Corel Draw X6
I run a design agency and have had Corel products since they came out with Corel Draw version 1 only floppy disks. Most of my employees prefer to use the Adobe Creative Suite but Corel has always been at this level so I was happy to try this new version as it competes with Adobe for the higher end design market.
This is my initial review and I will post updates as we use it to run a complete project.
What is it ?
It is a suite of software for visual design from painting through to photography and website design.
The main programs are:
Corel Draw X6 - vector graphics software,
Corel Photo Paint - a poweful photo editor,
Corel web designer - a drag and drop website design system supporting all modern technologies,
Corel Connect - a project sharing and management centre.
Corel Capture - software for capturing images and screens from the computer.
There are also several other add-ins to allow printer duplexing (print both sides), video tutorials and some add-ins for the photo package. There is also a huge suite of fonts, layouts and graphics included.
The suite comes on a single DVD and loads with little user intervention except for registering etc. You need to download the Web design software after registration as it is not on the initial DVD for some reason.
The suite comes with a hardbound well illustrated quality manual which is well written and easy to follow as a course or just a dip in when help is needed. This is probably the best quality manual I have ever used.
This is a solid program and allows you to produce anything from a simple logo to a full high quality vector graphics. I can't find any limitations in the package other than me. Basically if you can think it up you will be able to design it here. The tools are very comprehensive and surprisingly easy to use. I have done a few logos with it and actually enjoyed the process. It can also be used with a drawing tablet and my Aipteck A4 one was found by the software and correctly loading into it as an input device. I am very impressed with this package, it's rack solid, easy to use and has all the power you will ever need.
Corel Photo paint
This is a high end fully equipped photo editing package. It accepted all the RAW files I threw at it from my Nikon camera systems including some of the newer bodies. It has lots of automated tools, which are just as comprehensive as anything else I have used from other companies.
The interface does feel old fashioned. If you hover over the menu items they don't automatically drop down, you have to click first. I expect this is more design from Corel than a throwback to the past because it saves on memory and stops loads of menus opening when the mouse touches them. One thing I can say it has never locked up or crashed on me despite being open all day. This is amazing because every other editor I use cannot go for long without locking up of doing something I have not asked it to do, well done Corel.
The layering facilities are very easy to use and have lots of flexibility allowing the user to create photographs with lots of design elements. Even one of my Photoshop 'experts' thought it was easier to use and much more stable than Photoshop.
Corel Web designer
This is a drag and drop web design package that is really aimed at small business or the hobby designer that does not want to learn HTML or all the other packages that are used today. It's all there, templates, forms, graphics and menus and the code it generates is modern and works fine. This is the only part of the software that I am not really going to go into myself as we use our own 'in house' design system that we have built over many years along with our clients. However, for anyone wanting a quick site without going back to school to learn how to do it this will do fine.
This application lets you capture screens from your computer. The software is great allowing the user to copy all or parts of a screen and size them accordingly. These can be used in other elements of the package or exported to other software suites. This is so simple to use but very effective and powerful. This will be great for illustrating technical manuals about our software etc.
The other bits
The project sharing application allows users who are working on a project to share data. This allows the project supervisor to keep an overview of the project and plan accordingly. This part is really for design agencies and is really a project management tool. It's comprehensive and useful if you are using external inputs from designers. It keeps a project neat and hopefully on time.
There is a mass of clipart and some photos to use within your documents along with some website templates.
Corel has produced a cheaper alternative to the competing Adobe Creative Suite (£1200 +). Corel's software will do just about anything this suite will do and really the software is only limited by the users imagination. This would be ideal for small design companies or companies which need to do their own design work and don't want to spend a fortune with Adobe. Corel's software is also very stable and needs a much less powerful system to run on that Adobe's. It's a pity it's only a PC package and not Mac compatible.
