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Archive for the 'Artwork Layout' Category

Why Does Cardboard Take More Time?

It is interesting how often the conception is that cardboard packaging – the heavier paper – its not like a cardboard shipping carton, its coated on one side of the paper and you can tell because it’s white and feels smooth to the touch – will take less time to print because its just paper.

The common misconception is that these pieces exist fully finished except for the printing and so since its just printing, they should be ready faster.

  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Paper is printed as a flat sheet.

You can simply pick up a piece of regular paper and pretend its a huge parent sheet of paper that is going to be loaded into a press. Looking at it from the side you can see there are two sides – and only one side is printed at a time.

So even if you were printing on TWO sides – only one side is printed at a time.

Now, when it comes to cardboard or board products as we lovingly refer to them, they are ONLY printed on one side – even though they  look like they are printed on two sides – its an illusion.

The printing area for a cardboard piece is one side of paper. The panels are set up so that when printed, score and FOLDED back over on itself and glued – the outside is right-side up and the inner is right-side up.

Now does that sound like it’s done quickly?

Steps To a Successful Printing of a Cardboard Piece

1. artwork run through pre-flight to make sure all elements are CMYK and high resolution

2. proof generated from the RIP or the brain of the press

3. cardboard – typically 15 PT C1S (15-point coated one side)

4. run through press with enough ink to allow for some saturation into the paper

5. time for press sheets to dry

6. die cut and score dry press sheets through die press

7. fold over edges and tabs to create pockets – or in the case of a digipak – fold and glue a tray on one of the panels

8. prepare and make ready for assembly of disc and/or booklet into pocket or tray

How much time should you allow if you choose a cardboard packaging for your project?

It would be safe to say that you would want to allow 12 – 15 business days from the time you approve your press PDF.

If you requested a proof after your press PDF – you should allow more time 4 – 5 business days.

Remember, a busy press means there’s a line waiting to get on it – and the more steps there are to a finished piece – there are that many different lines with projects stacked up waiting to move through. There’s press time set up, paperwork that has to be completed so that your job is not confused with another job which uses different paper – projects can have different drying times. Its a real art.

You’ve spent a lot of time making your sound just as you wish. And going with a professional duplication service who can guide you with a high degree of knowledge is just going to make it even better.

Check out what a die can look like.

For any questions concerning any aspect you can ask us – just contact us at and we’ll do our best to answer your questions so you can be confident in your choice of packaging and planning your release dates.

posted by Carolyn Holzman in Artwork Layout,Printing,Templates and Specifications and have No Comments

Cardboard CD Packaging Requires a Die Line and some Time

Cardboard CD packaging is beautiful. And at first glance most people think it will cost less than a jewel case and insert since its “just paper”. And that’s the interesting thing – because it IS paper it has special requirements.

visual samples of cardboard cd packaging on display

Over last few years in the disc production world, cardboard cd packaging for both CDs and DVDs  has rivaled the plastic jewel case.

Cardboard Packaging that is custom printed requires a DIE. The small tabs that are cut and scored and glued become the foundation of a pocket.

Most cardboard CD formats are standardized in that templates have been created that match the dies. This way the artwork can be set up to lay out across a flat sheet of paper so that when its printed and the paper die cut, the spines have the text centered and everything shows where its supposed to.

If you have a standard CD sleeve or wallet or a digpak that holds a single disc you can be pretty sure that while the project will use a die, you’re not going to have to pay for or wait for a die made as long as you are going with a printer who specializes in media packaging. If you go to a general printer (eg. MinuteMan Press) then you’re probably going to pay for a new die.

How long does it take to make a die if you’re choosing a custom cardboard cd packaging format?

With exact dimensions (exhaustive exact dimensions include information on pocket styles etc) provided in writing  – and a sketch of the layout when all flat – it should only take about 24 – 36 hours to make

How long does it take to make a die to match an existing piece?

