Proper Artwork Creation in CorelDRAW

July 15, 2010

Some users have the process of producing a finished piece for sale to clients completely backwards. I hope that the story I’m about to tell doesn’t describe you.

A few weeks ago a user was having problems creating color separations for screen printing. This information is covered in my CorelDRAW X4 Unleashed book (also in the CorelDRAW X5 Unleashed book) and so the user purchased a copy of the book. Several days later, I got an e-mail. I’m guessing this user only read the single chapter in the book on separations and still wasn’t getting the desired results. Some might say the problem was that I didn’t do a good job of describing the separation process. In this case, the artwork was the problem.

I had the user send me a copy of the problem file. All elements in the file were specified using CMYK colors. As this user wanted separations for screen printing, they should have been using spot colors and I explained that to the user in an e-mail reply. I also mentioned that the shapes in this simple file were obviously auto-traced as there were hundreds of extra nodes that were severely degrading the quality and making the artwork complex.

It was obvious that the user really needed to start at the very beginning and learn the proper techniques for creating artwork in CorelDRAW. I suggested that the user start at the beginning of the book as it would teach the skills necessary.

After another week, I heard from the user again. Separations still weren’t working properly and the user was desperate because there were jobs that had to go out. Once again, I asked for a copy of the problem file. The user said it contained an auto-traced version of a logo and some text on a path. That isn’t what I saw in the file. There was a logo, but it was an RGB bitmap. No sign of anything being traced. The graphic in the logo is a very common graphic with numerous vector copies of high-quality available for download as well as some that have been supplied in Corel’s clip art collections though admittedly not in current versions. The text on a path was filled with CMYK colors. I again replied and suggested the user should be using Pantone spot colors.

The reply from the user shocked me. They had no clue what I was talking about when I mentioned Pantone spot colors. This is shocking because they are an integral part of the screen printing industry. Of course selecting and user the correct colors for a project is covered in the book. Again I suggested the user read the chapter covering that topic.

I’m not telling this story to embarrass anyone, especially the user who was asking these questions. The unfortunate reality is that some users get CorelDRAW and expect to be able to do anything necessary on the first day. In this case, the user was selling jobs to customers for artwork that they weren’t capable of creating right away. Learning CorelDRAW takes time. I pride myself on creating training products that help users learn CorelDRAW in the least amount of time and do my best to provide those products at a very affordable price.

If you do see yourself in this story, I encourage you to stop and take a breath. Go back and learn all of the proper techniques for creating and outputting artwork in CorelDRAW. Maybe the reason you think you are too busy to learn is because you are doing things in an inefficient (or wrong) manner. The user in my story was completely overwhelmed by jobs that a skilled CorelDRAW user could complete in just a few minutes. Yes, I’d like you to purchase my training products because I know the benefit they provide to users who use them. I also know there are other good training products on CorelDRAW and we make several of them available in the Graphics Unleashed Media Marketplace. There is also one popular training provider who teaches methods that are incredibly inefficient and incorrect. Caveat emptor!

Post Discussion


  1. Jeff Harrison

    Like many CorelDRAW users, I was for the most part self-taught.

    Like the person in your article, I had lots of design work coming in, but I wasn’t really sure what I was doing. I fumbled through the simplest things and learned the hard way…

    The difference is in the person’s aptitude, desire, and perhaps pressure to learn.

    I remember looking at Pagemaker and Quark at the time, as I had no opinion on any graphics software.

    When I toyed with CorelDRAW, it was far and away more intuitive and logical.

    Having your training in my early days would reduced my development by years…

    No matter what, if someone wants to be a CorelDRAW power user, it’s no different than any trade such as carpentry, being a pilot, a welder, a musician, or a baker. Any human can do it if they want to.

    Understanding color separations is not really a first-day topic. 😉

    However this person will have to decide whether computer graphics is really their groove, and understand that time and commitment is required to make their productions both come to life, and output properly in a technical sense.

  2. Paul

    I still have the disks for Corel Draw 1.1 so I have been using it for a very long time. When we started DeskTopPuplishing in the ’80s it was with a AB Dick system, then primarily Page Maker.
    All this to say that I use Corel almost exclusively now for the very reason that it is the best and most cost effective design program available.
    But even after all these years I am constantly learning new things about the program and my investment in CorelDraw Unleashed was one of the better investments I have made. The insight and techniques I am learnig from it are making me more efficient and helping me to create better art work. It takes time to learn, and learnig should never stop. Thanks to Foster for his books and emails and Jeff for his diversions they arw helping me to be a better desgner.

  3. Frank

    Back in the early days of graphic design I went to my potential vendors and asked to tour their facility. This opened the door for me to ask tons of questions from the pros. Once I developed a relationship, I was able to contact them with additional questions, to which they were more than helpful. Of course I dangled the carrot of business, which they did get. It was a win-win situation, and might be a good idea for designers trying to get started.

    Frank Olivio


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