CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X5 review

4 Mar 2010

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

Price when reviewed: 
469(£469 inc VAT)
4

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.

Details

Price ex VAT £399
Price inc VAT £469
Overall rating 4
Ease of Use rating 4
Features & Design 4
Value for Money 4
Software subcategory Graphics/design software

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported? yes
Operating system Windows XP supported? yes
Operating system Linux supported? no
Operating system Mac OS X supported? no