Star product: CorelDraw Graphics Suite 2019

By Simon Eccles, Tuesday 07 May 2019

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Latest edition adds new features and sees a return to the Mac OS.

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What does the software do?

This is the 30th anniversary of Corel’s first release of CorelDraw and it is still finding new things to add. The big news this time is the introduction of an entirely new Mac version, after many years when only Windows was supported. 

There are brand new features too, with almost full commonality between the Mac and Windows versions for tools, colour management, file formats and fonts. 

When was it introduced and what’s the target market?

Announcement date was 12 March and it’s now shipping. The target market is designers and artists from beginner to pro. Historically CorelDraw has been popular with large-format signage and vehicle graphics users. “The common characteristic is users who want to be creative, productive and in control,” says Klaus Vossen, senior product manager. 

Re-introducing it to the Macintosh for the first time since 2006 means that many Mac-only designers will have never tried it. “We created the Mac version with new users in mind, so it has the Mac user experience,” says Vossen. 

Corel claims that its Mac version has tighter integration with Mac OS features than Adobe’s Creative Cloud, including support for the Touchbar on MacBook Pros and the Mojave OS Dark mode. It can open and re-save some native Adobe file formats, including Illustrator files. 

How does it work?

The suite is based on a pair of main design applications: CorelDraw itself, covering vector graphics and multi-page layout (with decent typography), and Photo-Paint for bitmap photo editing. Also supplied are related utilities such as font management and raw photo file processing, some of which run independently and others within the main applications. 

On both Windows and Mac versions PDF/X-4 output is introduced for the first time as an output format. CorelDraw bitmap effects or vectors can be applied, re-arranged or switched-off non-destructively (this was already possible with Photo-Paint). Very complex graphics in CorelDraw can be navigated through the Object Docker/Inspector, which lists all objects by number (or optional name) for quick access.

CorelDraw previously had a PrintMerge feature for variable data printing but this one is all-new and imports text and linked images from databases. 

Other applications or utilities include: Font Manager, for installing and removing fonts for live use in the Corel applications; PowerTrace, a raster-to-vector converter that runs within CorelDraw; and AfterShot, a raw photo file converter with improved high dynamic range merging.

As ever the suite is supplied with an extensive library of ‘content’ (clipart, basically), plus templates, OpenType cross-platform fonts and training videos.

What’s new?

Corel usually introduces a new version of the Corel Graphics Suite every year, so this one replaces the 2017 update. The new Macintosh version is obviously the biggest news; however there are new features across both versions.

What’s the USP?

It’s hard to define much that’s unique after 30 years: it works much the same as its rivals, with the odd feature that it does particularly well, such as combining vector graphics with multi-page layout, while its bitmap-to-vector utility is well regarded by users. Value for money is good – see the cost section. 

What does it cost?

There’s a choice between a perpetual license (no longer offered by Adobe) and yearly or monthly subscription (not an option with the rival Serif packages). You can also buy a lower cost ‘Upgrade Protection Program’ subscription alongside the perpetual licence that covers all upgrades and support. 

The perpetual license is £599.99 new or £299.99 as an update from old to new Windows versions. Subscription costs either £199.99 as a one-off annual payment (working out at £16.67 per month). So far there’s no upgrade path from Windows to Mac except for Upgrade Protection Program subscribers. 

Market share?

As with its rivals, Corel resolutely won’t discuss market share. It’s probably a healthy number two in the Windows market with a decent installed base, but still a long way behind Adobe. Vossen won’t say what the projected proportion of Windows vs Mac sales will be, but does say “we spent three years developing the all-new Macintosh version, so you can tell that we do have expectations!”

Training and support

There are free tutorials included in the package as well as online YouTube videos. Corel offers support and upgrades as part of its subscription package.


SPECIFICATIONS

Main applications CorelDraw (vector graphics and multi-page layout), Photo-Paint (bitmap graphics, photo editing and painting)

Support utilities Corel Font Manager, PowerTrace, AfterShot

Platforms Mac OS (10.12 or later), Windows (7 or later)

Price £599.99, or £299.99 Windows-only upgrade or £199.99 annual subscription

Contact Corel 0800 026 0663 www.corel.com


ALTERNATIVES

Adobe Creative Cloud

The all-conquering, dominant graphics design, video and web production suite that pretty well everyone has. It works well for print and is the standard everyone else has to compare against. Since 2013 it has been rental-only (Adobe calls it subscription). Individual applications (or a Photoshop, Raw and Lightroom package) can be rented from between £10 and £20 per month. 

Print-relevant applications InDesign (layout); Illustrator (vector graphics); Photoshop (bitmap imaging and photo editing), LightRoom CC (photo workflow); Bridge (previewer/file organiser) Adobe Raw (raw file processing); Acrobat DC (PDF file processing)

Platforms MacOS, Windows

Price From £59/month for the whole suite

Contact Adobe 01628 590000 www.adobe.com

Serif Affinity

A suite of UK-developed design applications available with perpetual licenses for remarkably low cost considering their professional features. They are Designer (vector graphics) and Photo (bitmaps). A layout program, Publisher, is available as a free Beta, due for full release this year. Although sold separately, they are complementary with a lot of cross-compatibility of files and features. There are Mac, Windows and low-cost iOS versions. 

Applications Affinity Photo (image editing), Affinity Designer (vector graphics), Affinity Publisher (layout)

Platforms MacOS, Windows

Price £48.99 each, £19.99 for iOS (Publisher Beta is free)

Contact Serif (Europe) 0115 914 2000 www.serif.com

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