View Full Version : creating proof pictures in CorelDraw

Glen Monaghan
06-25-2014, 3:21 PM
I have several fixtures that I use when engraving multiples of items with individualized information (such as tags or panels). Typically, the items are arranged in rows and columns, spaced wide enough to make inserting and removing easy but close enough to generally maximize use of the entire bed. Images of the actual items are on a visible in the job template file on a nonprinting layer for reference when laying out the engraving. The engraving information is color coded by column to minimize head motion across blank space and speed up the engraving. Unused items are deleted from the template files before saving individual job files.

When a proof picture is needed for one of these jobs, I highlight all the engraving, change the fill to simulate the appearance of the engraving on the item (e.g., brownish for a wood item, gray for anodized aluminum), enable printing of the item images layer, and then I select the various rows and columns and move them closer to reduce the size of the proof picture. Additionally, for items that are shaped such that there can be several columns but only a couple of rows, the proof picture can get cumbersomely wide so I typically rearrange the items, for example 12 items in 2 rows of 6 each might be rearranged as 3 rows of 4 each.

So, my question is, can anyone tell me how to efficiently automate this process in CorelDraw? I first tried recording a macro to rearrange an entire fixture's worth of items but found that the macro won't work if I have deleted unused items (which is one of the first things I do when I set up a new job file). Guess I could set up one specific macro for one item jobs, another for two items, and so on for a total of "X" macros for a fixture that holds "X" items, but that's pretty unwieldy for fixtures with more than a few items.

Any good ideas?

Glen Monaghan
06-26-2014, 12:08 PM
Hey Bill,

See, you aren't the only one who sometimes gets few/no responses... Sometimes we just ask questions that seem to stump everyone. Or maybe you and I are just unliked ;^)

Scott Shepherd
06-26-2014, 1:13 PM
Glen, any chance of you posting a screen capture of what you are talking about? I got lost in the description (and maybe others did too?). I didn't reply because I didn't know how to help, which might mean you and Bill are smarter than most of us :)

David Somers
06-26-2014, 2:17 PM

Like Scott, I was having some difficulty figuring out your process. Partly cause I was getting to read it in short bursts in between other work. Partly just general denseness on my part. <grin>

One way I can think of to do what you want without having to manhandle everything multiple times to get different presentations would be to use a mail merge in Corel.

With a mail merge you have defined fields in a database that contains the information you will be engraving.

In the file you will be sending to the engraver you will have those same fields listed and your data will merge into them.

If you need to present this info in another format for the customer to review you can simply have that format set up in a third file with the same fields laid out as you want them, and merge to that file as well.

That way you are setting up each "view" of the data once and not having to play with the layout each time. Merging is fast in most cases so you can quickly produce your working document that will go to the laser, and your proof document that will go to the customer for an OK.

Am I close to understanding what you are doing?

PS....you might also put your hardware listing in your signature line, and perhaps your location (city and country, or at least country) in the location field in your profile. Many times both pieces of information are useful to everyone.

Mike Null
06-26-2014, 2:28 PM
I'm not at all sure I understand either but I usually just export the file to a bitmap format where you can reduce it as needed.

Bill Stearns
06-26-2014, 7:23 PM
Well heck, if Mike couldn't understand it all ... guess I don't feel so bad! I was sooooooo lost! I'll suggest this; maybe, it'll help. I layout my work 'n CorelDraw - my bed size 12" x 24, right? When I need to send proofs I simply save as a PDF format - then, I e-mail it to my customer. I'll try to attach a sample of what I'm talking 'bout. (Maybe, for whatever reason this won't work for you? -

PS: my PDF might not have attached properly - the picture shows a question-mark? But, anyway, sending customers PDF files works for me.


Kev Williams
06-26-2014, 8:36 PM
concur on saving as a PDF, simple, easy, and you don't have to change layout sizes or anything. What you see on the screen is what you get. And you can zoom in on anything anywhere in the PDF, and the larger the starting point, the more you can zoom in...

Ruben Salcedo
06-26-2014, 8:41 PM

do you have to show your customer all the layout in the bed?

What I do is... I make a separate layer with the product simulation, then I turned off the actual production layer/s leaving the simulated one on only, I then publish to PDF and then send it to the customer, then I just reverse it, turned off and disable printing for the simulated one, then turn on the productions layers making sure printing is also on... that's it.