With a physical sample that is not a standard configuration, you need to double the amount of time due to the measuring and testing to ensure an exact match. This is a hands on, time intensive process. This is not something that can or should be rushed.

If a physical sample already exists why does a new die have to made?

Unlike a library system, each printer has their own exclusive die library. They will not share or send them out to another printer. So unless you can go back to the company that first printed them, you’re going to need to allow for time to make one.

*** Something important to keep in mind, in order to minimize the timeline, the order of process should be as follows:

Die Line —–>  (Template)  ——> Artwork file

To go from the reverse process will always cost you more in time and expenses.

Artwork layout —–> Die Line

There’s no question that some projects will require their own process. Not 100% of everything can or should be altered to fit an existing die. In those cases, it will be important for adequate time to be allowed for a proper creation, testing, and approving of a new die line.

If you have questions concerning dies, die lines or any project, please feel free to contact us at 800-678-1998. We are happy to answer any questions. If you have seen a cardboard cd packaging that you like – please take picture of it and send it to us either by email or through the artwork upload page so we can see what you’re talking about and help get you there.


posted by Carolyn Holzman in Artwork Layout and have No Comments

Printing Directly on CDs

Are you needing more information on printing directly on CDs?

If you think that your only option is a paper label – think again.

When a disc is manufactured one of the aspects of that manufacturing is also what is printed onto the disc. Also, adding the print directly onto the disc means that confusing one title for another is diminished. Of course, ISO standards for handling different services is clear about the seriousness of this, it is something that we get asked about. Often the question is can I save money if I don’t print my discs.

There are three ways of getting artwork onto a disc face – using pantone colors and silk-screening, using process CMYK colors and silk-screening and using process CMYK color and offset printing directly onto the disc. These days most projects released on an independent basis are using full color offset on disc printing.

Aren’t Labels How Printing Directly on CDS works?

Now when it comes to duplication, labels are definitely a thing of the past. Professional duplication facilities will use ink jet, monochrome thermal or full color thermal direct to disc printing. Yes, you can still find labels in the stores because there will always be a demand for low-end home production but labels are not recommended because they can cause the disc to spin off balance in a player.

If you are duplicating – then most likely you’re looking at ink jet, one color thermal, or full color thermal. If you’re having your discs manufactured then you’re definitely working with silk-screening either with spot PMS colors or full color CMYK.

Mainly there are different methods to putting artwork on discs depending on what at that particular quantity requires the least amount of handling. If you are ever told that for a regular full size CD that you’re going to get labels – go somewhere else. Typically they don’t look professional and if applied incorrectly they can cause the disc to spin unevenly which will negatively effect playback – which can make YOU look unprofessional.

If you have any questions concerning what would be a good option for your project – use our contact page and let us know what your specific question is and we’ll be happy to review your situation.



posted by Carolyn Holzman in Artwork Layout,CD Duplication and have No Comments

Photoshop Text Tutorial

I am a vector geek. When it comes to printing, vector graphics are the best. Nothing looks better to me than crisp clean printed type. As a vector geek, one of my pet peeves is type set in Photoshop.

When type is set in Photoshop, more often than not, the files that get sent to the printer are flattened (no layers) 300dpi TIFF files. This is absolutely perfect for images, but for text? No!

The thing is, when you set a line of type in Illustrator or InDesign and it gets output to any device- office printer, inkjet, platemaker etc. vector data (text) is output at the highest resolution possible by the imaging device. This means that for most office laser printers, your text is 600dpi. In the printing world, you text is being output anywhere from 1600dpi-3600dpi! These nice sharp solids are now being output at only 300dpi; in the case of most printing companies, that is about 1/3 of the standard resolution!
photoshop text tutorial

The worst part is that when Photoshop rasterizes type, it is no longer solid! Look at this image. This is 14pt Gil Sans at 200% zoom in Photoshop. You can see that the edges are less than solid black. This means that when it is printed for press, the edges will have halftone dots! Basically, it will look like there are teeth on the edges of the text.
photoshop text tutorial
Now look at the same text set in Illustrator. These were captured at the same magnification. Look at the difference in clarity between the two samples.
Illustrator, InDesign and any other piece of software that can edit type will automatically output vector text. Photoshop will not do this automatically.
To output vector type from Photoshop is easier than I am making it seem- I just wanted to underscore why I think it is so important. Really all you need to do is save your file in a format that will send the text to a vector layer- and remember not to rasterize your text layers!

