Using contour in CorelDraw

The Contour tool and Contour docker are simple to use but powerful features that will allow you to not only create interesting 3D effects, but also cuttable outlines for outputting to devices such as plotters, engraving machines and vinyl cutters. In this tutorial, Anand Dixit will be giving us an in-depth look at creating and editing contours.

Download a PDF copy of this tutorial to follow along as you experiment with contours.

Written Tutorial

The Contour command adds a parallel bounding shape, or shapes, to a selected vector or text object. We shall be looking at the different settings available for achieving a variety of contour types and we’ll discuss about where and how they can be used.

The Contour tool is available on the Effects flyout present on the toolbar (hold the black triangle on the Effects button to reveal the flyout). Pressing Ctrl + F9 will open the Contour docker, or else this can also be opened under: Effects > Contour on the Menu bar.

Settings Available on the Contour Property Bar

Contour Types:

  1. To Center: Contours are created at an offset distance to the center. For this type of contour, steps are auto-calculated, depending on the offset distance and the possible space available inside the object. Steps cannot be set by the user in this type of contour.
  2. Inside Contour: Offset distance and number of steps can be set by the user to get contours inside the object. (Users may get an error “Offset too large” in case the offset distance set, is larger than the space available to create a contour in above types of contour).
  3. Outside Contour: Offset distance and number of contour steps can be set by the user to get contours to outside of the object.

Applying a Contour

Contours can be applied to a vector or an Artistic Text object, and can be added in two ways

  1. Click on the selected object and drag outside or inside of the object with the Contour tool.
  2. Pick the object and click on any of the Contour Type buttons on the Property bar.

Once the contour has been added to an object, you can change the settings on the Property bar to get the desired results.

Examples of Simple Contours

Adding a contour to a Text object

Contour applied (Contour Type: Inside Contour, Contour Steps: 9 Steps, Contour Offset: 0.5mm, Corner: Mitered contour, Contour Fill: Red fill, Outline: No outline).

Adding a contour to a vector object (see images below)

  1. Contour Type: Outside Contour, Contour Steps: 9 Steps, Contour Offset: 0.5mm, Corner: Mitered contour, Contour Fill: Red, Outline: Red
  2. Contour Type: To Center, Contour Steps: NA, Contour Offset: 0.5mm, Contour Corner: Mitered contour, Contour Fill: Red, Outline: Red outline
  3. Contour Type: Inside Contour, Contour Steps: 2 Steps, Contour Offset: 1 mm, Contour Corner: Mitered contour, Contour Fill: Red, Outline: Red outline

Contours can be separated by the Break Apart (Ctrl + K) command. The object will be separated from the contour shapes that were created equal to the number of steps defined. The contour objects will be grouped together on breaking apart.

Using contour object to get some amazing results

Step 1: Artistic Text object with Contour applied (Contour Type: Inside, Contour Steps: 1 Step, Contour Offset: 1mm, Contour Corner: Mitered contour, Contour Fill: White fill, Outline: No outline).

Step 2: Break the contour apart by pressing Ctrl + K. The text object and the contour will be separated. (The color of the contour shape has been changed here from white to blue for better visibility).

Step 3: Now keeping the original text object and the contour object in their place, duplicate (Ctrl+D), and horizontally shift the original text object. The sky blue object below is the duplicate of original red text object but horizontally shifted.

Step 4: Use the sky blue object (duplicate), to trim the white object to get the final result as shown below. (To trim, select both objects and click on the Trim icon in the Property bar). Once done, the sky blue object can be deleted.

Using contours to create shading in complex illustrations.

This may need some extra skills to create the required shapes and choose the right colors for creating perfect shading.

Below is a colored illustration with contours used on different shapes to create the shading effects. There could be a few objects in the illustration where some other effect, for example a Blend, is used.

  1. Original drawn Vector Object/Shape
  2. Contour Object filled with a Fountain Fill from C0 M25 Y25 K0 to C0 M50 Y45 K0 and Outline set to ‘None’
  3. Contour applied with following settings: Contour Type: To Center, Contour Offset: 0.3 mm, Contour Corner: Mitered contour, Contour Fill: Fill Color C0 M35 Y40 K0 to Last color C0 M20 Y25 K0
  4. A wireframe view (View > Wireframe), of the object after the contour has been applied.

