Author Topic: Choosing Scribus vs Illustrator vs InDesign etc.  (Read 924 times)

leif1

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 5
  • Karma: 0
  • Scribus User
Choosing Scribus vs Illustrator vs InDesign etc.
« on: June 13, 2019, 08:10:02 pm »
Hello everyone,

I'm working on a book that is similar to a graphic novel (although I favor a relatively free-form and hand-drawn look, so specialized software like Comic Life and Clip Studio seems not suitable).  Basically it's a large number of PNGs I've drawn, combined with text blocks (with my own custom font) and vector shapes into a complex layout on each page.

I started this project in Adobe Illustrator (because I have Adobe CS 5.1).  The idea was to generate a PDF of each page, then use software like Adobe Acrobat to combine the separate page PDFs into one large PDF which works great.

Then I realized, this seemed silly to do.  Since I'm doing a book, surely I want Desktop Publishing software, right?  Unfortunately I don't have InDesign (or Quark), so looking for less expensive options, I arrived at Scribus.

First, I am grateful to see this product exists at all, and ready to donate if it becomes a good "fit" for me.  Now, I have no experience with InDesign, Quark, etc., and just started using Scribus so I don't know what features to expect.  The reason I moved away from Illustrator is wanting multi-page features like:
-Automatic page numbering
-Left vs. right "master page" formatting (although, in Illustrator I simply set up two different templates)
-Ability to insert / delete / shuffle pages and have them correctly change page number, and correctly change left vs. right page format.  Potential big advantage for Scribus!
-Master pages with page header - I assume this is a big advantage (although, can be "faked" somewhat in Illustrator).
-Document-wide search/replace if needed (not sure if I can fake this in Illustrator for dozens of separate files, probably not).
-Ideally, blocks of text/graphics should "flow" from one page to the next as I insert content at the beginning.  (This sort of "works" in MS Word, except it gets somewhat unreliable when a Word document is built of nothing but text blocks and absolutely positioned images; it's not really designed to work that way, and I gave up on Word for this.)
-Possibly other features I cannot envision that will help with a "large document" (e.g. 100+ pp.).

But, after using Scribus a few days, I notice (I think) some deficiencies of Scribus relative to Illustrator:
-Not nearly as powerful in working with vector shapes; no dynamic vector effects, for example (nothing like "outer glow", or multistroke "appearance", etc.)
-Some awkwardness in working with resizing images on the page (e.g. can't just click & drag as you can with Illustrator, need to work with a "frame" for everything, need the extra step of "adjust frame to image size").
-I read on these forums that Scribus doesn't do well with large documents anyway, so you need to break it into chunks, make PDFs separately, and then combine them.  So, for page number and left-vs.-right page layout, there would be some "fiddling" involved, which diminishes those Scribus advantages over Illustrator.
-Also, I am realizing, I suspect there isn't ANY software that allows text blocks/images to "flow" from one page to the next as you insert content above it; this may be an unrealistic fantasy (I'm guessing, 99% of graphic novel artists simply plan all page layouts carefully in advance so they don't need this feature).

If anybody has experience with other DTP software like InDesign, etc., I'm curious if that's where I should be headed next, or, are there features I have not yet discovered in Scribus that would make Scribus worth pursuing further.  Or, maybe for my project Illustrator really is the best solution.  Thanks for reading!

a.l.e

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2253
  • Karma: 28
    • the graphics lab
Re: Choosing Scribus vs Illustrator vs InDesign etc.
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2019, 08:28:12 pm »
from what i've read in your description, it seems indeed that you could profit from using a layout (DTP) program.

from your list, the features that you will be missing in scribus are (afaict):

- search (and replace) through the whole document.
- "intelligent" headers and footers (but i'm not sure you're asking for them).

for the rest, i have the feeling that it's mostly about learning how scribus does the things.

i would suggest you, that you share single pages of your work as images and / or as .sla (scribus) files and collect some feedback.

you should also say, if you think of using the stable (1.4) or the development version (1.5).

leif1

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 5
  • Karma: 0
  • Scribus User
Re: Choosing Scribus vs Illustrator vs InDesign etc.
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2019, 11:00:10 pm »
Thanks a.l.e., for your reply.  I am using Scribus 1.5.4.  I tried the stable version 1.4.x originally, but it would never get past the "loading color profiles" or something, some kind of incompatibility with Mac OS 10.14 I think.

I was surprised to learn about the search/replace limitation.  For text edits, I'm pretty comfortable with plain text editors, so I think BBEdit would do the trick, and the XML file format is a HUGE benefit.  But, I'd want the ability to e.g. change all the "gray 1 px solid" boxes to "black 3 pixel dotted" boxes, so that could be a problem if not possible in Scribus.  But, depending on how that's encoded, it might also be possible to change using BBEdit?

I am surprised that you say "intelligent" headers/footers are missing in Scribus?  Maybe I don't know what this means, but I imagine automatic page numbers, and dynamic right vs. left page headers, which I understand Scribus can do.

