Scribus: Managing Colors

7 min read


Scribus 1.3.5: Beginner’s Guide

Scribus 1.3.5: Beginner's Guide

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Time for action – managing new colors

To define your own color set, you’ll need to go to Edit | Colors. Here you will have several options. The most import will be the New button, which displays a window that will give you all that you need to define your color perfectly.

  1. Give a unique and meaningful name to your color; it will help you recognize it in the color lists later.
  2. For the color model, you’ll need to choose between CMYK, RGB, or Web safe RGB. If you intend to print the document, choose CMYK. If you need to put it on a website, you can choose the RGB model. Web safe, will be more restricted but you’ll be sure that the chosen colors will have a similar render on every kind of monitor.
  3. Old and New show an overview of the previous state of a color when editing an existing color and the state of the actual, chosen color. It’s very practical to compare.
  4. To choose your color, everything is placed on the right-hand side. You can click in the color spectrum area, drag the primary sliders, or enter the value of each primary in the field if you already know exactly which color you want.
  5. The HSV Color Map on top is the setting that gives you the spectrum. If you choose another, you’ll see predefined swatches. Most of them are RGB and should not be used directly for printed documents.
  6. Click on OK to validate it in the Edit Color window and in the Colors window too.

    (Move the mouse over the image to enlarge.)

  7. If no document is opened, the Colors window will have some more buttons that will be very helpful.
  8. The Current Color Set should be set to Scribus Basic, which is the simplest color set. You can choose any other set but they contain RGB colors only.
  9. Then you can add your own colors, if you haven’t already done so.
  10. Click on Save Color Set and give it a name.
  11. Your set will now be listed in the list and will be available for every new document.

What just happened?

Creating colors is very simple and can be done in few steps. In fact, creating some colors is much faster than having to choose the same color from a long, default color list. My advice would be: don’t lose your time looking for a color in a predefined swatch unless you really need this color (like a Pantone or any other spot). Consider the following points:

  • You should know the average color you need before looking for it
  • It will take some time to take a look at all the available colors
  • The color might not be in a predefined swatch
  • Don’t use the set everybody uses, it will help you make your document recognizable

If no document is opened, the color will be added to the default swatch unless you create your own color name. If a Scribus document is open, even empty, the color will be saved in the document. Let’s see how to reuse it if needed.

Reusing colors from other files

If you already have the colors somewhere, there might be a way to pick it without having to create it again.

If the color is defined in an imported vector (mainly EPS or SVG) file, the colors will automatically be added in the color list with a name beginning with FromEPS or FromSVG followed by hexadecimal values of the color. In an EPS, colors can be CMYK or spot, but in SVG they will be RGB.

CMYK between Inkscape and Scribus
Inkscape colors are RGB but this software is color managed, so you can have an accurate on screen-rendering and you can add a 5-digit color-profile value to the color style property. Actually, no software adds this automatically. Doing it manually in Inkscape through the XML editor will require some knowledge of SVG and CSS. It will be easier to simply get your RGB colors and then go, after import, to the Edit | Colors window and refine the colors by clicking on the Edit button.

If your color is in an imported picture or is placed somewhere else, you can use the Eye Dropper tool (the last icon of the toolbar). When you click on a color, you will be asked for a name and the color will be added as RGB in the color list. If you want to use it in CMYK, just edit the color and change the color model.

The last important use case is an internal Scribus case. The color list swatch defined in a document is available only in that document and saved within it. The bad point of this is that they won’t automatically be available for future documents. But the good point is that you can send your file to anyone and your colors will still be there. You have several ways of doing this.

Time for action – importing from a Scribus document

We have already seen how to import style and master pages from other existing Scribus documents; importing colors will be very similar.

  1. The simplest method to reuse existing already defined colors is to go to Edit | Colors.
  2. Click on the Import button.
  3. Browse your directories to find the Scribus file that contains the colors you want and select it.
  4. All the colors of this document will be added to your new document swatch.
  5. If you don’t need some colors, just select them in the Edit | Colors list and click on the Delete button.

Scribus will ask you which color will replace this deleted color. If this color is unused in your new document, it doesn’t matter.

What just happened?

The Edit Colors window provides a simple way to import the colors from another Scribus document: if the colors are already set in it, you just have to choose it. But there are many other ways to do it, especially because colors are considered as frame options and can be imported with them.

In fact, if you really need the same colors, you certainly won’t like importing them each time you create a new document. The best you can do is create a file with your master pages, styles, and colors defined and save it as a model. Each new document will be created from this model, so you’ll get them easily each time. The same will happen if you use a scrapbook. Performing those steps can help you get in few seconds everything you have already defined in another similar document.

Finally, you may need to reuse those colors but not in the same kind of document. You can create a swatch in GIMP .gpl format or use any EPS or AI file. GIMP .gpl format is very simple but can be only RGB. Give the value of each RGB color. Press the Tab key and write the name of the color (for example, medium grey would be: 127 127 127 grey50). Each color has to be alone on its line. GPL, EPS, and AI files have to be placed in the Scribus swatch install directory (on Linux /usr/lib/scribus/swatches, on Macs Applications/Scribus/Contents/lib/scribus/swatches, and on Microsoft Windows Programs/scribus/lib/scribus/swatches).

When using an EPS file you might get too many colors. Create as many sample shapes as needed on a page and apply a color that you want to keep on each. Then go to Edit | Colors and click on Remove Unused. Then close this window and delete the shapes.

The best way will be the one you’ll prefer. Test them all and maybe find your own.


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