Interest in third party tools for CorelDRAW?

[This is being posted to Mac, Windows and app forums as it relates to both - apologies for the duplication]


When Corel announced that CorelDRAW was returning to macOS, I was personally super-excited to see this for several key reasons (which I wrote about in this article: CorelDRAW is gracing macOS again - and why this is important).

This is not an advert, but I feel it's an important brief background. Astute Graphics is known in the Adobe Illustrator world, since 2006, as developers of plugins for professional users. Many of the world's largest brands rely on us as well as many, many freelance designers and everyone inbetween. We serve varied sectors including branding, architecture, fashion, sign making, gaming and more.

The tools we currently produce for Adobe Illustrator allow users to gain very high-level control of Bezier profile (drawing and editing), positioning, effects, stroke variable widths and more.

Some of this functionality will already be in CorelDRAW. But what core drawing and editing functionality are Corel customers seeking that they feel would be suitable via a 3rd party option. And yes, I acknowledge everything should be there natively in the single purchased core product, but reality doesn't always allow this.

Finally, in Astui, we now also have the building blocks that allow us to produce much more advanced tools and functions. These include Boolean (add, subtract, divide vector shapes), Offset Paths, Variable Stroke Widths and many more. Even though well-developed technologies such as Boolean and Offset are within Corel - hence it being the key competitor to Illustrator - it's essential to have full access to these underlying technologies in order to build exciting tools such as Long Shadow, Path Reshape and more.

Excitingly, Astui can be deployed as a web API allowing online tools such as to benefit. Equally, having this toolbox allows Astute Graphics to build new tools quicker and based on 7+ years of technical development.

So - are extensions applicable to a wide range of users welcome to Corel users as they are in Adobe's world?

I'd love to understand what you think,


  • Oooh, where to start.

    No, plugins aren't that ubiquitous. There are some that do very highly specialised things, but not expanding the core functionality of Draw like what Astute does for Illy . There are quite a few plugins that would be very useful for my work, the mirroring and symmetry tools for example.

    Vector Trace.

    Vector graphics are so unnatural for an artist (not claiming I am one) because you draw with lines, not closed shapes, you create the closed shapes manually by various means. All my design work starts as lineart, which then has to be converted to filled objects in order to colour in the enclosed regions. I have this workflow , which is very efficient speed and accuracy wise, which requires me to export to high res mono bitmap and outline trace in Corel Trace (v12 as it happens, its very efficient and accurate, PowerTrace is less so so gets ignored by me).

    Corel has the tools to manually convert vector lines of varying widths into enclosed shapes by virtue of the various welding alogrithms, but it becomes very difficult to achieve quickly because some things (like blends, master/clones, symbols, symmettries etc etc) have to be broken down into base objects before the Convert Outline To Object > Weld > Break Apart can function. A one click solution would be great (with the proviso that it operates on a copy of the original objects, ideally to a new layer)

    I can remember  a very long discussion, possibly 20 years ago, on the public forum about vector tracing and the late great K.N Pepper coined an acronym, CCCFER (create closed curves from enclosed regions). it fell on deaf ears at Corel but I do believe Adobe implemented something similar and possibly more basic. The idea at the time was that a 'supertool' would allow for enclosed regions to be live and have fill properties, and would dynamically update as the bounding curves were edited.

    Bitmap Fills, Textures

    Corel wrecked this a few versions back. We used to be ably to use any bitmap as a fill and have it instantly available if we first converted it to a PhotoPaint file  and then stuck it in the correct folder within the Draw installation. Instant access to 2-300 bitmap fills that I used to use regularly. Now you have to manually create a special format .fill , one at a time. Not going to happen, too tedious.

    Tom Knight (Advanced Artist on here) makes a cool plugin that allows for easy application of bitmap fills and textures to objects. Problem is its the bitmaps he supplies rather than the users own. A plugin that could  all a user to use and apply any bitmap as a fill or as a bump map texture would be cool.

  • Thanks for your feedback!

    Vector trace

    Converting image-based artwork to vector is an age-old issue. Whereas AG as tracing tech, as Corel and Illustrator have these natively, there's no need to reinvent that wheel. Where 3rd party tools can come in handy is speeding up the manual tracing or auto-traced results refinement process.

    For example, a Smart Point Removal brush is highly effective along with the ability to extend, retract and quickly trim/join intersecting lines. These are all very slick tools we offer.

    Howevr, I think you request something that's native in Illustrator - a Shape Builder-like tool. This is effectively live boolean operations working on a selection of vectors (open and closed paths). We do have the tech to produce a tool of this type, but also improved on the deficiencies I personally see in the Adobe implementation, but wouldn't be worth creating a patch for in Illustrator as it's not a massive step forward on its own.

    Bitmap fills and textures

    It's another area we have great experience of with a plugin called Texturino. We cater natively for PNGs and embedded images. But much more importantly, I feel, is the tool's ability to apply and manipulate textures so easily, including Wacom / stylus-based inputs allowing feathering and even the brushing of live opacity to any object.

    Perhaps take a look at our YouTube videos on Texturino to see it in action...
    Astute Graphics Texturino plugin YouTube playlist

    I am really trying to not publicise commercial tools for the sake of advertising (they are for Illustrator at present, so not relevant in that respect). However, references to existing Astute Graphics solutions can hopefully demonstrate a method to solve a workflow bottleneck.

    Hopefully it's a bit like being in a sweetshop with a whole world of options that can be investigated.

    Obviously, there's currently no research undertaken at this stage as to whether these can be transplanted in a similar fashion in CorelDRAW. It's very likely difference will be required, some perhaps more restrictive, but hopefully improvemets too!

  • Thanks ... please can you provide more info and perhaps a link? It's not something I'm familiar with.

Reply Children
  • That's really useful info, - appreciated!

    Live Effects in Adobe Illustrator are a long-standing feature and really powerful. I personally feel that tools should be as dynamic (non-destructive) as possible allowing a designer to make adjustments at a later stage.

    As this is relatively new in CD, it's understandable that it won't yet be at its full potential. That's the sort of area we'd be very interested in working on.

    Our first plugin for Illustrator back in 2006 (and many updates since) is Phantasm which allows for live or absolute (ie. destructive) color adjustments such as Hue/Sat, Curves, Levels, etc., plus vector Halftones. This is a perfect example of where live or non-destructive comes into its own; tweaking colors to suit at any stage gives huge workflow advantages.

    Visual effects generally benefit for live atributes. "Playing" with artwork leads to much greater creativity.

    Bitmap based effects are fun, but I would suggest that true vector live adjustments play to CD's core strengths.

    But I'm still speaking theoretically. You will all have vastly more experience of CD in action, hence why I really appreciate all comments and thoughts. Please keep them flowing!