Monday, September 28, 2009

CD Duplication Design Tip - Don't Use Photoshop For Typesetting

Adobe Photoshop is world class graphic design software for photo/image processing, but it's not the best design tool for typesetting and line-art graphics that are destined for commercial printing... especially silkscreen printing spot-colours.

At we always recommend that clients process their photos/images in Photoshop and then place them into Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Indesign for assembly with design templates, line art graphics and text.

Why is that? The image shown below displays the problem:

The letter "A" on the left is line-art text from Illustrator... and the letter "A" on the right is from Photoshop. They were both created using the same font and point size, and the image was saved at 300dpi which is the most common resolution for commercial print in the CD manufacturing and DVD manufacturing world.

As you can see, the Photoshop generated letter is noticeably fuzzy... and this is because it is a bitmap image as opposed to line-art. Such fuzziness isn't as big a problem for the large bold text in your design, but it can become problematic in smaller text and finer styles of fonts.

The fuzziness of text and graphics created in Photoshop can play havoc with the visual quality of silkscreen printed designs. What appears to be sharp and smooth on your computer screen turns into jagged and rough edges in the final print. On the other hand, line-art does provide sharp edges and smooth curves or silkscreen printing spot colours as well as all types of CMYK print.

Due to this (as noted above) we always recommend that you perfect your photos in Photoshop, save them in high-resolution form (such as a 300dpi .TIF) and then place them into your Illustrator or Indesign design page where you can add your line art graphics and do your typesetting.

The result will be sharper and cleaner text and graphics, which equates to higher overall visual quality and legibility.

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Based in Surrey, British Columbia (B.C.) Canada, provides factory-direct CD manufacturing, CD duplication, print and eco-packaging solutions. Of particular interest to the music industry is our line of eco-friendly and green packaging products which include CD Sleeves and CD Digipak.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Silkscreen Printed CDs - Tutorial Number Three

Silkscreen Print Design 101 - Printing Without A White Flood

It's possible to use the shiny aluminum/silver disc surface colour in your design. Doing so can be very effective but it's important to understand how much room you actually have to work with. Regardless of whether you are creating a design with 'positive' print (solid lettering and/or graphics printing on the silver background) or a 'negative' print (printing a solid colour that utilizes the disc's surface as the colour for your lettering and/or graphics) be aware that there are actually three different parts of the disc that can be printed onto:

(A) The largest area is the aluminum/silver coloured area that holds the disc data/content.

(B) Closer to the middle there is the "mirror band" which is a very shiny/reflect silver colour.

(C) Surrounding the center hole there is an area which will either be clear plastic (as is generally the case with a CD disc) or additional shiny/reflective silver (which is generally the case with a DVD disc).

A replicated compact disc (CD) was used in the example shown above. In the left-hand column the example illustrates the process of printing a disc using a white flood (aka: white 'backprint') prior to printing the graphics. Most designers utilize the white flood print as it provides a clean white/neutral background for the graphics to be printed on as well as actually enhancing the colour of the printed graphics. This is much the same principle as painting the walls in your house... applying paint onto a white coloured wall provides a much better result than trying to apply paint to a dark coloured wall.

The example in the right-hand column shows what can happen if you create a design that utilizes the disc's surface as an element of your design (ie: no white flood) but not factoring in the three different components that make up the disc's surface. As you can see, the change in the background colour negatively affects the visual appeal and legibility of the design.

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Avoiding The "Danger Area" In Your Disc Design

As noted above, there are actually three different parts of the disc that can be printed onto. If you'd like to utilize the aluminum/silver colour of the disc's surface in your design but avoid the hazards of any unsightly overlaps onto the mirror band and/or center section of the disc, the 'danger area' is within a 36mm diameter (18mm radius) of the center of the disc.

Important: By saying "center of the disc" it means measuring outward from the center of the center-hole in the middle of the disc... it does NOT mean measuring outward from the edge of the center-hole.

If you're creating a 'negative' print (printing a solid colour that utilizes the disc's surface as the colour for your lettering and/or graphics) the solid colour can still overlap the mirror band and center section of the disc... it's only the areas that knock-through to show the disc colouration that should be kept outside the 36mm diameter 'danger area'.

