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Mastering CorelDRAW 9

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“Is this big book you’re writing the reason that you can never play golf with me?” my father asked, with just the right amount of sarcasm to make me smile and feel guilty at the same time.

While the ideal retort might have been, “No, Dad, I’m scared to ride in the golf cart with you,” the fact is that he was right.

“Is it another monster?” my father continued. “And does it have any of that Internet stuff in it?”

“Oh, yes. You can’t write a book today without discussing the World Wide Web.”

“Oy vey, the whole world’s gone meshuga.”

Repartee with my father is now a tradition here in the introduction, and we’re quite sure that he is responsible for the first instance of the Jewish expression for “gone crazy” ever to appear in a CorelDRAW book.

Mastering CorelDRAW 9 is the sixth go-round of this special type of mishigos for me and my writing team, but in many ways it feels like the first. While it is fine to allow a chapter here and there to ride from one year to the next, we decided it was time for a true house-cleaning. The result is a book that is over 95-percent fresh material. I have the sore fingers to prove it.

What Is CorelDRAW?

Since its debut 10 years ago, CorelDRAW has been a clear and obvious leader among Windows-based drawing and illustration programs. But what is neither clear nor obvious is what exactly it means to be a drawing program. Is it a program that allows you to work with refined curves and objects to produce precise artistic effects? Is it a powerful typographic engine for the creation of logos and other text-based work? Is it a laboratory for manipulating photos and images? Is it the hub of a World Wide Web tool? Or does CorelDRAW continue to be, primarily, a tool for driving book authors...meshuga?

The fact that CorelDRAW is actually all of these things underscores the impression this program has made in its community. One way or the other, the applications in the box of software known as CorelDRAW assist you in the creation of modern-day graphics. They are the tools with which you can create:

  Full-color illustrations
  Complex drawings
  Graphics for the World Wide Web
  Fancy headlines
  Photo-realistic images
  Surrealistic images
  Animation sequences
  Libraries of clipart
  High-quality drawings from low-resolution originals

CorelDRAW Is for Graphics

Be it for traditional media or for the Web, CorelDRAW is a graphics clearinghouse of tools. With it you can create illustrations from scratch, enhance clipart, use and embellish scanned photos, and send your finished work out one of many ways. This is the domain of the Big Two—DRAW and PHOTO-PAINT—and these are what users buy the software for. Many users occasionally turn to the services of Corel TRACE for help in converting a scanned image into more refined artwork, but day in and day out, DRAW and, increasingly, PHOTO-PAINT, are what see the most active duty.

This lopsided popularity is not lost on us, and the lion’s share of this book is devoted to DRAW, the flagship product. But unlike in previous editions, where we confess to having virtually ignored PAINT, we devote six chapters to the creation of bitmap graphics, and two to the fundamentals of image editing.

For Whom Does This Book Toll?

As lead author, I like to think that any CorelDRAW user on the planet will enjoy the pages of this book. The fact that I won’t try to convince you of that is a sure sign that I have no future as the marketer of books, only the writer of them. From our ongoing series of CorelDRAW seminars and conferences—at which I meet several hundred users every year—I have defined a clear profile of you, the mainstream user: You produce lots of one-page fliers, logos, small brochures, signs, banners, T-shirts, and increasingly, Web pages. You do not necessarily have a professional background in the arts; in fact, most of you do not. But even if you do, your primary aim is to develop a better understanding of DRAW’s tools and functions and learn the hidden treasures that allow for faster and more efficient operation.

