CorelDraw X8 on a Surface Pro 4 Part 2

Continued from CorelDraw X8 on a Surface Pro 4 Part 1

Wacom Pen and Touch and using an external display

It may seem odd to non-designers or non-Corel users, but connecting a Wacom digitizer to the Surface Pro 4 is still a good idea. Although I myself have never been very good with my 4x6 Wacom Bamboo Pen and Touch and prefer a traditional wireless mouse, some Wacom fans may still prefer the older Pen and Touch tablets over the Surface Pen stylus (see Part 3 of this series) when working with CorelDraw. It's recommended to take advantage of the Mini DisplayPort on the SP4, however, to expand the Surface Pro 4's screen real estate.

An old Wacom 4x6 Pen and Touch is almost as big as the Surface Pro 4.

I connected my aged Wacom Bamboo Pen and Touch to the Surface Pro 4 and quickly found out that although the dimensions of the Wacom Pen and Touch (4x6) are quite close to the Surface Pro 4's form factor, the 2736 x 1824/12.3" display of the SP4 made it awkward to pan around the screen elements and users would have to zoom in and out more often than usual to get anything done. With a 23" AOC connected via the Mini DisplayPort on the SP4, however, work with or without the Wacom Pen and Touch progressed like I was using my desktop PC.

If you plan to do any amount of serious work on CorelDraw X8, an external display is highly recommended.
Note: As a footnote, image color and fidelity were accurate on the SP4's screen while working with Corel Photo-Paint.

Surface Pro 4 and touch screens

Users can certainly make use of a touch screen All-in-One, or a hybrid like the Surface Pro 4 with the Corel Suite, but there's no advantage to it whatsoever unless you really prefer working with your fingers (or exceptionally good at tapping on surfaces). Tapping the menus and menu entries can be a chore on a traditional UI and using your finger to select objects using the Pick Tool in CorelDraw, much less edit vector nodes, is difficult.

The small screen components and UI of CorelDraw and Corel Photo-Paint, as well as the constant use of context menus, make it difficult working on a touch screen.

Even if you had a pretty massive touch screen display from HP or Dell, you'll have to make an effort to either zoom in, or work closely with your eye next to the LCD panel. Many of the tasks in CorelDraw, as veteran Corel users know, are executed using the combination of the keyboard and an input device. For example, to create a mask in Photo-Paint using the Freehand Mask tool, you click and drag with a mouse or Wacom pen, and then press ALT+Left-click to complete the mask - a combination that is difficult with a touch screen or Windows 10's on-screen keyboard (which doesn't have the ALT button by default).

Brush tools such as the Clone tool and Healing Clone tool require the use of the finger or on-screen keyboard to select an origin, which is difficult even with the SP4's gestures and 10-point touch screen.

As mentioned in Part 1, Corel didn't make any attempt (thankfully) to convert the CorelDraw Suite to a more tablet-friendly application. Users shouldn't expect bigger buttons or tap and drag accuracy when working in CorelDraw or Corel Photo-Paint, even on the Surface Pro 4. Photo-Paint, in particular, may disappoint users expecting a similar experience as the Microsoft Store's Fresh Paint app or Autodesk Sketchbook. Users should not expect the CorelDraw X8 Graphics Suite to have the advantages of dedicated mobile apps in terms of touch support (Using the Surface Pen is a different discussion altogether however).

Even flat line drawings with little detail can be difficult to paint with a finger on Corel Photo-Paint on the SP4.

When working with CorelDraw on the Surface Pro 4, I always dropped back into old habits and connected a mouse and tried to ignore the touchscreen. If you rarely work on large projects on the go, tweaking already existing .cdr files without an external display is fine on the SP4. Thankfully, the SP4's touchpad is a few notches better than touchpads found in Lenovo or Acer laptops. However, I would still recommend using a mouse for more accurate tasks such as snapping and positioning objects, and adjusting fills, blends and nodes.

Continued in CorelDraw X8 on a Surface Pro 4 Part 3


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