CorelDRAW X3
Price £329/£146 | Company Corel | Web www.corel.co.uk | Contact +44 (0) 1628 589800 | PC only

Being centred on a vector application, CorelDRAW isn’t the first application you’d consider when creating fantasy or science fiction artwork. However the bundle of tools has been revised since the last version of the suite, to remove elements such as R.A.V.E, which failed to challenge the might of Macromedia Flash. Instead, Corel has chosen to dwell more on fusing together the best of both worlds, with CorelPAINT providing bitmap controls and CorelDRAW catering for more traditional vector illustration.

One of the key improvements in this respect is the introduction of PowerTRACE. This provides impressive results when converting bitmap images into vectors, with options as to how detailed you want such a conversion to be.

The scaleable vector formats provide numerous advantages over raster, as we’ve seen with Xara Xtreme, and this may be an area you choose to take your work, in which case PowerTRACE will be invaluable.

The most interest will be in PhotoPAINT. Less technically capable artists will welcome its new Image Adjustment Lab feature, which simplifies colour correction. The Cutout Lab has been improved to make isolating subjects from their backgrounds simple – just draw a rough outline around an object to force PhotoPAINT to do all the hard work for you.

The brush size and shape controls show influences from stable-mate application, Painter.

However, for the more creative artist, CorelDRAW is too much of an all-round application. This weakness is a strength for graphic designers but if you’re a fantasy artist you’ll find that the PowerTRACE vector conversion options are the main reasons to consider parting with your cash.

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