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CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X5 review

Verdict

Improved content access and industry-standard file and colour handling make for a solid but unexciting release

Review Date: 4 Mar 2010

Reviewed By: Tom Arah

Price when reviewed: £399 (£469 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
4 stars out of 6

Features & Design
4 stars out of 6

Value for Money
4 stars out of 6

Ease of Use
4 stars out of 6

During the 1990s CorelDRAW dominated the world of PC-based graphics and design, but the mantle has since passed to Adobe’s Creative Suite. There’s still a strong core of users that value Corel’s more streamlined and affordable approach to design, however, and it’s those people Corel is targeting with this latest release.

With that in mind, it isn’t surprising that there’s little that’s obviously different about the new version. There’s no big interface overhaul, no flash new splash screen and no spangly new look. But under the hood, there’s plenty going on.

The first sign of this is the File | New command, which has been completely overhauled. Instead of simply dumping you on a blank page, it now fires up a dialog in which you can set various parameters, including the document’s eventual destination. Leaving the destination at its print-oriented default gives you a choice of preset page sizes and, crucially, sets the new Primary Colour Mode parameter to CMYK.

Choose the alternative Web destination and CorelDRAW not only sets the Primary Colour Mode to RGB but also switches on its new Pixels preview mode. The big advantage of this is that it lets you see exactly how artwork will be anti-aliased on export, helping you produce crisper results. Another feature that helps you produce better online output is X5’s enhanced Export for Web command. This lets you compare different export settings and manage transparency and colour palettes from a single dialog.

Colour management

The Primary Colour Mode is all you need to think about when managing colour locally, but where accuracy and consistency is crucial throughout your workflow – when producing printed material for commercial use, for example – you need to take colour management seriously.

CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X5 colour handling

And with X5, Corel has finally bitten the bullet, offering industry-standard, Adobe-style colour management, instead of the idiosyncratic colour management system of previous versions.

As such, colour management in X5 is now profile-based, which has the important benefit of providing a good idea of what your final colours will look like as you work. This is handled with X5’s new Colour Proof Settings docker, where you can simulate colours onscreen, based on a chosen output profile, such as coated or uncoated print.

CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X5 colour profiles

You can also export or print your document based on the current simulation so that your client or boss doesn’t expect colours that the final output medium simply can’t produce.

Format support

It’s not just in terms of colour management that Corel acknowledges Adobe’s dominance. CorelDRAW has always been able to work with a huge range of file formats, and has extended that again here to over 60, but the focus in X5 is on much deeper support for the main Adobe formats.

Alongside new level 3-based PostScript EPS import, CorelDRAW X5 now supports Photoshop CS4 PSD files complete with adjustment layers and masks, and Illustrator CS4 AI files complete with artboards and graduated transparency. The application’s PDF support has also been updated with support for the latest Acrobat 9 format, while the Collect for Output command now defaults to exporting a PDF as a digital master rather than sending the original CDR.

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User comments

3D Pdf?

Does it support 3D Pdf?

By IanBroughton on 5 Mar 2010

Roaming Profile

Does the Thumbnail Preview still cause problems to a roaming profile, as the stored preview files names are too long?

By IanBroughton on 5 Mar 2010

Draw doesn't support true 3D itself so no. The normal workflow if you want to embed a 3D model in a PDF is to create your publication as a PDF and then to import the model in Acrobat Pro Extended.

No idea about the roaming profile issue. I'd suggest downloading the free trial and checking it yourself.

By TomArah on 5 Mar 2010

Adobe formats?

Does it support Illustrator brushes / styles / swatches etc format or corel Photo-Paint support brushes ABR, Photoshop custom shapes CSH etc? now that would be useful (for me anyway) Also perhaps TUB / psptube from corel PaintShop Pro X3 ? Must check the trial version but I suspect probably not on those formats.
Andrew

By Andrew713 on 5 Mar 2010

Hi Andrew. Draw 5 has seriously improved the number of artistic brushes that it provides but they are stored as individual CMX files (the best that I can think of to convert them is to drag on your brush, copy and paste from Illustrator to Draw, quick trace it and save to CMX). No equivalents to styles or swatches (apart from flat colour palettes).

Couldn't see any support for ABR or CSH in PhotoPaint but there is an image sprayer tool - it doesn't mention TUB specifically but you can load any bitmap and specify a grid to create the spray list.

Hope this helps but again you're probably better off downloading the trial.

By TomArah on 5 Mar 2010

Handling larger Files

Not mentioned in the review is the fact that it has been recompiled to use multicore CPU's. X4 could not handle files above 100MB without grinding to a halt, X5 can. This allows you to handle + A3 paper size files. A big plus.

By Neil_S on 6 Mar 2010

Font Handling

I've across mixed reactions to X5's ability to work with Open Type fonts and also for how the bundled Bitstream Font Navigator works with Type 1 fonts under Windows 7, was there anything you came across Tom that you think people should be aware of or have been improved?

By John_C on 9 Mar 2010

To be fair...

I know a lot of effort went into core code on this release. You can see just a glimpse of that in multi-threading for saving and printing. Then complete rewrite of CM... with new layers in PP and layers with master pages added in X4. The X series is setting the stage for a much more powerful platform. They have done well but they do have more to do. I think that is OK, they are still the closest to a competitor of Adobe and size wise Adobe sacked X6 Corel's total staff last year. That's one hell of a development effort for a relatively small team.

By akayani on 11 Mar 2010

CorelDraw upgrade

I have CD Graphics Suite 12 installed but have long lost the discs can I upgrade to X5 and do I need the original disks to do so? I obviously have my curent serial number

By EnglishBird on 2 Jun 2010

X5 crash within 15 minutes with custom made profiles

On a windows 7 64 bit system with 24 mb of physical ram / 4x3.20 Mhz Processor, the trial crasheds after 15 minutes test drive when using professional color profiles. The error message was a "out of memory" warning which makes Corel freezes. This happened when copying and pasting an 8 mb image from Photoshop into an empty corel document. The previous versions of corel had major bugs when using professional color profiles, but at least we could go around these bugs by deleting the user files every time a documents "gets corrupted" as corel support would say.
This version seems to have newer bugs with the color profile module for which we have not yet found an easy solution to go around. (the same color profiles do not cause any problems with the Adobe suite). Our conclusion was that version X4 was a safer version to use to avoid loosing documents because of software bugs.

By andie on 13 Jul 2010

X5 crash within 15 minutes with custom made profiles

erratum... 24 Gb of physical Ram

By andie on 13 Jul 2010

Amazon Deal

I just ordered CorelDraw X5 on Amazon.co.uk, they are doing a great deal the upgrade cost me £85.

By lukemcurley on 15 Sep 2010

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