Artwork for CD

You should see the little “T” symbol in your layers palette; this signifies that there is ‘live’ type on that layer.

Just save as a Photoshop PDF and your text will be saved as vector shapes! I have to warn you though, this will not work if you have applied lots of effects to the text. Gradients, inner glows, beveling and the like will always convert the text to raster on output because many of these effects are raster only.

If you are struggling with your artwork – you know what you want but are uncertain concerning your skills to get yourself there with your sanity and your release day intact, contact CDMaker CD Duplication, 512-388-1998 or 800-678-1998 – we can help you get from where you are to where you need to be in an affordable way.

posted by Cassie McDavid in Artwork Layout,Jewel Case Printing,Templates and Specifications and have No Comments

Monitors are Liars and Deceivers

OK, we’ve all needed graphic design at some point – for business cards, for ads, for CD projects and posters. And it can get expensive and tempting to look to a DIY approach to graphics. After all how hard can it be, right? I can see it on my monitor.

First rule of the graphic road – ignore your monitor. Its necessary yes, to see what you’re doing but a monitor is set to display at 72 dpi and in RGB (red, green, blue) which means your colors when you print in full color are not true. And even if they were – your monitor is backlit and regular paper is not -so that blue you’re going for – good luck if you trust your monitor.

Depending on what you’re doing and where its going to go – on the web or on paper – determining the “best” files for what you’re needing can be daunting and through in a little DIY (do-it-yourself) and soon you might be talking to yourself. That’s never good.

Here’s a rundown of different publishing platforms and what you need to know before you start downloading free trials.


Website graphics NEED to be minimal – 72 dpi and “skinny” in terms of file size – Can take up the full screen but no more than 72 dpi and as “skinny” as they can be in terms of megabytes.

A slow drawing screen is death to a webpage.


Desktop publishing is the next most forgiveable medium. It can print from RGB files. You can print without complete font information even. 72 dpi is “bad” but because of the size of the dot of ink from a desktop printer is so big, this can be fudged and give you the false security that you have press ready artwork. Hey, if you can print it from your computer there’s nothing wrong with your files – right?

The amount of information a desktop printer needs is minimal. There is a lot of assumption flying around in one especially when it comes to color shades. It will only have a limited range in the color spectrum before any red starts to look the same.

PRINTING PRESS – offset and digital

Offset or Digital Press printing is the least forgiveable print medium. It also provides the best results. The files needed for this type of printing have to contain LOTS of information. These files are sophisticated in terms of everything has do be communicated to the “brain” of these printers. Nothing is left for assumption. This is way production files could be 5 MEG in size for just a traycard. Images to print their best and most clear require a 300 DPI. Dots are very fine – which you need to have if your printed page dpi is over 2100. So if you’re artwork is 72 dpi- you’re not going to have a printed version of this image that is anywhere as clear as it appears on your screen.

Fight it all you want –  scream into your pillow at night – part of the reason graphic design costs is because of the knowledge and expertise. And you have to make sure your designer is experienced in the difference between web and paper printing – not all of them are.


The tool you use to create your artwork is designed to work best for a particular print method. Here’s a brief overview.

Corel Draw            web, desktop
Gimp                      web, desktop
Microsoft Paint    web, desktop
Photoshop             web, desktop, offset, digital
Illustrator              web, desktop, offset, digital
InDesign                desktop, offset, digital

If you’re printing a CD or DVD – disc face and any paper printing you need to look at your offset and digital press options.

