Photography, Reviews

Review: CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 2019 for Mac

On the Mac, the CorelDRAW Graphics Suite is a newcomer, but the application suite has been around for many years on the Windows platform. The Mac version is a successful port in terms of feature set, but it probably won’t dethrone Adobe apps, nor kill the Affinity Photo and Designer apps. Corel has waited a bit too long and hasn’t fit out the Corel apps with a streamlined enough interface for that to happen, in my opinion.

CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 2019 combines three apps: CorelDRAW, Corel Photo-Paint and Font Manager. The CorelDRAW Suite can be licensed in two ways: subscription-based or perpetual. There’s also a licensing option for large organisations.

Font Manager is a nice font manager, but it’s up against some hefty competition. It is better than macOS’s FontBook but suffers from interface problems like some font information fields overlapping others. It’s no match for Suitcase Fusion.

Corel Photo-Paint has a somewhat outdated interface but comes with features that you won’t find anywhere else. Good examples are the symmetry and spiral tools. The app has a very decent RAW converter and is an image editor with some limitations and some — for Mac users — odd ways of doing things.

For example, if you want to crop and rotate simultaneously, you can’t just use the mouse or a modifier key to switch between cropping and rotating. It’s also only an outline that changes; the image itself only changes after you click the “Crop” button.

In addition, some icons in the sidebar refer to the wrong tool. I tried to adjust colour and tone in specific areas and ended up smearing the image.

CorelDRAW is three apps rolled into one. It’s a vector drawing app, a layout app and a photo tracing app (PowerTRACE).

I started by trying its PowerTRACE feature. That lets you trace bitmap images and convert them to vector art. PowerTRACE did a fine job, but the interface – all of the Suite, to be honest – doesn’t feel like it’s living in the macOS Mojave era. It’s clearly a port from Windows and in some areas, it’s quite clumsy – often, you need to make an extra trip to an icon where you could be using a modifier key to switch between effects.

PowerTRACE art can be ungrouped but the app deleted the traced image whenever I tried to select one of the ungrouped vector areas. Just as with several other features, PowerTRACE was sluggish at picking up mouse movements. This sluggishness was even worse in layout mode where it took a second or three before the text box outline would follow my mouse. The spellchecker and “Grammatik” needed several seconds before they realised there wasn’t any text in the box to check at all.

By the way, all of these things were done on a three-month-old iMac 5K with 40GB of RAM and 4GB of VRAM. I did notice CorelDRAW uses all four cores, but it doesn’t seem to make the most of the GPU in that machine.

CorelDRAW 2019 does have a number of features that you will not find in other vector art applications. The thing is that they are implemented in ways that don’t make good use of the macOS’s interface options, built-in support for gestures, shortcuts, etc.

The app is also trying to be too many things to too many users. For example, you can use CorelDRAW as a diagram app, but it can’t compete with dedicated apps like MindManager for Mac.

It has technical drawing functionality with virtual callipers, it has curve smoothing for spontaneous drawing (which is actually good), but it also has “imposition” features for printing layouts which fall short when compared to InDesign or QuarkXpress.

Finally, the apps in the Suite are buggy and have a tendency to crash or hang.