Scribus and Pantone colors

From Scribus Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This article is part of the Ongoing Discussions series.
Installation Usability MacOS Fonts Other

IMPORTANT NOTE: The following discussion doesn't reflect the current stage of spot colours support in Scribus, but will be kept for historical reasons, to demonstrate how the final solution has been reached. See How to use spot_colours with Scribus for more.

There have been quite a few interesting discussions on the mailing list on how to use Pantone/spot colors with Scribus. It would be a pity, if they got lost deep in the mailing list archives, so there are the most insteresting parts of them. Join in with your opinion!

Complete pantone equiv

Here is a manuel set of complete pantone color to include in scribus.rc


find scribus.rc (originaly /home/xxxxx/.scribus/scribus.rc) edit it with nedit or gedit, or something else

find last line begining with <COLOR RGB="...........

insert just after this line the total joined file by copy & paste

save en enjoy

PS: use at your owne risk, this is a transcript for pantone table on the web, and this work is not intented for piracy or something else.

Regards Olivier Coquet France

(for the color set see the original mail)

Ways to implement spot colors

As a layout application, Scribus is fine, plus its PDF output is flawless.

Our final worry is that it doesn't support proprietary color standards such as Hexachrome or Pantone -- and likely never will."


Can't these features ever be supported via proprietary plugins in the future? I mean provide some good API planned just for that, waiting for someone to come in and do it? (perhaps I'm asking for something that's absolutely not feasible...)


Its not about the code, its about the fee/royalties/large sums of cash that need to be paid to use the systems.


Hey - you can always see if Pantone would like to contribute to an open source project... you know, it's for a good cause sort of thing...

You can tell Pantone about "...applications critical to your success in which the ability to use PANTONE Colors would be helpful." at this web page: ;)

Say, 3 apps can be listed, I can dump in The GIMP and Inkscape as well...

-- David Purton

Spot color support is a feature we need. No questions on that.

Support for "Pantone" or for any other "color match system" raises the royalty/fee issue like Craig points out.

And we can't offer "Pantone" under GPL in Scribus, obviously, unless Pantone releases its own system under GPL.

Now, tell me if I am wrong, but "spot color support" does not implies Scribus needs, in an absolute manner, Pantone or the like color matching systems. At least not in all cases.

On top of the royalty issue, I see 3 other issues related with color matching systems like Pantone.

1. The color (plate) name that appears in the Postscript file and ultimately on the film or plate.

2. Onscreen rendering of the spot color

3. Printed rendering on digital printers of the spot color (not offset presses because it's up the pressmen to put the right ink... and then, there is no other issue at the software end than being able to output a plate for the extra color).


1. Scribus lets users put any color name in the color creation dialog.

2. Scribus lets users put any combination of cmyk inks to produce a color in the dialog box.

3. Most digital printers have their own rips and are all getting more and more "Pantone certified"...

Basically, the only fundamental issue here is Scribus not being able to output that spot color plate, so far. To my knowledge, the idea of "spot color" itself is not copyrighted, or is it?

As you know, I am not an expert at "under the hood" software mechanics but from what I've seen so far with various printers is they render Pantone colors in many ways due to the printing engine, the quality/type/number of the toners/inks they use in each particular printer AND to the algorithm for Pantone matching built into their rips - each vendor has its own solution based on the printer's gamut (and the paper used). Some printer vendors claim to be able to reproduce up to 85% of the Pantone palette on their machine. I never seen such a claim in any DTP app.

All this to say, and again you tell me if I'm wrong, what Scribus needs to send the printer is a color name it will recognize. The critical info which is asked from the source app is that color name. How this particular color is printed is up to the printer. Right?

When you want more control it must be done at the printer's rip, where you can tweak the values for any spot color you want until you get the desired result from your printer for that particular color (provided of course you have access to these settings, which is not the case for many if not all low-end printers/rips - you are then tied to your printer's capabilities).

From what I know, the only control Quark has over Pantone rendering is screen related. The GUI offers an onscreen palette (the printed equivalent on paper can be bought in graphic art supplies stores). It's easier to work with a palette you can pick color from, I agree. At that point, I think the vast majority of Scribus users, even profesionnals, will be able to get along with a basic and usable "spot color support" that will allow them to enter a color name such as "Pantone 185 C" (or any other name), specify a decent screen rendering of that color, and output the plate.

The idea of having an extra "commercial" plug-in for anyone of us who absolutely need the Pantone palette for their work may be the preferred solution. Unless we come up with an open source solution of which I can't think of right now.

Coffee time!


P.S. The copyright aknowledgment about Pantone on the Quark splash screen clearly say that onscreen color might differ from the actual Pantone specs. Users are asked to refer to the printed material for accurate color reference...

There is no need to name a Spot Color as Pantone 145 CV ( just an example) you can name the color "Spot Color 145 Coated" and leave the Pre-Press workflow system substitute it by whatsoever is desired.

A lot of big companies have done it without any royaltie or penalty.

Celio Santos

But providing a simpler, more compatible solution is more appropriate anyway. Put simply, when the printer asks "what red is that in XYZ colour system" and u then update your file and generate your EPS with 1234 in it.. seems much easier to me. GPL compatible and colour system independent.


This comment has not been posted to the list, but if someone thinks it should have been, please tell me.

First let me describe how I am used to deal with printers: They receive my PDF files, and after having had some bad results in the past, I tell them exact colour values ("the area on page x has C=100, M=3, Y=67, K=6, as an example). I always insist on checking this part, because, in my experience, this is one of the parts in printing, which is quite risky and sensitive.

Let's have a look on the use of spot colours: They are mostly used for the printing of large areas (company signs and similar things). If you are creating a file for printing large areas, you, as a designer, have an obligation to talk about colours with the printer.

Sometimes, spot colours are needed to print colours otherwise not reproducable with CMYK-printing in small scale publications. In this case, you also have to tell the printer what he needs to know.

So, for the ease of use, a spot colour palette would be fine, but by no means necessary. You can create a pink colour in scribus, choose a name for it, and tell the printer this has to be Pantone xx abc. And xx abc might be dark blue.

Once again: Even if you use software with Pantone support (Quark, CorelDraw, InDesign ...), you still have to check the correctness of colour values with the printer. Once a constant relationship is established, it won't matter if a dark blue Pantone colour is green, pink or whatever in your file. --C schaefer 02:44, 16 May 2005 (UTC)

An interesting debate on the legal issues has taken place on Groklaw: (search for Pantone)