Bill Stearns
06-27-2014, 10:44 AM
If I don't want' a send my customer the entire layout, or additional pages in the spread (CorelDraw X5) - I simply make a duplicate copy of the job, eliminate the unnecessary stuff - save as PDF and e-mail to my customer. ( I'll be the first to admit, I don't fully understand how to utilize "layers" in CorelDraw - guess we learn new things, as we need to, uh?) -


AL Ursich
06-27-2014, 11:38 AM
I would copy and paste into a new doc the required info then make that a pdf and done...


Scott Shepherd
06-27-2014, 12:12 PM
No responses from Glen? That's ironic considering his post about people not replying to his posts :D

Glen Monaghan
06-27-2014, 1:08 PM
c'mon, give me a break! Been busy getting orders out and running new 100A service to my shop...

So, I set up template files and 1/8" ply fixtures for repeat jobs involving multiple items, such as anodized aluminum plates. This first picture is an example template with pictures of the plates and default text positioned per design.

If there are fewer items than there are positions in the template, I delete the extras, and then populate the customer data, color code the columns so each gets engraved in sequence (faster than engraving the entire width at one time). Here's an example job file created from the template.

If I need to create a proof, I select all the customization and fill with light gray to simulate the engraved AA, then enable select and print on the image layer (in addition to the customization layer) and rearrange everything to make a more compact proof picture. For something like 4 or 5 items, that just involves moving the bottom row up a bit and squeezing all the columns closer together, then export at something like 1000 dot horizontal resolution. For particularly wide but short cases, such as this example with 9 items, I might rearrange to create a more square layout such as a 3x3 shown here:

So, my original question was how to automate this last step. I created a macro to rearrange the template, but CorelDraw chokes on that macro if any of the objects (item pictures, sample text, etc.) are deleted. I could hold off deleting until everything else is done and the macro is run, but I've tried working that way and much prefer to eliminate the extras up front. Could create separate macros for each different number of items, or separate templates each customized for a given number, both of which would be a pain for templates with a few dozen items...

Does that help understand my problem?

Scott Shepherd
06-27-2014, 1:31 PM
Like Dave said, Print Merge.

David Somers
06-27-2014, 2:21 PM

Thanks for the examples!! That helps.

This is just a thought on my part. I obviously am not clued in on what your customers are looking for.

But, since you are providing them with a proof that is not actually what is being engraved I assume you are looking for the customer to OK the accuracy of the text, and to OK the font and general layout?

If that were the case, could you provide them with a single item example as a sample for the text and general layout, and give them a clean list of the contents that will be engraved so they can verify it is correct, proof reading what will be engraved in other words?

Again, a print merge/mail merge might make this simpler to do repeatedly, but there are certainly other ways. It just seems like you are having to handle your graphics objects a lot for the sake of a general layout and font OK and a proof reading of the contents. I know that is why you are trying to do a macro. It just seems like a lot of work either way for two basic functions.

I hope I am not confusing what you need. If I am just snort politely and wave me away <grin>.


Glen Monaghan
06-27-2014, 3:34 PM
It's not the entering of the text that is the issue, it's the creation of a (rearranged and compacted) proof picture that is a cumbersome nuisance. So, unless I don't understand its full capabilities, Print Merge only addresses the (non-issue) entering of text but does nothing for making a compacted proof.

I could just leave the pictures and text in engraving position, but they are spaced out to simplify inserting and removing substrates. As a consequence, either the proof pictures end up being very wide (1st complaint was someone couldn't see the whole width of a proof and swore they didn't have a scroll bar to pan across; later, someone else said their viewer automatically shrank the image to fit the screen, making it too small and they couldn't zoom it!?!) or too low in resolution (some of the aluminum and steel items have very fine lined details in the engraving, so most of the proofs are 1000-1200 dots wide to use pretty much the entire width of the customers' screens to get the details without requiring scrolling or resizing). And that's why I have been rearranging to remove excess white space and sometimes increase rows vs columns (no complaints about scrolling down, just across).

Pdf files don't buy me anything either. First, they do nothing (directly) for the viewing problems other than it might make it easier for me to tell someone how to scroll and zoom that viewer but, more importantly, the communication is through a messaging system that only supports image file attachments and that's not something I can readily change or opt out of...

