To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

CorelDraw Graphics Suite X7 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £479
inc VAT

A modest update to an already powerful graphics suite

CorelDraw has a long pedigree that stretches back 25 years, but it faces stiff competition at the present time. Adobe has successfully positioned Illustrator as the industry standard, while Xara Photo and Graphic Designer 9 is ideal for more casual users thanks to its friendly interface and £70 price. With Illustrator CC only available on subscription (£211 per year, or £562 for the full CC suite), is there still room in the market for CorelDraw X7?

CorelDraw’s core vector drawing tools are fast and precise, and various automatic snapping functions help keep designs neat and tidy. Simple things such as the ability to zoom in and out using the mouse wheel make light work of fine-tuning details.

CorelDraw Graphics Suite X7: Main Screen
The revamped Object Properties and new Align and Distribute dockers bring welcome improvements to speed of use

The interface uses docked panels, known as dockers, and various new additions help make the workflow faster than ever. There’s finally an Align and Distribute docker, which is much tidier than CorelDraw X6’s floating panel. The Insert Character docker makes it easy to locate unusual text characters, while the Font Playground docker auditions various fonts side by side with your own text. This is a great idea that automates something we’ve often had to do manually by duplicating text objects. However, it’s bizarre that it can’t apply a font directly to a text object already on the page. The Guidelines docker introduces the ability to create angles guidelines, while the Alignment and Dynamic Guides docker dictates how objects automatically snap to guidelines and other objects.

The redesigned Object Properties cuts down on the clutter with better organised tabs. It also adds transparency settings and its Fill tab has been overhauled, with pattern fills now sorted into categories such as Floral, Abstract and Geometric. It’s easier to jump between multiple open documents, and to spread them out across multiple monitors. There’s a new Welcome Screen that pools various resources including templates, recent documents, updates and the ability to switch between predefined Workspaces. It’s now possible to embed fonts into native CorelDraw project files.

These are all welcome improvements but we’re not convinced they justify the £215 (inc VAT) upgrade price. In some cases, we’re surprised it has taken so long to introduce these features. There isn’t much in the way of new creative functions, but one is the ability to generate QR codes.

CorelDraw Graphics Suite X7: Smooth
The line of the left has been duplicated and smoothed using the Curve Smoothness control (centre) and the new Smooth tool (right).

For us, the most interesting new feature is the Smooth tool. Simplifying vector shapes by reducing the number of nodes was already possible either directly after you draw or by selecting nodes and increasing the Curve Smoothness control. The new Smooth tool is applied using brush strokes, which makes it easy to apply in varying amounts to specific parts of a shape. We also found that it tended to produce results that were visually more pleasing than the Curve Smoothness control, with a tendency to produce more rounded shapes that better represented the original drawing. The Smooth tool resides next to various other tools for modifying vector shapes with brush strokes, and they’re a standout feature that Xara and Illustrator can’t match.

CorelDraw Graphics Suite X7
PhotoPaint’s new Liquid tools don’t quite measure up to the similar Liquify editor in Adobe Photoshop

CorelDraw is the star attraction, but it’s only one part of the suite. You also get Photo-Paint X7, which is Corel’s answer to Adobe Photoshop. While it shares a similar air of business-like efficiency, it doesn’t deliver the same level of sophistication. For example, its new Liquid Smear, Twirl, Attract and Repel tools are similar to Photoshop’s Liquify editor, but here the image detail is more likely to deteriorate with repeated brush strokes and there’s no Reconstruct Tool for undoing edits to specific areas. Other differences are more explicit, such as the lack of a Heal brush for blemish removal. The Help section suggests using the Clone Tool or Touch-Up Brush, but neither is up to the job. The interface is mostly clean and efficient, with various improvements shared with CorelDraw, such as the Welcome Screen, Workspaces and Font Playground. However, the lack of on-screen anti-aliasing makes images look blocky when working at anything other than 100 per cent magnification.

Pages: 1 2



Read more