It's really funny…

… wether a graphics application support CMYK or not, each time there is an article about this application, there is a lot of comments around CMYK. Each time, the gimp has released a new version, someone would ask “do this,at last, support CMYK ?”, or if the question “what application do you miss on linux ?” is raised, someone will answer photoshop because of its support of CMYK.

So now, krita supports well CMYK since 1.5 (actually some CMYK support was introduced in 1.4, but as a demo), Monday, we have release a new version, and I can see some comments about how useless it is to support CMYK (wether it is on slashdot or the dot).

I am thinking that the emergence of the opinion about the uselessness of CMYK, has start, recently, by an interesting comment of Nathan Willis answering someone who was wondering if GEGL will bring CMYK support to the Gimp. And I think he is correct, in 99% of the use case, users won’t need CMYK at all.

So, is CMYK really the reason preventing people to use Open Source image editors ?

While CMYK (Cyan Magenta Yellow blacK) inks are used by all color printers, all home and business printers do the conversion from RGB alone. Which means, that, most of the time, if you create an image in krita (or photoshop) in CMYK, you will gain nothing, because krita will have to convert it to RGB before printing!

So useless feature ? In fact no, some professional printers like, for instance, offset printers takes CMYK as input. When I was still studying in engineering school, I took care of editing and printing the student newspaper, and we were using duplicators (we had much more modern version…), we had two of those machines, a one-cylinder duplicator (which could create the master) and a two-cylinders one (but which was requiring the first one to create masters), we were able to emulate CMYK printing, by printing twice with the two-cylinders machine, but as the master could only be created one at a time, we needed a CMYK capable application to do manually the printing.

That’s why, Marc and Marie are the only two people who need a CMYK editor. Marc is working for a professional printing service which own printers whose drivers works in CMYK (assuming such a driver exist on linux…). And Marie is an artist, drawing original artwork from scratch and she ask Marc to print them. While John is a photograph, he also send pictures to Marc for printing, but it’s camera creates RGB images, so there is no difference if he transform the image himself, of if he gives Marc directly the RGB images. For Marie, CMYK editing is important, because it will give her the most control on the resulting image, mostly because C=M=Y=100% B=0%, and C=M=Y=0% B=100% is the same color, black, but when printed, the second one will looks better than the first one. But all other people in the world are in the same position as John, they don’t care about CMYK.

So except for Marc and Marie, CMYK is not the reason why people will choose Photoshop over the Gimp, or Krita over the Gimp. Supporting CMYK is a nice feature, that some people need, but it’s not breathtaking and it’s far to be the most useful feature of an image editor.

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2 Responses to It's really funny…

  1. Josep says:

    However < HREF="http://www.scribus.net" REL="nofollow">Scribus<> developer’s consider it very important.See what they < HREF="http://rants.scribus.net/2006/10/14/krita-16a-new-tool-for-your-toolbox-1/" REL="nofollow">say<> about the new Krita version.

  2. Cyrille Berger says:

    Yes, because Marc and Marie are the main users of scribus. CMYK is a usefull feature, but for a very specific usuage.

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