Corel Graphics Suite 10
The interface is as you’d expect for an Aqua-compliant application. Lots of white ribbed palettes and transparent menus. It’s actually nicely designed with tool bars that can be docked or floated at the top or sides of the screen. It has a few very nice tricks up its sleave, such as effects layers called a Lens. Photoshop has a limited set of adjustment layers, but Photo-Paint lets you apply filters – such as an Sharpen and Noise – non-destructively too. Not all filters are supported – there’s no blur lens – but there are the usual Levels, Curves and Hue/Saturation colour adjustment tools. While these are good, they don’t quite compete with Photoshop’s adjustment tools. There is an impressive degree of interactivity in Photo-Paint. For example, as you scroll down a list of Fonts, a large sample pops out at the side showing you how the typeface looks. Another example is the excellent layer-blending modes pop-up, which applies each mode to the layer type as you move your mouse through the list. Conversely, there are some problems too. Moving an object layer results in a bounding box, while Photoshop maintains the display of the object in motion. Other new features include Publish to PDF, a new Preflight engine for collating final output, and In-RIP trapping that has a full range of features for PostScript 3 devices. Vector player
CorelDraw is the vector-drawing part of the Suite. Its main competitors, Adobe Illustrator and Macromedia FreeHand are already available for OS X. Draw feels a little slicker than Photo-Paint, and the interface is similarly well designed. Context-sensitive pop-up menus give you quick access to tools and a smooth workflow. The program has a shallower learning curve than Illustrator – but about the same as FreeHand – and there are plenty of pro-level features, such as embedded ICC profiles. Filter effects can be applied to bitmaps too, and you can convert any vector element to a bitmap inside the current file. There is a handy Prepare Files For Service Bureau wizard that will help the less experienced when it’s time to get a job printed. Again, the streamlined and easy to understand colour-management system is a bonus, and you can publish your job in PDF format or to HTML with embedded Flash for Web output. Draw doesn’t have the rich palette of calligraphic strokes that you find in Illustrator, but, like FreeHand, text handling is very good. Creating text on paths and flowing text around shapes is handled well, as is text formatting. It’s also quite easy to use and learn, but when things get complicated the enhanced preview mode is slow to update. In fact, drawing simple wireframe béziers seemed a little sluggish, too. Trace, the third part of the Graphics-Suite puzzle can create vector artwork from bitmap images using a variety of styles. These can then be opened in Draw as the basis for further work, or to export it as an embedded Flash file for the Web. The final application is R.A.V.E., which is basically Draw on wheels. It’s a vector-based animation program that you can use to create all manner of animated graphics for Web pages and multimedia applications. The interface is almost identical to Draw, except there is a large timeline at the bottom of the screen. You animate by adding keyframes for elements as normal, and the program supports transformations of the object as a whole or from individual points. You can also animate fills, colours and effects too for interesting results. The program also lets you create rollovers, so any object can become a button. This article appeared in the Expo issue 2001
The programs in the Graphics Suite are Carbonized (as opposed to being fully-fledged Cocoa apps), which means that they can run on both OS X and OS 9 systems. In all the packages, under OS X, there is a problem with the interface fonts. They’re just too small, hampering legibility.
It’s a very good overall package at an extremely decent price, and will appeal to the cost conscious and aspiring pro alike. This initial release, like OS X itself, is a little rough around the edges, but the more options we have as Mac users the better. Maybe Adobe could take a tip from Corel and show its true colours as far as commitment to Mac OS X is concerned.
This review appeared in the Expo 2001 issue