This article is most ideal if you are using CorelDRAW 11, 12, X3, or higher. Those using older versions like CorelDRAW 9 or 10 will find my archived version of this article much better.
If you work in an environment where every project is designed and produced in-house, you can get away with almost anything. If someone shares a file with you, or you share a file with them, that changes everything. Then you will derive great benefit from the information in this article. Since many of us label ourselves as “graphic design professionals” or some other fine sounding title, file sharing is a necessary evil, and problems need to be avoided as much as possible.
In my previous article I promised to share a single principle that will make you look like an expert, a strategy or concept that will work in most situations. We will start there. If you get nothing more from this article than that single benefit, it is enough to set you on the path to greater success as a graphic designer.
The magic word is Wireframe. Wireframe is a term used by CorelDRAW. In other design programs, it is often called Keyline or Outline, but Wireframe is the same thing. If you are having a problem with a file, this is often the best place to start.
If Wireframe is the magic word, then this is the magic concept: if the file is to be shared, the more the Wireframe resembles the graphic, the better off you will be. Right now you might be saying, “Huh?” Don't worry though, this will make sense in a few minutes.
Many of you reading this may be familiar with Wireframe without realizing its value, while others require a little more explanation. Either way, I will illustrate this whole concept so everyone can benefit from it.
For the most part, there are two ways to view your graphic on a monitor: Preview mode, and Wireframe mode. Wireframe is that unexciting view that shows plain black outlines and no colors. It may not very exciting to look at, but it is very useful in troubleshooting a graphic. Preview mode shows the way a graphic is supposed to look when published, but it's not very useful for troubleshooting. CorelDRAW does have multiple options for Preview modes: Draft, Normal, and a couple of Enhanced views.
For the sake of a very brief history lesson, the Draft and Normal Preview modes are to speed up processing on older systems with less video and RAM. The view is lower quality to make the system respond faster without demanding a lot of resources, yet provide an acceptable view quality on the screen. What you see on the screen appears much more “saw toothed” even though it prints smoothly. Most modern computers can run Enhanced view settings without you having to leave the room to fix your lunch while the processor is working. Enhanced views simulate print quality much better, but require more power to render on the screen.
To access these view options, choose View from the Menu bar, then you have the choice of Wireframe, Enhanced, and a few others. Later in this article, I will tell you how to access shortcut icons using the technique I described in my first article, Using Corel to Conquer. Then you can quickly toggle your view settings in a single click using icons instead of drop down menus.
Let's move on to real world applications and illustrate this principle.
In my previous article I mentioned that missing elements, which are usually hidden rather than actually missing, are among the most common problems in file sharing. Wireframe is an easy way to check for this problem. Notice the two views below. They are the same graphic, but in Wireframe view, the “missing” element is actually there.
Don't forget the importance of a “hard copy” when sharing files so this kind of problem can be detected! The ellipse (oval) is supposed to have text in it, but it appears to be missing in Normal or Enhanced view.
Here is the solution as well as a design strategy to avoid having this problem. No solution is foolproof though. I remember reading that if you make anything foolproof, someone will design a better fool. This problem can be minimized and is usually caused one of two ways.
The text was placed on top of the oval, but in translation and sharing, they got reversed so now the oval covers the text.
The stacking order is correct, but in translation, the text filled in solid using the same color as the oval.
Either way, the design strategy and the solution are essentially the same. Use the steps and principles below to minimize or avoid this problem:
The order you select the objects in will determine how the following procedures work. Let me say that again in a different way. You will get different results if you select objects in a different order. Using an oval and text as shown above, select the text first. Then, while holding the Shift key, select the oval. Do not click and drag to select because you cannot control the order objects are selected in. You can verify that both objects are selected by viewing the Status Bar which should be at the bottom. It will tell you, “2 Objects Selected on Layer 1.” The Status Bar was discussed in Part 1 of this article series, Using Corel to Conquer, and is shown below. If you have any problems, please refer to the additional notes below.
With both objects selected in the order stated above, and with your Status Bar confirming the selection as shown, go to Arrange on the Menu bar, then choose Combine from the drop down menu. See the menu image shown on the right. That's it. It is that simple. Be aware though that once you Combine these objects, the text is permanently “converted to Curves” and can no longer be edited as text.
This technique works with most objects and the order the objects are selected in will determine the way they are Combined. If you do not get the desired result, Undo (Ctrl+Z) and change the order you select the objects in. See additional notes below.
Let me clarify what is being done here and the difference it will make. You could place white text over a red oval and it will look exactly the same. By Combining, the text is “knocked out of” or “punched through” the oval. In other words, it is the difference between having the text placed on top of the oval, versus being able to stick your finger through the text inside the oval. By Combining, you have turned two objects into one, and there is less chance of something going wrong when you share the file.
In Step 1 above, you may need to be in Wireframe to select the text, depending on whether you can see the text or not. If the text is behind the oval, use the Alt key while clicking on the text in Wireframe view.
This technique of Combining works in other design programs as well, so you can come off as an expert when someone asks you how to solve this problem.
The commands are different but work the same in other design programs. Corel uses Curves, usually called Paths in other programs such as Adobe Illustrator. The Combine command is usually called Join or Expand (see Pathfinder palette in Illustrator available from the Window menu). As already mentioned above, Wireframe is usually called Keyline or Outline.
