Take the 2-minute tour ×
Graphic Design Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for Graphic Design professionals, students, and enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

One of my pages has a single image taking up some space on the page. The rest of the space (the space not occupied by the image), should be transparent: that is, whenever I send it to the printing service, the base color of the selected paper should be visible, without any ink being printed on it (not even white - the paper will have a base color/texture that I do not want to print over)

Currently exporting the page to a png file creates an image with my original image on a white background, since that is what the background in scribus is set to. I do not want this: I want the image to be on a transparent background.

I have taken a look in all possible menu options and I have been unable to find where can I set the background color, which currently seems to be white. I do not know if it is possible to set the background color of a page, and in case it is possible, if it is possible to set it to transparent.

How can I achieve this in scribus?

share|improve this question
This sounds a little odd; though I have not really used Scribus in a longlong time. Are you certain that the png you are exporting actually have a white background, and that it is not your png previewer that has a default white background? If not, all I can think of is the actual export settings for png. –  Benteh Apr 7 '14 at 23:33
..another thing; chances are that even though it looks white, the printer will not recognise it as white as per file type. –  Benteh Apr 7 '14 at 23:38
I have opened also in gimp: the background is indeed white. I do not want to risk it: I am making a big order in a special textured paper, so it will be very sad if it is printed white. –  jeckyll2hide Apr 7 '14 at 23:41
You certainly do not want to take any chances. However, it is extremely unlikely going on impossible that a printer would print white. Only multicoloured art prints and specialised printing can do that. BUT you should send it to your printer and ask how they read the file. Can I ask why you have made it in Scribus, when Gimp or Inkscape would make a little more sense? Scribus, I think, are not really the tool for png? –  Benteh Apr 7 '14 at 23:50
In print production, white generally means transparent or stock. Unless you are specifically paying for a white ink, I think you're over-thinking this entirely and don't need to do anything. Of course, png is an inappropriate format for print production as well. –  Scott Apr 8 '14 at 1:48

4 Answers 4

I don't believe that the option exists as print-layout software is focused on laying ink on paper. Since "white" is the absence of ink, it acts as a transparent background.

Keep on mind that unless you are laying a base of ink as a spot color on top of your specialty paper, you will not have any "white" areas in your print. In fact all non-black colors will be darker. You can mock this up by layering a png of your layout with a image of your paper using the multiply blend mode in any decent image editor.

You should ask your printer for a proof if you have any more reservations.

share|improve this answer
Thanks. According to this, we have the interesting situation that if I place an order with, say, a green paper, any white in my document will stay as green. If I tell the printing service that I want white to be printed (because maybe some of my images have some white), the problem will be that both the white in the images and the white in the background will print. How can the printing service distinguish between white meant to be transparent and white meant to be white? For that we have another color: transparent. But according to the answers here, scribus does not have it. Any solution? –  jeckyll2hide Apr 8 '14 at 5:36
@jeckyll2hide The solution to this supplementary question is to use a tool which can cope with the requirement. Even Microsoft Publisher will set transparent colours! –  Andrew Leach Apr 8 '14 at 11:44

For sending a document to be printed, don't use PNG as the export format. There are three reasons for this:

  • A printing press uses CMYK, and PNG is an RGB-only format.

  • If your document contains text, that text will be rasterized and will print at the resolution of your PNG (perhaps 300 ppi) instead of the 2800 dpi at which live text or vector information is converted in a RIP.

  • PNG does not contain a color profile, so not only are RGB > CMYK color changes going to occur, lack of a color profile in the image means that you have no idea what those color changes are likely to be.

Use the Scribus Print PDF workflow instead. Not only will this be a lot easier for your printer to deal with, the output quality will be much higher.

As everyone else has noted, white is transparent on press, so is not something to be concerned about.

share|improve this answer
Interesting. I'll try that out in my printer before placing the order. –  jeckyll2hide Apr 8 '14 at 5:17

If you are printing in CMYK (which most of the time you will) you will note that there is no 'white ink'. In other words, whatever is white in your file is 'transparent' when it goes to press.

So what is white on your document will be 'the paper'.

share|improve this answer
Thanks, makes sense. I am too much used to the web. One thing that I still do not get: what if I want another background? How can I change that in scribus? Do I have to place an image in a low layer taking the whole page with the color I want? –  jeckyll2hide Apr 8 '14 at 5:16
It's been a while since I've used Scribus, so not sure if I'd be much help. That said, if you want to 'emulate' what you might see, I'd export the entire page from Scribus as an image, then bring that into a raster program such as The Gimp or PhotoShop. Put your 'page' on one layer, and underneath a scan of your paper. Then set the layer blending to 'darken'. But note that that is just an emulation. Inks will change a bit when printed on colored stock, so definitely consult with your printer. –  DA01 Apr 8 '14 at 5:21
Thanks, interesting tip. Why the darken blending mode? –  jeckyll2hide Apr 8 '14 at 5:39
Anything lighter than the background layer (your paper) will be 'transparent' with that blending mode. –  DA01 Apr 8 '14 at 6:36

As others have noted, white = paper in the print world unless you request it to be otherwise.

When using a specialty stock, it is often useful to have a reference background while designing and during the early in-house proofing process. For this purpose, I create a separate layer below all artwork that contains a scan of the stock or a representative color. Before sending for final proofs, you simply toss this layer.

share|improve this answer
that can be useful, but also misleading, as a true colored stock will affect all of the perceived colors of the printed parts, which you wouldn't necessarily see as a digital background file. –  DA01 Apr 8 '14 at 3:24
Unless you activate overprinting on the other layers. You have to be sure the printer knows what you're up to but, even a bad facsimile is better than looking at it on white. –  plainclothes Apr 8 '14 at 3:26
It's admittedly been a while since I've done much DTP in page layout apps...do they now emulate printing on colored stock? (If so, 'cool!' but I don't know if Scribus has that capability) –  DA01 Apr 8 '14 at 3:30
You can piece together a reasonable representation in InDesign. Not sure about Scribus. Any app with layers and layer blending can at least give you an indication. That's still better than designing on white :) –  plainclothes Apr 8 '14 at 3:48

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.