CorelDraw Graphics Suite X6 review

£479
Price when reviewed

Corel used to be famous for bundling an extraordinary range of applications in its CorelDraw Graphics Suite. This latest release includes utilities for managing screen captures, fonts and duplex printing, but only three core applications: Corel Photo-Paint, Connect and Draw.

The first, Photo-Paint, is used for bitmap editing and is now 20 years old. Over that time it has built up plenty of pixel-editing power, but the level of recent development is minimal. This release benefits from the suite-wide improvements to multicore processing and native 64-bit support, but otherwise it’s thin pickings. New features include a pass-through blend mode and improved clip mask handling, but the closest you get to a highlight is the Smart Carver, which lets you intelligently remove objects and change aspect ratios – essentially a poor man’s version of Adobe Photoshop’s content-aware handling.

The second major component, Connect, was introduced in X5 and is used to find and manage clip-art, photos and fonts. As well as searching through the wide range provided with the suite, you can search Fotolia, Flickr and iStockphoto. Once you’ve found items that may be useful, you can now drag them onto one or more horizontal “trays”. These trays are automatically made available within both Photo-Paint and Draw so you can quickly incorporate the clip-art into your projects.

CorelDraw Graphics Suite X6

Both Photo-Paint and Connect have their uses, but they only play supporting roles to the real star of the suite: CorelDraw. On first loading X6, existing users will wonder what’s new, as the interface has been left almost unchanged. If you’re a regular user of the Properties panel, you’ll notice it’s been reworked to show all relevant properties in a scrolling panel. The sheer number of options on offer makes the whole process far more intimidating, but power users may find it more efficient.

New drawing power is limited to four shaping tools – Smear, Twirl, Attract and Repel – for refining existing shapes, and new onscreen alignment guides that help when positioning and scaling objects in relation to others. The existing Text tool has also been enhanced with OpenType and Unicode support for alternative character sets and languages, although again this adds complexity.

Details

Software subcategory Graphics/design software

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