This book is written with the following users in mind:

  Technical illustrators, who want to reduce the amount of busywork involved in producing diagrams, charts, and simple drawings.
  Amateur and budding designers, who strive to develop an eye for good, clean, simple designs.
  Web designers, who seek a powerful tool for creating graphics and who wonder exactly what role DRAW can and should play in their Web sites.
  Desktop publishers, who need a better understanding of DRAW’s text-handling capabilities.
  Commercial artists, who might be auditioning this new version of DRAW for producing their next double-page advertising spread.
  Fine artists and illustrators, who will not tolerate a book that tries to teach them their business, but who want to sharpen their CorelDRAW skills and their understanding of its tools.
  Brand-new users looking for a book that neither talks down to them nor leads them laboriously by the hand, but rather arms them with information and gives them the practice they need to become self-sufficient.
  And prospective users, who want to get a sense of what CorelDRAW is all about before they make their purchase.

Your Roadmap

In this book, we include both tutorial and reference material, and when necessary, we specify right away any chapter that is either for beginners or more advanced users. Teachers and trainers will want to keep an eye out for the “Step by Step” sections that frequent many chapters, as they make for ideal training exercises.

Part I, “A Quick Tour of CorelDRAW,” is an introduction to the software in general, and the elements that are new to the program. We know that many users play leapfrog with versions, and that many of you are coming to DRAW 9 from version 7. As a result, Chapter 2, our “What’s New” chapter, details additions and improvements introduced in DRAW 8 and DRAW 9.

Part II, “Life in an Object-Oriented World,” explores the lifeblood of DRAW: curves, nodes, object creation, fills, and outlines.

Part III, “Mastering Text,” covers—you guessed it—your work with text in DRAW: paragraph and artistic, fancy and conservative, fast and slow, good and bad.

Part IV, “Effects and Affects,” features the stellar performers found under the Effects menu, responsible for the more dramatic effects possible with DRAW.

Part V, “Drawing for Cyberspace,” focuses on creating graphics for the World Wide Web. It covers in detail the creation of Web graphics, Web pages, image maps, hyperlinks, backgrounds, and much more. It offers many strategies for creating successful Web graphics, including frank discussions about DRAW’s strengths and weaknesses.

Part VI, “The Bitmap Era,” is a brand new section of the book dedicated to the wonderfully scary world of bitmap imagery. One of the chapters focuses on the services that DRAW can perform for imported photographs, and then two chapters explore PHOTO-PAINT.

Part VII, “The CorelDRAW Freeway,” exposes DRAW as the expressway it is, with emphasis on its exits and entrances—namely printing, color and prepress theory, importing, and exporting. You won’t want to miss Chapter 28, where we introduce the new Publish to PDF tool.

Part VIII, “Taking Control,” explores the improved functions of styles, templates, object management, recordable scripts, and the amazing opportunities provided by DRAW’s customizable interface.

NOTE This book also has a companion Web site at www.sybex.com. There you’ll find additional information that will help you master CorelDRAW 9. You’ll find files that will help you get started with many of the tutorials, as well as drawings that you can reverse-engineer to learn more about special techniques and all that goes into a successful drawing. Just click the Catalog button on Sybex’s home page (www.sybex.com), then use the search engine found on the Catalog page to arrive at the companion Web site for Mastering CorelDRAW 9. Once you reach this Web site, we suggest you bookmark it for your future visits.

The Foundation of CorelDRAW

I remember it as if it were yesterday—the day that CorelDRAW 1 was first released. Up until then, the closest things to illustration software were unremarkable paint programs and nongraphical applications that required you to describe the effect you wanted, instead of drawing it. (“Circle, 2-inch radius, create.”) CorelDRAW was one of the first Windows-based drawing programs to take hold.

Today, over 10 years later, CorelDRAW is one of the giants of the industry, in terms of its customer base, its stature, and the depth and breadth of the programs that are included in this one product.

It is no mystery why this is so. From its inception, CorelDRAW has been one of the most approachable and most inviting of all graphics programs. Its army of users covers virtually all corners of the graphics community: from fine artists to illustrators to technical artists; from freelance designers to desktop publishers; book publishers and newsletter editors; sign-makers, T-shirt designers, and logo creators; secretaries turned designers; well-meaning but unartistic managers...and even my six-year-old daughter, Erica. Granted, becoming proficient with CorelDRAW might be a challenge; but more than two million users will attest to the fact that playing around with, developing a feel for, and even getting the hang of this program is not difficult at all.

