Noobish question - printing from GIMP (with CMYK?)


my dearest apologize for stupid question, I’ve spent many hours with theoretical research but I still don’t have any (definitive) answers …

I wanted to boost up my photography experience so I decided to buy a printer to be able to print my photographs at home. I was occasionally printing photographs by local print business but it was just to give them a jpg (in sRGB) and select a paper based on trial/error/like-the-outcome based selection. Of course that some photographs were looking a bit different on paper than on screen but I just didn’t care much … Recently I decided to buy a Canon PIXMA PRO-200 and I will be printing mostly with FOMEI papers - they provide downloadable ICC profiles: Photo printers and ICC profiles - … I am Linux user and my workflow is RawTherapee (or eventually Darktable) for RAW processing and then GIMP for everything else, but basically speaking, I am exporting final JPEGs from GIMP … I am landscape photographer for a big prints (and own family photographer for a smaller private prints).


Will I be able to reasonably print on Canon PRO-200 (+ FOMEI papers) with my Linux rig ? Will I be able to elevate my workflow to semi-pro level for a prints so that my printer will yield me an predictable output comparable/same as if I had a commercial software ?

Gear involved:

  • Benq SW240 - semi-pro calibrated display - It seems to be working fine with Linux
  • Canon PIXMA PRO-200 (TODO - to-buy) - the printer of my dreams (yet in dreams)
  • Laptop with i7 cpu and Intel GFX - and with openSUSE :stuck_out_tongue: … I have several of them, just a business class Dell, I don’t have a laptop with dedicated graphics but it doesn’t seem to me required, or is it required ? Will that bring me something ?

Plan B:

Windows or MAC with some commercial software - PS/LR or Zoner or Affinity - I don’t wanna :frowning: … my heartbeat is just opensource … I am opened to all kind of resolution - my wife is Apple/Mac user so we have couple of Apple computers home but I would love to stick with my beloved opensource.

Thank you very much in advance for your kind help and sharing your experience …

regards, ~dan

Hi Dan,

The Canon PRO-200 is an 8-color ink jet printer, right?

a) Why CMYK?
b) Does Canon have any drivers, software, et cetera for Linux?
c) In semi-antique days, nothing could beat a Mac when delivering originals for print. Every ad agency had them.

Have fun!
Claes in Lund, Sweden

Hi Claes,

thanks for input, ad to:

I guess that that there will be a ppd file in Mac driver package like with 99% of printers ? This is how I was able to always use any random printer in Linux if not supported directly with CUPS drivers (or gutenprint, etc)

I am really beyond calling myself even a beginner in this area (photo printing) - but isn’t it required to be able to process a photographs that will look same on screen and on paper while printed ? There’s ongoing devel progress in CMYK support in GIMP (Image → Color Management) … Please educate me what the high-level steps then are from JPEG (developed and processed photograph typically in sRGB) in computer to physical print in your hands to print being printed predictably ? There are tons of videos on youtube. Almost every photographer have some episodes in his/her channel regarding this and it looks like (at least for me :D) almost a science - and not surprisingly literally all these PROs just use commercial software (typically Adobe LR/PS for printing). If I understand that correctly I will use that “Soft Proofing” only ??? Is that enough, pls see screenshot

My problem is that my photographs look bit different while displayed on screen Vs printed physically and I wanted to address and solve this issue (learn a bit about that along the way) and just print home at my own printer rather than printing with local business …

thanks and regards, ~dan

CMYK … but isn’t it required to be able to process a photographs that will look same on screen and on paper while printed ?

That has nothing to do with it.
Somewhere, I have a gamut (color space) comparison
between CMYK and sRGB, printed on a good paper as well as
on a bad paper.

Here is the first link: Having fun (?) with printing profiles -- paper/gamut comparisons...

And here is the second: Color Printing 101: the RGB & CMYK gamuts – ImageBlog

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Hi Dan,

welcome to a world of pain. :crazy_face:

Joking aside, printing – especially when you aim for high quality – is an endless topic.

But the good news is: you don’t want to deal with CMYK files. CMYK should always and only be considered a device color space. Like the one that gets put onto your screen. Do you convert your images to Benq_SW240_final_improved_better_final_final.icc before looking at them? No, you let the color engines in the background take care of that. You should think the same about the printer - yes, you need a color profile, but the printer driver should do that conversion for you.

