This archived article is most ideal if you are using CorelDRAW 9 or 10. Version 8 should still be similar enough to make the information useful, but version 9 had significant advancements. If you are using CorelDRAW 11, 12, X3, or higher, my updated version of this article will be much better for you.
Now that we have reached this point in this series of articles, it is time for some real, down to Earth exercises to illustrate the principles we have discussed so far. This will be a nuts and bolts article to build a file that is not prone to problems.
We begin with a real-life type of situation. I will take you step-by-step through a process to convert an average piece of clip art into a usable file. In my last article, I introduced you to some "friends" and promised we would be learning to use file sharing friendly commands. These commands play a key role in setting up any type of graphics file.
Our exercise will assume that we are making a graphic for a sign. The benefit to setting up a sign graphic is that it is easily converted to any other use. This means it is the best way to set up a file. Keep in mind that I am referring to conventional sign making that uses vinyl cutting equipment. When digital sign making is implemented, the rules are different.
The clip art below is all too typical of what you usually have to work with. I suppose the benefit is that you are still earning your pay when you use clip art. As is, this artwork is mostly only useful for one thing... Printing on paper. If you want to do much else with it, you will need to modify it. Wireframe view reveals the real picture, see below.
These are both the same graphic, but anyone who has worked with sign cutting equipment will immediately identify with the problem. As for file sharing, even if this graphic was being shared to print on restaurant menus, there is still a risk of problems. Does it look good on the screen in Normal view? Yes, but looks are deceiving, and Wireframe reveals the chaos.
Even though I did not create this graphic, I can tell it was done using the easiest, quickest methods. The time saved in creating it pales in comparison with the grief you might experience in trying to share it for production use.
If you adopt the principles I am laying out here, you will invest little extra time creating a graphics file. When you need to modify or share the file, that initial time investment will pay dividends back to you. CorelDRAW provides some powerful tools for doing it right with minimal time, so let's start fixing the file above.
This coffee bean graphic is on the CorelDRAW 8 clip art disk under Food\Fruit, and might even be on earlier versions of CorelDRAW. If you are using version 9 or higher, download the graphic here.
As a general rule, not only in sign graphics, but in most graphic reproductions, the lightest colors go down first. That would mean that the starburst background should be the first layer. Another consideration is to determine what is in the foreground (the top most object) and then what is sequentially under each object. Think in layers as if you are in a plane looking down on the object.
Here is the starting point; with the coffee bean selected, Duplicate the graphic (Ctrl+D, or the Edit menu, then Duplicate), then Ungroup it after moving the duplicate away from the original (there should be an Ungroup command on your Property Bar). The duplicate is a safety net, and should be a standard practice. Now no matter what changes are made, the duplicate is always available to revert back to.
This tutorial will work best if you set up your tool bars with the "friends" I suggested in the previous article. We will be using some Arrange commands to optimize this graphic. If you do not have our "friends" added to your Property Bar, you can use the Arrange menu where all of the commands are also available.
We could do this with "tight registration" between the colors which is easier, but I would rather cover some quick methods of creating a "bleed" or overlap of colors. Since this hypothetical job is a sign graphic, it has more bleed than printing would. Understanding these procedures will empower you with better graphic design skills.
Select the outside edge of one of the coffee beans, and then create a contour "inside" using the Contour icon and methods covered in the last article. The offset amount depends on the size you are creating the graphic (if you downloaded from above, a 5 px offset will be good). Getting the principles is all we are really concerned about right now. In Wireframe view, you will now see a line inside the original outline.
With the Contour Group still selected, click the Separate icon on the Property Bar or Arrange from the menu, then Separate.
Click off the objects to deselect them. It is best if you are in Wireframe view for this part. Select the inside line from the contour you just created. You can tell it is selected because it will show all the Nodes like a dot to dot drawing. Hold down the Shift key and click on the starburst background, now both objects are selected. NOTE: When using Wireframe view in version 9, you need to click directly on the outlines to select an object. The order you select these objects in is also important! It's a good idea to check your Status Bar to verify that both objects are selected.
With both objects selected, click the Trim icon on the Property Bar, or Arrange from the menu, then Shaping, then Trim. Your objects will now look like the image below because the starburst background was trimmed to the inside line of the coffee bean./p>
I have shown both Wireframe and Normal view here, you may want to alternate between Normal and Wireframe to see the effect. Don't worry about the color of the inside contour; as you can see, mine is white. The idea here is that if you lay the coffee bean (the outer outline) on top of the starburst, they will slightly overlap.
Now repeat steps 1-4 above on the other coffee bean.
After trimming the other bean, select just the inside contour of one of the beans and hit the Delete key. Select the other inside contour and Delete that also. Your images should now look like the examples below.
Note that the beans now overlap the starburst, however, the overlap is on top of the beans. You want this the other way around.
