CorelDRAW X4 is a comprehensive package that allows for vector illustration, page layout, photo-editing and image tracing. This latest version builds on the success of the previous 13 editions but isn’t so much a re-invention, more a steady progression.
This wouldn’t be a new package without a new interface. However, aside from a few design tweaks that allow for less cluttered toolbars and new icons, the layout will be instantly familiar to anyone who has used X3.
The main Welcome screen has been re-designed but it is the Quick Start option that proves more useful, as it allows you to see which files have been opened recently, and even shows you a thumbnail image to remind you.
This panel also gives you access to over 80 new templates to get you started. While this isn’t new to CorelDRAW, being able to Save your own files as Templates and have them show up on the Quick Start screen is, which makes creating task-specific files a lot easier.
However, it is the enhanced drawing functions that will attract most people to the package. ConceptShare is new and allows you to collaborate on files and projects. This is a third-party application you need to subscribe to and allows you to post files online for others to comment on. PowerTRACE is a new function that allows for direct bitmap-to-vector conversion.
The Tables feature has the biggest impact on page layout and the overhaul of this feature makes CorelDRAW far more effective. Tables are now easier to edit and you can format individual cells. The Table menu and property bar make it easier to import text as well as edit it on the page.
Colour matching has been improved with the introduction of support for Adobe's Colour Management Module as well as Windows Colour System. CorelDRAW X4 adds updated support for Adobe's Photoshop PSD and Acrobat PDF standards Support for Microsoft’s Publisher is expanded, as you’ll now be able to import Publisher files.
It’s not just support for other products, as the move to higher definition digital cameras continues apace, so there is now support for RAW files.
This is a resource heavy package that ships with 10,000 clipart images, 40% that are new, and over 1000 OpenType fonts, which can be quickly viewed, installed and used with the included Bitstream tool.
To back all this up, there are a host of tutorials and walkthroughs and even the manual weighs in at close to 500 pages. Overall, there is enough here to keep you busy. While the initial learning curve may be daunting, once you have the basics covered, you’ll be able to develop your skills at your own pace.
CorelDRAW X4 isn’t aimed at the casual user and the asking price will keep many away, regardless of the number of changes. However, there are plenty of new features in CorelDraw X4 to keep the experienced user happy and with a reasonable upgrade price (£175 inc. VAT), if you already use CorelDRAW then it’s an upgrade we heartily recommend.