I get asked a lot of the time which Graphics program I think is best: Coreldraw or illustrator?
I use Illustrator but I also really like Coreldraw. Why Illustrator? One word: MAC. I love OS X, but Coreldraw although a great program, is not killer enough for me to be forced to use windows, plus there are too many other great killer Mac programs you can't get on windows, so that's it for me. But Corledraw hasn't lost yet, it's a great program...
NOTE: This is by no means a definitive study. I have been using both programs for decades and this is just my gut feeling.
Summary: (I put this at the top for those, like me, who don't have time to read volumes to find answers)
Illustrator vs Coreldraw? It depends...
- If you use windows, are already good with design and are looking for the best tool, AND If you don't get distracted easily by the poor program design and ugly presets, Coreldraw is the better tool.
- If you're new to design and use windows, I recommend you use Illustrator. It's more of a professional program and will help you to learn to be a better designer. Coreldraw will distract you with easy effects which often make your beginners look bad. Honestly, I would also consider changing to Mac asap. Apple Macs are cheaper to own and the professional operating system that's well designed will also help you get more done and learn to appreciate good design.
- If you own a Mac, Illustrator is currently the only program which is up to date on this platform (coredraw support for Mac stopped at version 11). IMO Coreldraw is not good enough to get me away from the better operating system, but I live for the day it comes back to mac, until then I'm illustrator all the way and happy.
For a free and very good competitor, download Inkscape. It's not in the same league as Illustrator or Coreldraw, but hey, it's free.
Now for more detail on the Illustrator vs Coreldraw front:
Coreldraw The Good (or, what I LIKE about Coreldraw):
- Snap to objects. This works really well. Although there is an equivalent called "snap to point" in illustrator, it's not as exact and easy to use.
- Aligning objects to the last one selected. In illustrator when I align objects they all align together, i.e. They both move. This makes alignment much lest useful. On Coreldraw when you use align, the objects align to the last object selected allowing you to easily control positioning in your document. UPDATE: I found out that in illustrator, to align objects to a specific object, you just need to select all objects involved and then simply click again the one which is to be aligned too. I'll leave this in the list as it was far more intuitive on Coreldraw.
- Fast keys for aligning on Coreldraw. Being able to align to center by pressing the ´c´ key or to the top with the ´t´ key on Coreldraw is great. The best is pressing ´p´to align all object to the center of a page, these are real timesavers.
- Node editing on Coreldraw is far smarter, simpler and easier than in Illustrator. Actually the node editing in Coreldraw is some of the best I have ever seen. If you know of any program on a Mac that does node edit and bezier line drawing as good or better than Coreldraw, please make a comment, I'm still looking for the perfect one. Ink is also very good and a free program on all platforms, but it is not as good as CorelDraw. The only program I ever found with better node editing is called Gerber Omega and is used for Signmaking (and rather expensive, but great value for what it is).
- Text kerning is far easier in Coreldraw, you can simply adjust it via the mouse with one of the pointers tools, it's really easy. In Illustrator you have to manually change value in a box, not very interactive.
- Rounding corner of retangles with the pointer in Coreldraw. Draw a square or rectangle in Coreldraw and just drag the corner with node edit tool to create rounded corners the size you want, that's the way to do it, Illustrator take note!
- Snap to objects. Move and object close to another an it will snap to that object (you can toggle this). It's a brillian featur and I struggle to live without it on Illustrator.
CorelDraw, The bad (or what I DON'T LIKE about Coreldraw):
- Coreldraw is full of ugly, horrible, disgusting effects and presets which instantly turn any design into rubbish. The problem is that corel users with no design talent use these features and (unintentionally) ruin their designs. It simply doesn't promote good design. Luckily, if you are a good designer you can simply choose to not use them. The problem is people buy cheap PC's with no money, pirate Coreldraw and then give them self the title "designer". They look at the effects and think, "oh, that looks cool" and because they (and their cheap clients) have no experience nor taste, it gets printed. Every good designer, Mac or PC, Illustrator or Coreldraw can recognise the look straight away. We can look at some designs and say "oh look that was done in Corledraw. It's that obvious.
- The CorelDraw program (app) looks hideous, it always has. The icons, splash screen, tools, toolbars are all diabolical it desperately needs a makeover by a good Mac designer, but then, I expect company probably has a Microsoft culture so that's not ever going to happen.
Illustrator, The good (or, what I LOVE about Illustrator):
- It's (reasonably) well organised. Although I like the program less, it's seams less cluttered than Coreldraw. This also relates to point 2:
- It shares common shortcuts with other programs on most popular platforms and also as those on the Mac (most of these shortcuts originated on the Mac).
- The ability of Illustrator to make adjustments to a group of colours is great. Select a yellow, blue and green object and drag the black colour slider and black will be added to all the colours. If you select a group of colours in Coreldraw and then make a change, all objects will just change to the new colour.
Illustrator, the bad (or, what I DON'T LIKE about illustrator).
- It doesn't line things up very well and the onscreen edges of lines are very accurate. I have lots of problems lining up Illustrator objects exactly where I want them mostly because of the way it renders lines onscreen, but also because snaps dont tend to be perfect. I often snap a couple of objects together and then zoom in to find they aren't quit perfect.
- Inability to create multipage documents.
In general I like Coreldraw better for the way it works, but it's an ugly program full of horrible effects and laks the polish one would expect from a page design program. Coreldraw (versions above 11) don't run on Apple Mac. Illustrator on the other hand is professional but somewhat surprisingly not as easy use as Coreldraw.
If I could, I would take Coreldraw, strip out stupid text effects, textures, preset and warps, repackage it in a cleaner smart interface and make it for Mac. Until then, I'm happy using Illustrator and I pine for Coreldraw less and less every day.