CorelDRAW 9 Review

"Enhancements to Professional Print & Web Output Features"

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Color and Color Management Features

In addition to all the new ways of getting things into your drawings, Corel has added new color features: (1) users can customize the internal RGB space in which colors are managed; (2) ICC profiles may be embedded in various file formats, such as .CPT, .CDR, and .TIF; and (3) by specifying a source ICC profile, users can convert images that do not contain embedded ICC profiles into the RGB space of the application; and (4) the Uniform Fill dialog box has been enhanced.

Multiple On-screen Color Palettes--CorelDraw 9 allows you to display more than Color palette browsermultiple color palettesone color palette at a time. This gives users choice, speed, and flexibility when customizing their workspace. You can view more than one Color Palette using the Color Palette Browser window or the Color Palettes menu in the Windows menu. The image to the left shows four color palettes open. The image to the right shows the Color Palette Browser.

New Color Palettes--Seven new Pantone color palettes and a HKS color palette have been added to CorelDraw 9.

Professional Output Features

The Professional Output features in the CorelDraw 9 Graphics Suite include Publish to PDF, Encapsulated PostScript Export, and Printing Features.

1. Publish to PDF

Publish to PDF--Many enhancements have been integrated into the program for general tab pdf boxexporting documents to PDF. New features include: (1) fonts can be included in the document or exported as curves; (2) two image compression methods are available: JPEG and LZW; (3) bookmarks objects tab pdf boxand thumbnails can be included in PDF documents, which makes it easy for readers to navigate a file; (4) four default PDF styles are included in CorelDraw 9: PDF for Prepress, PDF for Web, PDF for Document Distribution, and PDF for editing; (5) users can create basic job tickets that inform a printing company about the document tab pdf boxadvanced tab pdf boxproduction details for each job; (6) users can include in the PDF file hyperlinks that have been set in the Internet tab in the Object Properties dialog box or in the Internet Objects Toolbar; and (7) users can apply an ICC profile at the time of export.

2. Encapsulated PostScript Export

EPS--The EPS dialog box has been enhanced to give users new EPS exporting options based on parallel PostScript printing features.

3. Printing: There are a variety of new options: (1) enhanced Print to File options in the Print dialog box eliminate the need to print an entire document to a single file; (2) the option PDF marks add print dialog boxannotations to PostScript output that are useful when using Adobe Acrobat Distiller. Hyperlinks and bookmarks are maintained when the document is converted to a PostScript file and PDF; (3) there is an enhanced Duplexing wizard that helps users set up duplexing on their desktop printer using fewer steps and only one sheet of paper; (4) the program includes direct parsing support for PostScript Printer Description files. Users can now access PPDs for printer setup directly, rather than relying on standard printer drivers supplied with the operating system; (5) users can create multiple, device-independent PostScript files that adhere to the Adobe Document Structuring Convention (DSC).

Preflight Warnings--After the print engine has analyzed a document, a message is displayed on the Preflight tab of the Print dialog box indicating any potential problems, if any, with the print job.

Miniature Print Preview--A miniature preview dialog box, the Quick Preview, enables you to immediately see the effects of any Print Setup changes without opening the traditional full-screen drawing preview. Users can still use Full Print Preview for a larger preview with tools to zoom, set up imposition layouts, and move or resize the contents of individual pages.

Enhanced Imposition Layout--The Imposition Layout tools combine the Signature Layout and N-up Format capabilities from CorelDraw 8 into one feature. This is to increase imposition usability and flexibility, and to address specific shortcomings in the imposition features of CorelDraw 8. The Imposition Layout tools are capable of advanced signature layouts, including customized group sets of signatures, advanced binding options, page rotation, fold marks, and gutters.

Enhanced Print Options--New options in the Print dialog box let users turn off overprints specified for objects in the document. Users can also output all bitmap images to RGB, CMYK, or grayscale.

Multiple Documents--You can select multiple documents to be printed together. All selected documents will be printed as one print job, and users can combine documents on one page using the Imposition Layout tools.

