Creating print artwork with Inkscape and Scribus

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Guy Shapira,

Guy Shapira,

Hot off the press

Printing firms currently market their services on the Internet and printing has never been cheaper. Linux provides two programs, Inkscape and Scribus, that together produce high-quality print artwork.

Most professional print products are created in Adobe's InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop products. However, the free Scribus [1] and Inkscape [2] application offer alternatives with which you can create technically flawless artwork for offset printing.

Sample CD Cover

Inkscape is still the most useful vector graphic program for design purposes. It provides a wide variety of tools and effects that give you the creative flow you need. You can also use it to integrate external bitmaps and texts.

Figure 1 shows the design for a CD cover in Inkscape. At the top, you can see the preparation for print setup that is used during the design for page size. The three millimeters wide red border is the so-called bleed that falls away during the sheet cutting. Because of the tolerances of the cutting machines, the design in this regard needs to proceed flawlessly.

Figure 1: This is how the design was created in Inkscape: The page size follows the template of the printing press. The light wedges at the bottom still appear at this stage without the strong blur added later.

The photo highlighted through cross-hatching was brought in directly in RGB color format. The conversion to press format of CMYK color space takes place while exporting the entire cover. The green polygons on the front and back side will get a blur of 90% in the setting for the object fill, resulting later in soft light spots. The text on the front side will get a soft blur through the Shadows and Glows | Drop Glow effect. The small wedge highlighted in magenta at the left edge of the ochre-colored border adds Blur on one side. For a useful introduction to the drawing and painting program, refer to the Inkscape guide [3].

True Colors

To have on-screen colors not deviate too much from what's printed, set the appropriate color profile for your monitor. You can find profiles on the Internet under icc profile , icm profile , or color profile and your monitor's model number.

You can often find the ICC or ICM file directly on the CD that came with your monitor when you install the driver in Windows. The Windows 7 setup copied the author's Asus monitor profile into the spool\drivers\color\ directory in C:\Windows\System32\ .

Some newer monitors have an sRGB mode [4] that adapts to the color representation in the profile of the same name. You can obtain these and other consistent profiles from Adobe [5]. Copy the ICC or ICM file into the /usr/share/color/icc/ folder that all Linux applications access. Some distributions also provide an adobe-profiles package or something of the sort.

Inkscape manages the profiles in File | Inkscape Preferences | Color Management as Display Profile and Device Profile (Figure 2). The Display Profile normalizes the screen reproduction and the Device Profile simulates the printing device's color rendering on the computer. Activate the printing color preview with Simulate output on screen . Check the Black Point Compensation box to optimize the brightness display. For Display Adjustment and Display Rendering Intent , choose Perceptual . Inkscape represents the print colors on screen so that they match human perception as much as possible.

Figure 2: Inkscape color management provides accuracy with the matching profiles for the screen (in blue) and printer (in red).

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