If you are working in the graphic design industry, I guess you’re pretty familiar with CorelDRAW and Adobe Illustrator, the two most popular design software. Both programs are good for creating drawings and vector graphics.
But what’s the difference? Which one is better? These are the questions that many designers (just like you and I) have when the free trial ends.
I’ve been using Adobe Illustrator for nine years now, and this year I decided to give CorelDRAW a try because finally, the Mac version is available again! So, I tested it for a couple of months and you can read my full CorelDraw review for more details.
In this article, I’ll share with you some of my thoughts about CorelDRAW and Adobe Illustrator.
If you are a Mac user just like me, I assume you’re already pretty familiar with what Adobe Illustrator is, right? In short, is design software for creating vector graphics, drawings, posters, logos, custom fonts, presentations, and other artworks. This vector-based program is made for graphic designers.
CorelDRAW, on the other hand, is a suite of design and image editing software that designers use to create online or digital ads, illustrations, design products, architectural layouts, etc.
Read on to find out which one wins where.
Table of Contents
Quick Comparison Table
Here’s a quick comparison table that shows the basic information about both software.
|Perspective drawing, graphic design, packaging design, product design, and industrial design
|Branding design, vector logo, digital illustrations, digital and print marketing materials
|Windows, macOS Sierra (10.12) or later, and Linux
|Windows, Mac, and iPad
|15 days free trial
CorelDRAW Graphics Suite: $16.58/month or $399 one-time purchase
CorelDRAW Standard: $299 one-time purchase
|Live Chat, Phone, Help Center/Adobe Communities
|Clean and simple
|More tools handy to use
|Email, Live Chat, Phone, and Help center
|Live Chat, Phone, Help center/Adobe Communities
CorelDRAW vs Adobe Illustrator: Detailed Comparison
In the comparison review below, you will see the differences and similarities in features, compatibility, pricing, user interface, learning curve, and support between Adobe Illustrator and CorelDRAW.
Note: CorelDRAW has several different versions. In this review, I’m referring to the CorelDRAW Standard version.
Adobe Illustrator is widely used by graphic design professionals. CorelDRAW is also a popular design program that many designers use for print design, drawings, and even industrial design.
Both software allow you to create freehand drawings and vector graphics using their powerful tools. In CorelDRAW, the Live Sketch Tool with the help of a drawing tablet creates a realistic freehand drawing that almost looks like drawing by hand with pen and paper.
In Adobe Illustrator, using the combination of the pen tool, pencil, smooth tool, and brush, it’s also possible to create freehand drawings. In this case, CorelDRAW wins because it’s one tool vs four in Illustrator.
However, for vector graphics and Illustrations Adobe Illustrator is a better choice. You can do so much with shapes, fonts, and colors.
The Shape Builder Tool and Pen Tool are my favorites for creating icons. You can easily edit objects in Illustrator, while I feel like CorelDRAW is more standard which doesn’t give much freedom to explore creativity.
Winner: Tie. Both software programs have amazing features for design creation. For freehand drawing, maybe you’ll like CorelDRAW more. If you work more with branding and logos, Adobe Illustrator is the go-to.
2. Compatibility & Integration
Finally, CorelDRAW has made it available for Mac users. Good news! So now both Adobe Illustrator and CorelDRAW work on Windows and Mac. Actually, CorelDRAW is available on Linux as well.
CorelDRAW has an online web version where you can comment on and edit projects, which is a pretty cool function for simple edits. Illustrator has launched a simplified iPad version that allows you to work even when you’re on holiday without your laptop.
As for App integration, there’s no doubt that Adobe Illustrator wins. If you are using the Illustrator CC version, you can work on your projects in different software like InDesign, Photoshop, and After Effects easily. You can also open and edit PDF files in Adobe Illustrator.
There are more than 20 apps in the Creative Cloud, and they are all compatible with each other. And you know what? Illustrator CC integrates with Behance, the world’s famous creative networking platform, so you can share your awesome work easily.
Winner: Adobe Illustrator. Although CorelDRAW is compatible with Linux devices as well, Adobe Illustrator still has the advantage of app integration.
Professional graphic design programs are not cheap, and you’re expected to spend a couple of hundred dollars per year.
