Review: CorelDraw 9 Graphics Suite for Linux - page 2
Obtaining CorelDraw 9 Graphics Suite
Corel Photo-PAINT is the photo-manipulation/paint/bitmap-editing program of the suite. It offers users the opportunity to touch up or modify photographs and create their own bitmap images.
On launching Photo-PAINT, a helpful progress meter tells the user what's going on while the hard drive spins, which is a nice piece of polish. A splash screen and menu also present themselves, which give the program a fairly slick, commercial feel.
Photo-PAINT itself is a good program for basic bitmap/photo manipulation. There are a lot of good touches that make it an ideal end-user app. There are plenty of image filters that allow users to manipulate existing photographs in interesting ways. Photo portraits, for instance, can be made to look like oil paintings or pen-and-ink illustrations, blur effects can be added, and so on. There are 35 effects available, many of which offer multiple options. Each is previewable before being committed to the image.
Some other things we noticed last time include the Image Sprayer, which allows users to define a series of images that can be, well, "sprayed" on the picture. This is nice for creating collage-like effects or making interesting, busy backgrounds for images. There's also the ability to simulate pressure-sensitive devices with the use of cursor keys. A wide variety of brush types are also available, including one labelled the "Artistic Brush," which allows users to simulate a variety of brush styles. Another nice touch with Photo-PAINT is the Corel Tutor, a web-based tutorial on getting the most out of the software.
For advanced users, operations on images can be recorded as scripts, which allow easy repetition of common image manipulations one might make. Corel also provides a CorelSCRIPT download link from the menus that provides access to a repository of fairly complex scripts.
The basic on-line documentation has some speed issues. Rather than using a built-in help program of some sort, the program's on-line documents are offloaded to Netscape. This requires waiting for Netscape to launch, and each time the index or help search functions are used, waiting for indexes to generate. The documentation presented looks like webified Microsoft help, in keeping with the Windows-driven look-and-feel of most Corel efforts. The documentation is good, though, and offers pop-up illustrations of any controls referenced as well as related links. In all, it's a good substitute for the book, if you're the type who despises keeping a manual perched on your lap while you're learning your way around, but it is slow: keep it up if you plan to use it, or expect to wait 10 to 15 seconds each time you want to consult the on-line help.
Overall, Photo-PAINT is a good piece of software. Though its Free Software competition, the GIMP, offers many of the same features, Photo-PAINT is aimed at an audience used to Windows software. Tasks available in the GIMP are broken out into more distinctive areas in Photo-PAINT, making them easier to access. We have some comments to make about the interface at large and the performance of the software, but we'll get to them in the concluding remarks, since many of these issues apply to Photo-PAINT's suite-mate, CorelDRAW.
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