Drawing vs. Painting

When we first started hosting the CorelWORLD User Conference—three days of seminars and workshops, dedicated to DRAW and PAINT—I was surprised to discover how many users did not understand the essential qualities of the two broad categories of illustration programs. Today, a good six years later, we still encounter hundreds of users who are unclear on the concept, because many electronic artists simply take for granted what these programs do in the background. When you get past all of the jargon about Béziers, pixels, halftones, clipping paths, and process colors, graphics programs produce art in one of two ways: they produce curves, lines, and other distinct shapes that are based on mathematics; or they produce dots. At the core of it all, everything that comes from graphics software is curves or dots.

The one characteristic that distinguishes vector-based drawing programs like DRAW, Xara, Adobe Illustrator, Macromedia Freehand, and others is their particular degree of intelligence. When you draw a circle in one of these programs, the circle has a set of properties—an identity, if you will. It has a radius from the center, a circumference, a set of x- and y-coordinates, an outline, and an interior color. If you change the appearance or size of the circle, DRAW still knows that the circle is a circle.

Painting programs, on the other hand—such as PHOTO-PAINT (included in the CorelDRAW box), Adobe PhotoShop, and PaintShop Pro—create graphics that are not nearly as smart. In fact, they’re pretty dumb, but don’t think of that as an insult. Their primary job is to lay down pixels on a screen, no questions asked, just as a painter would apply paint to a canvas. The circle you create in a paint program is simply a collection of pixels, perhaps millions of them, lined up in rows. Taken together, the dots might happen to look like a circle, but there are no properties identifying it as a circle, as there are in DRAW.

When You Have to Choose...

When buying graphics software, it’s unlikely that you would choose either a vector-based or a paint program. Most businesses need the services of both, because whether dumb or smart, both types of software play important roles. That is precisely why every copy of CorelDRAW includes DRAW (the drawing program) and PAINT (the painting program).

If You Need Clipart Turn to DRAW and the gaggle of prefab clipart images on the CorelDRAW CD. Because vector drawings can be edited so easily, DRAW is the perfect tool to produce simple art from scratch or to modify existing art.

If You Need to Scan Photos That’s a job for PAINT. The undying virtue of bitmap image editing is the extraordinary level of control you have. You decide how small each dot is to be (that is, how high the resolution is), and you can change the color of every dot that makes up the image.

If You’re Creating Artwork for the Internet Take your pick, or use them both. The revolution and the miracle that is the World Wide Web is fertile ground for both vector and bitmap software. Ultimately, graphics make their way to the Internet in bitmap form—as .gif or .jpg files—yet both DRAW and PAINT are capable of creating them. Within the bounds of good taste, all of DRAW’s formatting prowess and special effects arsenal can be brought to bare on a Web site in search of a personality. Part V looks at the exciting and sometimes scary world of Internet graphics.

If You Need to Capture and Refine Computer Screen Images Here, as well, give the nod to your paint program, coupled with a screen capture program (such as Corel CAPTURE, included in the CorelDRAW box). When you take a picture of your screen, it is stored as a bitmap. Although this bitmap is not as detailed as most photographs, you can still edit all the way down to the dot level.

If You Need to Set Lots of Type Hightail it back to DRAW, where all the fidelity of your typeface format is honored, including letter spacing, tracking, kerning, and hinting.

If You’re Producing Technical Drawings Once again you’re in DRAW’s domain, where you can achieve utter precision, razor-sharp lines, and can scale, reshape, group, and duplicate individual objects.

If You’re Creating Logos, Fliers, Brochures, or Ad Layouts Chances are you’re going to want both DRAW and PAINT, because today’s electronic art often contains text and other vector-based objects integrated with scanned images. DRAW can be your Grand Central Station for such projects, because it allows you to import bitmap images into a drawing and even apply special effects to them.

