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CorelDRAW 8 is the latest version of a comprehensive suite of graphics applications designed for Windows 95 and Windows NT 4.0. The suite includes CorelDraw 8, a vector illustration program, as well as two other powerful tools: Corel Photo-Paint 8 (for bitmap editing) and CorelDream 3D 8 (for rendering), which are both full-fledged applications. Several utilities are also included to provide support for scanning, tracing, Optical Character Recognition (OCR), font management, screen capture, OLE scripting and more. There are more than 40,000 clipart images, over 1,000 TrueType and Type 1 fonts, hundreds of photos, Web backgrounds and animated GIFs, and templates. The bitmap editing program, Photo-Paint 8, can now be purchased separately. There is also a Macintosh version of CorelDraw 8 Suite available. For an overview of the items in the suite, click on the Suite Items button. Corel Corporation has an excellent Web site for information about their products. (http://www.corel.com) I mention other useful sites in the User Level section, also. The price of the Suite is $695 for the full package; $249 for the Upgrade, and the upgrade can be from a variety of Corel products, not just CorelDraw.
For users who are just starting out and might want more information about vector and bitmap programs; what is a 3D program; or what each program is used for, I will briefly discuss the three types.
CorelDraw (Vector-based Program)
With CorelDraw and other vector-based applications you are working in a world of shapes. Vector images, also called object-oriented or draw images, are defined mathematically as a series of points joined by lines. Graphical elements in a vector file are called objects. Each object is a self-contained entity with properties such as color, shape, outline, size, and position on the screen, included in its definition. Since each object is a self-contained entity, you can move and change its properties over and over again while maintaining its original clarity and crispness, and without affecting other objects in the illustration. These characteristics make vector-based programs ideal for illustration and 3D modeling, where the design process often requires individual objects to be created and manipulated.
Vector-based drawings are resolution independent. You can easily resize vector images to a thumbnail sketch or a billboard-sized graphic, and you can print in any resolution. A circle can be drawn in 72 dpi, 300 dpi, or 3,000 dpi. As the resolution of the output device increases, the quality of the picture increases--which is not true for bitmapped graphics. Vector images don't become grainy when resized or lose detail and proportion. Smooth curves are easy to define in vector-based programs and they retain their smoothness and continuity even when enlarged.You can change vector-based images into bitmap formats when needed.
Corel Photo-Paint (Bitmap-based Program)
With Corel Photo-Paint and other bitmap-based applications you are working in a world of color and photographic quality images. Bitmap images, also called raster or paint images, are made of individual dots called pixels (picture elements) that are arranged and colored differently to form a pattern. When you zoom in, you can see the individual squares that make up the total image. However, the color and shape of a bitmap image appear continuous when viewed from a greater distance. Because each pixel is colored individually, you can easily work with photographs with 16,000 colors and can create photorealistic effects such as shadowing and intensifying color by manipulating select areas, one pixel at a time. Bitmap programs are used to retouch photographs, editing images and video files and creating original artwork. Subtle changes to photos can be made: adjusting the lighting, sharpening the focus, and removing scratches. Drastic changes such as removing people and things, swapping details between images, adding text and objects, adjusting color, colorizing black-and-white and grayscale images, splicing movies, and applying unique combinations of special effects. Bitmap programs are used to create images with GIF and JPEG formats as needed for the Web.
But the disadvantage of bitmap images comes when you want to change the size, shape, or resolution of the picture. Increasing the size of a bitmap has the effect of increasing individual pixels, making lines and shapes appear jagged. Reducing the size of a bitmap also distorts the original image because pixels are removed to reduce the overall image size. Also, because a bitmap image is created as a collection of arranged pixels, its parts cannot be manipulated individually. Because you cannot easily change the size of bitmap images, the quality of your output is dependent on the decisions you make about resolution early in the process. Bitmap images look best when printed at their original size and proportions.
CorelDream 3D (3D Modeling Program)
Modeling programs such as CorelDream 3D involve working with three-dimensional (3D) illustration, and it involves
more advanced concepts and procedures than two-dimensional (2D) illustration. To give you an example of how a modeling
program works, below is a brief description of what you can accomplish in CorelDream 3D. Projects must be brought
through several phases, and different tools and methods are used at each. Many real-world objects are structurally
complex. Their shapes curve, twist, join, and separate in ways that might seem impossible to recreate in a computer
program. With CorelDream 3D, you build them one piece at a time. Before you begin a complex object, examine its
components. CorelDream 3D will divide the object into simple elements. For example, you can "disassemble"
a bicycle wheel into an axle, the hub, the spokes, the rim, and a tire. Then you can assemble the pieces into the
wheel. After you build a subassembly, such as a bicycle wheel, you can group the components together. Grouping
enables the subassembly to be manipulated as a single object. After finishing the bicycle, you can lean it against
a building, put some tables and chairs on the sidewalk, maybe add a fire hydrant or streetlight, and an outdoor
cafe is created. The different objects can also be shaded to provide depth and lighting effects. Shading involves
not only colors but textures, like stucco on a building, and surface properties, like shininess. To enhance realism
and 3D effects, light sources can be created in your scene. In fact, lighting is necessary for the same reasons
it is required in photography nothing can be seen without it! With special lighting, your cafe scene can be changed
from the middle of the day to the afternoon or evening. In the middle of the day, the lighting is bright white
and comes from overhead. The shadows are short, directly beneath the objects. In the afternoon, the light is warmer,
yellow-orange, and comes from a low angle. The shadows stretch away from the objects. At night, the ambient light
is dim and bluish. The streetlight creates a puddle of light on the sidewalk, and another light shines out through
a window of the building.
