Cadalyst Labs Review: CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 131 Jul, 2006 By: IDSA ,Mike Hudspeth
Lucky version 13 provides many utilities at a low cost
Thirteen is supposed to be an unlucky number. Hotels rarely have a thirteenth floor, except in scary movies. Some thirteens are definitely good, however. A baker's dozen is a good deal. Friday the thirteenth has always been good luck for me—or at least no worse than any other day. And Corel's new CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X3 looks pretty good, too.
The CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X3 is actually several programs bundled together to give users a wide range of capabilities. You get CorelDRAW, Corel PHOTO-PAINT, Corel PowerTRACE and some other handy utilities. Adobe may lead the art industry with its Illustrator and Photoshop products, but each one costs around $500. The CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X3 includes roughly comparable capabilities for just $399. It's like getting Illustrator and Photoshop, plus a whole lot more, for less than the price of just one of those programs.
Draw Me a Picture
For those unfamiliar with CorelDRAW, it's a vector-based graphics program. I know you're asking what that has to do with 3D modeling, but bear with me. At my company, we use it for a variety of tasks, from documentation and user-manual graphics to labeling to presentations. CorelDRAW can import and export all kinds of formats that are compatible with engineering software. I've used it simply as a translator on more than a few occasions.
I use it with UGS NX all the time. If I need to put a label or overlay on a product, I use CorelDRAW for the graphics. I can import the outline of the graphic recess from NX and use it to generate vector-based graphics, which are far easier to manipulate than a bit-map. Then I export a bit-map of the finished result and import that back into NX to wrap onto the surface. When it's approved, I can develop the artwork into a format that our art department will use to make the item. It's especially useful for modeling molded-in graphics such as logos.
Fill in a Form
An interesting feature in CorelDRAW X3 is Smart Fill. In previous versions you could fill an object, but if you wanted to fill the area between objects you had to create a new object and either trim it to fill the space or make it big enough and send it behind the opening. The Smart Fill detects the edges of the open space and creates an object to match.
CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X3
The new Crop tool also is a welcome addition to CorelDRAW. Corel PHOTO-PAINT has had it forever, and it's very useful. Sometimes you have an image that you've imported from somewhere and you want to use only a small portion of it. Crop lets you draw a rectangle around what you want and delete what's not included. It works with either bit-map or vector objects.
The new Hints docker (figure 1) is a great way to see what your options are when in a command. It's a context-sensitive help screen. Corel has always offered superior tutorials. I'm glad it's continuing that tradition.
Figure 1. The Hints docker gives you context-sensitive help. It s a great learning tool.
Send Me a Line
The new Interactive Fit Text to Path command (figure 2) makes it easier than ever to control text. You can tell a line of text to follow whatever path you want and control how it does so with ease. I wish the command would fit text between two paths. Oh well, maybe in v14.
Figure 2. You can easily make text follow a curve. Controlling the text is much easier than in earlier versions.
We've all worked for companies that have fancy logos they want splashed over their products. We've all tried to model them with various levels of success. With Corel PowerTRACE X3, you can import a bit-map of a corporate logo and trace it into a vector format (figure 3). You then can export whatever vector-based entities (for example, DXF or CGM) your 3D modeling program can handle. Extrude them onto your model and presto! You're in business.
Figure 3. You can open a bit-map and have Corel PowerTRACE X3 turn it into editable vector entities. The image on the left was a bit-map. The image on the right is vector based.
Corel PHOTO-PAINT X3 always has been very powerful. You can use it to make a lackluster screen dump into a winning image. The Image Adjustment Lab, which significantly is available in both CorelDRAW and PHOTO-PAINT, lets you adjust things such as color balance and contrast all in one place. I wish the interfaces between CorelDRAW and PHOTO-PAINT were the same. If you hit the F2 button in CorelDRAW, you go into Zoom Window mode. F3 is Zoom Previous, and F4 is Zoom All. These buttons all do different functions in PHOTO-PAINT. Too bad. They should be the same in all modules.
The CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X3 comes with more than 10,000 royalty-free clip-art images and templates, 1,000 fonts and photos. You may not think that's a big deal, but most are vector art. If you are like most people, anything you don't have to draw is a good thing. Check it out for yourself.
Stating Point of View
I could tell you so much more about the CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X3. I'm basically sold on Corel and its products. This company knows how to enable its users. For just $399, CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X3 is a great bargain. If I were starting my own company and needed any kind of illustrations, I'd get this program—no question about it. Highly Recommended.
Mike Hudspeth, IDSA, is an industrial designer, artist and author based in St. Louis, Missouri.