Looking at the color illustration, you will find a few areas with color shading which creates a simulated 3D effect in the illustration. Most of the color shadings in this illustration are created using different shapes and contours with different settings. Compare the colored illustration with the wireframe to understand the areas where the contours may have been applied.

A few more Contour settings which can be used to get different results as desired.

Color Blend: There are three different options a user can set to blend the colors between the color of original object and the color set for the contour. Fill color and the outline colors will be blended as the case may be. Color blends can be set to a) Linear, b) Clockwise, or c) Counter clockwise.

Acceleration: By using acceleration, you can set the rate at which the contour changes the shapes between steps. You can also set the acceleration for color in the Contour docker.

Contour Corners: Contour corners can be set to get mitered, rounded or beveled corners.

In addition to simulating 3D effects, contours can be used to create cuttable outlines for outputting to devices such as plotters, engraving machines, or vinyl cutters. Contours can be used for creating a bleed for the objects used in artworks for offset- or silk-screen printing.

Did you know?

  1. Contours can be applied and edited on screen interactively.
  2. Contour supports uniform fills as well a fountain fills.
  3. Contour properties can be copied from one to other object by either:
    • Using the ‘Copy contour’ button on Property Bar.
    • Using the Attributes dropper by clicking a contour object and transferring the properties by clicking on the other object.
    • Or by navigating to Effects > Copy Effect > Contour from…
  4. Contour effects can be cloned. The clones will automatically follow the changes made to the Master object. To clone a contour, go to: Effects > Clone Effect.
  5. There could be a few objects that may not be eligible for creating a contour, e.g. objects with applied transparencies. However some exciting effects can be created by applying a contour to an object and then applying transparencies to objects after breaking the contour group apart.

Identify Fonts with CorelDraw

Have you ever seen a beautiful font, and wanted to use it in your own designs? Or maybe your client has given you a sample document, but can’t tell you which font is used in it. Situations like these can lead to hours of headaches as you search through font libraries trying to find a perfect match. But there is a better way! This tutorial shows you how to identify the font that is used in a presentation or document quickly and easily using CorelDRAW.

Written Tutorial

The applications and features described in this tutorial require CorelDRAW® Graphics Suite X7.

If you like the look of a font in a brochure, newsletter or other document, it’s sometimes difficult to identify what font is being used.

Of course, you could search through books to find the font, but that will take a long time. There is a quicker way with CorelDRAW Graphics Suite.

  1. Scan the document, and  import it into CorelDRAW.
  2. In CorelDRAW, click Text >  WhatTheFont?!.
  3. Select an area that contains the font you would like to identify.
  4. Click or press Enter to go to the MyFonts website, where font suggestions are provided for the selected area of your scanned document.

Creating Objects with Volume and 3D Appearance

This brief written tutorial shows you how to use some simple tools to create dynamic, three-dimensional objects in CorelDRAW.

This tutorial discusses:

  • Using the Blend tools improved capacity in recent versions of CorelDRAW
  • What a Blend is and how to create them in CorelDRAW
  • How to create three-dimensional objects using the “Blend along full path” command

- Written Tutorial

The Blend tool is a long-known CorelDRAW tool but its functionality has been improved over the past few years, specifically in the more interactive way in which blends are applied to objects.

A blend is like a metamorphosis or morphing between two objects.

You will need two objects in order to create a blend. One will be the starting point and the second will become the end point of the blend. The blend is in fact a progression of overlapping objects along a path. The shape, as well as the fill and outline of the objects, are progressively modified to take on the shape of the selected starting and ending objects.

The Blend tool is one of the most versatile tools in CorelDRAW, that’s why it’s very useful to understand its power. To help you discover it, let’s create a simple 3D-effect using the Blend tool.

To start, you must create all the elements that will be “blended”. Using the Ellipse Tool draw two circles and apply a radial fountain fill to them.

Then, using the Freehand Tool draw a path that will function as the blend trajectory.

Once all the elements have been created, select the Blend Tool and left-click on the left circle. Then, without releasing the mouse button drag the cursor and position it over the second circle. Release the mouse button and the blend is practically done.

Select the blended group and click on the New path icon in the Blend Tool property bar. The cursor will change into a wavy black arrow.

Click on the path that you had previously drawn and the blend will take on the shape of this path.

If you want to obtain a more elaborate appearance, select the new blended group and click on the More blend options in the property bar. Enable the Blend along full path check box.

The objects will now get automatically distributed along the full path.

