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How to Get the Most Out of Your CD or DVD Printing and Packaging Design
Whether your record is for sale in a store or online, finding the right design for your packaging is important. For audio CDs, the packaging must:
Grab consumer attention
Convey recording theme
Make it obvious to the consumer who the recording artist or artists may be.
For software, especially games for consoles or PCs, the theme of the game must come out of the packaging to grab the consumer’s attention to make the sale before the competition.
The following guidelines are intended to help both beginners in CD/DVD and packaging design and experienced professionals, to help you make the most of the resources available, whether the project budget is large or small.
1) Use disc and packaging templates from supplier
If you have chosen a duplication and packaging vendor, ask them for their designs for the type of disc and packaging you intend to use. If you start by using the correct templates and specifications for your design work, it will save you time and effort later if you find that you need to make changes to the design to accommodate the template parameters.
All professional CD duplication companies will have a set of templates on file for you to use and most will be happy to help you define your artwork and figure out how to use the templates at no extra cost to their service. You will normally be able to download the most commonly used types of templates from a company’s website, but if you are working on a bespoke packaging project or something a little less widely used, you will need to consult your contact. printing.
2) Choose the right software package for disc and packaging design
If you want your design to look professional and give a quality impression, you will need to use a quality software package to produce the design. The Adobe suite of design programs is ideal (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign), as well as QuarkXpress, CorelDraw graphics suite and Xara Designer Pro will do the trick and there are enough video tutorials available to watch online, free of charge, to make it a relatively simple process as long as you are reasonably proficient with computer software packages.
The wide range of special effects and photography manipulation capabilities of these software packages allows anyone with little experience to create high-quality professional designs and experts to work wonders, very quickly.
3) Use CMYK image files or Pantone ink colors
Most images to be displayed on a monitor, such as on a website, are created in RGB (red, blue, green) mode. When images are intended to be printed on cardstock, paper, or any other print-receptive surface, they are printed using CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) inks. So if you intend to produce the design yourself, when creating your image for printing, be sure to work in CMYK mode or convert your finished image file before submitting it to your printer .
Sometimes CMYK colors don’t look as vivid or as pure as colors in RGB mode. Therefore, if you have no idea what your image will look like when printed with CMYK inks, be sure to get a sample printed before going for the final build run. The image on your screen and the printed image can often be very different. Printers typically charge for this service, so it’s important to be aware of this and build the cost into the project budget.
If your project is to be screen printed, Pantone color codes will need to be specified for each distinct color used in the design so the designer and printer know what to expect with the resulting product. Most good illustration software will allow you to view and select Pantone colors when creating the disc or designing the packaging.
4) Resolution of images to be printed on discs or packaging
If you intend to use existing photographs or images, or if you intend to take your own photographs, ensure that the final image selected has a resolution of at least 300 dpi.
Most web images are set to 72 dpi so the file size is small. File size isn’t too much of an issue for a printer, so set your digital camera to its highest resolution to take snaps. Try not to overcompensate, though, 600dpi images can be very clear, but then you’re in the realm of gigantic file sizes which can be difficult to transfer if needed. 300 dpi is the optimal resolution.
Don’t be fooled into thinking you can take a huge 72dpi image, scale it down and change the resolution to 300dpi. It just doesn’t work, the original image must be set to 300 dpi or higher to be used for printing. A similar rule also applies to resizing small images. If you have a small 300dpi image and increase it to twice its previous size, then you have a 150dpi image – which, again, isn’t good enough for printing.
5) Fonts and text printing
If your design contains unusual fonts, be sure to note the font names and provide the corresponding font files to your printer. High resolution fonts in an Adobe Photoshop design are usually fine, but if the text is very small or the font is very complex, using a vector design program such as Adobe Illustrator or Quark is highly recommended for prints. crisp and clear fonts.
6) Don’t forget to include an allowance for “bleed” around the edge of the printed parts
The “bleed” area around the edge of a printed paper part model is usually an area about 3mm wide around the outside of the visual part of the model. It’s important that your design extends to the bleed area, especially if your image is complicated or a photographic image. Remember to keep all text at least 3-4mm inside the edge of the template (not including the bleed area). The bleed area is there to ensure that the outer edge of the paper part, when cut, does not have white edges appearing from a very slightly inaccurate cut. If your design has a solid color border, that color should also extend into the bleed area.
7) Beware of solid color backgrounds with photographic elements on discs
The discs will be either screen-printed or printed by lithography. When a design has a dark solid color background with small photographic elements inside, then the disc should be printed by lithography. Printing dark, solid colors using the litho printing technique can lead to inconsistencies in disc surface coverage. Screen printing would be the technique to use for solid colors. If you think your design might fall into this category, consult your printer for more advice.
Combining photographic images with solid colors in your record sleeve is not recommended.
8) Printed Panel Orientation for Card Holders and Digipacks
If you are using the correct template for your CD or DVD card cover or digipack design, it should be pretty obvious how each panel should be oriented for printing. When printing a basic CD card wallet, for example, the front image should be on the right side with the back image on the left so that the back image can be folded underneath with the back packaging on the right side.
Image layout gets a little tricky when it comes to packaging such as 4-panel digipacks. The template will require the front image to be placed in the bottom right position with the back image to its left.
The inside images (pages 2 and 3 actually) should be positioned above the front and back images but in the opposite orientation so that the top edges of all images meet along the center fold line.
9) Last minute changes to your CDs, DVDs and packaging artwork
If you need to make major last-minute changes to your artwork, be sure to check with your printer that the changes will not affect the quoted price for the project. If you suddenly find yourself in a position where the project can only be printed using the litho printing technique rather than simpler screen printing, you may find that you will have to pay more for the job than originally anticipated.
Following the guidelines above should help you get the most out of your disc design and packaging project. Remember, if possible, to allow yourself plenty of time for all stages of the project, as mistakes are often made when team members are under pressure. Also ask your supplier for help; they are unlikely to charge you for work that, as experts, takes no time but could take you hours.
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