Color Management setup

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This article is part of the Tips & Tricks series.
Installation Usage PDF issues Other

These are practical notes to issue a PDF for printer, using RGB images, and having to issue a CMYK PDF.


Color Management deals with how the color are managed both in the PDF output files AND in the input image files.

Setup is spread in 3 places :

  • Scribus preferences and document setup
  • Color pane in the export to PDF dialog
  • little "color management" button in status bar

Scribus and Document Setup

These are the preferences for the OUTPUT file.

Beware ! When a document is created, it features the Scribus defaults ICC profiles. If later changing the default Scribus ICC profile, the document's own ICC profile dont change and keep as previously set by default scribus setup.

Color pane in the export to PDF dialog

First option is to specify the output type : either RGB (web) or CMYK (printer)

Then the "united colors" and "images" title options are to specify how to read images : input setup.

Color management button down in the statusbar

This controls all !

ICC enable.png

Whenever it is not pushed, no CM will occur.

PDF output

PDF exists in many flavors : 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, X-3 (and X-1 available in scribus 1.5 svn).

Some PDF versions only accept CMYK image files like X1, some other versions accept mixes of RGB and CMYK, like X3.

  • PDF/X-1a: Blind exchange in CMYK + Spot Colors, based on PDF 1.3
  • PDF/X-3: Allows CMYK, Spot, Calibrated (managed) RGB, CIELAB, with ICC Profile, based on PDF 1.3.

When creating a pdf that only accepts CMYK, like PDFX1a, Scribus converts all RGB images into CMYK, using the provided color profile.

So as to create a CMYK-only PDF1.4 or PDF1.5 file, one has to

  • setup the correct ICC profiles in the document dialog
  • enable the CM through CM button in statusbar
  • in Color pane of PDF setup dialog, select "printer" as output, and leave everything unckecked, particularly DONT embed profile for images.