Downsample Images--By downsampling bitmap images, users can improve print speed when proofing a document, or when printing documents that have bitmap images that contain too much information.print options

Rasterize Page--CorelDraw's Print dialog box provides an option to rasterize a page (converting vector information and text to bitmaps) before printing. This can solve some printing problems that sometimes occur when printing to non-PostScript printers. Depending on the document, it can also decrease print times.service bureau wizard

Prepare for Service Bureau Wizard--The Prepare For Service Bureau wizard has been enhanced to let users automatically gather all files associated with a document, such as fonts and linked images, to provide a service bureau with everything necessary to open and output the document.

Performance and Productivity Features

There are a variety of new commands and options in CorelDRAW 9 that help you to increase your productivity and performance. Users can save linked or embedded bitmap images as new files in CorelDRAW 9.

New Scripting Commands--In CorelDRAW 9, almost every task is scriptable. Not only can users create scripts to automatically perform a series of functions, but there is a more complete offering of scripting commands. New scripting commands include those for PowerClips, Styles, Object Data docker, envelopes, layers, and pages.

Link Manager Docker Window--The program has a new docker for managing all the links you have in your document. When you import a bitmap image into your document, link manager dockeryou can choose the option to enable Link Bitmap Externally, which instead of embedding the image in your file, provides an external link to the original bitmap image. This enables the image to automatically be updated in Draw if you edit the bitmap image in another application, and it also creates smaller file sizes. The Link Manager lists all imported bitmap files, as well as bookmarks (links to Internet pages), and hyperlinks (links to other pages in the document).

Convert Outline to Object--The outline of an object can be made into an object itself. The option has been added mainly top improve trapping performance when a document is printed, but users are sure to find other uses for the command as well.

Enhanced Hot Key for Multiple Copies--You can press the spacebar as you move anmultiple copies object to "drop" a duplicate of the object at the location on the page. This feature is similar to the "click-drag-right-click" copy function which is still available), but using the spacebar enables you to leave behind multiple copies of the object until you release the mouse button.

User Interface Enhancements

You probably won't notice the changes in the interface in CorelDRAW 9 when you first open the program, but it has been modified extensively to make it cleaner and easier to find tool options: (1) some commands and functions have been switched to new menus; tool options have been moved from one type of dialog box to another; and the Property Bar is relied on more than ever; (2) users can now cancel all creation editing operations by pressing the Escape key; (3) the behavior of Interactive tools is more consistent, especially the Interactive Fill tool, plus a Clear Effect button has been added to all Interactive Tool Property Bars; and (4) the Status Bar displays an info line with helpful hints about the tool you are using.

Docker Windows--With version 8, some options were in dockers and some in rollups. With version 9, there are no more rollups. Most of the options once found in them are docker windowseither in new docker menus or elsewhere, such as the Options dialog box or the Property Bar. Dockers are easier to organize. Their flexibility enables users to arrange dockers in a way that fits the way they work. Dockers can be docked like a toolbar, floated onscreen, or minimized. They can be grouped and then opened and closed quickly as groups. The image to the right shows three options. Starting from the left: (1) a group of Docker windows minimized; the floating Color Docker; and three windows docked to the right, with their tabs displayed.

Better Cursor Feedback and Display--The cursor provides much more feedback as to what is taking place onscreen than ever before. While you are drawing or editing objects or effects, the cursor changes according to its relative position to an object, to what object has been selected, or what effect is being edited. For example, when you are drawing, editing, or trying to join curve segments, an arrow pops up on the cursor to indicate when a curve connection is made.layer-only view

Enhanced Object Manager--You can now change the color of an object layer by dragging a color from the on-screen Color Palette to a layer in the Object Palette. There is also a new view mode that lets users obtain a layer-only view, to manipulate layers and move objects on layers quickly.

Enhanced Outline of Selected Objects--The outlines of complex objects object outlinecan be hard to follow. You can now highlight the outlines of selected objects with a color dashed line to increase visibility. The image to the left shows an object on a background without the outline feature turned on and the same object on the background with the outline feature on.