All in all a good buy which won't let you down, it's easy to use and very comprehensive for the money. Also the manual is great.
on 27 June 2012
It seems like CorelDRAW has been around forever as I remember using this product back in the days of Windows 3.1 over 20 years ago. Even back then it was an amazing piece of software and it's a testament to the product that it's stood the test of time.
Nowadays CorelDRAW is a whole suite of applications, with CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X6 consisting of a range of separate packages. There's the 2 primary applications, CorelDRAW itself, along with PHOTO-PAINT. Augmenting these are a collection of useful utilities - Bitstream Font Navigator for font management, PowerTrace for bitmap conversion, Website Creator X6 for website design, CAPTURE for screen capturing, PhotoZoom Pro 2 for plug-ins, and CONNECT for image browsing.
The interface to CorelDRAW itself is fairly intuitive and easy to use, though it can be a bit overwhelming at first. The workspace provides an extensive set of controls, with the Objects Properties docker containing a huge array of properties divided into sections, so many complex tasks can be accessed without having to drill down loads of menu. When first confronted by all these controls it at first seems a little complex, but you soon realise this actually makes usability a lot easier.
CorelDRAW has always had a huge range of fonts, and now the list is even longer, every font you could possibly imagine is included. Some new vector drawing tools are also included, namely Smear, Twirl, Attract and Repel, which can transform shapes into all kinds of weird and wonderful forms.
Generally CorelDRAW incorporates so many features and has so many ways of manipulating vector images that you can't help but have fun with it. With a bit of patience it's easy to get to grips with the application's more advanced functions. A big aid to this is CorelDRAW's help system, which is excellent and includes a very large collection of demo videos.
Another great feature is CorelDRAW's ability to easily incorporate images from the internet. The CONNECT browser, as well as allowing easy navigation around CorelDRAW's locally installed media files, can also connect directly to online content from Flickr, Fotolia and iStockphoto, which is very useful.
CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X6 provides a very powerful set of vector and image editing tools. The core application of CorelDRAW is a comprehensive and feature-packed application that includes some amazingly powerful tools that are accessible even to non-pros thanks to a great help system, highly recommended.
If you already have CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X5 (Guidebook and DVD) (PC) then it might not be worth upgrading to X6, but for anyone using photo packages older than two years then I'd say that X6 is the best investment. Corel (formally JASC) are, by far, the best when it comes to comprehensive graphics suites, far better than the overrated Adobe. As with all photo packages it will take a long time and a lot of practice to get the most out of the tools and abilities, though if you are into photo-manipulation and take lots of pics then you learn without knowing it as you work through your shoots.
CorelDRAW X6 can be used by beginners or professionals. You might be intimidated when the program first opens if you are not familiar with it, but just muck around for 5 minutes and you'll be orientated enough to get going. I love the fonts this thing has to offer too (there are 1000 of them). It has 10,000 clip-art images, but I don't have any use for that. And, obviously, it opens pretty much any kind of image file. It connects to Flickr also, though I mostly keep my photo-editing private so I never really go there and I didn't experiment with it. I don't create websites either, though the function is there and from a superficial glance I can tell you that it's not just an afterthought, it works just as well as any dedicated website-building software. The flyer creation tools are also perfect for events promoters and will trump whatever software you use at the moment.
Like X5, the physical package is a slab. An easy-going guidebook is included in there too. But if you don't want to consult a manual every time you get stuck there are video tutorials to help you built into the software.
CorelDRAW X6 is undoubtedly the best Graphics Suite available to the public. Any higher-spec software will have the ILM or Pixar logo on it. I understand that the price tag may be a little high for some people to take a gamble on, but seriously, there IS no gamble. It's the best. But if you are still unsure just download the trial from Corel and see for yourself. Just make sure you have a high-spec processor and a semi-dedicated PC for best results.
