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CorelDraw Essentials

CorelDraw Essentials
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CorelDraw Essentials
by Corel
Platform: Windows 98 / NT / 2000 / Me / XP
Media: CD-ROM
ASIN: B00005MI5B

Now that version 10 of Corel's powerful, popular drawing suite CorelDRAW has taken hold, one might expect the company to phase out CorelDRAW 9. Instead, Corel has recycled its engine into CorelDRAW Essentials, a powerful pair of creation and editing programs available at an attractive, sub-$100 price. The retail package is generous, with two image-editing programs, a fat and friendly instruction manual, tons of clip art, convenient HTML-based documentation, and a pair of Osborne/McGraw-Hill guides in PDF format.

The cornerstone of Essentials is CorelDRAW 9, a robust illustration tool. With its rich interface, users can quickly create simple or complex object-based drawings. The extensive tool set contains everything from simple freehand pens and ellipse tools to a versatile Bézier tool, complex fill tools, a text editor, and more.

Lines and shapes are treated as vector objects, which means they're completely dynamic. CorelDRAW lets the user edit, group, bend, transform, and otherwise manipulate each object. An object manager makes it easy to keep track of scores or hundreds of lines, curves, and shapes in even the most complex drawings.

For bitmap editing, the package includes Corel PHOTO-PAINT, which on its own would be a commendable program. Its relatively small number of tools (compared to Photoshop Elements and Paint Shop Pro 7) is highly customizable. PHOTO- PAINT's paint tool, for instance, is so adjustable that users can create virtually any kind of brush, sprayer, or other applicator they desire.

The program also includes more pedestrian--but still welcome--picture effects. Lens and distortion effects, for instance, let users apply cylindrical, spherical, and other diffusive warps to their images. Users can sharpen and soften images, adjust colors and gamma, and tweak their pictures in dozens of other ways. PHOTO-PAINT can even split images into distinct color channels, including CMYK.

CorelDRAW and PHOTO-PAINT are tightly integrated, using their relative strengths to complement each other, and together they comprise a powerful one-two punch of full-featured image manipulation. Even though there's little feature overlap between the two, they share a few welcome conveniences--among them, step-by-step exporters that allow users to create HTML and PDF files out of their creations.

With a heaping slab of user friendliness, CorelDRAW Essentials is one of the easiest drawing programs to master. However, that doesn't mean it's simplistic; folks who can't quite master Windows Paint will find it daunting. Alternately, professional graphics designers, layout artists, and other veterans of the full-scale CorelDRAW suites will miss certain high-end layout features. Still, if you're looking for an affordable, yet sophisticated image-editing package, CorelDRAW Essentials is a good bet. --Joel Durham, Jr.

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