|Advanced Beginners, Intermediate, and Advanced PC users. The suite of programs are not difficult to use, but there
are a multitude of features and options so that it takes a while to learn. The suite is suitable for professional
production or for any individual who is working in graphic design, Web page design or desktop publishing and wants
to go beyond a basic template driven application in order to explore their artistic side. Anyone familiar with
other paint programs or graphic programs should have no problem with this suite. It is intuitive and user-friendly
but powerful, and does take some dedication to learning. Advanced Beginners will appreciate the on-screen CorelTutor
that has step-by-step instructions on creating a variety of images or products. As the three main applications
share a similar interface, it would be appropriate for a user new to graphic programs as they are not learning
a variety of applications with different interfaces, which can be confusing. Also all the programs are well-integrated
and work smoothly together.Advanced PC users will appreciate the customizability of the program. The Web options
have features that would help users new to Web publishing, but also would aid Intermediate and Advanced users.
There is a variety of support for users new to the Suite. The User Guides for CorelDraw and Corel Photo-Paint are hefty volumes filled with information. And then there are numerous third-party books and sites on CorelDraw. Such books on CorelDraw and Corel Photo-Paint vary from "Sams Teach Yourself CorelDraw 8 in 24 Hours" by Macmillan (http://www.mcp.com), an excellent beginning book to "CorelDraw 8: The Official Guide," by Osborne/McGraw-Hill) a 958 page book packed with everything you ever wanted to know about CorelDraw, and it is easy to read (http://www.osborne.com). The User Guide for CorelDream 3D is on the CD and can be printed. The Web site: http://www.unleash.com is an excellent source for products and companies that are useful to the CorelDraw and CorelPhoto-Paint user.
|For those individuals who are already familiar with CorelDraw, and just like to review a list of new and enhanced features, you can click on the appropriate button below for a list for CorelDraw, Corel-Paint, and CorelDream. In the Review section, below, I will elaborate on the features for individuals who want a more in-depth approach and viewable graphics.|
Layout of Review
Since CorelDraw 8 is a suite of tools, with three main applications, I am separating the review material. This specific Web page will describe information pertaining to the whole CorelDraw 8 Suite, unless otherwise indicated. Information on the individual programs, can be found by clicking the appropriate button below. Because the total package is called CorelDraw, as well as the illustration program, and there could be confusion about the two, in the text, I will use the word "CorelDraw Suite" or "Suite" to pertain to the suite and the word "CorelDraw" or just "Draw" to pertain to just the specific application.
Graphics in Review
I will use a variety of graphics for this review, all made with one of the applications of CorelDraw. Let's face it, if you are a graphic designer, you can easily create the ultimate image. What I am trying to do is show what the average user or desktop publisher can do with the program, so all the images are very basic and can be created by beginners or professionals. I used the "Sams Teach Yourself CorelDraw 8 in 24 Hours" book, and the step-by-step tutorials for some of the images, as it is an excellent book for novices and shows what you can do with a little time and effort. This is a rather long review, but I really want to demonstrate what the program can do. Our PC Cafe logo was created with CorelDraw with somewhat more advanced techniques. Artistic text was used then the text was converted to curves. The text was then broken apart so each character could be edited, and placed behind or in front of the other.
The Section headings and Title heading were made in CorelDraw. I drew a rectangle, filled it with a Full Color Pattern Fill of drops, then put another rectangle behind it with I filled with a Fountain Fill Preset to get the gradient color. The text was added last. Presets are useful to someone learning to use this type of program.
The blue/green cylinder buttons for the three programs were made using CorelDraw, also. I used the Blend effect, which enables you to fill the space between two different objects with a set of new objects that change, step-by-step, from the first object to the second. Not only do the size and shape of blended images evolve from one object to another, but the color as well. I drew a circle, copied it, colored one blue and the other green, selected both, and then selected Effects/Blend from the menu bar, and entered 20 in the Number of Steps spin box. The text was added last. It was very easy and fun to do.
The Suite is not difficult to install but does take some time. It also requires a lot of space on your system: about 220MB to 340MB of hard disk space, depending on what fonts and utilities you install. You can reduce this number significantly by using the "Run from CD" option, but doing so is slower.
Corel gets kudos for including hefty manuals for the applications in the Suite. There is a printed manual for CorelDraw and Corel Photo-Paint and an excellent manual on the CD for CorelDream 3D that can be printed. There is also a color guide to clipart and fonts and a Quick Reference Card for the tools. And last but not least, a Commercial Printing Guide with useful information.
|The CorelDraw 8 Suite has certainly matured, and it delivers quality as well as quantity. It is more powerful than
before, and more intuitive and intelligent, making it easier and quicker to accomplish goals. Though the program
is geared for professionals, it it still a good program for any serious person working in graphic design. It is
a feature-rich suite for artistic and technical work for print or the Web.
Many individuals will shy away from a Suite such as this because they think it is too complicated for them. Not true. It is powerful and does take some time to learn thoroughly, but you will be amazed at how quickly you can create complex-looking images. The applications within the Suite share data and documents easily and use a similar interface which cuts the learning time. And most of your work can be done in just Draw, alone. The strong text tools, powerful Web tools, the expanded collection of bitmap creation and editing tools, and plug-in support in Draw 8 almost eliminates the need to leave the program for any art project. You don't have to learn a graphics program to create the graphics, then a word processing program for text, and then learn a page layout program for layout.
|Processor: Pentium 90 minimum (Pentium 133 recommended)
Operating System: Windows 95/NT 4.0
Memory: 16 MB RAM minimum (32 MB Ram recommended)
Hard Disk Space: 220 - 340 MB
Graphics: SVGA monitor
Web Page Editor: Symantec Visual Page