I started digital design with Corel 5. Although a more advanced version was available at the time (Corel 8), but I just could not install it on a pentium 1 computer with 64mb RAM.
Corel 8 slows down the system and makes it practically impossible to complete a simple task. So I had to make do with an older version. It was fun. I remember the tool box; it consists about eight tools which I used to the best of my knowledge. As unattractive as its UI looked, it was a far better alternative to MS-Paint.
While using Corel Draw, I was also obsessed with Adobe PageMaker 7. I used it for virtually everything. I loved the grid system and how it helps organise a design. I would design greeting cards, three-fold flyers, catalogs etc. with it. I never imagined there would be a better version some day.
But after a while, Adobe Systems, the software company that owned Pagemaker 7 introduced InDesign as its replacement. InDesign has more sophisticated tools that make pagination a bliss. I began to lose interest in Corel Draw. Though I’ve always been a late adopter, but with InDesign and its many functions, I knew it was time to move on to something new and more exciting.
No, Corel Draw was not all obsolete; in fact, Corel Incorporation has made significant progress in updating their products to compete favourably with that of arch rival, Adobe. However, Adobe managed to keep the top spot for a long time due to its incomparable innovative drive.
And here’s what makes Adobe dope:
Aside many notable acquisitions of software companies like Macromedia, Frame Technology, Aldus, to the most recent purchase of Behance, a portfolio platform for creative professionals, Adobe strive to provide designers with tools that make design better and faster.
Adobe strength lies in trying to be everything a designer wants. And that’s probably the reason for most of their acquisitions.
For example, the strategic relationship with Maxon (the company that develops C4D) enables better work flow and compatibility between Cinema 4D and Adobe After Effect. It also helps with better execution of 3D menu in Photoshop and Illustraor. All this provides Adobe with the much needed edge to become industry leader.
With every new version, Adobe solves chronic design problems; thereby eliminating many designers’ nightmares. They predict designers future behaviours and work towards developing potent tools capable of influencing design style.
Adobe, through platforms like Behance also control design trends and popularize them. This platform helps set their products as the required industry standard for design.
Between Corel and Adobe
I had fun with Corel Draw. But the moment I discovered the inexhaustible potential of Adobe packages, I migrated almost immediately.
One of the reasons I wasted so much time using Corel was because of Nigeria’s printing scene. Besides that, Adobe remains my first choice.
Before now, printers would reject any design without CDR file format. Every file that goes to the press must have that extension. Corel dominated the Nigerian print scene. At some point it looked like pre-press machines were designed to recognize only Corel apps.
It was really frustrating for upcoming designers. At the time, Corel and Adobe were not compatible. The relationship between both companies was cold; hence, it was difficult to improve as a designer.
As an early user of Adobe Illustrator, I would complete a design, save it as SVG and then import into Corel for press purpose. I had no other choice.
I know a couple of designers who designed project meant for the press in Photoshop. And these designers often wondered why clients complain about poor quality output. The reason is not always far-fetched: Nigeria printers would not separate designs in bitmap application like photoshop, and this gives Corel undue advantage as a vector application widely used in Nigeria.
Thankfully, all that is in the past now. The relationship between Corel and Adobe has improved tremendously. You can even create an Adobe file while working with the most recent versions of Corel. EPS files now open in Corel Draw without glitches.
Today, with so many digital print machines, Corel Draw is predominantly the acceptable application in Nigeria for pre-press. However, Adobe packages deliver better results. It has nothing to do with the user. Adobe is more user friendly. And with Adobe kuler, designers can conveniently create, mix and save colours for projects without having to place a colour wheel by the side.
The introduction of Lightroom is another mind-blowing development which helps designers achieve fantastic results with raw images.
Choosing the right software
Although top designers play down the importance of softwares in creating awesome stuff. It’s always been about the idea. But as much as we focus on ideas, softwares play a significant role in refining ideas visually and also help with proper execution.
Of course a lot goes into design prior to the opening of design packages, however, one must never undermine the huge impact of softwares as enabler of ideas in today’s world. Except you are a traditional artist, make design softwares your companion.
The best selection of software depends on your area of focus — where you specialize as a designer.
I specialize in typography and identity creation. Therefore, my go-to app is Adobe Illustrator. However, most of my projects get final treatments in Photoshop. I edit images in Lightroom and design magazines using InDesign.
There are days one needs to do a thing or two with 3D softwares like C4D. But the most important app for me is Adobe Illustrator.
In conclusion, choosing the best software for you depends on your area of focus. And if you’re 3D/motion graphics artist, you may have to decide among C4D, Maya, 3Dmax and After Effect.