With all my content gathered, I sought out the services of a professional graphic designer to put it all together and work with the printer. I failed at finding a volunteer for this, but ended up enjoying taking on this role myself. Although I hadn’t done print design in a long time, I had studied it in the past and had experience designing books and newspapers.
While I won’t go into detail about the graphic design process, I can tell you that I used exclusively free, open source software to complete the job, and felt efficient using these tools. The software involved included:
- Ubuntu Linux (operating system)
- Inkscape, for processing source SVG vector graphics from Calgary
- GraphicsMagick, to convert PDFs from the GIS office into hi-res PNG images
- Gimp, for photo processing and adding drop shadows
- Scribus, for layout
About the only especially technical thing I had to keep in mind was to try to use images that were 300 DPI or larger. I used one 150 DPI image anyway, and was still still satisfied with the result. Scribus took care of automatically converting the images to use the CMYK color space and output a high quality PDF, which the printing service was able to translate perfectly. The printing service doesn’t need to have Scribus. Indeed, they have never even asked which software produced the PDF I gave them.
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