Screen Printing:

Software Review: CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 2017

By Thomas Trimingham, Contributing Writer

October 16, 2017

It’s natural to become dependent on software when your job requires daily use of it. This level of reliance can make the thought of upgrading your software scary if you don’t consider the different parts of the process.

When upgrading, consider performance, reliability, features and overall ease of transition. In the case of Corel Corp.’s new release, CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 2017, there are some 
significant new features to consider for screen printers and apparel decorators that can enable them to do artwork faster than ever with greater control over the tools.

Before you get too far into reviewing a new version of any software, it is critical to consider its compatibility with your current system — unless you also are upgrading your computer.

CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 2017 requires the following, as recommended by Corel:
• Microsoft Windows 10, Windows 8.1 or Windows 7, in 32- or 64-bit, with the latest updates and service packs installed
• Intel i3, i5, i7 or AMD Athlon 64 processor
• 2 GB RAM — although it typically is good to have 8 GB for graphics
• 1 GB of hard drive space — although it is a good idea to have 200 GB of free space
• Mouse and/or pressure-sensitive tablet with a touchscreen option
• 1,280 x 720 display resolution
• Microsoft Internet Explorer 11 
or later
• Microsoft .Net Framework 4.6
• Internet connection to sign in to authenticate CorelDRAW Graphics Suite, receive performance and stability updates, access online content and use other features, such as QR Codes or the Content Exchange. You also can use CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 2017 offline, provided you connect to the internet at least once a month for software-license validation
• DVD drive (only if you bought 
a DVD)

If you have been using graphics software for a few years, you know it’s not a great idea to only have the minimum required power to run the program. Compare the speed of opening a large file in the older version with that of opening the same file in the newer version. If it is noticeably slower, consider adding RAM or upgrading your machine.

If you have a newer machine equipped with Windows 10, you will have quite a few options to customize your software. A 64-bit version of CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 2017 runs very fast — even with larger files — and it can handle more complex graphics than previous versions.

I had no problem opening several files, which would freeze my machine in older versions. I also noticed improved speed when working within the program, and processing tasks with lots of vector pieces and multiple effects.

Windows 10 Support
CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 2017 offers the expected collection of basic new features that make drawing objects easier. It also features some revolutionary advances in the way users can work in the software. Included as a basic feature is Windows 10 support and unique customization options, allowing them to change the software’s look and feel to echo a design theme or specific color scheme (see Figure 1).

These customization options include different color guidelines, backgrounds, header bars and an array of adaptable working spaces that will support touchscreens, tablets and pressure-sensitive pens. For the first time, this version of CorelDRAW has accommodated some of the requests of users who asked for more intuitive drawing and creation options.

The new version also allows users to work with 4K or ultra high-definition monitors to comfortably see higher-quality artwork displays without distortion or compatibility issues. For artists or printers who want other support software (such as shop software or email servers) to run simultaneously, CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 2017 offers the ability to work on multiple monitors, even if they have different resolutions.

New Drawing Tools
Most artists and printers don’t use every tool and option in CorelDRAW’s extensive toolbox, but it pays to review the newer ones to discover any time-saving methods for completing complex tasks. CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 2017 offers several drawing tools that have great new functions.

The live-sketch tool offers a new alternative to conventional drawing, scanning a design or creating artwork directly in the software. I still like to do rough comps by hand, then quickly scan and refine them in the software. This allows me to improve my direct-drawing skills, while avoiding an impediment to my productivity if the drawings take longer while I am learning the new process.

In Figure 2, I created a sketch by hand and imported it into the software as outlines so I could create the shapes using the CorelDRAW tools. The live-sketch tool offered new ways to determine clean lines based on the initial rough lines, as well as create shapes quickly with the help of advanced artificial intelligence.

Next, I used the editing tools to create shapes that would fit into the pieces of the design to create a shaded look. The process was accelerated by using CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 2017’s new node-editing tools. Older software versions included node-control handles that got lost in the background or other design elements, so users had to change the viewing mode or zoom to try to find them. The new version allows custom nodes to be set up that are displayed in different colors, with easier-to-see handles and adjustment functions.

Another simple, time-saving change is that a portion of a curved shape can be copied, pasted, duplicated and moved so the user can finish drawing it. This makes creating shapes that echo other shapes easier, which is particularly useful when rendering mascots. In Figure 3, I quickly created the shadow shapes and highlights inside of powerclip pieces so they would fit inside the elements, creating the illusion of dimension.

My favorite new element of CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 2017 is the pressure-sensitive pen support. I could quickly draw supporting elements for my graphic and, using the live-sketch and media tools, create a finished logo. Since the pen is so much easier to use than a mouse for drawing organic shapes, I created some elements for my flag effect that would stream off of a baseball (see Figure 4).

The new knife tool made it easier than ever to cut the head portrait shape so it looks like it’s set behind the figure. Using the new font list box, I could pick from the best available athletic fonts that would fit the project’s look.

The final step involved compiling all aspects of the project and adding a powerclip into an inside contour in the main text for some polish. The artistic media and freehand tools made quick work of creating a bat and some motion lines to denote action in the design. Once the fills were added, it was simple to convert the file to a PDF and send it to the customer for approval (see Figure 5).

Other new features of the new version include improved drop shadows with Gaussian blurs, improved curve and shape tools, new tablet-control support and layer options. With the variety of new options available in CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 2017, there is a lot to explore, and a host of productive ways to create designs more quickly and easily than before.

Thomas Trimingham has been helping screen printers for more than 25 years as an industry consultant, freelance artist and high-end separator. Thomas is currently working with The M&R Cos. as an online marketing manager. Learn more about M&R at