CorelDRAW is an easy program to use even for non-artists. Much of the fundamental way you use the program hasn’t really changed over time, so most of these tips should work in many versions of DRAW.
- The Best Shortcut Keys
- Selection Tips
- Copy Properties
- Organize Drawings
- Create Your Own Guides
- Faster Blends and Graduated Fills
The Best Shortcut Keys
CorelDRAW has a bunch of keyboard shortcuts you can use for everything from saving files to extruding objects. These are a few of the ones you will probably use most often.
- Ctrl+X, Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V = Cut, Copy and Paste respectively. These work in virtually every Windows program. If you learn these commands, you can avoid the Edit menu commands entirely.
- Ctrl+A = Access the align commands. Select the objects you want to align, press Ctrl+A and choose how you want them to be aligned in relation to each other or the page. (Note that if you align objects relative to each other, DRAW aligns them relative to the last object you selected.)
- Ctrl+R = Repeat the last command. This command is great. Suppose you fill an object yellow. Click another object and press Ctrl+R and it’s fill is changed to yellow too.
- Ctrl+D = Duplicate. Click an object, press Ctrl+D and voila a duplicate appears.
- Ctrl+T = Format text. Use this shortcut when you want to change text attributes (font, spacing etc.).
- Ctrl+Shift+T = Edit text. Many times editing the text in the dialog box is easier than editing it directly, especially if you’ve applied effects to it.
- Ctrl+J = Access application preferences. Often you want to change where duplicates are placed or some other aspect of how CorelDRAW works.
- Arrow keys = Nudges a selected object a specified distance (this value is one of the things you can change when you press Ctrl+J).
If you are using a tool and you want to switch to the Pick tool, press the spacebar. Or if you are within a string of text, press Ctrl+spacebar instead. To select an object within a group, hold down the Ctrl key as you click.
If you are having trouble selecting an object that’s near other objects, hold down the Alt key as you click. Or press the Tab key to cycle select through all the objects in the drawing in the order they were drawn. Sometimes it’s easier to see layered objects if you switch to wireframe view.
If you want to select multiple objects hold down the Shift key while you click. If you click again the object is deselected. Or click and drag to create a marquee selection box. Everything within the area is selected. You can use marquee selection in conjunction with the Shift key to select and deselect just the items you want.
This command lets you copy all the attributes such as line, fill, or text attributes of one object to another object or objects. To copy properties:
- Select one or more objects that you want to receive the attributes.
- Choose Edit, Copy Properties
- Choose the type of elements you want to apply, such as line, fill, or text attributes and click OK.
- The pointer changes to a fat arrow. Click on the object that is already set up with the attributes you want to copy. The objects you selected in step one magically change.
If you have a number of related drawings that all will be exported to a page layout program, sometimes it’s easier to place them all in one .CDR file instead of creating separate files. You can draw the drawings on the same or separate pages. Then when you export to .EPS or some other file format you tell CorelDRAW to export just the selected items.
For example, suppose you do a monthly newsletter that needs six simple drawings that you plan to import as .EPS files into Quark XPress. Draw your six drawings on a single CorelDRAW page. Type the .EPS export file name that you plan to use next to each one. Then click and drag a marquee around a drawing to select it (don’t include the file name). Then choose File, Export and be sure to click Selected Only. In the File name box type the export filename you added in the drawing.
If you have a lot of drawings, you can print out the pages from DRAW and store them in a folder or binder for reference. For even more organization, you may want to include the entire path name instead of just the filename in the drawing. When you print out the drawings from CorelDRAW, you can see the file or path name and the drawing at the same time, which makes them easier to find later. This trick is especially useful if you have a lot of similar, but slightly different drawings you need to keep organized.
Create Your Own Guides
CorelDRAW has horizontal and vertical guides you can drag down, but you can also create your own by drawing your own special shaped or curved lines on a non-printing or guides layer. Choose View, Object Manager or show the Layers roll up (depending on the version of DRAW you are using). Be sure you are drawing on the correct layer and draw your guidelines.
If you don’t want to use layers, you can do the same thing by using wireframe view. Draw a line and set the outline width to 0. In wireframe view, you will be able to see the line to help you align objects, but the line won’t print or be visible in Normal view.
Faster Blends and Graduated Fills
If you plan to create a complex drawing with a lot of blends and graduated fills, create them with a minimum amount of steps so the screen redraws more quickly and the program doesn’t bog down. For example, to create a smooth blend that will be printed from a high-resolution imagesetter, you may need to set the number of steps to 50 or 100. To retain your sanity, set the steps to a low number while you are working on the rest of the drawing. Before you send it out for final output, change the number of steps to the correct number.