Besides that Canon would need MPCYBKGYPMLGYC files anyway.

Back in the days we used some crazy expensive specialised RIP software for the Epson in the studio and I ran a small version of that at home - but my self-printing days are long gone. So I do not have current knowledge of which software is really the best for printing, I hope someone else can give you some hints.


Ok, thanks guys for your input … I don’t have that printer yet … Could you please help to answer my original question that was :: Will I be able to print (with my Linux rig eventually) the images that are developed RT->GIMP with bundled sRGB that it will properly employ all capabilities of Canon PRO-200 printer ? My dearest apologize if the question doesn’t make a sense, my technical knowledge in this area is just like very low …

Very most of guides that I was reading (or watching eventually) started with `Convert your image to Adobe RGB’ …

Could you please kindly outline for me what are the high-level steps when you have in your computer the JPEG (or TIFF or GIMP’s native .xcf) with GIMP’s sRGB to print that file on printer (Canon PRO-200 + specific paper, let’s assume that I can download ICC from site) that before I will hit a big green button saying “PRINT NOW :D” I could be able to precisely anticipate what will be on paper ?

I am before buying this printer and I just want to be sure if I will be able to use it for to print files that were developed in Linux using open source programs … I know that there is also some proprietary Canon application (some kind of print manager) that I can eventually use on some Mac computer but I will develop my photographs and prepare them for a print on my Linux box using Rawtherapee (or Darktable) and then GIMP

The last “professional” software I used in those days
was InDesign. They have a good description about
how to handle color: Manage color in InDesign

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A bit old, bit still fully valid: My first color management experiment

Before you spend that large amount of money on an 8-color printer (you will learn that the price of the printer in the long run is nothing compared to the cost of paper and ink cartridges),
why not invest in a color calibration tool so you can ensure that your local set-up is as correct as it can get? Then follow up with a Colorchecker Passport, to include your camera into the chain.


Another note…

The proof is in the print.

Whatever the display shows, it will always only be an approximation. Displays are self-illuminating in RGB. Prints are made up of multiple colors, plus the paper, and are reflective only. You can get close, but never will it be the same.

Personally I am not a big fan of soft-proof, it just makes things more complicated, more conversions, more attempts to fail at what must always be a fail due to the fundamental physics involved.

I’d rather print a small strip, look at the result, tweak the file (in RGB!!) and print again.
And again.
And again.

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Ok, fair enough … so in other words, I will be able to print with that printer in same quality like if I did so with file prepared in some commercial software because I don’t need to export files from GIMP in some specific way like for example with Adobe RGB' or that Image P3’ color profiles ? This is what matters, isn’t it ?

The more I read about it more it seems that I will have a printer physically connected to some Mac computer but I will be printing the files from GIMP with sRGB …

In my experience printing with Linux is rather straightforward if a driver exists. But I have never tried to plug in any custom or even my own profiles, so that needs confirmation from someone with actual current experience.


That is more useless than putting a cuddly toy into your camera bag to get better pictures. Full disclosure, I have a small bear in my photo bag. Does it work? Yes, it puts a smile on my face. And on peoples faces when I pull it out while doing a group shot. So it really results in better pictures.
:bear: :smiley:

Anyway, rule of thumb: stick to sRGB or go 16bit wide gamut.
ProPhotoRGB is still the solid choice, afaik.

Anything inbetween is effectively just pseudo-science.

PS: A lot of those “rules” that come with image editing and printing are based on decades old technical workarounds that have been resolved also decades ago. The longest standing myth is the 300dpi thing. Current printer software and hardware does not care what dpi your image has or the file has been set to. It will scale happily from whatever to whatever. Results will be accordingly, the more the merrier, of course, but it won’t make the raster pattern explode in moireé when you send in 299 instead of 300dpi.

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haha, I like that part with cuddly toy … so I am going to buy the printer because the choice of my processing software is not going to be any limitation or even handicap (my software that I use is just RT+GIMP + eventually Hugin for stitching panoramas and I started a bit with Darktable because I feel by my sixth sense that it’s probably much more powerful software than RT but a) I don’t like changes, b) I am not THAT motivated to learn new things when RT works for me good and I am using that for years, c) I don’t like changes (actually a and c is so important that I had to mention that twice)) …

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To try with Linux:
Turboprint (commercial software)
(if your printer is supported)