Picture Format

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Hi there!

I'm new to both Scribus and to setting books, but I'm learning. For book covers, what picture formats work in Scribus? Any to avoid?


take a look at the list of supported file formats in the file browser when you load an image...
(of course there are differences in the image quality – but that's not specific to scribus.)




As utnik said above, Scribus can use many different image formats (file types) but you need to be aware that they differ in ways that might not be immediately obvious (again, as utnik suggested).

This article gives a general overview of the most-used formats: http://www.scantips.com/basics09.html

A quick overview of the article - for Scribus work - is:

* Don't use JPEGs unless you have no other option or you don't really care much about image quality. JPEGs might look fine on-screen but if you get something professionally printed then - unless you've been very careful - you will notice that the image doesn't look as good as you thought it should. (Having said that, if you get a good high-resolution JPEG - e.g. thousands of pixels across rather than just something like 800x600 - then it will probably be okay for most uses. Just be careful and get a sample print if necessary.)

* Don't use GIFs.  They're really not good enough for modern DTP use. The colour range is simply awful for most image subjects.

* TIFs are absolutely fine for DTP work. They're lossless - so no degradation of image - and can handle things like CMYK (if you need that sort of thing). You could say that they're the industry standard for this sort of thing.

* PNGs are normally absolutely fine for DTP work too, and you can use transparency if needed. (Just be wary of PNGs that have a transparency layer that isn't being used; that can make the file size twice as large as it needs to be.)

* Don't use BMPs. No-one uses them anymore, even on Windows machines.

* Scribus can't use RAW images - as of 1.4.6 - so you will need to convert them first and that's way outside the scope of this thread.

Obviously there can be exceptions to the above guidelines. For example, just because you have a TIF image it doesn't mean that the image will be good quality. A badly focussed/composed TIF will be of less use than a good-looking JPEG. Also, a JPEG may be all you need for a small image and it will help to keep the size of the document down.

Having said all of that, if you are creating something that will be digitally distributed and you want fast download times and you don't ever expect the document to be printed then JPEGs might be absolutely fine. Using the right tool for the job is a big part of DTP.

You may also need to consider file sizes. TIFs (and PNGs) are usually a lot bigger than a comparable JPEG and if you use a lot of them you may need to have a machine with a lot of memory. This might not be an issue on an individual basis but it's something worth keeping in mind.

It's also worth saying that Scribus doesn't alter images - unless you specifically tell it to when you're exporting - so you don't have to worry about it messing around with image quality. Saving a Scribus document containing an image does not re-save the image. Scribus just references images as they are on the disk so it doesn't change the original. Images might look blurred or grainy on-screen but that's usually because, for example, you're trying to view a 300DPI image on a 90DPI screen. Try changing the Image Preview setting - right-click on image frame, "Image Preview -> Full Resolution" - to get a better view but you're always limited by your screen resolution.

Further, converting a JPEG to a TIF will not make the image quality any better. You will stop any further degradation of the image due to saving after editing but you can't undo any "damage" done previously. If you have a JPEG and you don't need to edit and save it then just use it as it can't get any worse.

I hope this has given you a bit more information to help make a better choice of image format.