CorelDRAW 8.0

I have been using CorelDRAW for several years now and their latest version release is the best yet. Corel has done a good job of improving their tool for creating high-end graphics. CorelDRAW 8 has a fair number of new features in it that make it a lot easier to do some of the things you may have done before such as drop shadows and extrusions of objects. However, it is not without faults, as are most software packages these days. One of the first things that you may notice is the large number of frustrating lock ups that occur while using the product. After heading to Corel’s web site I found that there was a patch for Corel Draw 8.0 that resolved most of the lock up issues. So, if you purchased CorelDRAW 8 and are having problems go to their web site at: http://www.corel.com/support/ftpsite . The patch for CorelDRAW 8.0 which was published to their site in May 98 is 20MB in size. Therefore, if you have a 33.6kbps connection or slower it will take a long time to download and I recommend calling Corel to have it sent to you instead. This will upgrade CorelDRAW 8 from build 232 to 369. You can check what version of CorelDRAW 8 that you are using by clicking on the menu Help and then About CorelDRAW… This will display the version number in the middle bottom portion of the window such as Version: 8.369. If you have Version 8.232 then I highly recommend that you get the upgrade it will save you a lot of frustration from losing your work when you crash. Previous versions of CorelDRAW have had their problems too but they continue to improve the product.

Now I can cover some of the better things about CorelDRAW 8. CorelDRAW 8 has improved several of its shape enhancing tools and made them interactive. Therefore, you can see the final result of your changes in "real time" as you are modifying the graphic objects you are changing. This is a great improvement over the older method of making changes to the object by dragging the node handles to a new location and only viewing a bounding box around the object that you were modifying. Then after you let go of the node handle, it would then display the change on the screen. Well now you get to see the change as you drag the node to a new position on the screen. This will save you several hours of trial and error work over the old way. One of the functions that I always liked to use was the Drop Shadow effect to provide a 3-D effect to make the letters and art appear to stand off the page. This was much more difficult in previous versions. The new interface also allows you to copy drop shadow properties from one object to multiple objects by selecting the objects and then clicking on the menu Effects / Copy / Drop Shadow From… and then selecting another object that already has a drop shadow effect applied to it. However, one major caveat to this feature, is the way that you have to pick the drop shadow from the other object. You cannot simply click anywhere on the other object that has the drop shadow. You can only click on the tiny little area of the visible drop shadow displayed behind the object that has the drop shadow. When you have a very small offset in the drop shadow it is nearly impossible to click on the drop shadow itself. It would be much easier to simply click anywhere on the object since it is the object that has the drop shadow applied to it. This I found to be very frustrating and even called Corel Technical Support to express my frustration. The help file did not even allude to the fact that you could only click on the shadow itself. Another great feature about the Drop Shadow Effect is that it is now interactive. So you can actually see the changes to the Drop Shadow Effect as you are moving the node handles of the object’s drop shadow. This makes it much easier to determine what your final result will be. This was very difficult to do in the past and has been greatly improved. You can even type in the property settings for the drop shadow effects at the top of the display in the toolbar for the object that you are working on.

Another new feature is the Interactive Distortion feature. This feature allows you to interactively distort and change the shape of an object by clicking on the nodes of an object and dragging them to new positions and displays the distorted object in "real time" as you are dragging the object’s node handles around. You can also apply lighting effects as well to the distortion or extrusion of the object. Working with bitmaps has also been greatly improved and allows the user to change bitmaps directly within CorelDRAW itself. Some of the changes you can perform on bitmap images are color correction and transparency.

Some of the text object manipulation has also been improved to help with flowing text around objects. Also the flowing of paragraph text to a curve has been made easier as well. They have also added some new 3-D text effects features as well that make it much easier to extrude and create 3-D effects on text objects. Corel has also added some new Internet functions and capabilities to the product to help you publish your documents to the Web as well as connecting to FTP sites to download graphics.

Corel has also provided a nice Corel Tutor to help you learn how to use some of the new features in CorelDRAW. You can get to the tutor by selecting it from the Help menu drop down. You can also get to other support links from the Help menu as well. The Corel Tutor gives great examples of how to walk you through performing different manipulations on objects in your drawings. However, a little more explanation on how to specifically execute some of the functions would be helpful.

Overall, the new CorelDRAW 8 is a much-welcomed improvement over the previous versions I have used. If you have been using previous versions of CorelDRAW I highly recommend getting the upgrade, you will save a lot of time getting your jobs done. Once I discovered that an update was available from Corel’s web site and downloaded it, many of the lock up problems went away. It is definitely a better tool and has increased productivity of output several fold by having the more interactive interface for the user.

Rich Simpson is a software developer/consultant and president of Mind’s Eye, Inc. For more information visit their web site at http://www.mindseyeinc.com or send e-mail to rsimpson@mindseyeinc.com or call 636-282-2102.

 

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Last modified: March 02, 2009