I thought a basic macro could work, but CorelDraw apparently numbers objects on creation and, I think, renumbers them if you do something like delete one. At any rate, the macro errors out if I delete anything before running it.

Glen Monaghan
06-27-2014, 3:42 PM

I _am_ providing a proof that shows exactly what is being engraved, just not in the same layout as they are on the engraving bed because that's too spaced out. Although some engraved items have only text (like simple tags), many have graphics that may change from item to item within a job, so for those I can't just provide a proof with only one item, it has to show all of them so the customer knows each is getting the right graphics, texts, sequence numbers, et al. When I first did it as a mockup showing the info on pictures of the substrates, colored similar to the final product (eg, gray-white on black AA, dark brown on wood, white on acrylic...), they loved it and that became the norm. It wasn't bad 2 or 3 times a day but it's becoming a cumbersome chore to do all the rearranging on 12-20 proofs a day.

Am I missing something with Print Merge?

Scott Shepherd
06-27-2014, 3:48 PM
Glen, my thoughts on the print merge would be to have 2 pages setup. One is the page to engrave, one is the page to send. Print merge it on both pages and you're done.

Not sure that'll work since you have graphics and I think print merge can do graphics, it's more a pain to do that.

David Somers
06-27-2014, 3:50 PM
Ahhhhhhhhh. That fills in the rest of the picture Glen. Thanks.

I don't think the mailmerge is really what you want then since you have images on each item that vary item to item. I have never tried to do a mailmerge with an image in Corel so I am not sure it is doable.

Anyone else have some thoughts for Glen?

Sorry I wasn't more help Glen!!!


Ruben Salcedo
06-27-2014, 4:41 PM
Maybe eCut 5 (http://macromonster.com/index.php?mod=descr&id_desc=109&) may do what you need, take a look at the short video (http://youtu.be/DP6XRnFKgSo) that I just made.


Bill Stearns
06-27-2014, 8:24 PM
Kind' a sounds like you have conditioned your client, from the start, to expect something that's, well, to say the least ... problematic! (time-consuming, maybe, even unnecessary?) All your extra effort - maybe, okay for the first go-'round, or two - but, at some point they should just trust your skills on jobs. IMO. - without someone there eagle-eyeing each and every piece prior to production. (sounds like that's what they're wanting to do?) When I am confronted with lots of different plate information - different numbers, etc. - I have 'em send the info to me in an Excel format. I cut 'n paste the info into CorelDraw - which eliminates any chance of a typo. ('little learning curve figuring out how to do this correctly, but worth it.) Other than that - maybe, you can just drive over and show 'em your print outs face to face - ? Better yet, just deliver the items completed .... (pardon me. 'long day; I'm in kind of an owly mood - all this going 'gainst the grain of my KISS philosophy.)


Glen Monaghan
06-28-2014, 1:22 PM
Ruben, eCut might provide a work around, although I think you put the images and text on the same layer and grouped each image and its corresponding text in order to make that work.

Guess maybe I need to find some documentation on macro programming in CorelDraw and see if there is any facility for defining a selection area and determining what, if anything, got selected so I can then reposition them without causing errors due to non-existent (deleted) objects... As if there aren't enough other things to do ;^)

Glen Monaghan
06-28-2014, 1:28 PM

True enough! I first provided these simulated proofs to help a customer understand how the requested engraving would have to be arranged to satisfy certain constraints of the job and it grew from there. Customers like these proofs and, actually, I do too because it virtually eliminates the possibility of getting a "That's not what I expected..." response upon delivery. However, I was only doing a couple a day at first and now some days it's become a real nuisance of a chore due to the volume. So, I'm trying to come up with a way to simplify and work more efficiently without losing value, much as I have had to do in other areas of the business as work has increased in the past few months. Maybe, worse comes to worse, I'll just have to decide to stop providing this sort of proof in favor of a lower-effort/cost alternative, but the an@l-retentive, perfectionist part of me isn't ready to throw in the towel on this just yet...

Ruben Salcedo
06-28-2014, 1:42 PM

Then I guess you'll have to make your own macro... good luck.


