Corel Draw Premium Edition 9

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The full Corel Draw/Photo-Paint suite with the ability to create and use customised ICC profiles for accurate colour control - but it's not a complete solution..

Corel Draw Premium Edition 9 PrintOpen

Corel's marketing department has clearly been working overtime and hot  on the heels of the Office Edition of the Corel Draw suite (see page )  comes this Premium Colour Edition. As with the Office version, the heart  of the Premium package is the A-List award-winning Corel Draw (reviewed  issue ). With features such as graduated transparency, artistic brushes  and native PDF support, the power and creativity of the Draw application  is indisputable. Unlike the Office edition, the Premium version also  includes the bitmap-based Photo-Paint. With its own advanced features,  such as layer and channel-based editing and a shared docker-based  interface, in many ways, Photo-Paint is the perfect partner to Draw.

Corel Draw Premium Edition 9 - Photo-Paint

The core Draw and Photo-Paint modules offer professional power.

The value of the existing Draw suite is clear, so the obvious question is: what's the premium? Why should anyone want to pay an extra 200 for the same core functionality as in the standard suite? The answer is colour management and, more specifically, three ColorOpen ICC utilities bought in from Heidelberg and the Gamma Sequel, a piece of hardware that looks like a cut-down mouse.

To understand what these have to offer you first have to understand the problem. The central problem is that colour handling throughout the computer-based design production cycle is device-dependent. In other words the same given colour values can be interpreted completely differently by your scanner, monitor and printer. The end result is the familiar nightmare of unpredictable colour. Colour management offers a workaround by profiling the colour handling of each device so that values can be translated to keep colours as consistent as possible.

Fortunately the ICC profiling standard is now universally accepted by high-end design software, such as Draw, Photo-Paint and Photoshop, so all that is needed is accurate hardware profiles. Unfortunately this is where you hit a major snag. The generic ICC profiles that now come with each device when you buy it are a major step forward but actually every device is unique. What you really need are customised profiles for your own monitor, scanner and printer and this is exactly what the Premium Colour Edition promises to deliver with its ViewOpen, ScanOpen and PrintOpen utilities respectively.

The ViewOpen ICC LE utility begins like many other simple calibration programs by first asking for information about the manufacturer and default temperature of your monitor and then asking you to optimize brightness and contrast. The next step, however, is completely different. You are asked to connect the Gamma Sequel to your serial port and then to hold it in the centre of your monitor. The program then flashes 32 colours onscreen which the Sequel records. Using these measurements the program then creates an accurate ICC profile by comparing the actual recordings against what they ideally should have been.

Corel Draw Premium Edition 9 ViewOpen

The ViewOpen utility works in conjunction with the supplied Gamma Sequel measuring device.

The next step is to create a profile for your scanner with the ScanOpen ICC LE utility. This doesn't involve any special hardware, but you do need to use the supplied Agfacolour IT8 calibration target, which is simply a colour-accurate print of various coloured squares. Once you have scanned, saved and loaded this target file, its real world RGB values are compared to the ideal and the corresponding ICC profile generated. Again you are given the chance to create an accurate large profile or a simplified smaller profile.

With monitor and scanner catered for, that just leaves the printer. The PrintOpen ICC LE utility works on the same principle of comparing a known target to actual results. The first step is to choose and print one of a number of test charts of known colours. I then expected that the Sequent Gamma would be used to measure the actual colours, but unfortunately it is limited to reading additive colours from a monitor. To read the subtractive colours as reflected from the page you are asked to plug in your colorimeter. The only problem is that these devices can cost thousands of pounds and so - not surprisingly - the Premium Edition doesn't include one!

Corel Draw Premium Edition 9 PrintOpen

The PrintOpen utility can create printer profiles but needs a spectrophotometer.

In a way the omission is understandable but it's still disappointing. In particular it means that the colour loop isn't completely closed. As such the Premium Edition can't actually ensure accurate and consistent colour thoughout the production process - in fact even with a colorimeter that couldn't be guaranteed. What it does do is take the issue of colour management seriously and provide the most complete solution currently possible without breaking the bank.

Features

5

Ease Of Use

5

Value For Money

4

Overall

4

ratings out of 6

Corel Draw
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System Requirements : Pentium 200 or higher, 64/128Mb of RAM, 300Mb of disk space, Windows 98, ME, 2000 or NT 4.0, SVGA, CD-ROM

Tom Arah

Feb 2000


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