But the biggest issue I think is, currently in Illustrator I use the "Appearance" panel which allows you to easily create a black leader line (for labeling) that stands out visually because it is outlined in white, by giving it two strokes, a black stroke on top of a thicker white stroke.  This could possibly be done with "effects" (e.g. "outer glow") but I see that whereas Scribus has Image Effects on bitmaps (e.g. blur, brightness etc.), I don't think it offers any effects for vector shapes.  I see there is a good selection of line styles, though.

Currently, I think what might be best is to
1) Create each page (without header) in Illustrator (or even Photoshop) and export as PNG or JPEG
2) Load them into Scribus, one per page.
3) Add page header (including page numbers) in Scribus.
It seems a shame to convert the writing (which is a font) and vector shapes to a bitmap, but this might be the best way to combine the strengths of Illustrator and Scribus.



a.l.e

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2253
  • Karma: 28
    • the graphics lab
Re: Choosing Scribus vs Illustrator vs InDesign etc.
« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2019, 04:34:25 pm »
importing PNGs into Scribus would be the last resort for me...

if you show a what you are doing, if possible with some sample source files, we might be able to help you further...

Nermander

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1321
  • Karma: 17
Re: Choosing Scribus vs Illustrator vs InDesign etc.
« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2019, 05:01:03 pm »
I think some of the things you describe can be solved by changing styles. Scribus for example has line styles, so you create a line style with a name and use that style. Then you can change the defintion of the style and all lines using that style will be changed.

leif1

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 5
  • Karma: 0
  • Scribus User
Re: Choosing Scribus vs Illustrator vs InDesign etc.
« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2019, 07:56:06 pm »
Attached file shows examples (exported from Illustrator) of the kinds of vector effects I might be using.  The black & white leader line and dotted circle use "appearances", i.e. two (could be more) strokes are stacked so that the shape can be adjusted at will and the the effects adjust automatically.  There are inner & outer glows, some using different color modes.  The green & yellow shape has drop shadow built on a merged image ("Pathfinder" toolset in Illustrator) that lets you dynamically adjust each contributing shape.  Rectangle at bottom right is modified with "pucker & bloat" effect. 

The black & orange rectangle does not use any "vector effects" but is an example of path manipulation I do in Illustrator.  It started as regular rectangle, I used Pencil tool to quickly add curves to it, then used Smoother tool to smooth it; did Outline Stroke, then in the resulting compound path I used Group Select tool to rotate the inner stroke relative to the outer stroke.

Some of these examples are probably a bit extreme, but I just like to know there's a complete range of options as I put more time into working with & learning Scribus.

Thanks for your help!

Nermander

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1321
  • Karma: 17
Re: Choosing Scribus vs Illustrator vs InDesign etc.
« Reply #6 on: June 14, 2019, 09:14:54 pm »
Well I'd say that Scribus is not an alternative to Illustrator, there I think you should look at Inkscape instead.

leif1

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 5
  • Karma: 0
  • Scribus User
Re: Choosing Scribus vs Illustrator vs InDesign etc.
« Reply #7 on: June 14, 2019, 11:53:48 pm »
For efficiency of file size, is it possible to do the following?
1. Save each page from Illustrator or Inkscape as EPS, SVG or PDF (or some other format that is "vector" based)
2. Place that in Scribus -- hopefully smaller file size than if I exported each page as a PNG
3. Output PDF from Scribus -- hopefully fonts, etc. will be crisper because it didn't convert to bitmap

Nermander

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1321
  • Karma: 17
Re: Choosing Scribus vs Illustrator vs InDesign etc.
« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2019, 08:24:07 am »
Yes, it is possible.

EPS and PDF kan be inserted into an image frame, I think PDF can also be imported as vectors. SVG can be imported as vectors (I don't think SVG can be inserted into an image frame).

But color management may not work as it should (at least for embedded PDFs). So if you want to use color management it may not give the result you want.

a.l.e

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2253
  • Karma: 28
    • the graphics lab
Re: Choosing Scribus vs Illustrator vs InDesign etc.
« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2019, 04:09:45 pm »
when you ask a question, please always provide the files you have generated so that we can test it.

giving theoretical replies has mostly just a theoretical validity : - )

so, in theory, you can create an svg or pdf in inkscape / illustrator and get it into scribus as vectors ors, as vectorized frame or as bitmap.

if you can share the original illustrator file and both an svg a pdf created from it, we can give a try at what happens, when it's copy pasted or imported into scribus...

you could also try to achieve the same / a similar result in inkscape and then get it into scribus (and share the inkscape file...).
(most of us probably don't have illustrator... but almost everybody has inkscape...)

leif1

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 5
  • Karma: 0
  • Scribus User
Re: Choosing Scribus vs Illustrator vs InDesign etc.
« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2019, 10:11:19 pm »
Thanks Nermander and a.l.e.

At this stage my interest is mostly theoretical, so theoretical replies are most welcome.  It takes considerable time to get familiar with a piece of software, so there is a period where one needs to assess the pros/cons of even learning a software in a serious way.

When time allows I will try generating an EPS or PDF from a page and embed it in Scribus, and post here...