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Creating Cool Graphs Without a Spreadsheet

© 1999 by Foster D. Coburn III. All Rights Reserved.

When it comes time to create a graph, most people turn to a spreadsheet or a presentation program. But many types of graphs can be created right in CorelDRAW. This allows you to use more interesting fills and just have more graphic control.

Pie Charts

Let's start with a pie chart. The first thing we need is some data. How about 40%, 27%, 15%, 11%, 7%. That will give us five slices of varying sizes. I'm sure you're a bit worried about doing math and we'll simplify that as much as possible.

Let's just start by drawing a circle that is 4 inches in radius. Once you've drawn the circle, the Property Bar should look similar to Figure 1.

We want to change the circle into a pie wedge representing 40%, our first piece of data. Click the Pie Wedge icon and you'll see that the beginning angle changed to 0 and the ending angle to 270. We need to change the ending angle to represent 40%. In the ending angle text box, type .4*360. This represents 40% of 360 degrees. Press the Enter key and the shape changes to exactly what you need.

One down, four to go. Duplicate the wedge we just created right on top of itself. The easiest way to do this is to press the + key on your numeric keypad. Change the starting angle to 144 which matches the ending angle of the first wedge. Time to type another formula. Type 144 + (.27*360) into the ending angle text box and press Enter.

Bet you didn't know that CorelDRAW could do math, did you?

Now duplicate the second wedge by pressing the + key on the numeric keypad. Change the starting angle to 241.2 (the ending angle of the previous wedge) and type 241.2 + (.15*360) into the ending angle text box. Press Enter and the third slice will appear.

For the next slice, the beginning angle will be 295.2 and we'll type 295.2 + (.11*360) for the ending angle. The last slice will start at 334.8 and the ending angle will be 360. No need to do the math on this one.

We've now got all the wedges for our pie chart. If you just want a 2D chart, all that is left is to color the slices. You could also type the percentages on each slice if you want to identify what the slice represents numerically. You should have something similar to Figure 2 though your colors might be a bit different.

So far so good, but we really want it to be a 3D chart. For this we'll need the help of the EZ Metrics utility shown in Figure 3 (a free evaluation copy can be downloaded at

Select all the wedges, make sure Isometric is selected in the EZ Metrics drop-down list and click the Top button (labeled with a T). This will put the chart in perspective. If the wedges aren't aligned in the correct positions, undo a few steps. Then rotate the wedges so they appear where you want them. Now apply the EZ Metrics perspective again.

Select the large wedge, enter .4 inches for the Extrude distance and click the downward pointing Red arrow. Instant 3D! Repeat this process for each of the other wedges. You might run into a wedge that appears funny. This just means it is out of the stacking order. Right click on it and choose Order | To Front or Order | To Back to put it in the correct order. Our pie chart now looks like Figure 4.

If we want, we can easily separate the extruded portions from the wedges so that more shading can be added. Figure 5 shows what can be done by just adding a few gradient fills to the extruded wedge slices.

Bar Charts

Now we're going to make a few more assumptions about our data. We'll create a chart showing how three different products have sold in three different regions. For this, we want a 3D bar chart.

Product A sold 275,000 units in the West; 362,000 in the Central and 437,000 in the East. Product B sold 426,000 in the West; 472,000 in the Central and 293,000 in the East. Product C was the weak one selling 127,000 in the West, 96,000 in the Central and 139,000 in the East.

There are three pieces we need to create in this chart as we want to have the ranges displayed to the left and behind the bars. For the sake of ease, we'll use 1 inch for 100,000 units. With this information, we'll draw a rectangle that is 5 inches high since the highest data point is 472,000. We'll make the rectangle 3 inches wide since we have three products to map. I've also drawn lines at every 1 inch interval and labeled it with the number sold. Since we also have three regions, we'll duplicate the whole thing. These two pieces will create the left and back walls. Lastly, we need to adds labels indicating which parts are which product and region. The finished walls are shown in Figure 6.

The floor of the chart will be 3 inches square and it will be divided into nine different regions. So we'll need one 3 inch square and several dividing lines at 1 inch intervals. Then we'll draw half inch rectangles centered in each region. These will become the bars in our chart. The finished floor is shown in Figure 7.

With all the pieces put together, we're ready to make turn the pieces into a chart. Select all the pieces making up the left wall and click the righthand cube's L icon in EZ Metrics. Now select everything in the right hand wall and press the R icon in the rightmost cube. Slide the resulting walls together so that they are joined in the middle. Lastly, select all the pieces of the floor and click the B icon on the right most cube. Slide the result up next to the first two pieces. You should now have something similar to Figure 8.

Now we're ready to create the bars. Select the rectangle representing Product B in the West region. This should be the top most of the various rectangles. Type 4.26 inches for the Extrude distance which represents 426,000 units. Ctrl-click on the Top Red Extrude arrow. The initial result may be behind the walls and so you'll need to right-click on it and choose Order | To Front. Color it Red and we're ready for the next bar. We'll stick with Product B and move to the Central region. Extrude this one 4.72 inches. Remember to Ctrl-click on the Top Red Extrude arrow or the results won't be what you want. Keep repeating this process until you've created all nine bars. The finished bar chart is shown in Figure 9.

Again, we would decorate this chart a bit more by shading each of the bars differently. And remember that the bars could be any shape we want meaning you aren't stuck with only rectangles. They could even be the shape of the client's logo or something.

Creating the charts this way might take a bit longer than using your spreadsheet, but it allows you to more easily decorate the charts using the fills and shapes available in CorelDRAW. This means that your charts will look better than the next guy and your clients will be happier than someone elses.

Graphics Unleashed

Foster D. Coburn III's Tutorials & Reviews

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Graphics Unleashed
Last Updated August 30, 1999.

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