shape recognition, especially when you consider the software has always been designed to be used with a mouse.
This is great for the new node editing option; rather than taking multiple steps to break shapes apart, you can just draw the shape and shift-click the nodes that make up the area of the shape you’re looking to adjust. You can use this to copy and paste a particular curve rather than an entire object. It won’t even break up the object.
Touch and pen support also works great with distortion tools. You can use distortion tools for twirling, smoothing, attracting and repelling to create the perfect shape by using your finger for a subtle effect; such as creating a natural line by slightly bending a straight line. It saves you the trouble of having to grab the spine handle and perfectly position it. These options make the tool for more accessible for non-professional designers and make the idea of creating a vector graphic far less intimidating. We also enjoy being able to hide objects and object groups so they aren’t accidentally edited. Drop shadows have become Gaussian blur, which creates more realistic and natural looking edges. The feathering on the edges can also be tweaked.
This all goes together to give you the option of using a Surface Book to sketch something out like you would using a pen and paper, but the result would be a vector graphic that you can use your finger, pen, or mouse to work with. This option is more flexible than just scanning your sketch or using one of the mobile sketching apps from Adobe to create something you would have to then open up in a separate program like Illustrator. We expect that Corel will offer additional pen and touch tools in future updates to make the most out of the rise of the Surface Pro and Surface Book to turn an old-school app into an innovative one.
We feel that the Corel Font Manager X8 is such a practical addition that it’s worth upgrading to X8 for this alone. The Font Manager can be used to index fonts, taking away the need to have them installed to be used with CorelDRAW. As such you could work with thousands of fonts without slowing your computer down; which is ideal for designers who deal with many clients who all want their own fonts used. Fonts can be grouped up by their style, weight, width, and name to make it easy to find and choose the perfect font for each project. Also included are all the OpenType features including alternates and stylistic sets, which are previewed while you type. That enables you to get the most out of the typefaces you’ve paid for.
Some of the features are clearly an attempt to catch up to Adobe Photoshop, such as removing blemishes with the Healing Clone brush, the non-destructive Gaussian blur lens, and the perspective correction tool. Even so they are simple enough to use and can really speed up your image editing.
Commercial and Cloud
CorelDRAW may have undergone 18 releases but it’s still being aimed at two main groups; the occasional user who is going to find a range of guides and templates and use them to create graphics for sales, marketing, and other business graphics; and the commercial artists that remain the key audience of Corel.
X8 has some great features for sign engravers, commercial embroidery designers, and people printing wraps and banners for cars. It features a new Knife tool that allows users to chop up their designs into the proper pieces for printing, which could include adding an overlap where you’ll be cutting the edge of a car door or the zip on a jacket. There is also a free plugin for up-sampling that is a great choice or extending images to cover the edge of a canvas as it wraps around the frame. These tools can save commercial artists plenty of time when taking the design on their computer and applying it to their product.
Given their emphasis on commercial artists it’s easy to understand why Corel put together so many CorelDRAW pricing options. It’s still possible tp purchase a perpetual licence for £529 (inc. VAT), or you can upgrade to one for £259. There is also the option of paying an annual upgrade fee to always have the latest version. Then there is the subscription option where you pay £14.95 a month. With a subscription you also receive additional tools and plugins that get developed. However you do need to keep paying this subscription fee to keep the software as an editor rather than a viewer. If you know you only need the software for a month out of the year then a subscription is a good idea. Just pay the subscription, use it for the month, and then pick up the subscription again when you need it. This may be an unusual approach but it works great for commercial users who aren’t using CorelDRAW every day.