GIMP/CMYK support

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This article will show how to enable rudimentary CMYK support in The GIMP using the Separate plug-in.
It will also cover more general topics on CMYK colors and DTP.


Before you need

Before you install CMYK support for The GIMP, you need to know if you really need it.

There has been much debate about the merits of using The GIMP. Most of the heated discussions revolves around the fact that The GIMP does not support CMYK mode. However, you have to understand that the topic is more important to DTP professionals than other users (photographers, web artists, home users). CMYK color model (or CMYK mode) is used mostly by DTP professionals that need to output images intended for printing on a commercial press. For an average home user or even professional photographers, support for separating images using CMYK color is not necessary. Most ink-jet and color laser printers print color images using sRGB color, so you don't really need CMYK color for that either.

Required software

You need The GIMP (of course), and lcms (Little CMS). Both can be obtained from the Arch package repositories. You also need to download the source tarball for Saparate plugin.

Root access

You will need root access in order to install the plugin.

Note on Adobe ICC profiles

[Adobe Systems] offer a nice set of standard color profiles for professional use. However, before you use the products, please read the end user license agreement supplied with the .zip file. The zip files (Windows version is a zip file, and it is the prefered way to get ICC profiles) are located at Adobe's [support page].

About CMYK color model

First off, the proper name for CMYK mode, as it is commonly known, is CMYK color model. It is called a color model, because it represents a standard way of decribing colors.

CMYK color and The GIMP

Installing and using Separate plug-in

Obtaining the Separate plug-in

Installing the plug-in

Example RGB-to-CMYK conversion

Soft-proofing using Separate plug-in

Other ways to do RGB-to-CMYK conversion