The Magic of the Curve

We may be guilty of a bit of oversimplification, but the cornerstone to DRAW can be summed up in one plural noun: curves. The essence of DRAW is its ability to create curves, and this stands in stark contrast to what a paint program does. This bears repeating: paint programs do not “understand” that the millions of dots that they are storing are supposed to look like something—that happens practically by accident. DRAW understands the dynamics responsible for an object’s shape; it knows about radiuses, angles, straight and curved lines, and all of the subtleties of typefaces.

As a result, vector art is quite lean. Bitmap images can get big in a hurry, with all of those dots to cart around, but vector art is marked by its tidy set of mathematical instructions for describing objects.

Figure 1 is a drawing of President Clinton’s family, produced in DRAW. The curves and fill patterns that make up this image will require less than 100K of disk space, but if it were converted to a bitmap image, you’d be looking at a minimum of 500K for a low-resolution rendition, and as much as 5MB for one in full color.

No question about it, if you choose your paint program to produce work that is better suited for your drawing program, you’ll hear about it from your hard drive. And if you decide to go all out and use a professionally scanned photograph of the Clintons and the First Feline (the cat—we’re talking about the cat) standing in the Oval Office, you’re talking about really high rent: 10MB to 40MB.

FIGURE 1  Rendered as vector art, the Clinton family is a lean, 100K DRAW file. Described as bitmap art, this same image grows to at least 500K and likely more.

You’ll read a lot about curves throughout this text, especially the so-called Bézier curve, shown in Figure 2. It’s named after the man who discovered the dynamic relationship that exists between a starting point, an ending point, and the two control points that determine the path taken by the curve from start to finish. You don’t need to understand the intricacies—just know that Bézier curves get the credit for just about everything that CorelDRAW does right.

FIGURE 2  The magic of the Bézier curve

CorelDRAW Is Greater Than theSumofItsParts

Like most sophisticated graphics programs, CorelDRAW hits its stride when you apply a few of its special effects to otherwise simple objects. Creating a few ellipses, like the ones shown at the left of Figure 3, may not be cause for celebration, but you will really begin to turn heads when you unleash the higher-octane features. There’s Blend, which transforms one object into another, and Trim, the tool responsible for creating the sprocket in the center of Figure 3 from the four simple ellipses. There’s Extrude, which produced the depth-defying effect for the finished sprocket. There’s Radial Fill, which gently changes the fill color from one to another, and Rotate, Envelope, Weld, Distribute, Trim, PowerClip—the list goes on. As Figure 3 shows, the relationship between simple objects and powerful effects might be the marriage made in electronic heaven.

FIGURE 3  CorelDRAW’s special effects steal the headlines every time.

Typefaces: the Final Frontier

To many, the most impressive part of CorelDRAW is the control it gives you in handling text. A mind-boggling number of typefaces ships with the product. Its typographic engine allows for the setting of a typeface in point increments as small as .001 point, and for rotations in equally fine steps. In short, CorelDRAW allows you to manipulate text on your electronic drafting table just as you would other objects, using all the same special effects.

Historically, DRAW’s text prowess has been responsible for two things: pure joy on the part of eager users accustomed to having substantial constraints on their ability to manipulate type; and horror at some of the less-than-stellar efforts foisted upon the user community by those same eager but artistically challenged users. Many users start out blissfully unaware of the skills required to effectively pilot the software, and indeed, CorelDRAW users’ contributions to the Desktop Publishing Hall of Shame are substantial. Perhaps this is the inevitable price to be paid for software so inviting that practically anyone can use it.

On this last point of irony, I will close this introduction. CorelDRAW has made a name for itself as an artist’s tool despite the fact—maybe because of the fact—that a majority of its users are not artists. This demographic distinction is not lost on us, and our intent in this book is to speak to the practical, pragmatic demands of mainstream CorelDRAW users. We do not hope to convert you into brilliant artists, and we believe one of the virtues of this book is that we will not try. Rather, we hope to broaden your understanding of the software and help you become more efficient and productive.

