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Scribus and making booklets for print

Heroes & Treasure Rule Book Cover

I bought Photoshop and I'm getting reasonably good at doing basic "game" stuff with it (not shopping photos). I got Inkscape and used it to lay out my tokens and cut paths.

But I might be most excited about learning Scribus. This is an open-source "equivalent" of Adobe InDesign, i.e. a layout tool.

Took a few hours a day for a week to get my 24-page campaign doc laid out, most of which was the learning curve. So then I decided to tackle a more complex document, namely my rule book.

Anyway, I highly recommend it as a free way to do layout for offset printing.


I looked at it briefly a few

I looked at it briefly a few times for this purpose, but could not figure out a good way to work with it. It seems as if it must be possible to have all the text in a plain text file and only use the GUI to do layout, but could not quite figure that out. Do not want to manually click around some GUI to edit the rules text, so I stick to org-mode with LaTeX/PDF export for now.

I know you can import text into flowing text boxes in Scribus, but I could not figure out how to make it automatically re-import when the file changed. Or how to put style markup or links in the text, but I think there is some kind of LaTeX support?

My text was all entered

My text was all entered directly in Scribus (I just pasted it into the "edit text" box).. I didn't import text files. Not sure what you mean by style markup and links, though.

Pages 2 through halfway-down-8 are basically one giant text box.

The only annoyance I had was that I wanted to have a lot of single-word italics and bold in one of the docs, which has to be done by font, not by clicking "B" and "I" like you might in MSWord (which also means that if I'd changed my font I would've had to re-bold everything.

Also, nothing lets you see graphic asset areas that weren't made transparent like adding a background texture to your pages :)

I am pretty sure in a

I am pretty sure in a application like that you are supposed to configure some kind of styles, and never format anything manually as "bold", but instead mark it as whatever it is and then set the style of that whatever to bold. Even MS Word works that way, but a lot of people never seem to figure that out or just refuse to go through that "trouble". Bad times editing documents where headers are not headers but just manually set bigger font in bold. And manual hard explicit line-breaks everywhere.

Googled and others also have asked for a way to have external text in Scribus, but so far it is not implemented. You can manually click a text box and import a text file into it, but there is no way to make it track the file so you can edit the file and have Scribus automatically update the text boxes.

Yeah, it was probably

Yeah, it was probably possible to do it with a character style. I did that document first, so I was in mid-learning curve on that stuff and just figuring it out. I did everything in paragraph styles correctly, but didn't fully figure out the use of the separate character styles. I'll bet that's what it's for.

I did do that for PARAGRAPHS, so all my headers were fine :) Actually when I did the second document (the rule book), the very first thing I did was define a half-dozen paragraph styles. And then another half-dozen when I started adding bulleted lists and stuff like that.

I do have a few explicit line breaks in there, but it was on purpose. :)

Fortunately for me, I didn't do any layout work until the text was 99% done, and the last 1% was mostly tightening stuff to make the layout better.

Good to hear! Your book looks

Good to hear! Your book looks very nice. One thing I noticed is that the lines are very long. Maybe make the left and right margins bigger? Tiring to read lines with that many words. Not that I have started actually reading it yet.

Yeah, I thought about doing

Yeah, I thought about doing two columns, but it looked a bit weird to me. I can test that out again.. maybe it would work okay. I can't pull in the margins without adding pages, and I'm not bumping this sucker up from 8 to 12 :)

Fortunately, in Scribus, it's very quick to make a change like that ;)

One reason it might not work out well for me is that, for example, I was crafty in my placement of inline dice images such that they all appear on the first line of a new paragraph, which means they "bleed" into the whitespace there. Narrower space would break that.


Probably nobody else cares about this stuff, but..

When I had the thing printed out, I could definitely see that the cover needed more. Particularly because there was dead space at the bottom.

I've attached the new front page (just as a simple, low-res image) to the first post.

About 30 minutes to figure out what I needed to do in Photoshop to make the shapes, and 5-10 in Scribus to get the sizes right. There's a single command (paste multiple) that let me get everything in the right spots on the first try.

Icon placement

When you're putting your icons in the spaces between the text, are you doing that manually, or is it imported with placeholders or something fancy?

Heh, that was something where

Heh, that was something where my google-fu worked great. I knew that feature had to exist.. It's not a great implementation, but it works:

You make the image frame that you want to put in the text, and then you copy (or cut) it, and then click into the text frame on the main wysiwyg page where you want it to go, and then paste.

In the "edit text" view it shows up as a red @.

The only big problem is that you can't edit it (as far as I know) once it's pasted, so if you want to tweak the size or change the image, you have to delete the icon and re-paste. However, if you update the image file on disk, Scribus will auto-load the new graphic just like it does for normal image frames. And of course the benefit is that the icon will move around with the text correctly.

When I put in the tiny bullet-point graphics, they were a bit too high, and I literally just had the image open in Photoshop and moved it down a few pixels, saved, switched to Scribus to look at it, moved it a bit more, etc.

Actually the big card graphics in my document are also done this way. They're on their own line with a special style (centered, 220-point font to make the vertical text spacing right), and they move with the text.

I think maybe you can insert a text frame in a text frame, but I haven't had reason to try that.

Ah I see

Yeah InDesign does something similar with the CC libraries, but I have to set the icons or boxes that will hold them manually first. Oh well, I guess it isn't too bad, was just looking for a way around it, but the rule book looks good!

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blog | by Dr. Radut