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Getting The Best Of Both Worlds - Using A 'Custom' White Flood

It's possible to create a 'custom' white flood which allows you to be selective about what parts of your 'negative' print knock through to the silver of the disc and what parts knock through to the white flood. As shown in the example below, it doesn't matter that the "ABC123" lettering is inside the 'danger zone' because there's a white flood behind it, but the "@" symbol is well outside the danger zone so it can be knocked through to silver.

Depending on how many colours are in your design, your quoted price may not include a custom white flood should you require one. Please contact us to confirm.

Important: There are limitations to what can be effectively printed using a custom white flood. Small text/graphics, fine text/graphics, and very tight registration can pose problems and may not be printable. Additionally, when supplying your artwork that includes a custom white flood you must design the custom white as a distinctly separate colour (learn more about colour separations) and include a notation on your Order Forms that a custom white flood is required.

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Additional design tutorials are also available on our website: provides factory-direct CD manufacturing and CD duplication services plus a wide range of the most popular print and eco-packaging alternatives on the market. Of particular interest are our eco-friendly CD Sleeves and CD Digipak.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Problem With The Music Industry....

Just read an article titled "The Problem With The Music Industry and Steps To Take To Improve It" which raised some really good points and spurred the following thoughts from me...

The author writes, "...the music industry is being flooded with sub-par product. Unfortunately for the music-buying public, the level of artistic quality inherent in the overall group of artists signed to major labels appears to be in a steep decline."

I agree with the author's statement, and in my eyes a lot of it comes down to "music"  being changed from an art-form into a "commodity" over the course of the last couple of decades. In the commercial sense, songs have always been crafted to fit a particular commercial model (length, appropriate subject matter, style, etc.) but now, well, things just seem out of control.

These days, more than ever before, the commercial success of a song has to do with a lot more than the quality of the song itself...the song has become a commodity... a trinket... and it's existence is no longer the sole purpose or point of being an 'artist'.

As jaded as this may sound, commercially speaking, a song isn't as valuable as it used to be.

The author writes, " is imperative that the major labels focus on customer service and give music consumers more options." 

...and then he writes, "The Record labels should move away from the CD format. The labels should move to an 80% digital distribution format, which will eliminate manufacturing costs. And as a result, they can pass the savings on to the consumers in terms of lower prices... Theoretically, as many of these costs go away, they should no longer be charged to the consumer - or the artist."

I grant you that I am biased due to the fact I'm in the CD manufacturing industry, but there's such a huge contradiction in what the author writes, it has to be pointed out.

He is saying that it's imperative that the consumers be given more choice, but he's advocating restricting the choice when it comes to the type of music media the consumers can choose from. This is based on the author's belief that reducing costs (ie: eliminating CD manufacturing costs) will translate into savings for the end-user. Is it naive to think that record labels are going to pass along savings instead of sticking the money in their own pockets, especially considering how far their sales and profits have fallen in the last ten years???

His first statement is absolutely correct... let the consumer be King, so give them the media they desire. I have always been an advocate of artists treating their careers more like a business... and rule #1 in business is to "know your customers". Some people prefer CDs, and some prefer to go a strictly digital route which can be achieved with Digital Download Cards or using a service such as iTunes. So, give them what they want.

The savvy modern performing artist (be that indie or otherwise) can easily and cost-effectively keep relatively small inventories of 'product' and replenish them as needed... as a lot has changed in the last few years on the CD manufacturing side of things, including short-run eco-friendly packaging such as Eco-Sleeves and Digipak.

It was a good article a well worth the read... definitely some food for thought!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

September Special CD Digipak and DVD Digipak

September has arrived, people are back from vacation, school is getting back in, and has a great new special offer for this month!

There's more to than just CDs, as our parent company (Precision Disc Manufacturing Corp.) replicates a full range of CD, DVD and even CD Business Card and Mini CD discs.

So... this month's special is kind of a combo featuring your choice of style CS1000 CD Digipak or style CS2000 DVD Digipak. Our package pricing includes all set-ups, assembly, pre-press and one round of .pdf proofs, barcode and shrinkwrap.

Minimum order is only 100 units for duplicated discs in Digipak, and minimum order is just 300 units for replicated discs in Digipak.

Visit our website for all the information and pricing and don't hesitate to give us a shout if you have any questions!

(September already... does this mean summer is over???)