Software Review Of The Moment

Corel DRAW 8

1st Of September, 2018
(Updated slightly on the 25th of March, 2021.)

If youíre into graphics, this is a must have. Or at least it was. Corel have done many newer versions since this. I got this as a gift in my final year of high school, which was 20 years ago. It was worth close to $900, and was a partial exchange for the buggy Simply 3D 3. Back then, we had a 810 MB hard drive, and this was cramped for the huge full installation. Although these days, the 293-ish MB amount of space would be considered pretty small. Luckily, Corel allowed you to run stuff from the install CD as an option for those with little drive space left. This proved to be awkward though, and we ended up getting a newer 9.3-ish GB drive. The minimum OS requirement is Windows í95, which we had at the time. (It will also run on Windows NT 4.) You need a 90 MHz Pentium / equivalent CPU, but 133 MHz is recommended, plus 16 MB of RAM, although they recommend 32 MB. You must have a mouse or graphics tablet, a CD drive, 80 MB at least of hard drive space & a super VGA monitor. Mouse wheels are fully supported, and you can also middle click to move the views around.
This is a full on big software suite, with a box loaded with books and 3 CDs. One book is the clip art, and another 2 are dedicated to Corel DRAW and Photo-Paint, the 2 main programs. There are many other utilities and goodies though! Corel Dream 3D is another major feature, although itís pretty cruddy by todayís standards. Itís actually a re-done version of Ray Dream Studio.
The CDs are: (1.) The main programs & fonts, (2.) the vector clip-art, and (3.) the photos and textures.
You will also find the likes of (Corel) OCR-Trace, Capture, Texture, Bar Code Wizard, Envoy Viewer, and the Script Editor, which lets you write your own compiled programs! Something I wish Iíd touched upon back in 1999, when I had the chance to spend a lot of time with the software package. Since then, Iíve only written 1 thing with it.
The Envoy Viewer is a bit like Adobe Acrobat, and you can make Envoy files too.

Corel DRAW. You can do some pretty cool vector based stuff, and itís great for page layout in terms of seeing how things should be printed.
Corel Photo-Paint. Edit photos, cut out objects, and even import vector images from Corel DRAW. This is a daily use program for me. Adding scripts makes common repetitive tasks a breeze too.
The supported image size is about 30000 ◊ 30000 pixels.
Corel DREAM 3D used to render pretty slow on our old 150 MHz CPU. On a 2.4 GHz AMD Athlon, it is very fast. This picture demonstrates the ability to render a portion of a scene for preview purposes.
OCR-Trace is better with good quality photocopy style paper rather than hand written text. It can quickly convert raster images into vector pictures at some cost of quality though. It can do a variety of trace methods as well.

Corelís rival, Adobe, gets a look in with support for PhotoShop images, and Illustrator import into Corel DRAW. This time though, there is no Corel CHART, which is a pity. That was a great program in earlier versions. Luckily you can copy and paste charts into Corel DRAW 8 anyway for further polishing. Unlike Corel DRAW 3, (which we had 1st,) version 8 now has many improvements, like object transparency, alpha channels and anti-aliasing. I could also finally weld objects together, and intersect them with others. Plus, like raster image paint programs, Corel DRAW also has an eraser for vector objects! Pretty nifty! You can erase parts of curves you donít want, and it will change the shape for you. You can also do spirals, stars, artistic text, block text, blends, extrusions etc.
You will also find a spelling checker and thesaurus dealie too.
Doing scripts in Photo-Paint is pretty easy on the whole. At least the simple ones Iíve done. You just press the record button, carry out the tasks you want to do, and then press the stop button when youíre done. The program makes up the script for you based on what you did, and you can then save it. Running such scripts makes stuff like working with screen shots really quick, because it can resize and crop in the same fashion for ones from the same source. Just select the script and press one button! Somebody else pointed out that it can often take up less space to have a script that can generate a certain type of image, than the image itself. This could be handy back in the days when floppy disks were the most common form of transporting data, and if you were going to somebody elseís place with the program, you could just run the script to recreate something.

