CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X7 review

£479
Price when reviewed

Twenty years ago, Corel effectively owned PC-based design with its all-singing, all-dancing CorelDRAW Graphics Suite – but that was before Adobe arrived on the scene. Now, with Adobe moving its market-leading design applications, Illustrator CC and Photoshop CC, behind a subscription-only paywall, Corel has a golden opportunity to reclaim its crown.

CorelDRAW X7

The new X7 suite’s core application is the vector-based CorelDRAW, and this has seen a significant redesign. Key here is the new tabbed document environment, which makes it easier to create new documents and to switch between open documents.

CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X7

The Welcome Screen with its access to resources and update notifications has also been turned into a permanently available docked tab, and you can now undock documents and drag them outside the application, which could prove handy if you use multiple monitors. If you’re using a smaller tablet device, the improved support for high-DPI displays and the introduction of overflow buttons to quickly access hidden options will be especially welcome.

The biggest interface advance in X7 is the introduction of workspaces, which let you quickly switch between customised working environments. Workspace presets include a Lite option for beginners, an Illustrator option for those shifting allegiance from Adobe, dedicated options for Page Layout and Illustration, and a Classic option for those who liked things the way they were. You can also create your own workspaces and, to help make this easier, you can now quickly customise toolbars on-the-fly via the new Quick Customize command icon.

Corel has also introduced new dockers, providing greater control over document setup. The first, Guidelines, lets you precisely manage the placement of horizontal, vertical and now angled guidelines. The second, Alignment and Dynamic Guides, lets you take full control over which interactive guidelines CorelDRAW X7 shows onscreen, which can be handy for aligning, sizing, angling and distributing objects as you draw and transform them. There’s also a new Align and Distribute docker to help you organise the placement of the elements of your design.

In terms of core drawing functionality, there’s been some reorganisation and rationalisation of the toolbox, but only one new tool has been added – the Smooth tool that lets you retrospectively reduce the number of nodes and the jagged appearance of existing lines.

You can also now control the positioning of an object’s outline so that it appears inside, outside or centred on the object’s edge. The new option to position the outline within an object is particularly important, since it makes it far easier to create an object at a precise size.

CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X7

The main focus in CorelDRAW X7 is a complete overhaul of its handling of formatting. In terms of solid colours, there are new options for finding and modifying sets of complementary colours through harmony rules. The Colour Styles docker has also been enhanced when it comes to managing colours in your document, most notably with a Hints view that indicates which objects are using a particular colour style, and a Page Sorter view that lets you see how multiple colour changes in the Harmony Editor affect the publication’s overall appearance.

Further changes are found in the handling of CorelDRAW’s fountain fills. It’s now much easier to apply linear, elliptical, conical and rectangular gradients, and to quickly customise the effects both on the object and within the Object Properties docker. You can also set the fills to repeat and mirror, and can also now pick an opacity setting for each colour stop.

The biggest changes are found in the handling of pattern fills. At last these have been split into clearly defined bitmap and vector options rather than the previous mess of two-colour, full-colour and bitmap sub-options; this was a hangover from how CorelDRAW handled things back in the early 1990s.

Further rationalisation is seen in the revamped Fill Picker dropdown, which no longer throws all patterns together but splits them into categories – abstract, animal, decorative, fabric and so on. You also now have far greater control over how tiles are mirrored and made seamless in the Object Properties docker.

Details

Software subcategory Graphics/Design software

Operating system support

Operating system Windows XP supported? yes
Other operating system support Windows 8 and 8.1

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