You can enhance this effect by increasing the number of steps in the blend or changing the size of the first or second object. The Blend Tool is highly interactive and will allow you to see the changes as you make them.

Changes to the number of steps in the blend or to the first or second object will render different results. Remember that you can also move the nodes of the initial path and the blend will follow these changes interactively as well.

Once you’re satisfied with the resulting blend and you no longer need to interactively alter its properties, you can delete the path. To do this, go to the Object menu > Break Blend Apart. Then, click the path and remove it using the Delete key.

As you can see, the Blend Tool can be used to create three-dimensional effects. But why stop there. This same technique of fitting a blend to a path allows you to create a variety of shapes. Simply change the number of steps and the shape of the path or objects that will serve as path, and you will discover that you can create very interesting effects such as the one shown below.

This tutorial has been produced by Anna María López López – multidisciplinary designer, founder of and author of numerous digital design books such as



Convert Bitmaps to Vector with PowerTrace

How to Convert Bitmaps to Vector

This tutorial has been written for CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X7. While some features might be available in previous releases, the tutorial will be fully applicable to CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X7 and higher.

In this tutorial we’ll take you step-by-step through the process to convert bitmaps to vector images, demonstrating a bitmap-tracing project that will enable you to quickly produce an accurate two-color vector version of a logo design without the need of a vector converter. Along the way, you’ll learn how to use many of the powerful features engineered into PowerTRACE that make the process fast and efficient.

A Primer on Vectorization with PowerTRACE

If this is your first tracing experience, some advance orientation may help demystify the tools involved. With a bitmap selected in CorelDRAW, PowerTRACE becomes available through the Trace Bitmap command on the property bar.

You can instantly trace a selected bitmap and use the default settings by choosing Quick Trace from the Trace Bitmap list box, which applies the trace without opening the PowerTRACE dialog box. Alternatively, you can adjust the settings in the PowerTRACE dialog box (shown below). There are six modes that you can choose from, depending on your tracing requirements. The dialog box is divided into two areas. The left side displays a preview of your trace results, while the right side features two option areas.

Across the top of the dialog box are viewing and zooming tools, and across the bottom are the UndoRedo, and Reset buttons.

If you have previous experience applying bitmap filter effects in CorelDRAW or Corel PHOTO-PAINT, the PowerTRACE tools will seem like familiar territory. The Settings tab is divided into several key areas, including trace controls and trace options. The Trace result details area (shown below) provides critical information as you adjust the tracing options. The Colors tab includes controls that let you manipulate the color space of the traced results. Follow the tutorial steps below to explore how easily these settings can be applied and modified to produce exactly the tracing results you need.

Before you convert bitmaps to vector images

The bitmap images that you are vectorizing will very likely come from one of two sources: a file that is prepared in a drawing or bitmap-editing application and exported to one of the many available bitmap formats, or a file acquired via an image-capturing device such as a scanner or digital camera.

The source of your bitmap image can significantly influence its inherent quality. Software-generated bitmaps are the best to work with, while scanned images often require some refinement before they can be accurately traced. In the steps that follow, we’ll look at both scenarios.

We’ll be tracing two bitmaps. Both are CMYK images that have a resolution of 200 dpi and depict the same logo. The first version was exported from a drawing program (CorelDRAW), while the second version was scanned by using a consumer-brand flatbed scanner. Our goal is to produce a usable vector version of the logo prepared in two PANTONE® spot ink colors.

Tracing an exported bitmap to vector

1. In a new CorelDRAW document, import the first bitmap (shown below). By default, the imported bitmap is selected with the Pick tool.

2. Click the Trace Bitmap button on the property bar, and choose Outline Trace > Logo. The PowerTRACE dialog box opens and produces a preliminary trace of the bitmap.

3. The Smoothing and Detail sliders at the top of the Settings tab are automatically set. The preview window displays a split-screen preview of the Before and After results (as shown below), and the Trace result details area indicates that there are 14 curves comprised of 238 nodes and 3 colors

4. Since the background of our logo is white, PowerTRACE automatically detects and eliminates the surrounding background color. To remove the white area in the interior of the bitmap, enable the Remove color from entire image check box (shown below). Notice that the Trace result details area now indicates that only 8 curves are detected.

5. To check the tracing accuracy, choose Wireframe Overlay from the Preview list box. Use single left-clicks to zoom in and single right-clicks to zoom out to examine the accuracy of the traced paths. If needed, use the Transparency slider to adjust the visibility of the original bitmap. A close look at the upper-left corner (shown below) reveals that the bitmap edges have been accurately traced.

