No application is perfect but the question - "Is CorelDRAW Awkward" - posed by Vectortuts+ got my attention. As an unofficial support geek I’m sometimes asked about image editing and graphics. People use lots of applications for that at work, even (my nightmare) Word, but there is one product line where I can’t help much.
People are usually surprised when.my response to a Photoshop problem is: “I can probably help with the process but not the detail, I don’t use Photoshop”. This it usually followed by one of those awkward, cue whistling wind and rolling tumbleweed imagery, silences as they wonder how you could do anything to an image without Photoshop.
The answer is CorelDRAW, which has been my graphic tool of choice since, well since I used CorelDRAW 3, way back in the mists of time. I admit the initial reason was cost as Corel sold older versions at a heavy discount. It was a clever idea that got me hooked when the equivalent Adobe applications cost much more. Even when I purchased the current version of CorelDRAW Suite - which bundles Draw (vector layout/illustration tool), Paint (bitmap) and a selection of other tools – it cost less than Photoshop alone.
I must admit when I first used CorelDRAW it was awkward but my graphics experience prior to that was required markers, pastels, typeset or Letraset type, scalpel and gum. Yes, I am old enough to remember when cut ‘n paste meant dealing with blades and the aroma of solvent based gum. M’mmm Bull Gum…
CorelDRAW introduced me to new concepts like the difference between Vector and Bitmap graphic editing, RGB or CMYK and a myriad of other things that were unique in this digital world. The first time I edited a Bezier curve was in CorelDraw. While they were awkward at first It still offers a degree of node control that I wish a some other applications could match. The same could be said for gradient/mesh fills, transparency, extrusion and shadow tools.
Although CorelDRAW, primarily a vector editor, integrates its basic bitmap tools PhotoPaint is the stand-alone “photo editor” that enables me to avoid Photoshop. It did suffer from a lack of development for several years – when Corel was lost in corporate meanderings - but still offers a pretty comprehensive set of image processing tools. Corel have acquired several other bitmap editors, Painter and PaintShop Pro, along the way which lead me to wonder if Corel PhotoPaint would be retired. Each has it’s strengths and own market share and, so far at least, Corel seem to be developing them all.
I don’t use CorelTrace, a bitmap to vector convertor, much but now but loved it when I had to make those “line drawings” you see in newspaper advertisements (back when I was a contractor). A decent photo could be vectorised and look quite hand drawn by the time it was done. CorelDRAW didn’t make me a graphic designer but gave me the tools to achieve just about any graphic need for my role. Want to create a logo (or blog header), business card, advertisement, brochure, maybe just a barcode or edit an image? Fire up CorelDRAW.
So is CorelDRAW awkward? Not compared to manual editing or, from my experience, it’s opposition. It has even some UX features I wish others would consider. My favourite is its “one hand mouse only copy” where you select an object, drag it to where you want a duplicate and right click before releasing the left button to get a duplicate. (No control on the keyboard required). After a session in CorelDRAW I tend to try that in other applications! There are limitations, in Corel PhotoPaint more than Draw, but like any powerful software it rewards time and passion.
Check out the Vectortuts+ post which outlines their take on CorelDRAW features/pains. I don’t agree with some (why have Space Bar equal Pan when press/hold mouse button does?) but it’s worth a read and showcases a stunning collection of CorelDRAW work from real graphic artists.
CorelDRAW had its 20th anniversary just recently. If a software can stand for 20 years it couldn't be that bad, right? But yes, it looks awkward and many people simply ignore it, since it is not "cool" enough. Its designer community isn't large and the software itself has some disadvantages, which make it look a bit awkward. Let's reviews some advantages and disadvantages of using this software…