How to set CMYK color on a design for printing

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  • Scribus (yum install scribus)
  • Inkscape (yum install inkscape)
  • A finished design (SVG format) you'd like to make into a CMYK design


RGB is a type of color model used by computer displays. It involves adding red, green, and blue light together in different combinations to form different colors. For example, adding red, green, and blue all together forms white - it is an additive color model because the more colors you add together the closer you get to white. Adding red and blue together forms magenta. Read more about RGB on Wikipedia.

CMYK is a different color model used quite often in printing processes. Rather than being an additive model like RGB, it's a subtractive color model, meaning the more colors you add together, the closer you get to black. CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and blacK, the four ink colors used to produce a range of colors.

Converting between RGB and CMYK is hard. In the past, the Fedora project has tried sending items to the printer in RGB colorspace. For Fedora 7, this resulted in CD labels that were a dark purple rather than the Fedora blue we know and love. Wait, why did this happen?

Well, some of the best graphic tools in the free & open source software world do not support CMYK color. This includes Inkscape and Gimp. However, Scribus, the pre-press page layout program, does support CMYK. It also supports SVG, so we'll be prepping our SVG in Inkscape, then importing it into Scribus to set the CMYK colors.