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Is it possible to use only open-source tools in order to produce professional level artwork? Has anyone actually done it? If not, where are the current gaps?

Assume I'm producing a small multi-page brochure including photos, line art and CMYK + a spot colour, and need to take it as far as a PDF I can hand off to the printers.

I've now added a bounty in order to encourage additional answers.

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up vote 10 down vote accepted

A bit of overlap with what I just answered here, and you can grab urls from there, but yep, a Gimp and or Inkscape --> Scribus workflow might be ok. ( Edit: or maybe just sk1 )

Actually done it? Yep. I indeed work with mostly free and open source tools. No complaints :) In my experience, you often have to use heavily your brain and create your tricks to achieve certain industry demanded requirements when the open source tool hasn't got yet this or that feature. For this reason, the time factor is key to decide. If is needed a very fast, stressful environment, no hassle workflow, very demanding on features, (often is the typical graphic artist job) imho only the best of the best commercial tools would keep it totally safe. Still so, I prefer open source workflows.(generally, not always. but often take the risk. Has the big price of avoiding your boss waste more money. Or keep your money if work as well as a freelance. )

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Good stuff. Where you talk about working around missing features - any examples? – e100 Jan 5 '11 at 16:58
How does the economics of FOSS vs. commercial work out to save money, then? The costs of Adobe and Quark are legendary in the industry, but it's not as though we have to pay them every time we output a job. If the FOSS tools don't support technologies as core to printing as CMYK and Pantone, then I would argue that the support costs associated with FOSS tools are just as much as the commercial licenses. – Philip Regan Jan 18 '11 at 14:50
@philip...that's certainly true. From a pure cost perspective, it's an issue of scale. If a person does 20 hours of freelance a year, it's probably not profitable to dump a few grand into the Adobe suite. But otherwise, yea, it's likely cheaper to go with the mature 'standard' platform of Adobe. Lots of people, though, are looking more at FOSS from a purely political POV. – DA01 Jan 18 '11 at 16:53
I get the whole FOSS debate, but when we're trying to run a business, it really becomes a question of how much our time is worth. A lot of the more successful FOSS projects I have seen and used have found a way to monetize their work one way or another, typically through support contracts to help users get up to speed. It seems to me that Scribus needs to fill in some rather large gaps in functionality before it can really contend with its commercial competition before it will have any impact on the market. Personally, I think the market needs a good kick in the pants, so I'm all for it. – Philip Regan Jan 18 '11 at 19:23
From a film or plate perspective spot/CMYK issues weaken. Before all these great color features designers realized that to the ink every plate is color agnostic. We routinely designed in B&W then relabeled film. We exported Photoshop spot color layers, flattened them, and printed them as grayscale and then instructed the printer which Pantone color to use for that plate. Often we manually added color names between crop marks. I’ve never found spot color to be much of an issue no matter the tools. – user179700 Jul 30 '11 at 8:57

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