Adobe Illustrator has several pricing options, but they are all subscription-based plans. You can get it for as low as $19.99/month (All Apps) if you’re a student, or the regular prepaid annual plan of Illustrator itself for $22.99/month.
CorelDRAW Graphics Suite also has the annual plan option – $16.58/month. Or you can get the One-Time Purchase option for $399.
But it offers a One-Time Purchase ($299) option for the 2021 version that can be a great deal. Because you only need to pay once, and you can use the program FOREVER.
Still struggling? Well, you can always give them a try before pulling out your wallet.
Winner: CorelDRAW. If you’re looking at the Annual plan, that’s right, not much difference. But the One-Time Purchase option from CorelDRAW is a great option if you plan to keep the software for long-term use.
4. Learning Curve
Adobe Illustrator, known as a mature professional design program, has a steep learning curve. However, once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to use the program easily. And to be honest, most of the tools are easy to learn, you’ll just have to practice a lot to be good at them.
CorelDRAW is comparatively more beginner-friendly, that’s why some people recommend it for graphic designer beginners. Many tools have preset or are by default, and the in-app tutorial on the hint panel also helps. The program makes it easier for you to learn.
IWinner: TIE. If you are a graphic designer newbie, doing graphic design as a hobby, CorelDRAW is not a bad option because it has a lesser learning curve. Adobe Illustrator can be challenging and you’ll need a lot of patience and dedication. But the newer versions are simplifying the tools.
5. User Interface
Many designers love CorelDRAW’s simple and clean user interface because it’s comfortable to work on, just as if working on a white paper. I can’t say no to that, but I find it confusing to find the tools to use.
And if you’ve been using Adobe Illustrator for years like me, you’ll be even more confused, because the tools are named and located differently, and the UI is quite different. For example, it took me a while to find the color panel (which is on the right border).
I find it less convenient to make quick edits in CorelDRAW because many tools and settings are hidden. Unlike in Adobe Illustrator, the panel windows are just so convenient for editing graphics and text.
Winner: Adobe Illustrator. It’s true that CorelDRAW has a cleaner user interface, but I have to say that Adobe Illustrator is more efficient for editing artwork, and the corresponding panel shows when you click on the object. And you can always set what panels to show.
Both programs have the standard Live Chat and basic FAQ sections in their help/support centers.
CorelDRAW does offer Email support, but actually, you would submit a question online, receive a ticket number, and someone would contact you via email. They will ask for your ticket number for further assistance. And the average reply takes three days.
The Email Support teams are quite consistent though, they are good at follow-up and want to make sure your problem is solved.
To be honest, you’ll get faster help from the community center/FAQs or other online resources than the Live Chat. Unless you’re lucky, you barely get immediate assistance using Live Chat.
The virtual assistant from Adobe Illustrator will send you a bunch of automatic questions, if you still don’t get help, you can click No, and it will connect you to an actual person, and you’ll be talking to an agent.
I also tried to contact them through Live Chat, but I needed to wait in the queue. If you are lucky, you can get assistance right away. If not, you can either wait or type in the question and wait for someone to contact you by email, which I think is very inefficient.
Winner: Adobe Illustrator. I almost gave it a tie because I found both non-automatic support quite a hassle, but the Adobe Support Community really helped me solve many problems. And Ok, the Live Chat support from Illustrator is slightly better than CorelDRAW.
Overall the winner is Adobe Illustrator, it has better compatibility, user interface, and support. But it all depends on you. What’s your daily workflow? What’s your budget? Do you prefer to work on a clean UI or have tools handy?
If you are new to graphic design, CorelDRAW is easier to get started with because of the less learning curve, and the program itself is more intuitive. You can do most of the basic graphic design tasks and schematic drawings in CorelDRAW.
Adobe Illustrator is great for graphic design professionals creating vectors, complex designs, or illustrations. And if you’re working a lot with branding, logos, etc. Illustrator is your go-to.
Both programs have the annual plan option, but CorelDRAW also offers a one-time purchase option which is a great deal if you plan to keep the program for long-term use.
Still can’t decide? Try out the free trials and see which one you like better. I hope you find the right tool for your creative work. Good luck!About June Escalada