Basic graphic knowledge you or your designer needs to understand.

All images, scans, logo, pictures, any graphics must be scanned at or set up at 300 dpi at the desired size. You could have an image that is 300 dpi but only when its 1 inch square. If you were to take that image and stretch it to fit a 5 inch square – you’re reducing that dpi to less than 100 dpi.

Use templates from the company you’re using to print. Do not assume all templates are the same.

Provide unflattened, native files to any printer you’re using. The same artwork from native will provide one result, the same artwork from press ready PDF will give another. Don’t let a graphic designer’s insecurities dictate your project. Professional printers are not going to change or steal a file from a designer. They are just too busy to bother with anything other than getting the best result for a client.

So now you have some idea and you can choose if a DIY approach to save some money to release your CD or DVD is a viable plan or not.

For more information on specific formats we accept – file format specifications

posted by Carolyn Holzman in Artwork Layout,Templates and Specifications and have No Comments

Seven Questions to Ask Your Graphic Designer

We get a lot of questions about graphic design for CDs and we came up with a few ideas of questions to discuss with your designer as you evaluate who will be able to do the best job for you.

Whenever you’re interviewing graphic designers for CD projects – its a good idea to clarify a few things before you begin. Sometimes you could find out somethings further down the road that would have helped you save time & money earlier on had you known.

This list is by no means comprehensive – you may have others – these will help get you started.

1. What programs will you be using?

Expect to hear answers like – Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign. Answers like Word or Corel Draw – are indicative of a difference type of publishing than what you need.

2. Do you typically design for websites or printing presses?

If they don’t understand why they would be asked this – typically they design for websites. What makes artwork work technically the best for web is exactly the opposite of printing presses. What you need is high resolution 300 dpi, CMYK artwork, unflattened and in layers. These types of files will not only allow you to print better quality they allow for future changes without you having to go back to the initial designer for simple edits or additions.

3. Will you be able and willing to provide to my CD printing company high resolution, unflattened, native layered files?

This is important to ask. Graphic designers hold differing view on who actually owns the native files. Yes, sometimes they believe you own what comes off the press but that they own the digital files. Its not rude to ask and its not rude if they tell you that they believe they own them. Ask them what it would take to obtain ownership and usually that’s a dollar amount – just consider that when you determine your budget. And get it in writing if you hire them BEFORE you give them a deposit check.

FYI – Any graphic work that CDMaker does for you is considered to be your property so you have full and unfettered access to native files – just ask for a backup when you order so its just the time and materials cost to make one for you.

4. Will you be using templates to set up the artwork?

This is a huge one – if they just make one up or recycle one from another manufacturer – you could be looking at additional time. Tell them that you expect them to use the proper template(s) and if they don’t do so they are responsible to adjust artwork to fit the proper template. Again, its just that you are clarifying your expectations. If you don’t mind being charged by your manufacturer or printing house  for the extra costs to adjust artwork files – then you don’t have to have this conversation.

5. Will I be given a complete set of backup files – all support images, all fonts, all native files at the end of the project?

This is again a clarifying question. If they say they will keep it on their harddrive- that’s great but ask for a physical backup of the native unflattened files and all the source images and fonts on a disc so that if anything happens to them, their computer, their harddrive, their work situation, their living situation, you have a back up.

6. If a logo design is part of the project – will the design be formated so that I can use it in black and white or color, or on any colot background or will it require a white box around it?

This is an important question – sometimes its easy to design a logo that work for the color of the immediate layout but when you need to put it on your facebook page or tshirt or business card, it doesn’t work as easily. Again, this is a question that clarifies. If you want it to have maximum flexibility for you – ask this question in the beginning of your relationship.

7. Are there any design concerns if you want to use the artwork or a portion of the artwork for t-shirts or display banners or other promotional materials which I may need the artwork larger?