In our user conferences and ongoing series of seminars, I have met thousands of skilled DRAW users who turn to the product for technical work, simple logos, sketches, headlines, and other projects that don’t require formal training in the arts. These power-users enjoy the continuing search for better and faster ways to pilot the software. I have also encountered accomplished artists (those who really do the program justice) who wouldn’t know a keyboard shortcut if it landed on their foreheads. Users in both categories will benefit from a more complete understanding of the inner workings of CorelDRAW, and that is what we intend to deliver.

—Rick Altman


I have two daughters, ages six and three. I feel as if I also have a son. He exhibits many of the tendencies and much of the behavior requisite of an offspring: he is constantly demanding of attention, he devises creative strategies to get his way, he has good days and bad days, and he has woven himself throughout my life in countless ways.

This son of mine is not flesh and blood, but instead bark and pulp. He’s about 800 pages long, and you’re holding him in your hands right now. Parenting this wayward child cannot be done in the traditional way—this is one of those times when both the Democrats and Republicans would agree that it really does take a village. As chief witch doctor, I am grateful for the assistance of my team of villagers.

Heading the list is our technical editor, Joe Donnelly, who represents perhaps the finest coup this book has ever enjoyed. We signed him up just one month after he decided to leave his post at Corel... as CorelDRAW Product Manager! He spent two years directing the team of engineers, determining which features would stay and which would go, and how they would be implemented. For two years, he was CorelDRAW.

We wondered how he would respond to the areas in this book where we are critical of Corel or the software. Would he take it personally? Well, in Chapter 2, when we wrote about being “underwhelmed and unimpressed by DRAW as a Web page creation tool,” his quick retort was that we had misspelled underwhelmed.

Following very close behind is our primary contributor, Debbie Cook, whose star is rising steadily in the Corel community. She began making her mark with volunteer technical support on newsgroups and other online discussion venues for CorelDRAW users. She also has been a prominent member of the technical team at the annual CorelWORLD User Conference, and has most recently found prominence for the set of scripts she created for producing effects within PHOTO-PAINT. Her keen eye and persistent research graces our “What’s New” chapter, and much of Part VII, “The CorelDRAW Freeway.”

Returning for his sixth season is Wayne Kaplan, whose influence can be found throughout the book. As a “Tier 1 beta tester” (which means that Corel Corp. pays Wayne to test the product before its release), Wayne is as close to the program as is possible, without actually being one of the engineers.

Working with the team at Sybex was especially gratifying this year—from Acquisitions Editor Cheryl Applewood on down, it was clear that the people involved in this book came from a background or an interest in graphics. Julie Sakaue kept the ship afloat with unusual aplomb, and returning for a second year as copy editor, Anamary Ehlen lived up to her initials of A.C.E. Each member of the production team—Maureen Forys, Lisa Reardon, Richard Ganis, Bonnie Hart, Jeff Chorney, Lindy Wolf, and especially Kate Kaminski—contributed their special talents to turn the manuscript and art files into a book.

As always, I owe a debt of gratitude to the over 800 CorelDRAW users who have joined us at the annual CorelWORLD User Conferences since 1993. Your feedback, experiences, suggestions, positive attitude, and overall good humor and cheer continue to fuel our creative fire. We will be in Orlando in October of 1999 and would love for all our readers to join us there. For details about this and many other opportunities for DRAW users, visit us at www.altman.com.

And finally, a special thanks to Greg, Kathy, Sharon, and Steve, who make up the nucleus of the coed volleyball team that proved to be my sole refuge during book-writing season. We all met as new parents, and when we discovered a mutual affinity for the game, we joined a league and decided to name our team No D.I.N.K.S. Get it...?

—Rick Altman
Lead Author

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