Among all the other publishing packages I have used over the past 20 years, I have been using CorelDraw since version 2, way back in 1992, and have used many of its updates in subsequent decades. I have also run business courses on using Corel Draw. This version is one of the better of them, including quite a few new features and a significant performance boost. The most obvious benefit is native 64-bit and multiple processor support (which is also a new thing in Adobe Illustrator). It certainly feels quicker in use, but if your computer does not support these features, a less speedy 32-bit version is included.
Among the many updates, the best are the redesigned object properties docker, a few nice vector-editing tools (especially Smart Carve), some cool effects tools, and the inclusion of page numbering. Page numbering has been a long time coming. It at long last enables you to create page numbering schemes, and insert dynamic page numbers into paragraph text. I generally only make fan-fold leaflets and booklets, but page numbering is a nice addition. There are a few other goodies, such as improved OpenType support, placeholder text, colour styles support, and a redesigned styles docker.
Corel Connect has also been updated. It enables you to extract every available image from a website, search your system for usable content, and collect resources (such as pictures, fonts and artwork) for your projects. It's a useful tool to have, and not just for CorelDraw - it's just as good if you are collecting content for projects in Microsoft Office or whatever. Some of the new vector-editing tools are proving to be a real time-saver, such as the Smart Carve tool mentioned earlier. It enables you to chop away at vector graphics. For example, if you have a drawing of an apple, and want to "take a bite" out of it (through multiple layers), this tool does that in a second, saving quite a bit of editing time, and allows you to experiment without wasting time on ideas that you later discard.
Among the many other enhancements, there is improved support for Microsoft Publisher 2010 and Adobe CS5. That last bit - for Adobe CS5 - is probably the key one, given that CorelDraw's main competitor is Adobe Illustrator. That said, its CS5 support still lags behind Adobe's latest offering - CS6. A file conversion tool is included among the macros, which can convert 21 image types to others, such as TIF to PNG. There are plenty of other tools that can do this, but with this one you also have the source code to play around with, so you can modify the converter to do weird and wonderful conversions to suit your own needs. Another nice inclusion is the calendar maker, which can make a range of calendars to fit whatever size page you are using, with or without space for pictures. Unfortunately, the source code is not accessible for that tool, so you can't meddle with it. On the export front again, its PDF maker has worked very well for me so far. It offers compatibility with various PDF versions up to 9, with prepress mark-up, password protection, and all the usual options for object handling (such as picture compression, fonts and so on).
On the negative side of the package, there is almost nothing new in Corel PhotoPaint. It remains a competent photo editor, but it looks a bit old-fashioned these days, next to the likes of Photoshop Elements and Paintshop Pro.
CorelDraw 6X takes about an hour to install, if you install everything. The process is easy and runs from a single DVD. When you register the product, you get to download Corel Website Creator X6, which is a 326.7 MB file. It takes just a few minutes to install, and you will need your Corel license code during the process. It enables you to put together decent-looking web pages, but to me it felt a bit lacking in features.
CorelDraw X6 comes with an excellent hardback user guide, which is glossy and printed in full colour. It is nicely written, and provides plenty of practical information. If reading is not your thing, then the online help includes many explanatory videos that cover most of the basics.
When it comes down to features, and actually creating business graphics, there's not a lot to choose between CorelDraw and its arch rival - Adobe Illustrator. They do much the same things but in slightly different ways. I have yet to see anything significant done in Adobe Illustrator that could not have been achieved almost identically in CorelDraw, or vice versa. Of course, wonderful features won't magic you from being a mediocre artist to a great one, but they will make the creative process a bit easier. Or to put it another way, I've seen talentless users make a real mess with both packages. I've also noticed that students coming into the business seem to have learned their trade on Adobe Illustrator, so they inevitably favour it in the workplace, but I have no special preference. I have used both packages to good effect.
However, Adobe Illustrator dominates the market, so CorelDraw X6's improved CS5 support may be the clincher if you are deciding which package to use. Both are excellent products, but this version of CorelDraw certainly feels very solid so far, and offers everything that a graphic designer might need.
