Corel – CorelDRAW 12 review

comprehensive graphics suite
Photo of Corel – CorelDRAW 12
£279 + VAT

It’s slightly scary to realise CorelDraw has reached version 12, particularly if you can remember version 1. Not that there’s much resemblance between the original CorelDraw and this latest, three-module graphics suite. The vector graphics application, CorelDraw, is partnered by the bitmap and photo editor Corel Photo-Paint and Corel RAVE, introduced in version 10 to help create animations.

The emphasis in CorelDraw 12 is on intelligence, with new features like the Smart Drawing tool. The software can recognise your (well, our) stumbling attempts to draw shapes freehand and turn them into neat geometrical figures. Doodle a rectangle and it becomes a true rectangle with straight sides and 90-degree corners. Similarly, draw a loop and it becomes a perfect ellipse. It can be a lot quicker than using regular shape drawing tools.

Temporary guides now pop up to show when objects are aligned in certain ways, making it much easier to create compound objects from simple forms. You can also snap objects to points on other objects, which has a similar effect.

Symbols are improved from version 11, when they were introduced as a simple way of saving space, particularly when designing Web sites. The code for a symbol is only stored once, with a minimal payload if you use repeats of the same object. Now you can build up libraries of symbols and reuse them within different drawings. Symbols also have blue handles so you can easily distinguish them from regular CorelDraw objects.

Other improvements include the Virtual Segment Delete tool, which as the name suggests enables you to delete specific segments of an object’s outline. The Eyedropper and Paintbucket tools can be used together to transfer properties such as transparency from one object to another. Previously they were restricted to transferring colour.

Photo-Paint hasn’t undergone as much change as CorelDraw. The only really new tool is the Touch-up brush, which is used to remove blemishes from photos by assessing the background colour and design around the unwanted mark and erasing it to match that.

Most of the innovations in Corel RAVE are the same as those in Draw, though here you can carry temporary guides from one frame of an animation to the next and create multi-frame symbols, known as sprites.

All three modules have improved compatibility with Microsoft Office and WordPerfect Office and can export graphics directly for use in their main applications. The Export function itself has been improved with a wider range of supported graphics formats.

Company: Corel

Contact: 01628 589800

Although the bulk of improvements in CorelDraw Suite 12 are to its namesake vector application, they're useful and will speed the creation of all kinds of graphics. The product continues to be the most one of the most comprehensive graphics tools available to PC users.