The Barcode Wizard makes these things simple and with the correct lines obviously. Not something Iíve used much.
Corel TEXTURE allows you to make mathematically generated textures.

The suite comes with approximately 1000 fonts, which is incredible, and thereís plenty of variety. You can see every one in the clipart book for preview purposes. Corel DRAW also allows you to make your own true type fonts! Itís a little tricky to get at 1st, but Iíve done a few which were successful.
The included vector clip-art is generally pretty good, but some stuff is a bit rushed looking, and seems to have been poorly converted or resized, without taking outlines into consideration. The program allows you to resize objects without changing the outline thickness by default, but you can change this to stretch the outline on resize too. Unlike Corel DRAW 11, there is no option to convert outlines to objects, as it were. But you can kind of do it using the contour feature.
All CDR & CPT files can have a preview in Explorer / other file managers too, so you can see what youíre getting before you open something. This includes the regular icon as well as the thumbnail view.
Older files, like from Corel DRAW 3, open just fine, so you can go on with previous drawings youíve made with no issues.
One thing thatís a bit of a painful over sight in Corel DRAW, is that even after setting just about everything to metric, you still get areas, like the pattern sizes, coming up in imperial measurements, which are a complete mystery to me. Although I am used to the point size measurement for lines and fonts.

Thereís even an example CD player program for the Script Editor to show off the kind of cool things you can make. Itís like a BASIC language.
One of the included plug-ins is the Julia Set Fractal Explorer, although it only seems to be a semi-full version. The interface is pretty fancy, thatís for sure.

Corel Photo-Paint also lets you create and edit videos, to the extent your RAM can handle the size of them. Itís not intended to be a video editing program like iMovie, or something, but you can make simple animations, and save them as GIF, AVI, MOV or MPG files. Back in the early years of having the program, I was able to convert a few videos to MPG, which played better using the 3Dfx Bansheeís hardware acceleration for such files. It would often crash if it sucked up all the RAM, I think. Remember that this was before I had access to the Internet and could get video converter programs like now.
Photo-Paint also lets you do ďimage mapsĒ for web pages, which are images which have collision areas specified in the HTML. I donít use these any more, but you can do it. The program will generate the code for you.

You can export drawings to Adobe Acrobat documents too, although the fountain fills are a bit noticeably ďsteppedĒ even on their maximum setting.
Corel Draw files can show a preview in Explorer & other file managers.

All in all, this is my favourite graphics package still, even with having Corel DRAW 11 as well. On new hardware, Corel DRAW 8 zooms. Each program loads pretty close to instantly. On hardware closer to the minimum requirements, it may take 20 seconds or so to load Corel DRAW. Since itís 32 bit, it should recognise up to 4 GB of RAM, which can be beneficial in Photo-Paint for images with a lot of objects. (Thatís layers to you PhotoShop users.)
Stability is pretty good in Windows XP, and there are no compatibility issues. The programs have been known to crash on certain ocassions though. Thereís a bug in Photo-Paint which doesnít like 512 ◊ 128 pixel images.
One thing I find annoying is the movable toolbars. Sometimes you just click in the wrong spot, and end up moving one into some other location by mistake. It really wouldíve been good if there was a lock feature to hold them where you want.
Corel DRAW wonít anti-alias image masks, but if you rotate or flip them, it will! You can make use of this kludge and flip such images prior to import, and then flip them back. This may affect printing though, with some strange results.
Since Corel DRAW is heavily centred around printing, nearly everything is done in the CMYK colour method. (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow & blacK.) Photo-Paint does things in RGB. It also supports 16 bit greyscale images and 48 bit colour to some extent. I personally donít feel you can distinguish such colour variations anyway, unless you have a very high contrast monitor that actually supports this. I have never seen Windows support this colour mode for display though anyhow.
So yes, it would be definitely recommended, but you probably would have trouble finding it now.