More than a Decade of CorelDraw: Adobe's Underrated Rival
As a disclaimer, I want to put forward that I'm a regular user of Adobe's productivity suites, including InDesign, Acrobat, and Illustrator for my work. I don't pretend to be an expert user of said products. I frequently read and practice with Adobe products and follow online tutorials available on the Internet. Adobe is the undisputed industry leader in design, illustration, web development, and multimedia and skills in Adobe products is a necessity for most freelance and regular writing/design jobs out there.
That said, I'm a huge fan of CorelDraw. Adobe was expensive 11 years ago and continues to be cost-prohibitive in a lot of ways. So, I started with graphics and design with the more inexpensive CorelDraw 10 Graphics Suite. I concede that I would probably be more skilled with Illustrator today if I had started with Adobe's counterpart rather than CorelDraw but for some reason I chose the Canadian underdog. Over the years, I supported CorelDraw in the same way I chose downloadable Jasc Paint Shop Pro (which was later bought by Corel) over Adobe Photoshop. Even today, I find myself comfortable with CorelDraw X5's interface over Illustrator and switch to CorelDraw when I am stumped with a particular task.
It's easy to love Adobe products and users would vehemently claim it is a superior and easier tool over such alternatives like Corel's offerings. It's easy to fall into a debate similar to the immortal Mac-Windows conundrum. On the other hand, the classical argument of usage works here. It's not always about the product but rather the user's skillset and tasks. In the same way Linux users can do things Windows users can't, CorelDraw has its place in vector and bitmap graphics design. In many ways, CorelDraw's interface and tools are more intuitive than Adobe 's product line. CorelDraw is an excellent, easy-to-use page layout/design/vector editing and illustration program. It's exceptionally easy to get started with CorelDraw even without any exposure to Corel products. Users with zero drawing ability will easily understand what the transparency tool, guides, and effects do just by trying them out. Plus, Corel provides a robust and well-written Help system. Over the years, CorelDraw addressed every task/project I started, supplanting other products such as Macromedia Fireworks (now Adobe Fireworks), Microsoft Publisher, and Adobe PageMaker.
The CorelDraw Graphics Suite contents have changed over the years such as the addition and removal of CorelRave (Corel's answer to Flash). There was a time when the suite even had a complete fractal creator and even had a release which included the now-classic Swish web animation software. However, they have always maintained the two core products - CorelDraw and Corel Photo-Paint (plus the useful Corel-Capture).
The Internet is flooded with Photoshop and Illustrator tutorials and although I'm a big fan of trying out these online projects and learning from pros and enthusiasts, there's something to be said about just using CorelDraw and creating projects without having to refer to external resources. The truth is that Adobe Illustrator can be extremely complicated for a new user with its four-button shortcuts, complex settings, and mind-boggling tools. Professionals may see the need for all these accouterments and find the price of Adobe products reasonable just to have them handy. But a skilled and creative illustrator/designer can accomplish tasks quickly with CorelDraw without having to know everything under the hood (or every available keyboard shortcut).
Hats off to the guys over at Corel – and more success to CorelDraw Graphics Suite.