Sunday, December 20, 2009

Saving the CorelDraw Tarot

Today while the snow piled up into car-swallowing drifts, I saved some of my best art from oblivion. This will be a rather geeky post so ignore it if you wish. You recall that I posted some primitive prints of two of my "CorelDraw Tarot" major arcana cards, some weeks ago. I lamented at the time that the original CorelDraw files of the Tarot were lost, because they were inaccessible to modern media and even the newer versions of CorelDraw couldn't handle them. Well, today I was able to save these pieces into a more or less modern and usable format.

I did it thanks to my tendency to archive everything, and the flexibility of Windows XP. The CorelDraw Tarot was done in 1991-92, on CorelDraw 3. I am now running CorelDraw 12 on my PC laptop with XP. CorelDraw is now up to number 14, called by them "X4," but 12 is good enough for me. But 12 wouldn't bring up most of the files. So I decided as an experiment to find the original CD for CorelDraw 3, which I still have after 18 years. And having found it, I popped it into the machine and tried to install it. That's right, re-living 1991. I wasn't sure it would work, but there it was, in its grey-box simplicity. It didn't do everything it used to, but I was able to call up the old files on their old software, and all I needed to do to upgrade them was to find the proper font (in this case, Corel's version of "Friz Quadrata" known as "Franco") to restore the card images to their original appearance.

Then there was the problem of what format to save them to. No graphics software I have used (Adobe, GIMP, Photoshop, etc.) will read CorelDraw (.cdr) files, except CorelDraw itself. I could export some of these pieces to JPEG by transferring them to CorelDraw 12, which was running simultaneously with CorelDraw 3 (I love my little PC). Other images in the series wouldn't work. So in the options for formats to save to in CorelDraw 3, I found "Mac Pict." This is an ancient format used for early Macintoshes, which is irrelevant for most modern Macs but kept around for "legacy" files such as my Tarot. Well, I have two smug Macs just waiting to tell me how they wouldn't use PC formats. So I saved these files to Mac Pict and hoped that they would work on the iMac and lo and behold they did. I can open them in Photoshop.

Once in the clutches of Photoshop, the Tarot shines forth again. The JPEGs tend to be duller in colors and a bit blurry, but the blends are smoother. The Mac Pict format pieces are brighter, but the blends are uneven (as they were in CorelDraw back in the old days). No matter that, I have my CorelDraw Tarot back in living memory. I also saved some other digital winners from 1991 and 1992. Who needs Adobe? It's too damn bad that Adobe Illustrator/Photoshop became the graphics industry standard. I personally think that CorelDraw/Photopaint was the better program.


Mike said...

A great story with a happy ending!

While you know I'm not a fan of Apple in general, I do like the fact that they support all legacy formats. QuickTime is another Apple format that supports all the codecs from the olden days.

Now if only they could get rid of the spinning beachball of death. :P

Anonymous said...

Now that is an accomplishment -- I'm proud of your success!