Ask any web or graphic design professional and they’ll tell you that the software of choice for graphics and photo editing is Adobe products. Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator have been the standard for many, many years, but despite that, there are still a few things that are lacking in Adobe that Corel has figured out.
Years ago, when I was first starting out in designing, I simply could not afford Adobe products, and until I knew for sure that designing was what I wanted to do, I just couldn’t justify the investment. So I opted for what I then dubbed “the poor man’s Photoshop”, Corel Photo Paint (actually I purchased the whole suite, when then included CorelDraw, a vector graphics drawing program similar to Illustrator, and an animation program).
Since that time, I’ve been able to acquire the Adobe Creative Suite products, and while they are phenomenal and I do use them primarily, I’ve noticed that both Photoshop and Illustrator are missing a few things that I grew rather fond of in the Corel products, so I’ll venture back there on occasion, when I can’t quite get the result I want with Adobe.
There are 3 things that stick out in my mind that I really like about Corel, that I can’t seem to duplicate with Adobe……..so this doesn’t mean it can’t be done, it simply means that I haven’t been able to figure out how to do it yet, and I’ve been using Adobe for long enough that I’m thinking I should have run across a solution for these by now. If any of you know how to duplicate these techniques in Photoshop or Illustrator, please, please, please share in the comments below and fill us (okay, me) in.
Publish to PDF settings
Corel Draw makes publishing files to PDF much simpler in my view, for one reason – Draw will export your text as curves with one click. Why is this necessary, you ask? Because most of the time, if you’re using a font that is not standard to a computer’s operating system and whoever is viewing your PDF file does not have that font installed on their system, it may not display in the PDF file properly, since the font is not embedded in the file. By exporting the font as curves, the font remains editable within the source file that you’ve created, but a graphic is created upon export, so it’s not necessary for the viewer to have that font installed on their computer to view your graphic as you intended.
In Illustrator, there is no simple tool to accomplish this on export (at least not that I’ve found). In Illustrator you must first convert your text to outlines by selecting Type > Create Outlines from the main menu. While this may not seem complicated, if you several different blocks of text in your graphic, it can be time consuming. For me, since I don’t want to make the original text uneditable, I create a duplicate layer from the text, and then create the outlines. Then, when you create your PDF file, the text is already in a vector graphic format and will embed in the file properly.
With Corel Draw, you can select one simple box and voila, ALL your text is exported as curves (a graphic) instead of text, therefore it will always render properly for your user. One click can save a lot of time, versus creating duplicate layers for each of your text blocks, then creating outlines for those duplicate layers.
Edit Bitmap feature
The second feature I really love about Corel products is the “edit bitmap” button, in Draw. Illustrator has a version of this, but it’s not as good.
In Illustrator, if you import a JPG image into your file and click the Edit Original button, your JPG will not open in Photoshop to be edited, however in Microsoft Paint, for Windows machines, and that just won’t do the trick. The Edit Original feature in Illustrator is intended to edit Photoshop files that have been placed in your document, in which case Photoshop will open and you can edit your original Photoshop file. The workaround for this is of course, to have already edited the JPG image that you wish to use, saving it with another name to not overwrite the original, and then placing it in your file.
Corel’s version is much easier and saves time, and is not reliant on the fact that the image was created in PhotoPaint (which I find rather egotistical of Adobe). In Draw, import your JPG image, and if it needs editing, simply click the Edit Bitmap button in your toolbar, and THAT VERSION of the image will open in PhotoPaint and you can make your edits. It will only save the changes in that image, however it will ask you if you wish to save it as a PhotoPaint image also.
Interactive Object Transparency Tool
Perhaps my very favorite Corel PhotoPaint tool is the interactive object transparency tool. This tool allows you to create a transparent gradient of an image, so that the gradient fades out to a transparency. Let me explain.
In Photoshop, to achieve a similar effect, you’d have to take several more steps; after unlocking the background layer, you must create a second layer, drag it beneath your image layer, add a layer mask to the image, then with the layer mask selected, apply a black/white gradient to the image.
With Corel PhotoPaint, you simply create an object from your image (Object > Create > New Object), then click the Interactive Object Transparency Tool in the tool box, and drag the tool over your image.
What I like about this tool is that you can change the starting point and the halfway point of your gradient to achieve the desired effect and a smoother gradient. In Photoshop you would have to undo and reapply the gradient however many times it took to get the effect you’re after. So, while this can be accomplished with Photoshop, to be sure, Corel just makes this process infinitely more simple, and in my opinion the result is preferable, as well.
Another thing about Corel products that I really appreciate is that you can export your files into either Illustrator or Photoshop formats, so that they are compatible. And yes, it will export all the layers and most of the settings as well. Again, Adobe’s arrogance does not allow for exporting your files so that they are compatible with Corel products, however Corel has fixed this and allowed for importing of .AI and .PSD files (with layers intact!) to get around this problem.
Don’t get me wrong, I do love Photoshop and Illustrator and use them regularly, but for those Photoshop users who have never tried Corel products, I recommend giving them a shot. You just might be surprised!