Bill Stearns
06-28-2014, 2:38 PM
Glenn -
I'm sure you'll figure it out. Certainly it's smart to do what you can (practically) to ensure your customers know what they're getting. 'Long as this "added-value service" of yours is productive 'n profitable for you - in the end. (meaning: a nice order.) I admit I don't completely understand what you're working on: the need for extra layers, re-organizing your layouts - sending your customer illustrative examples of each and every item you plan to produce for 'em. (?) Maybe, you've had the "That's not what I expected" experience before, or too often? One thought: I've learned that, sometimes, when we find ourselves concentrating too hard on a problem - it helps to step 'way from it - go for a walk, or drive. Allow your creative subconscious to work on it. More than once, I've slapped myself in the forehead -"Why didn't I think of that earlier!" A solution may not lie in software, or layouts - it may be in the way you've chosen to work with your customer. ? At the crux of all this: sounds like your "perfectionism" may be getting in the way? Then, again, sounds like your business is growing leaps 'n bounds! - so, who am I to say?


John Moran
06-30-2014, 9:35 PM
I am with bill, if I screw up I will replace it. My customers dont expect proofs on every repear job.

Brian R Cain
06-30-2014, 10:23 PM

True enough! I first provided these simulated proofs to help a customer understand how the requested engraving would have to be arranged to satisfy certain constraints of the job and it grew from there. Customers like these proofs and, actually, I do too because it virtually eliminates the possibility of getting a "That's not what I expected..." response upon delivery. However, I was only doing a couple a day at first and now some days it's become a real nuisance of a chore due to the volume. So, I'm trying to come up with a way to simplify and work more efficiently without losing value, much as I have had to do in other areas of the business as work has increased in the past few months. Maybe, worse comes to worse, I'll just have to decide to stop providing this sort of proof in favor of a lower-effort/cost alternative, but the an@l-retentive, perfectionist part of me isn't ready to throw in the towel on this just yet...

Here's how I see it: The purpose of the proof is to agree on what's to be produced, so if you are a printer who will be running off 10,000 flyers, for example, you have the customer agree to the layout and check the wording for errors before doing the print run and if they say go ahead, it's their problem when mistakes occur.

In the case of an engraver running off 100 tags that only differ in the text, all that's required for the proof is an agreement on the text the engraver will use in each instance and a single example of the layout and how the finished items will look. If the customer can't live with that and needs 100 proofs in the way you're describing it, Glen, he's going to have to pay for all the extra work involved in producing them. That focuses the mind at their end.

The other thing to consider is that you might not be doing your customers a favour in producing the proofs the way you are. I'm sure it's easier for them to check for typos in a list rather than scanning each individual tag. Of course, nothing is ever quite that simple. Some tags may have text that needs to be adjusted for size as in when someone has a ridiculously long name, but you could weed these few out and make special proofs as you're doing for those so it doesn't end in tears.

Glen Monaghan
07-16-2014, 4:58 PM
Guess maybe I need to find some documentation on macro programming in CorelDraw and see if there is any facility for defining a selection area and determining what, if anything, got selected so I can then reposition them without causing errors due to non-existent (deleted) objects... As if there aren't enough other things to do ;^)

I haven't written any sort of computer code in ages so going was a bit rocky at first but, like riding a bike, you don't have to start over from scratch after a long absence... It has taken a couple of weeks to search out the documentation, read enough to figure out the CorelDraw version of VBA, locate the necessary features for what I wanted to do, and run some tests, but it turns out to be pretty straight forward once you have all the pieces.

The key pieces are GetShapeFromRectangle to programmatically select rows or columns of the items in the template (which I have already populated with user supplied engraving images and info, and deleted unused entries), followed by a simple loop to GetPosition of each shape in the selected area and SetPosition to shift it into the desired location for the proof picture. Didn't even need to add special code to determine if there entire rows or columns of unused entries deleted from the template, the code rearranges everything for creating the proof picture in a couple of seconds.

Works a treat, wish I'd looked into this months ago!

A handy dandy feature I found is BeginCommandGroup and EndCommandGroup, which you use to bracket your VBA macro code. This lets you undo everything within the macro using a single click of undo!

Bill George
07-16-2014, 5:14 PM
Pricey, but If you are going to do previews every day and value your time. Photograv has it as a built in function, waiting for my PG order to try and see how it works.

James Rambo
07-19-2014, 10:43 AM
I use EXPORT in corel. I export the proof to a file on my computer. Then I attach this file to an e-mail to the customer.