Multicolor and Preset Guidelines--Guidelines have had a major facelift in CorelDRAW 9. Guidelines can now by assigned any color by dragging a color from the onscreen palette onto the multicolor guidelinespreset guidelineguideline or choosing a color whenever they are created. You also have the ability to have some guidelines unique to individual pages or layers. For the first time, there are preset guideline options, enabling users to have new documents open with some guidelines already in place. A new Guideline Property Bar is also displayed when a guideline is selected and provides you with feedback for precise positioning of guidelines.

Precision Features

There are new tools and features that allow you to work with more precision in CorelDRAW: (1) you can now accurately position objects in documents by maintaining an object's absolute values after it has been rotated. This shows you how much an object has been rotated from its previous position; (2) while trying to select multiple nodes along a complex curve with the Shape tool, you now have the option of using an irregularly shaped marquee to surround and select the nodes; (3) users can now zoom out by right-clicking with the Zoom tool; (4) you can see the position and size values of an object in the Property Bar while creating the objects; (5) objects created with the contour feature contain fewer nodes; (6) you can now change the node type by using a hot key; (7) all nodes on an object can be selected so that they can be simultaneously reduced or modified; and (8) users can reverse the direction of a selected path, changing the direction of the curve.

Interactive Connector Tool--This new tool is far superior to the basic Connector tool, interactive connector tooland it enables you to make dynamically linked connections between two-objects in combinations of vertical or horizontal lines. It allows you to build flow and organizational charts easily. After the lines are connected, the objects they connect can be transferred or moved to any position on the page without breaking the connection.smoothing nodes

Curve Smoothness--While a collection of nodes on a Bezier path is selected, you can use the node reduction pop-up slider on the Property Bar to smooth the corner shape of all curve handles. This is an option that can be used to create a variety of shapes. For instance, I drew a shape with straight line segments, and then used the node reduction slider to smooth out the curves and created the hat shape for the image to the right. rounded corners

Enhanced Rectangle Tool--You can now single or multiselect corners of a rectangle to round them. The image to the right shows two rectangles: one with all the same roundness vale. Although it no longer resembles a normal rectangle, the corners of this rectangle have been unlocked and rounded individually using the Property Bar.grid

Enhanced Default Grid Settings: The default girds in CorelDRAW 9 have been redesigned to enhance visibility and functionality. The grid's design now features gray lines rather than dots, and is spaced in 0.25-inch squares, giving it the appearance of graph paper.

Creation Tools

With CorelDRAW 9, you can be more creative than ever: (1) you can set an amount of smoothing that can be applied with lines drawn with the Freehand and Artistic Media tools; (2) the Eyedropper tool copies an object's color, fill, or outline, letting users paste it onto another object; and (3) join or add to selected line segments with cursor feedback.

Artistic Media Tool--This new tool is actually five tools in one, and provides: (1) preset line strokes, which are strokes with varying widths and standard styles; (2) brush strokes spray toolfor painterly effects; (3) an object sprayer; (4) a calligraphy pen; and (5) a pressure-sensitive pen. One difference between this tool and similar artistic media dockertools in other paint packages, is that the resulting effects are vector objects, which can be edited using some of the vector tools in CorelDRAW. The effects can be applied to the outlines of existing objects, or each tool can be clicked and dragged on the page to draw a curve object to which the selected effect is applied. You can apply effects to such objects as a star, a rectangle, and even text which has to be converted to curves before effects are used. Each of the five tools has its own options that are displayed on the Property Bar as each is selected. There is also an Artistic Media docker that can be used for all the effects and allows you to elect and apply effects without presets closing the docker. A Last property barUsed list helps you quickly find effects you have already used. The docker also provides a way for users to create and load their own custom Artistic Media effects. You can create your own random patterns to spray onto a path with the Object Sprayer or your own color painterly effects to use with Brushes. The Halloween image to the left was created using the spray mode and spraying on the ghosts, bats, and snow flakes.