Sometimes you may have a need for artwork to be larger than what it was originally designed to be. Sometimes because of how the artwork was designed it will look really bad if you just enlarge it. That’s why photoshop can be a limiting choice. Its a vector/non-vector issue. What’s that? Vector is better to go from small to large since it sets up an outline for text or images and then fills in instead of stretching dots (non-vector) from original size to larger which will pull dots further apart which kills the resolution of your artwork. Resolution affects how clear it is to the eye after its been printed.

Again, these are just some questions that will lead to a more complete discussion with your graphic designer. In turn this will helpyou be able to better assess how much it will cost you not just in terms of immediate outlay. This obviously is written more from the angle of having your CDs or DVD published but it lends itself to every situation where you might need the help of a graphic designer.

What questions have helped you? Please feel free to share below or let me know if these questions have helped you talk with your designer.

posted by in Artwork Layout,CD Duplication,CD Replication,DVD Duplication,DVD Replication,Templates and Specifications and have No Comments

Using Text in Photoshop

I know this sounds obvious but you have no idea how many times we receive full layout files where a designer has used Photoshop and used Photoshop to place their text or the words.

What’s the problem – right?

Photoshop isn’t designed to handle text – its written to manipulate photos – hence its name.

Yes, but Photoshop allows you to place text so why would it let you if it wasn’t capable of handling text?

That’s a darn good question.

There’s some technical terms like “vector” and “non-vector” which relates to the smoothness of the outside or inside of the shape of fonts. You get two kinds – smooth and non-smooth and Photoshop while it tries its best – just isn’t going to be the smoothest font shape.

We’ve seen reversed out fonts where on the screen – no problem – but print that file and the finished piece is hard to read. If we looked at it through a loop and we can see small dots on the inside of the letters that are reversed out.


Its how Photoshop treats text.

So what’s the best practice – use the right tool for the job. Photoshop for images and then bring those photoshop files into InDesign and use InDesign to place text in its separate layer.

But I only have Photoshop you say?

Well, you can choose but if your printer mentions this or shows you a proof – ask them about the fonts and see if they can provide you with feedback. If push comes to shove – ask them if you can provide the Photoshop file and then the text in a word file. You might want to do a mockup to show them how you want the text to layout over that panel – but ask them if they will use your files and incorporate them into InDesign. Yes, you might have to pay a little for the help but you’ll get a better looking printed piece because your efforts.

posted by Carolyn Holzman in Artwork Layout and have No Comments

Printer Spreads

printer spreads

What’s the Diff between Reader and Printer Spreads?

Often times when cd duplication is needed the artwork that goes into the jewel case is a booklet that is printed folded and stapled. Putting together the artwork for this is sometimes harder than anticipated these days since many graphic designers do not have as much if any experience with ink hitting paper. So how a booklet fits together on a press is not as pressing a concern.

But as long as jewel case inserts are needed some are going to be booklets.

The smaller number of pages in a booklet is 8. An 8 page booklet is two 4-panel inserts, one nested inside the other and stapled down the fold. Usually these are available only on replication runs but depending on who provides your CD duplication, they may be able to do a booklet in short runs. Don’t assume that because you need it that a cd dvd production service can provide it.

So getting back to the booklet – they come in 8 pages and the next size up is 12 pages. Then 16 pages and then 20 pages and on up would constitute types of booklets for CDs. One time we did a 32 page booklet for NASA on the effect of zero gravity on hearing. Oh, yeah, we do that too!

Each booklet requires another 4-panel insert –

Take an 8 page booklet and add a third 4-panel and that brings you up to 12 pages – see the pattern?

So when you plan your artwork and you know you want a booklet – think in patterns of 4 – assuming the cover is an image that would leave you with 7 pages of content for an 8 page booklet.

For more information, give us a call if you need to know anything about printer spreads.

posted by Carolyn Holzman in 8 page booklet,Artwork Layout,Jewel Case Printing,Templates and Specifications and have No Comments