Next, Select the starburst (Normal view is good). Right click, choose Order, then To Back. If you have a To Back command on your tool bars, that works too.
Although this graphic is now greatly improved, it still needs some fixing. Note in Wireframe view how the outlines of the coffee beans cut into each other where the beans overlap. You don't want that, do you?
Select the outline of both beans. The order you select them in does not matter, but remember to use the Shift key when selecting more than one object. Make sure you are in Wireframe view so you can see what happens next.
With both beans selected, click the Weld icon on the Property Bar, or Arrange from the menu, then Shaping, then Weld. The lines in the overlap of the two beans are now gone.
If you go into Normal view, you will discover a surprise. The beans have no detail inside! Go back into Wireframe so you can see the details inside the beans. Click and drag across all the inside detail of the beans. NOTE: Be careful not to select the beans themselves. Stop dragging before your selection marquee has the beans surrounded. Corel will only select objects completely enclosed in the marquee using this selection method. When you welded the beans, they became a single object.
With the details inside the beans selected (your Status Bar should tell you 8 objects are selected), choose To Front from your Standard tool bar, or right click, then Order, then To Front. Now when you see it in Normal view everything is fixed. It also looks much better in Wireframe and sharing a graphic created this way will be less prone to problems.
If you read the article on Expert Design Strategies, you will see the connection to the hidden details inside the coffee beans like we got in Step 11. For a printing job, I would "knock out" holes for the details inside the beans. Here is how to do that. With the inside details of the beans selected, Duplicate them, then Weld the duplicates just like Step 10 above. Next, use the Shift key to add the beans to your selection (this order of selection does matter). Now the Combine command will punch "holes" in the beans revealing your duplicated details. These details cannot be as easily hidden in a file share this way.
If you want to create a bleed for the details in the beans, which is recommended for a screen printed T-shirt, you can use the contouring techniques you just learned. Darker colors will cover lighter colors in screen printing. For the hypothetical sign job we just did, we were done in Step #12 above because the detail colors would just be applied over the beans. For most printing, you can skip the bleed, the colors will butt up against each other, or, some reproduction methods may require no contact, in which case you would use contouring to create a gap between colors.
Whatever the requirements, now you know how to create good files that share easily. You understand some important principles. This knowledge will help you analyze your designs better, plus it will equip you to troubleshoot problem graphics when someone dumps them on you.
Since you are so creative, I only need to lay out some principles here. I think you will explore the program further and learn even more on your own. The next article will build more on this material. I promised some information on Node Editing. Now you are ready for it.
Here are a few more time saving tips:
Get to know these keyboard functions, they are your friends too.
In the last article, we put the Break Apart icon on your Property Bar, but we haven't talked about its use yet. Break Apart is the opposite of Combine and some of the power will be revealed when you understand Node Editing in the next article. In addition to Node Editing, this command is also useful for working with text. When you select text and choose Break Apart, all words are separated. Break Apart again, and all letters in the words are separated.
When you use the Spacebar with any tool except the Text tool, you will revert to the Selection tool. Hit the Spacebar with the Selection tool active, and it will revert to the tool last used. This could be mixed blessing for those who use Adobe and Macromedia where the space bar selects the hand tool for panning the screen; and I admit I do like that in their products, but the Corel method has some real advantages too.
There is a way to toggle out of Text mode even though I am not aware of any tool tip to tell you how. If you are like me and like keyboard shortcuts, this will save time. The Ctrl+Spacebar will take you out of Text mode and back to the Selection tool.
If you frequently use tools on any of the Toolbox flyouts, and you would like to not always have to open the flyouts first, grab any flyout and drag it to an open location. If you notice in my screen shots, on the left side I have two rows of tools. That is how I did it.
Have you ever zoomed into an area and wished you could easily zoom back out to the previous view? In other programs you have to save the view first, and then you have to choose that view from the Window menu. In Corel, just click the Zoom Out icon or the F3 key.
You can customize like I did so the Zoom options are always showing. Right click anywhere on the toolbars. Choose the Zoom tools from the list. Now you can drag the toolbar to the location you would like it in. To add or remove icons, open the Options, and with Workspace, Customize, Toolbars activated, you can drag tools off or add new ones. When you click OK, the changes take effect.
In this tutorial, we used a quick method of trimming and welding objects which will serve you well most of the time. To experience even more power and flexibility, open the Shaping docker by clicking on Window from the Menu bar, then choose Dockers, then Shaping, then Trim. Create 3 or more simple objects, overlap them, and try the different options in the Docker window to discover how this tool works. Try the other Shaping tools as well by clicking the icon buttons at the top of the Docker.
Until the next article, keep exploring the possibilities of what we have covered so far.
Next.. So Simple Its Dangerous.
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 9 material, please feel free to link to these pages.