Interactive Mesh Fill Tool--This tool lets you create multipoint fills. By selecting an object (vector, mesh fill toolbitmap, or curve) with the Interactive Mesh Fill tool, a mesh grid is applied to the object. You define how many rows and columns of nodes the mesh contains. The grid points can then be node-edited using the Mesh Fill cursor and Property Bar. Each node can be assigned a color, enabling you to create smooth color transitions in any direction without having to create hundreds of objects with blends and contours.

New Eraser Nib Shape--The Eraser tool in CorelDRAW 9 contains a new square nib, eraser nib shapemaking it easy for users to edit work in a limited space. Also, the creative element of the feature lets users create knock outs, such as a cookie cutter, from an object. For the example to the right, I used the new nib shape to create the large E image to the right.

Perspective Drop Shadow--The Interactive Drop Shadow feature has been enhanced with added perspective options. After you drag the Drop Shadow tool across an object, drop shadowyou can choose from five perspective direction options: Flat, Bottom, Top, Left, or Right. Once the drop shadow is generated onscreen, you can then drag the vector handles to reposition the shadow virtually any way you like. Or you can type an angle for the shadow into a rotation value box on the Property Bar. The opacity of the shadow can be changed by moving the opacity slider on the screen. There are new feathering options and a Copy Drop Shadow Properties button available on the Property Bar.

Interactive Contour Tool--This new interactive tool lets users create contoured objects and determine the contour type, such as inside, outside, or middle. Users can click an contour toolobject with the Contour tool, then drag the mouse to create an interactive vector line. The number of steps in the contour can be set by dragging the slider on the contour vector line. The type of contour, the number of steps, and fill colors also can be set on the associated Property Bar. The image to the right shows a contour applied to a star. You can also apply it to text for interesting effects.

Internet Features

Corel has added more Internet and Web-page creation support to CorelDRAW 9. The HTML export options are more robust, as well as several new functions to manage your links and other Web-page elements. There is added bitmap support and new bitmap filters to speed the process of creating graphics designed for the Web. You will find direct links in CorelDRAW menus to drawing resources and information on the Web. New online commands have been added to several of web optionsthe menus. They will take you to certain pages of Corel's Web site reserved for resources for CorelDRAW users. These pages will be a good source for designers as they will be updated with new clip art, drawings, Web-ready images, and CorelScript programs and commands, as well as helpful information, tips, and step-by-step articles. You can also update these "Corel on the Web" links automatically using an Update Links command in the Help menu.

Map Text to HTML Style--If you create text styles in CorelDRAW and often produce Web documents, you can improve the text's conversion to HTML by using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) as a layout. The HTML files produced are more accurate and editable because CorelDRAW styles are translated into CSS.

Enhanced HTML Export--files with duplicated bitmap images contain only one copy of the image. All references to the bitmap image point to the single file, reducing file and site size as well as decreasing download times.

Live Hyperlinks--You can preview the target Web page or graphic by right-clicking a link object in CorelDRAW and select Jump To Hyperlink In Browser from the pop-up menu to ensure that the hyperlink points to the correct location.

Web Statistics Page--When publishing to the Internet, you can automatically generate a statistics page by enabling the Create Statistics Page check box in the Publish to Internet dialog box.

Compatibility and Integration Features

Two new options or features are: (1) users can externally link Corel Photo-Paint (.CPT) and Adobe Photoshop (.PSD) raster images. CorelDRAW 9 also supports external linking of .CPT and .PSD files; (2) supports ixla Digital Camera Interface--a plug-and-play interface for acquiring images from over 120 digital camera models.

Bitmap Features

There are a variety of new features: (1)you can convert to a bitmap image with a resolution value as high as 10,000 dots per inch (dpi). This feature is beneficial to users who create bitmap images for extremely large media, such as billboards or highway signs; (2) the program has logical and consistent bitmap image conversion resolutions, enhancing the application's consistency with Photo-Paint; (3) you can send a bitmap image from CorelDRAW to Corel Trace from within the program; and (4) you can crop a bitmap image, thus eliminating the need to crop them in another program.

