Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Smackdown: Illustrator vs. CorelDraw [Round 2]

We’ve started the fight with a little graphic of the word “Hero.” Round 2 will pit the two draw programs against an extrude attack using that same graphic. Which will fare better? Let’s find out...


In CorelDraw, choose the Extrude Tool. When you do this, an Extrude tool bar appears at the top of your screen.

These are all the shortcuts you’ll need to render any extrusion the way you see fit. After selecting the Extrude Tool, click [C] on the the object and drag in whatever direction you want the extrusion to go. You’ll see a wireframe box mimicking the extrusion as you drag, so you can get an idea of what it will look like. Along with this box is a line. This line shows the direction [A] the extrusion is currently going in. You can alter this on-screen anytime -- even after deselecting it or moving it. Moving the slider [B] along the line changes the depth of the extrusion. Again, all on-screen and all very wysiwyg. Let up on the mouse and the extrusion will draw.
Extrusions will always default to the fill of the object or text that your extruding, so in this case, it mimics the blue-to-black gradient. But I don’t like how the “O” disappears in the blackness of the extrusion, so I’m going to change it. I simply go up to the top Extrude tool bar, select the Color icon and change the colors of the gradient in the drop-down menu. For my purposes here, I’m going to simply swap the the blue and black so the gradient reverses itself.
There. Much easier to read.

Now, to finish it up, I add a nice thick comic-book outline to the whole thing and I’m done.

In Illustrator, I go to the Effects menu and select 3D. The Extrude & Bevel palette appears. This is where the alterations occur. I put a check in the “Preview” box so I can see how my changes in the palette are reflected in the actual graphic.

The extrude depth is changed here on this palette (again with the numbers!) as well as the position. For the position, you have either the option to plug in numbers, or click and drag the 3D box that appears on the palette. It’s simple, but by no means exacting. If you want a specific angle to match something else on the drawing, you’ll find it very difficult without a lot of practice. You can also change what Illustrator calls “perspective”. CorelDraw calls this “vanishing points,” but it’s essentially the same thing. It allows you to give an angled perspective look to the extrusion. However, I couldn’t get Illustrator to make it work right. For some reason, the extrusion went all wonky on me. (Again, I’m not faulting Illustrator for this -- I may well have done something wrong.)
Also, Illustrator doesn’t allow for gradients within the extrusion, so you’re stuck with a straight color. If you’re desperate for a gradient you’ll have to add several steps that include selecting “Expand Appearance” (whatever that means) from the Object menu, ungrouping a minimum of four to five times, selecting all of the extrude paths that you want to have gradient in, welding them by sides, filling them with a gradient, then regrouping them with the object. (Whew! that’s a lot of work. And time.)

But back to our drawing. Once everything looks the way you want it, click OK. It’s officially set in stone. You can’t go back and continue to edit this. Unlike CorelDraw where the extruded object can be re-edited, the Illustrator object is unchangeable. When you attempt to go back into the 3D editing tools, Illustrator warns you that you’re adding another layer of extrusion to an already extruded object.

After I OK the extrusion, I add my outline and I’m done. Not much like the graphic that was done in CorelDraw. And it took a lot more work.
And also, I noticed some weirdness in the graphic after extruding it. Some odd artifacts in the letters that I couldn’t get rid of. Clearly a bug of some sort.
Oh, excuse me -- my phones ringing. I better take this. It’s the client. Hello? ... Uh huh ... Okay ... Sure, no problem.

Damn. Apparently I misunderstood -- the graphic wasn’t supposed to be HERO, it was supposed to be HIRO. Well, I guess the Illustrator graphic is a bust. I’ll have to start that one over since very little of it is still editable. But not the CorelDraw one. Everything is still live and active.
All I do is select the Text Tool, click on the text and retype it via the pop-up window -- and it’s done. Client happy. Me happy.
Next up: Illustrator vs. CorelDraw -- Interactive Transparencies!


Anonymous said...