Instead of using the Menu bar commands as described in Step 2 above, try the techniques from my first article, Using Corel to Conquer, and put command icons, such as Combine, on your tool bars.
Never underestimate the power of a right click to bring up just the option you need. This is as true with Corel as it is with many other Windows programs.
You can place icons to toggle your view between Wireframe and Enhanced, plus other View options if you want them. In the Options dialog (use the Options icon or Ctrl+J), open the Commands options under Workspace, Customization in the left pane. In the drop down list under Commands, choose View and you will see all the options (see screen shot below). I would recommend placing at least the Wireframe, Normal, and Enhanced icons on your Standard toolbar.
While you are in the View Commands section, you may want to add Zoom option icons to your toolbars. If you noticed the additional column of tools on my left screen in the screen shots, my customized toolbars have several zoom options so they are instantly available. To do this, drag any icon from the Options dialog to an area just outside an existing toolbar, rather than inside of a toolbar after you see the I-beam appear. You can add more icons to customize this new toolbar. Using the double lines (handles), you can then drag the toolbar to create a new column or row if needed or desired.
If you want to have a Separator to help organize your customized toolbars, select All (Show All Items) from the drop down menu under Commands in the Options dialog. Scroll down the alphabetical list until you see Separator.
As I so adamantly proclaimed in my first article, it is this ability to customize that sets CorelDRAW apart. I rarely use drop down menus because I have customized my workspace so these tools are available when I need them. My Standard toolbar includes icons to switch View settings. My Property bar includes command icons like Combine, Trim, Weld, and others whenever two or more objects are selected (see below).
Another common occurrence in file sharing is font matching errors. If you are converting a file to another format such as Adobe Illustrator (ai), you are not as likely to make this mistake since CorelDRAW automatically generates a series of dialog boxes. One of these gives you the option to save all Text as Curves. I advise checking that option.
Font matching errors are more likely to happen if you are sharing with another CorelDRAW user. It is nice that Corel alerts you about it when opening a file, and gives you the opportunity to install the font, but it makes more sense to take a simple precaution: Convert all Text to Curves before sharing the file. Since you can no longer edit the Text after this conversion, you may want to Save a duplicate file for sharing and retain a “working copy” for yourself that can be edited if needed.
Here is why; unless you are absolutely sure a design job is a one time deal, you may need to make changes later. Having a version that is easily modified will save you unnecessary grief. For example, suppose you need to add or change a phone number or address. The share version should not have any Text, only Curves or Paths. The working version would have Text so it can easily be modified.
There is also an option in the File menu called Prepare for Service Bureau. This embeds all the fonts used with your CorelDRAW file into a job folder. If you opt to use this method, make sure the Generate PDF file option is checked. I personally prefer to convert text to curves using a simple method below, but the Prepare for Service Bureau might be a useful tool for you to know about.
You can also place a Select All Text icon on your Property Bar. By simply clicking the icon, you could then convert all your text to curves. You can use the Edit menu, Select All, then Text command, but having the icon is easier than chasing it down the menu structure. Here's how to find the Select All Text in the Options dialog:
With nothing selected, open the Options using your double check box icon.
In the left pane select Commands under Workspace, Customization.
Under Commands, choose Edit from the drop down menu.
Approximately ¼ of the way down the list, you will find the Select All options (see below).
You can place these icons anywhere, but the most logical place is on the Property Bar with No Selection. I also like having the Select All Guidelines in addition to Select All Text, then you can make these selections with a single click. You may want to include the Select All Objects if you are not used to using the Ctrl+A keys for this command.
Here is a good habit to get into. When preparing a file for sharing, choose File from the Menu bar, then select Document Info. This will give you a report showing details about the file. It will tell you if you have bitmaps, text, outlines, and lots of other useful information. HINT: Right click any open area of your Workspace, and you can get the option for Document Info that way too.
I think I have given you more than enough to absorb in one sitting. We will continue looking at the wonderful ways that Wireframe can make our lives easier. As we move along, you will learn some strategies for setting up jobs in almost any kind of reproduction method.
In the meantime, have a little fun. Use this information to experiment with the different ways it can be applied.
If you would like another interesting project, compare the value of CorelDRAW to other programs. Throw an object or two up on the screen. It doesn't matter what, use anything. Now do a Save As, and see how many options there are. Do an Export, and see the nice long list of choices. Try an Import and notice all the formats it will read. If you have other design programs, do the same thing with them. You will see some important differences, some significantly shorter lists.
If you are exporting into ai, which is the most common format to use, you have the option of PC or Mac format (even Adobe Illustrator itself does not give you this option), plus you can choose specific version numbers. If you are using CorelDRAW 11, I highly recommend moving up to X3. There are many more choices for exporting to specific versions, and the export filters are significantly improved.
There may come a day when someone gives you a file and Corel will read it where the others won't. That has happened to me more than once. People sometimes give you files in weird formats. Picture your competitors, who only have the expensive stuff, trying unsuccessfully to read the file. It just might make you smile.
Next.. Beating Graphics Into Submission.
Steve Chittenden owns and operates Creative Business Services which provides web design, graphic design, writing, and marketing services. If you have a web site that could benefit from this CorelDRAW material, please feel free to link to these pages.