Bill Stearns
07-19-2014, 12:28 PM
Glen and All -
Still seems to me that you are taking the "long road" to making a buck. Hopefully, you are charging your customer for all your extra time 'n effort? Sounds like someone, on that company's end, is a micro-manager! ? - which is causing you to jump thru all these hoops? Kind' a wondering, now, if you're truly doing all this for their sake - or, 'cause you need to build greater confidence in yourself. ? (I used to triple-check jobs with customers first - so worried I'd make an error - I don't anymore.) Just saying all this 'cause Dan has taught me - time is money!


Glen Monaghan
07-19-2014, 12:30 PM
I was using Export as well. The problem was that there might be a handful of rows and several columns spaced across the table with gaps between to improve handling, and I had some complaints that the exported pictures were problematic to view on older or smaller screens (some customers apparently view on mobile devices), so I was moving all those rows and columns closer to make shorter/narrower proof pictures. Couple that with changing the color coded fill (used to engrave one column at a time for faster engraving time due to not skipping over the gaps), and it was becoming a time consuming chore to create the proofs.

So after asking here and finding, to my surprise, that I apparently am the only person who does proofs this way, and that no one had any particularly good solutions other than one commercial macro package that looks like something I'll probably get eventually for other reasons, I rolled my own macro to do the job. I actually just finished it yesterday, with the error checking and layer manipulation (engraving, registration, product image reference layers that may be visible or invisible, editable or not, printable or not, depending on what phase of the project I'm in) that I glossed over initially, and it works a treat. A hot key or a custom button on the tool bar both let me go from a finished, color coded job file to simulated product proof picture in a single key stroke or mouse click, and it's undoable with another single keystroke or mouse click.

It's been a while since I've done any coding, but there are so many tutorials and bits of example VBA out there that I was able to glean what I needed and work out a neat solution. There probably are even better ways of coding it, but it finishes before I've let off the key or mouse button so plenty good enough! Now I just need to find that self-certificate creator so I don't get that annoying "This file contains macros, do you want to enable or disable them?" security warning when I open the template to create a new engraving job file!

Glen Monaghan
07-19-2014, 2:00 PM

I started doing these proof pictures maybe 18 months ago when I was doing less than a tenth as much business as I am doing now. At that time, I started creating proofs for one-time, custom design, high value jobs.

These "product simulation" proofs were, indeed, partly for my own peace of mind to make sure the customer wouldn't come back after receiving the product and say "That's not what I was expecting/asked for, please re-do". It was also to help certain customers, who didn't have a clear mental picture of what they wanted, figure it out before committing to the actual engraving. It worked so well in low-volume business that I basically adopted it as standard practice on pretty much all engraving jobs.

But then, at that time, I did a lot of things that worked fine at low volume, such as almost-real-time email responses, same-day or next-day engraving, overkill packaging, so forth and so on. But, as time went by and business picked up, all those details became more and more cumbersome, time consuming, and expensive. That lead to a sort of crisis situation late last year when order volume (and revenue! :^) more than doubled month-over-month for three consecutive months. Things have stabilized somewhat now, but even if the proofs only take 1-2 minutes each, preparing them all was approaching an hour a day, which I finally realized was nuts.

Maybe these photo-realistic proofs are overkill and, clearly no one else here seems to be doing something similar, at least not on a regular basis. Even so, I still like providing the proof service, and my customers frequently comment how much they appreciate it so, for me, taking the time to figure out how to automate the process and reduce it to a one-click, split-second process was well-worth the effort. Time is money, and my custom macro reduced the time to basically zero. But providing service that delights customers also (can) translate to money, so I was willing to make the effort to enable me to provide said service without the onerously repetitive and time consuming manual effort.

Bill Stearns
07-19-2014, 3:08 PM
I've got' a say: that's the clearest you have been as to "why" you are doing what you're doing for your customers. ('least I more clearly understand.) In truth: I wasn't looking at your issue, your methods, from a technical (how-to) stand point, but rather from a sales v.s. time-spent standpoint. More I think 'bout it, more I see: You are smart to use those software tools available today - to guarantee your customers' understanding and ultimate satisfaction. Looking for, and finding more productive, faster 'n easier ways to do what we do, well, you're obviously a smart and dedicated businessman. No doubt explains why you are doing so well.