CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X6 adds tools, color styles and website building

CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X6 is the latest version of Corel’s powerful graphics suite and adds several exciting features to its key component, the CorelDRAW vector graphics editor (aka “not Adobe Illustrator”). But CorelDRAW isn’t the only improved component for this release: the suite’s raster editor, Photo-Paint, has also received several cool new features.

Screenshot of CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X6 (morph tools)
CorelDRAW’s new morphing tools make it easy to stretch and warp vector shapes organically.

The entire CorelDRAW X6 suite includes Bitstream Font Navigator for managing fonts, Corel CAPTURE for taking screenshots, Corel CONNECT for managing digital assets (like Adobe Bridge), Corel Photo-Paint for creating and editing graphics raster, and now Corel Website Creator (as an optional download). But for most people, CorelDRAW Graphics Suite basically means one program: CorelDRAW. New and improved CorelDRAW features in X6 include an improved object property bar, a new styles engine and docker, styles and color harmonies, as well as improved OpenType and layout functionality.

The Object Properties docker now displays all the properties in a long list, subdivided into sections. Previous versions of CorelDRAW organized object properties (fill, stroke, corner radius, etc.) as separate tabs, which sometimes made navigation difficult. CorelDRAW X6 keeps tabs at the top (great for muscle memory), but when you click a tab it just scrolls to the location of the property group in the new all-in-one bar. It’s not a huge change, but it does help with usability.

Screenshot of CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X6 (color styles)
Styles and color harmonies allow you to quickly change the fill and stroke colors of an entire composition at once.

A bigger upgrade is the introduction of color styles in CorelDRAW X6: these allow you to change the fill and stroke colors of multiple objects at once, even if they are not grouped or linked together. another way. Better yet, you can group colors together in harmony and change an entire group of colors together, while maintaining their relative contrast levels. This means you can change the color palette for an entire composition in seconds. This is my new favorite feature.

CorelDRAW X6 also introduces four creative vector tools: Smear, Twirl, Attract, and Repel. Each of them allows you to transform vector shapes in interesting ways. They are designed for pen tablets and respond to pen pressure. When tested with a trackball, they were fun and easy to use. I was able to easily create fluid, organic shapes that looked more like freeform raster designs than vector objects, while still retaining all the properties and flexibility of the vector format.

Tested with a Wacom Intuos5 pen tablet, vector tools became more fun and more intuitive to use. The new morph tools are pressure sensitive and behaved differently depending on how much pressure I applied: bold, quick pen strokes produced drastic changes, while soft strokes allowed me to apply the tools. more moderately. I mapped one of the Intuos5’s command buttons to send a Shift key and was able to change the size of my brush by holding that button down and dragging the stylus across the tablet. Previous versions of CorelDRAW included morphing tools such as the Envelope tool, but these four new brush-based tools make morphing objects faster and more intuitive.

Screenshot of CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X6 (SmartCarver)
The Smart Carver allows you to remove objects from images, but does not always work correctly.

CorelDRAW X6 now has a native, stable and fast 64-bit version on my system running Windows 7 x64. Corel says the new version makes better use of multi-core processors to improve copy / paste, export, and print performance.

Moving on to Corel Photo-Paint, the coolest new feature in this release is the new Smart Carver. This feature allows you to remove unwanted objects from photos and adjust their aspect ratio using seam sculpting: you just paint over the object you want to remove and run the Smart Carver, and once that it is done, the object is no longer there. The technique works best with isolated objects against a relatively even background such as clouds, rocks, and the sea.

Screenshot of CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X6 (Smart Carver Success)
When Smart Carver works, it works well: he carefully removed a bag from a sand bottom.

I tested Smart Carver by editing an image taken at the beach, removing a bag that was lying on the sand. The result was excellent, and when I showed the image to a friend, she couldn’t see any evidence of manipulation. Another test, in which I tried to remove a panel from an image with a sea and blue sky background, left a visible seam and did not give a workable result. Both tests were very slow, each taking about five minutes on my system.

CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X6 is an incremental upgrade for an already excellent graphics suite. With the possible exception of the Smart Carver, Corel has avoided fancy features and focused on areas that can really boost productivity, such as the new styling engine, native X64 executables, and typography and typography improvements. the layout of the documents.

To note: The Download button takes you to the vendor’s site, where you can download the latest trial version or order the boxed software.

–Erez Zukerman

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