I spend my working life using a wide range of software, as well as designing/developing/testing new software products. One type of software that I don't make much use of though is graphical design software, usually leaving that side of things to specialists in that area. However, I occasionally have the need to use such software for home use, creating posters, Christmas cards, presentations etc. It's a tricky combination, as I know what I want to do, I expect the software to be able to do what I want, and I expect the software to be intuitive for somebody who (a) doesn't use graphical software often, but (b) isn't big on reading help screens.
So, given my expectations, how does CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X6 measure up?
Well, the first thing you notice is that the box it comes in contains a proper hard-back manual/guidebook. That's very unusual these days. Call me old-fashioned, but if software is complicated then I like a hard-copy manual rather than (or as well as) hundreds of pages of help screens. The "guidebook" that comes with CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X6 is excellent. You just need to put some time aside to read it and practice as you go along. The video tutorials that are provided are good too, making it easier to soak up information than just reading help text.
The software installs easily, if slowly (on my multi-processor, 32 bit Vista box at least), and seems reliable in use - it's not crashed on me once. This package is indeed a suite, so a number of applications are installed, for photo editing, vector graphics, website design, etc. Once installed, I don't find the user interface particularly intuitive, but that's true of most graphics packages I have used over the years. The more powerful they are, the less intuitive they become. That's fine if you have the time to spend learning how to use them, but if you are in a hurry to create something the first time you install CorelDRAW then you are likely to be frustrated.
After reading (most of) the guidebook, and some of the help, CorelDRAW does do most of the things I want it to do, although achieving what I want may require using more than one of the applications in the suite. It may be that it can do everything I want, but working out how to do some things takes some time.
CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X6 offers a good range of functionality. For business use, it's very good value. For occasional personal use, it's not obscenely priced, although not cheap either (students will want to look into student discounts, which make a big difference).
Recommended, with the caveat that learning how to use the suite well will take some time if you have not used earlier versions.
Graphics packages are a great place to spend a working day. It's much more enriching to spend your desk shift in something like CorelDRAW than inside a spreadsheet or shuffling emails. This latest edition of the venerable CorelDRAW series is version X6. It fully delivers on the things you'd expect from raw graphics, page layouts, photo manipulation, font management, bitmapper conversions, web designer tools, image browsing and more.
For a standalone, non-subscription suite it's great. It lacks some of the productivity and collaboration features of its primary competitor but it delivers a great creative experience, with really good tools, internal layouts and access to help materials. With this and a decent graphics tablet you can create amazing content in very short order and I was particularly impressed with the way it allows you to customise the vast array of controls and tools to your liking, really boosting productivity and reducing the time spent hunting for things you don't use as often.
On the technical front, 64bit and multiprocessor support really helps speed up this suite, which feels lighter and faster than before. Recommended.
on 6 September 2013
We bought this as complete beginners and are now designing our own stuff, we find it really easy to use and would highly recommend it.
on 25 December 2015
I purchased CorelDRAWGSX6 in good faith as new.l was suspicious when I noticed the seal had been broken. I contacted Corel and they informed me that the serial number was assigned to another buyer. They informed me that the product I had purchased was a pirate copy and advised me to send all the details to the orthorities. I have cancelled the payment and will take action after the Xmas break.
on 1 May 2013
I have left my original post below (in quotes) for reference. The product is excellent and I've never thought otherwise but I did have a problem which I believe was caused by an update. To be honest I didn't have a lot of hope that Corel would help, having read a lot about their "support" elsewhere but I have been very pleasantly surprised. I had an almost immediate response from their UK Retail Manager offering to help resolve my issues. As it happens, a new "hotfix" seems to have done so, so I think it's only fair to set the record straight and rate Corel Graphics Suite X6 as the 5 stars it deserves - and, from my recent experience, Corel's pro-active customer support. Thank you Daniel.
