So, I'm trying out Scribus (1.4.8 on Win 10) for a project. I've installed and am using SWOP v2 ICC for color management in this project.

My question is when it converts this book to a PDF/X3 could I have problems if one or more images in the Scribus doc are not CMKY? In other words, will it convert the images to CMKY within the new PDF or am I setting myself up for a headache?

I understand that not all RGB colors translate to CMKY (like some blues and some reds) but I don't know how to tell if any of the colors in these files will not convert. I'd like to be able to identify that before it becomes an issue.

  • Have you tried simply preflighting a PDF to check?
    – Scott
    Dec 29, 2019 at 6:51
  • @Scott No, I'm in the beginning stage of the project, just trying to be forward-thinking from the start.
    – Leezard
    Dec 29, 2019 at 20:07
  • 1
    @Leezard - I think you should probably convert the images to CMYK, if you want to be forward thinking from the start. Why take the chance? If you are looking for free software to convert RGB to CMYK, then Krita can do it. Then at least you can check if there are any weird colour changes.
    – Billy Kerr
    Dec 29, 2019 at 21:32

2 Answers 2


When you activate the color management, you can ask Scribus to simulate the printer on the screen (and you can activate the option at any time after that : - ).

You can also ask Scribus to mark out of gamut colors (by default they will be show as bright green).

Concerning the PDF, if you don't have access to professional pre-press tools your best bet is probably to trust Scribus and -- if in doubt -- ask the print shop for a proof. All other actions will probably result in a lost of time for you.


Some of my experiences:

Scribus will convert images (and other colors) to CMYK if you enable color management (File -> Document Setup -> Color Management -> Activate Color Management) and choose the right export settings in the export dialog. In the Document Setup, you can also choose the right color profiles according to your printer.

In the export dialog int the Color tab, you should always choose Output Intended for: Printer.

In the General tab of the export dialog, you need to choose the PDF version/compatibility that suits your needs:

  • PDF/X-1a will always convert everything to CMYK.
  • PDF/X-3 will not convert RGB images to CMYK, but embed the appropriate color profile for all RGB images instead. If your printer asks for PDF/X-3 but also asks for CMYK only images, choose PDF/X-1a instead.
  • PDF1.3/1.4 will convert images to CMYK if all options under the Color tab are deselected. It will export RGB images with embedded profiles just like PDF/X-3 when Images: Use Color Profile is enabled in the Color tab.

Also bear in mind that transparency is only supported in PDF1.4 onwards.

IMHO it is not a good idea to convert images to CMYK manually beforehand, particularly if you also intend to publish your document digitally (Color tab -> Screen/Web). Also, I get the impression that some copy shops actually prefer RGB PDFs because their digital printing systems indeed expect RGB input (just like home printers). In that case, it can even make sense to set up font colors etc. in RGB instead of CMYK.

You can double-check whether images in the exported PDF are in CMYK with:

pdfimages -list output.pdf

Sources: https://wiki.scribus-user.de/themen:farbmanagement and own tests

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