CorelDraw Graphics Suite 11.0
Of all the technical drawing tools currently available, CorelDraw is our runaway favorite (read our full review here). Its easy-to-master interface and exhaustive feature set, which includes pressure-sensitive brushes and myriad filter effects, provides designers with the tools and muscle they need to create complex, professional vector illustrations. At last, CorelDraw 11.0 supports symbols, which are pieces of artwork that you can save to a central library, then drag and drop into any document. Symbols are faster and less resource intensive than copying and pasting objects, and you can change all instances of an object simply by editing the master symbol. Best of all, CorelDraw's cross-platform support makes it an ideal app for integrated offices that house both Macs and PCs.
Corel Photo-Paint 11.0
As a freebie adjunct to CorelDraw, Photo-Paint has a lot to like. But as a direct competitor to Adobe Photoshop 7.0, it leaves much to be desired. Although Photo-Paint and Photoshop offer roughly equivalent tools for selecting and editing images, the two are miles apart in both feel and performance. Where Photoshop is streamlined and speedy, for instance, in applying paint to canvas, Photo-Paint is clunky and hesitant. Although Photo-Paint complements and supplements the CorelDraw suite as a whole, it won't suffice as a high-performance, feature-filled image editor.
Making life simpler
Photo-Paint does, however, have most of the basics covered. At first glance, Photo-Paint's brushes, pencils, and other implements deliver professional-caliber image editing. For example, you can add trendy special effects to your images using Photo-Paint's filters, lighting, natural media paintbrushes, and image sprayer, which squirts single or multiple objects onto the canvas randomly or in a sequential pattern. Photo-Paint can even make common tasks a little easier to perform. For example, the new Cutout masking dialog box lets you easily isolate and remove sections of a picture so that they can be edited or used elsewhere. In our tests, we were generally pleased with the results, but Photoshop's similar Extract command provides more control for selecting images with subtle edges, such as hair.
If you want to generate Web graphics, Photo-Paint now easily creates rollover images, such as buttons or graphics, that change appearance depending on the position of the cursor. And the new slicing tool lets you divide an image into smaller pieces so that it will load more efficiently in a surfer's browser.
Tools need sharpening
Sadly, Photo-Paint suffers from jerky scrolling and an all-too-perceptible delay between applying your paintbrush and seeing the stroke appear on the canvas. Worse, it took Photo-Paint 78 seconds to load a 118MB file into the main screen, using a 1.2MHz PC with 512MB of RAM. Photoshop accomplished this task in 6 seconds with the same setup. We consider Photo-Paint virtually useless for files larger than about 50MB, especially in a production environment where time is money.
For photographers, Photo-Paint offers slightly brighter news. Version 11.0 now contains a red-eye-removal tool, as well as a stitching feature that can piece multiple photographs together into a single image.