You are so right about corel drow, alot of people preffer illustraron and subestimate corel draw, BIG MiSTAKE! Corel Draw Kick Illustraror butt anyday, the only thing about illustrator is the integration with Adobe products, and now with ex macromedia "flash"

Anonymous said...

In my opinion the ability to draw PATHS and controlling beziers is CRITICAL in being a vector artist. I have been using CorlDraw for years and it allows me to draw intricate designs FAST and with ease. For Illustrator, I have to keep toggling between the "Direct Selection Tool" and "Convert Anchor Point Tool". Its an artist NIGHTMARE! For people who swears by Illustrator, you dont know what you are missing and CorelDraw doesnt need the layer box to get the job done. BUt ironically, most employers demands Illustrator and now I have to figure out a way to work with a retarded program.

Jeff Harrison said...

While Illustrator has some nice features, overall it's depressingly difficult to use relative to the speed and intuitive nature of CorelDRAW. The bottom line:
no matter how "good" someone becomes with Illustrator, they'll never be faster than a skilled CorelDRAW user.

It has nothing to do with the artists; The basic functionality shown in your series here extends through the rest of the features.
It's faster because of the fundamental nature of the software. So, Illus. will become as fast and powerful as CorelDRAW only when it copies more or all of CorelDRAW's UI methods. I honestly feel sorry for artists who think Illustrator is the leader in this genre. It's not a crime for them to be misinformed - but it IS unfortunate.

Over the course of their careers, they could get at least TWICE as much billable artwork done using CorelDRAW instead. That means hundreds of thousands of dollars
in revenue.

When you add VBA macros to the mix, CorelDRAW rocks even more. Some
examples: This one has a feature that converts bitmap gradients to vector gradients! exporting
multi-page files to single ones or to bitmaps.

Note that Corel has 3 new versions of CorelDRAW with new features since Version 11 shown in the shootout here.

robotix said...

Anonymous #2 -
Choose path tool (looks like a pen nib)
Holding Command (or Ctrl on PC) will switch back to the last selection tool you had.
Holding Alt will switch to Convert Anchor Point tool.

Easy enough for you? It's very fast.

To the author of the article: In Illustrator, any object that has a 3D filter applied remains editable, contrary to what you state. It's only when you expand text to paths that it loses it's editability. No need to do that.

NB I have not used CorelDraw.

Mari said...

Corel is admittedly more intuitive but I'm sure you will agree that the 3D possibilities of Illustrator are way, way greater. Same goes for many other options, like gradients and transparency. So if you need a job done fast, pick Corel but if you need it done precisely, you need to bear Illustrator's unfriendliness.

Jeff Harrison said...

Hi Mari,

One of the things Illus. can do is warp bitmaps to the envelope of an existing shape, that's cool.

Also some 3d stuff like revolving is more advanced. and mapping art also.

If you look at CS4, they copied some stuff From Draw like interactive transparencies and Gradients. Corel had a clear edge in this area until now. Draw's still seem more intuitive, but for Illus it's a major improvement.

As far as precision, CorelDRAW is very precise and is often used to drive CNC equipment.

CS4's multipage feature is odd. It seems all pages are always visible on the screen all the time, which I'd find distracting. CorelDRAW can have thousands of pages, and each is separate (facing pages possible also) so you can focus more on what you're doing.

There are useless things is Draw, like the Smart Drawing tool. It's fun for 5 minutes, then you never open it again.

Live Text in CorelDRAW X4 - not my favorite, and you can't turn it off. It slows me down to Illustrator speed. :-P

ajir said...

thats poor guys,..
i think you're take many time to talk about which aplication better to use! thats not important! coz, design is doing with dont care any software you use to finish it..the important that the job is done perfectly!

Anonymous said...

Eh, you obviously didn't see SLIDER that sits underneath the number input box in the 3D extrude and bevel dialog? This is only one of a large number of errors in your post; I think it would've been better for you to actually learn a little bit more about the program before attempting to face these two applications off against each other - this blog post is basically just a showcase of your own limitations in using the software.