Bitmap Effects

1. Art Strokes--There are fourteen Art Strokes effects that give images an organic, Art Strokeshand-painted look. You can use these effects to turn your images into pastel drawings, sponge paintings, watercolors, or to create textured backgrounds for your artwork. The Art Strokes effects are: Charcoal; Conte Crayon; Crayon; Cubist; Impressionist; Palette Knife; Pastels; Pen and Ink; Pointillist; Scraperboard; Sketch Pad; Watercolor; Water Marker; and Wave Paper.

2. Color Adjustment Effects--There are seven adjustments you can make. They are: Color AdjustmentDeinterlace; Desaturate; Level Equalization; Replace Colors; Selective Color; Tone Curve; and Sample/Target Balance.

3. 3D Filters--There are seven 3D effects to give your bitmaps the allusion of three-3D Filtersdimensional depth. They include: 3D Rotate; Cylinder; Emboss; Page Curl; Perspective; Pinch Punch; and Sphere.

4. Blur Filters--There are nine Blur effects. These effects let you alter the pixels in bitmaps to soften, smooth, blend, or create motion effects. The Blur effects are: Directional Smooth; Gaussion Blur; Jaggy Despeckle; Low Pass; Motion Blur; Radial Blur; Smooth; Soften; and Zoom.

5. Color Transform Filters--There are four Color Transform effects that let you change the colors in an image. The Color Transform effects are: Bit Planes; Halftone; Psychedelic; and Solarize.

6. Contour Filters--There are three Contour effects which let you detect and accentuate the edges of images. You can set the level of edge detection, choose the type of edges, and define the color of the edges. The Contour effects are: Edge Detect; Find Edges; and Trace Contour.

7. Creative Effects--There are fourteen Creative effects. These effects transform images into a variety of shapes and textures. You can use marbles, candy, crystals, fabric, glass, game pieces, frames, whirlpools, or raindrops. The Creative effects are: Crafts; Crystallize; Fabric; Frame; Glass Block; Kid's Play; Mosaic; Particles; Scatter; Smoked Glass; Stained Glass; Vignette; Vortex; and Weather.

8. Distort Filters--There are ten Distort effects that transform the appearance of an Distort Filtersimage without adding depth. The Distort effects are: Blocks; Displace; Offset; Pixelate; Ripple; Swirl; Tile; Wet Paint; Whirlpool; and Wind.

9. Noise Filters--There are eight noise effects that create, control, and eliminate noise. Noise refers to the graininess of a bitmap, when random pixels on the surface of a bitmap resemble static on a television screen. The Noise effects are: Add Noise; Diffuse; Dust and Scratch; Maximum; Median; Minimum; Remove Moire; and Remove Noise.

10. Sharpen Filters--There are five effects that sharpen the pixels of an image to focus and enhance edges. The Sharpen effects are: Adaptive Unsharp; Directional Sharpen; High Pass; Sharpen; and Unsharp Mask.

Desktop Publishing and Typography Features

Some of the new features or options are: (1) using the right mouse button, users can drag elements in and out of text, eliminating the need to copy and paste; (2) it is easier to fit text to a path; (3) a user can resize the text frame while the text tool remains selected, which makes text easier to font listmanipulate since users can select the text frame bounding box handles without using the Pick tool; (4) CorelDRAW retains the original text settings in an imported text file, such as column and page size information; (5) users can insert symbols as a graphical element, or as special characters to be used in text.; (6) you can wrap text around text frames; (7) wrap styles have been enhanced to include several new wrap styles; (8) by using the Shape tool, users can change the spacing in Artistic and Paragraph Text between letters, words, or both; and (9) enhanced font list includes a Most Recently Used font list.

Personal Comments

Corel has done a good job of enhancing the program to improve output for desktop printers, Web publishing, and service bureaus. It is an excellent professional tool as well as fun and creative program for individuals new to an illustration program.

Web Page Editor: Macromedia Dreamweaver 3.0
Graphics: CorelDRAW Suite 8 & 9