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The first impression you get when you launch CorelDraw X5, is that not much has changed since CorelDraw X4, as the looks are almost the same. The only thing that seems different is this new Document Palette. We will talk about what this panel is all about in a moment.
In reality the new X5 version of CorelDraw comes with many improvements and enhancements which will appeal to users of all levels. They made subtle enhancements to the users-ability and added Flash compatibility.
New Document Panel
This is a panel where you can customize every new document you create and preset all the parameters that have to do with document size, color mode, resolution and preview mode. This is really useful especially for professional designers as you get to setup your document before starting to work, as opposed to having to do it later on, like you had to do in previous versions.
When you start work on a new document, all you have in the color palette are the standard colors which are usually not what you need. So you start creating new colors and adding them to the palette. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could import colors from previous projects? This is exactly what the Document Palette lets us do. Instead of recreating colors, we can now save the Document Palette and open it in another document. Colors can be added to the palette by dragging and dropping or with the eyedropper tool.
Export to Web and HTML
The Export to web option is really useful for exactly what the name says; for when you wish to export your graphics for web use. The panel that comes up helps you easily chose the file format you wish to export to (jpg, gif, png), the color mode, and the quality and size of your file.
Up until the previous version of CorelDraw the support for exporting png files was not what one would call ideal. Complex transparencies were lost when converted to png files which was quite frustrating. In this version all that belongs to the past; the problem was solved perfectly.
Freehand and Artistic tool
You will not be able to notice something different before you actually start using the Freehand and Artistic tools. Once you start drawing, the smoothness with which paths are produced will surprise you! Drawing with the Freehand and Artistic toll can actually produce respectable results; forget about the freehand drawings that look like a 5 year old grabbed the mouse and filled the screen with doodles!
Up until now, if you were drawing a map or a diagram that was small or complicated, you had to design your own arrowheads and tails in order to be able to scale them proportionately. Not anymore. In CorelDraw X5 arrowheads and tails are scaled. Draw a line and double click on the Outline Pen Properties icon (bottom right corner of screen).
The Outline Pen Dialogue box appears. Chose the style of your arrow and then click on Options below the arrowheads. Select attributes from the drop-down list. While changing the values of the Length and Width of your arrowhead you interactively see what the results will be in the preview window.
The B-Spline tool draws curved lines by setting control points that shape the curve without breaking it into segments. The best way to get a feel for this tool is to try it out. It is a lot like using a traditional French Curve instrument.
With the new features for rectangle corners you can jazz up any old boring rectangle. Rounded Corner, Scallop, Chamfer are the 3 options given to you with CorelDraw X5. Chose the feature you want from the Property Bar and set the radius value. If the little padlock in the center is locked then the four corners change simultaneously. If you are after an asymmetrical look, click on the padlock to unlock it and this will give you the chance to treat each corner of your rectangle differently. Keep the Relative Corner Scaling selected in order to avoid nasty surprises. Imagine changing the corner radius of your rectangle, then scaling the rectangle but the rounded corner remains the same size; not what you would normally want.
Mesh Fill tool
When we draw using a computer, we usually draw simple shapes. These create results that shout from far away that the image is “computer made” in contrast to “handmade”. In order to make an image appear as if it was hand drawn, we need to add a lot of detail. This is difficult to achieve since a lot of detail would mean a lot of small simple shapes put together. This is where the Mesh Fill tool comes in handy. It helps us to put detail into our pictures using fine tuned gradients. If you draw a circle and then pick the Mesh Fill tool, you get a grid in your circle (the standard is two by two) which you can change from the property bar. You can then drag and drop colors to the parts of the grid you want to fill with color and Corel takes care of the rest.
If you open one of the sample files that come with CorelDraw (Sample4.cdr in the samples folder) you will see what seems like a very complicated illustration.
If you switch to Wireframe view (View menu – Wireframe) you will see that it is made up of a few simple shapes.
Select a shape and pick the Mesh Fill tool to see the grid that supports this complex colored illustration.
This tool was present in previous editions but it is now refined and easier to work with. It makes the task of filling shapes with colors and moving them around seem like a lot of fun!
In the View Menu there is a new option which is Pixel View. This is particularly useful if you create graphics which will be used on the Web. For example if you design a vector button and you switch to Pixel View then you no longer have the vector version of your graphic, what you see is the Pixel View which can be verified if you zoom in.
Ready to use Artwork
Although the basic idea is that you use CorelDraw to express your creativity, there are times when some ready to use Artwork comes in handy. The Corel Graphics Suite DVD contains around 10,000 images, fonts, brushstrokes and fills that will make your life easier and enhance your creations.
Compatibility with Adobe Applications
Although I believe CorelDraw is a very powerful program and it can cover most of your design needs, it is inevitable that at some point you will have to work with designers who create files using Adobe Applications. Files such as psd, pdf, ai can be imported into CorelDraw and exported from it without any problems. You can even import layered Photoshop files, change their content, make additions and then export them as layered psd files that can be opened in Photoshop with the layers intact.
64 Bit Windows 7 Support
CorelDraw X5 supports 64 bit Windows 7, along with the 32 bit support for Windows 7, Vista and XP. If this means nothing to you, let’s just say that CorelDraw X5 can make friends with old and new pc systems alike…
If you use CorelDraw to create mainly web graphics it would be a good idea to upgrade to this new version, since in addition to all of the above features it also supports Flash animation.
If you design for print and you already own CorelDraw X4 there is no urgency to upgrade, unless you really like some of the new features.
Finally if you are new to vector based drawing and page layout software, then CorelDraw X5 is a good way into this world. It is easy to use, has excellent help documentation and with more than 100 supported file formats for import and export, it lets you collaborate with other designers regardless of the software they use.