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Tech review: For most amateur artists and draftsmen, the Home and Student version of CorelDraw Graphics Suite should work just fine.
Even if you’re an experienced amateur, don’t be put off by the “Home and Student” version of CorelDraw Graphics Suite.
Its power is subtle, but there’s no mistaking that if you want to create text projects, retouch photos or other images and create drawings, this version of CorelDraw is an inexpensive gateway to the outer limits of your creativity.
There’s also the reality check that CorelDraw Home and Student isn’t its more expensive big brother — CorelDraw — or Adobe Illustrator. In other words, professional graphic artists aren’t going to ditch Illustrator or CorelDraw no matter how good the junior version is.
I have no illusions about my ability as an artist. My freehand sketches aren’t even on par with my 5-year-old granddaughter’s refrigerator hangings. But if I did have artistic talent, this version of CorelDraw would help me with colors, shapes, backgrounds and more.
Would-be artists will find ample tutorials both within the program and online, especially on YouTube. But all the tutorials in the world won’t make an artist out of a draftsman. And draftsmen will find plenty to like in this version, too, as they make three-dimensional shapes.
Where I do shine is in page design. I’ve put together several newsletters using templates from Microsoft Word. Those newsletters are slick and functional, but I’d rather create my own from scratch. It took me less than an hour to master the basics. Once that was done, I experimented with fonts, column sizes, shapes and colors.
It’s not child’s play, but I was able to create a newsletter template from scratch in less than an hour. After that, I imported images — clipart and photos — and content that was created in Word. I won’t begin to pretend that my creation was more graphically stunning than the templates I was using in other programs, but it’s my work, flaws and all.
Clipart — generic illustrations and photos — are easily downloaded, in most cases after paying a fee. If there’s a situation in life that doesn’t have a clipart representation, it’s probably in the realm of the supernatural. A utility called Connect helps users find the clipart they need online.
The user interface takes some getting used to: A toolbox is on the left, the menu bar is on top, and more tools, such as color control, are on the right. That box also has help files.
It’s easy enough to create two- and three-dimensional drawings, and it’s possible to turn an ordinary photo or other graphic into one that looks like it’s three dimensional.
Those are the high points.
The interface, while functional, looks dated. If you’re into design and illustration, this version of CorelDraw is cheaper — at $110 — than Adobe Illustrator. But if you’re a professional designer you’ll likely reach for CorelDraw Graphics Suite 2017 at $500. That compares with $30 a month for Illustrator.
For most amateurs, though, the Student and Home edition of CorelDraw should work just fine.