"One Star For A Reason
I will delete this when Corel fix what I consider to be bugs in the latest (X6.3) update. The 1 star is to draw the attention of prospective purchasers.
I have used CorelDraw since its inception and it's always been a buggy program but at least X6 did seem pretty bug-free... until I installed the X6.3 major update (64 bit on Win 7). My main issues are with the "Transformations" tools which of course are probably the most used tools of all. Since X6.3, many have not worked sometimes, and that's the weirdest thing - sometimes. By way of example, I have a box I want to replicate so I select it, click on the "Position" transformation tool and the appropriate relative position, choose 1 copy (why so complicated now?!) and apply. New box gets created in the same position as the original despite the fact I've chosen to create it to the right. I delete the wrongly placed box and try again. Same result. I try creating the new box on the left hand side. Same result.
I select a different box and use exactly the same settings. Works as expected! I try again with the original box. Works as expected. Bizarre.
The same thing happens with other tools. There's nothing consistent as far as I can see. I consider myself an experienced CorelDraw user and pretty good PC "expert" so I'm sure it's not me. I did have similar issues way back, probably about version 4 but didn't expect such problems now.
If anyone out there has any ideas of why these problems are occurring please do let me know. For anyone reading this, it's not a rant and the suite is actually excellent in every respect, at least it was until I went to X6.3
Despite trawling the internet I haven't found any explanation or fix. Maybe it IS something to do with my configuration but I don't know. X6.2 was perfect, it's the update that's done it, guv. As stated, I'll be happy to delete this upon receiving a fix, either from Corel or an expert.
Update 9th May. Having had a very swift and positive response from Corel UK I am raising my rating to a "good" one pending the outcome. So, this may turn into a review of Corel's support too!"
I have been using Adobe for years after its programmes seemed far superior to Corel's. I was keen to see how the new CorelDraw Graphics Suite compared and I am knocked out.
I should say at the start I was not too impressed. Took ages to load and then tool ages to add a number of files from the net I needed to make the programme run. From loading to start up must have been an hour or more. However, in retrospect this is a good feature. I would have hated to start using the programme to have it crash or to stop to load up the necessary third party programmes. Good on you Corel. Nice feature.
I have been using Illustrator and InDesign for a number of years and to be frank Adobe don't make using either particularly easy. Using the CorelDraw Suite was like taking candy from a baby and - I can import my work from my Adobe files straight in.
Lots of new features but the ones I love are the shape menus. These allow you to manipulate images and even draw your illustrations. Sounds technical but far from it. Brill
The programme supports both Adobe programmes and surprisingly Microsoft's Publisher. I haven't used Publisher in years but will certain get my old Publisher files into CorelDraw to manipulate and improve.
Photopaint is cool to use. Great new perspective tools - something a bit different to Adobe but there are a few new features here which do mimic Photoshop but I regret they are a bit longwinded. Photoshop CS5 bought in the fill programme, which allowed you to remove items and replace what was removed with a fill which should be similar to the other backgrounds. Works well most of the time and I use it a lot. CorelDraw has a similar feature in that you paint in say a person or item by using the mask tool, use the auto button and the item/person disappears. However, it wasn't as good as the Adobe feature even using the background fusion feature and I had a bit of correcting to do, but then again this programme is so much cheaper.
What is cool is the use of merge in Photopaint and filters to all or specific areas. Again not as good as some programmes but I really liked this feature.
The videos to help are great and you can access these from the programmes Hints menu in the side dock. These cover the basic s and help to get things going. Great to have these hear rather then on a separate disk or away from the programme.
To get the best out of the Suite you do need to practice and follow the exercises. Boring but useful.
I am still tackling this programme but I do like it. One thing I am not too keen on however is that it's a PC only programme. I am a Mac user and need to use Parrellels to use it. Works well but means that I have to be running to operating systems at once and that means a slower pace of work.
All in all good value and good fun.