Making cool stuff using FOSS software

Scribus really saved me in the past couple of months. I needed to create a bunch of bling to get printed out, including buttons, visors, t-shirts, media sleeves & labels, and signage. I’ve always had trouble with print designs using FOSS software, mainly because of the difficulty of producing files with CMYK color. The F8 media artwork process was extremely painful because of my inability to produce files with CMYK color.

The F9 media artwork went so smoothly and it’s thanks to Scribus. mrdocs’ repositories of svn builds of Scribus are especially great (thank you SO much!) I was able to get the appropriate bleeds in the files for the sign printers (seems to be a bug with bleeds in the current version of Scribus in F9) using his build.

A rough description of my basic workflow:

  • Create artwork in Inkscape and/or Gimp; export to 300dpi PNG for complex artwork with blur and alpha transparencies, use SVG for simple artwork.
  • Import artwork into Scribus. Any text that has to go on top of artwork, do in Scribus (eg the Fedora 9 Sign or the F9 Media Sleeve.)
  • Convert imported bitmaps (if any) to CMYK color in the Scribus properties palette.
  • In the Scribus colors palette, set the proper CMYK color values for the vector artwork.
  • Export to EPS (or if you have transparencies, PDF) and send to printer.
  • Success!

Anyhow, I am hoping this post serves as evidence that you can make really cool designs in free & open source software that printers can accept without any problems and that come out perfectly fine. All of these items came back from the printers perfectly fine and without a hitch. And there was no back-and-forth with the printers to get the file to work; in all cases but one (where I had to update the text in one of the files), the printers were able to work with the very first file I sent them.

Fedora 9 Sign:

FUDcon Signage:

Fedora 9 Media;
Fedora 9 Media Artwork

FUDcon shirt:
FUDcon T-shirt

Spacewalk shirt:

#rhel buttons:

About Máirín Duffy

Máirín is a principal interaction designer at Red Hat. She is passionate about software freedom and free & open source tools, particularly in the creative domain: her favorite application is Inkscape. You can read more from Máirín on her blog at blog.linuxgrrl.com.


6 thoughts on “Making cool stuff using FOSS software

  1. Whoa

    Nice work! Thanks for sharing the steps you used. I think my favorites are the Boston 08 T-Shirt and the signage.

    I cheated on a recent design and skipped the Scribus step. We sent a PNG from Inkscape to the printer and got a proof that was to the client’s liking…

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/porkfriedrice/2604721615/ (GIMP + Inkscape)

    I had CS2 in back but this way felt better. 🙂

    Posted by Anonymous | June 23, 2008, 9:01 pm
  2. Seconded

    I used Scribus for doing a scientific poster (4’x4′). Once I got the hang of it, it went very smoothly. Export to PDF, and gave it to the printer.

    Posted by Anonymous | June 24, 2008, 4:31 am
  3. Mairin, any chance you could update http://wiki.scribus.net/index.php/Success_stories ? 🙂

    Posted by prokoudine | June 24, 2008, 1:41 pm
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