6. Click the Colors tab to examine the color results of the trace, and choose CMYK from the Color Mode list box. Notice that three CMYK colors are listed at the top (as shown next). Our next step will be to specify these colors as PANTONE spot ink colors.

7. Click the turquoise color in the list, and then click Edit to open the Select Color dialog box. Click the Palettes tab, and choose PANTONE solid coated from the Palette list box. Notice that the PANTONE ink color equivalent of the CMYK value is automatically selected — in this case, PANTONE 7710 C.

8. Click OK to close the dialog box and apply PANTONE 7710 C as the new color. Notice that the color list (shown below) and the trace preview are updated to indicate the ink color you applied.

9. Click the dark blue color in the list, and repeat the previous steps to change the CMYK values of this color to a PANTONE color. You are now ready to accept the trace results.

10. Click OK in the PowerTRACE dialog box to return to your CorelDRAW page. By default, PowerTRACE places the traced objects as a group directly on top of your original bitmap. Drag the group to one side to see both the original bitmap and the traced objects (as shown below). The vector version of your two-color logo is now complete. If you wish, delete the bitmap version from the CorelDRAW page.

Tracing a scanned bitmap to vector

In the previous steps, we traced a bitmap that originated from a drawing or bitmap-editing application. Next, we’ll examine how to convert bitmaps to vector using the same logo but a version scanned from a hard copy and saved in the same bitmap format.

1. To begin the vectorization process, import the logo into a new CorelDRAW document, and choose Detailed logo from the Trace Bitmap flyout on the property bar. The PowerTRACE dialog box opens, and a preliminary trace is immediately produced. Now the Trace result details area shows that 113 curves, 7707 nodes, and 15 colors are detected (as shown below). At this point you could move the Smoothing and Detail sliders to adjust the trace results and likely produce an excellent trace, but here’s a chance for you to learn an alternate strategy. Close the PowerTRACE dialog box and return to the bitmap on your page.

2. To refine the scanned image and improve the trace results, we’re going to apply a bitmap filter. As you can see, this version of the logo includes scanning imperfections from the hard copy (see below). Eliminating these anomalies will drastically improve the tracing results.

3.  Choose Bitmaps > Blur > Smart Blur to open the Smart Blur dialog box (shown below). Set the slider to 60, and click OK to apply the effect. This operation will eliminate most — but not all — of the image’s imperfections.

4. Choose Bitmaps > Noise > Remove Noise to open the Remove Noise dialog box (shown below). Leave the Auto check box enabled, and click OK to apply the filter. This will eliminate virtually all of the remaining imperfections.

5. With the image selected, choose Detailed Logo from the Trace Bitmap flyout on the property bar.

6. PowerTRACE opens and displays the trace results. Once again, the Smoothing and Detail sliders settings are optimized. With Detailed Logo selected, the Trace result details area now displays 11 curves, 236 nodes, and 9 colors detected (as shown below).

7. Click the Colors tab to view the colors detected in the traced image. Hold down Ctrl, and click on each of the turquoise colors in the list to select all three colors (as shown below). Click Merge to combine these colors into a single color. With the single color still selected, click Edit to open the Select Color dialog box, and change this color to PANTONE 318 C as you did in the previous steps.

8. Repeat the previous step for the navy blue colors in the list, changing them to a single color. Change the leftover color to PANTONE 274 C, and merge the remaining white colors in the list.

9. Return to the Settings tab, and enable the Remove color from entire image check box to eliminate the interior background shapes. Notice that the curve count is reduced. You are now ready to accept the trace results.

10. Click OK to close the PowerTRACE dialog box and return to the CorelDRAW document. Drag the grouped traced objects to the right of the original bitmap and examine the results (shown below). Your tracing task is complete. If you wish, delete the bitmap version from your CorelDRAW page.

Although each bitmap may require its own special treatment, you can see how powerful and easy-to-use the PowerTRACE features are. In only a few short steps, you’ve learned how to use PowerTRACE to convert bitmaps to vector, producing an accurately traced version of a complex logo using only a low-resolution bitmap as the source. Keep in mind that jpg to vector and other raster to vector conversions are equally straightforward.

We hope you found this tutorial helpful and we would love to hear your feedback in the Comments section below. And don’t forget to visit our social media pages and show us what you’ve learned by sharing your photos, videos and creative projects with us.