Guide to CD Silkscreen Design

For the highest quality printed CDs, DVDs, or Blu-Rays, you will undoubtedly want to choose silkscreen printing. We can print up to four solid colours, or full colour CMYK if you wish to print a photograph or gradients. Designing silkscreen print artwork is a little different from designing album artwork, as colours will have to be separated for us to use the proper ink. Here are some tips for designing silkscreen disc artwork!

2 color silkscreen disc printingAn example of 2-colour silkscreen printing

Don’t Use Photoshop

While many of us who have dabbled in graphic design are most comfortable using Photoshop, we do not recommend it in the case of silkscreen disc design. You should be using Adobe InDesign, Adobe Illustrator, or CorelDraw. The main reason is that instead of using layers or colour fills like you would in Photoshop, you’ll want to instead use Pantone swatches. Which brings us to our next point…

Start Using Pantone Colours

Pantone is an organization system for a wide range of colours. Each pigment or tint is assigned an alpha-numerical identifier, so for example Electric Blue would be Pantone 2727c. Ideally, as a graphic designer you would refer to a Pantone swatch booklet which would have every colour number, that way you’re not reliant on a computer monitor whose colour calibration may be a little bit off.

By using Pantone swatches in Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, or CorelDraw, we know exactly which ink colour to use. Your desired hue of blue won’t be too bright or dull, for we know to use the 2727c ink. If you don’t use Pantone swatches, you will need to tell us which pantone number to use for each colour.

How to find Pantone swatches in Adobe Illustrator

Separate the Colours

Let’s say you chose 2-colour silkscreen as your disc print option, and you’d like a red design against a black background. You can’t simply send us a rasterized or flattened jpeg with your artwork, these two colours need to be separated from one another. Simply having each desired colour on a separate layer will not suffice, we must be able to remove colour channels for the whole file like in the video below. Please note that white counts as a colour, empty space in artwork will reveal the silver disc.

High Resolution Text

We recommend adding the text through InDesign, which will give it the sharpest quality and highest resolution possible. If your text is stylized (stretched, bent in a circle, etc.), we recommend Adobe Illustrator as that is the ideal program for vector graphics.

CMYK Printing is a Different Story

If you have a photograph you’d like to use for the disc artwork, maybe a picture of the band or a broken down Chevy, you’ll want to use full-colour CMYK. The approach to CMYK printing is much simpler, it doesn’t require any colour separation or Pantone matching. Simply place the high resolution image in the template and that should suffice.

CMYK + White silkscreen disc printing
An example of full CMYK printing

Use Our Templates and Hire a Designer

If this is your first rodeo to graphic design, you may want to look for outside help. A professional designer will have all the tools and knowledge to complete the job. We also offer graphic design services, and since we’ll be the ones printing the discs we’re going to get it right on our first try. Don’t forget to supply your artwork using the Duplication.ca templates!

You may find this guide to be a bit overwhelming, but it’s the road you need to take for brilliant and beautiful silkscreen disc printing. All of the above are industry standard guidelines, which allows us to provide you with the highest quality printed silkscreen so your album artwork is as loud as your music.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER PROFESSIONAL CD PRESSING WITH BEAUTIFUL SILKSCREEN PRINT

Cassette slipcase loading variations explained

Our printed slipcases are an excellent packaging method for box sets and multi-cassette releases. Cassettes fit snuggly inside, safe from accidentally slipping out when pulling the slipcase off the shelf. We have developed template variations for each slipcase, one in which the cassette is removed from the left of the slipcase and one from the right. Here’s a breakdown:

Left Loading

Portugal the Man cassette by Duplication.ca

This design is the one most often seen with multi-book slipcases. When looking at the slipcase over, the cassettes are removed from the left side. This way the front of the J-Card is seen immediately.

Right Loading

Christtt cassettes by Duplication.ca

With ‘right loading’ slipcases, everything is basically the opposite. When looking at the front slipcase cover the cassettes will be removed from the right-hand spine area. When you remove the closest cassette you will see the back of the top cassette. This design works best when paired with striking pad print or laser engraving designs on the tapes!

Need some more clarification? Check out this video for a visual explanation!

Our templates include left-loading and right-loading variations. They can be downloaded here.

Printed slipcases are available for purchase on our online store. You can also order cassette duplication and request to add slipcases in the ‘Notes’ section, we’ll adjust the order quote for you! Cassette duplication includes FREE SHIPPING to the United States and Canada.

The Guide to Pad Print Colours

Vampire Step-Dad pad print

We’ve been pad printing cassette shells since the 1990s, so we know the ins and outs of providing a quality print job just like you intended in your design. We use opaque ink for pad print, unlike offset pad printers which use a type of paste that is thinner and appears more transparent. Our pad print jobs are done individually by hand, allowing us to see the result of every print. This gives us a huge advantage in maintaining great quality assurance. Check out our pad print machine in action on YouTube.

Pad print colors

Our selection of pad print colours

That said, certain ink colours look better on certain shells. Black or dark ink will appear striking and vibrant on white or lighter colour shells, while the inverse not so much. The ink is opaque, but the plastic shell will still absorb some of the colouring. Take a look at this colour mixing diagram:

Pad print ink color mixing

Notice the color changes on the overlapped sections. Blue ink on a red shell may appear more purple, and will thus be a bit more difficult to read. Similarly, yellow is a lighter colour than red, so it may be absorbed by the red shell and appear more orange. It’ll look cool, but not exactly what you had in mind when designing.

If you insist on continuing with unconventional colour schemes like blue on red, there are a few solutions—

  1. Request double-hit with your pad print. This will give your colour a little extra oomph and emphasis against a darker shell colour. It may not solve the problem of a particularly light ink colour against a dark shell, but it will certainly look better than single-hit pad print.
  2. Upgrade to 2-colour pad print and use the bottom layer as a white base. Locking the shell into place for two separate ink stamps is extremely difficult and won’t always work, so you will want to make the white base larger than your design (like a stroke or outline filter), or slightly smaller than your design, that way it’s not off-register.
  3. Request a custom colour ink. We can add white ink to an ink colour for an extra fee to make it a bit more vibrant when placed against a darker colour shell.

If you’re not sure if a colour combination will be as vibrant as your design, ask your sales rep for their thoughts, we’ve seen it all over the years! You can add pad print to your cassette package through our cassette duplication calculator and receive free shipping to the United States and Canada.

Duplication.ca Gift Certificates

Artists with particular tastes can be difficult to shop for. Who can tell tell what they want, what they already have, and what they don’t have? This year you can play it safe with our Duplication.ca gift cards. These digital gift certificates allow your recipient to use the freedom of their imagination and choose what they need for their next album release or artistic endeavour!

Click here to order gift certificates!

Maybe they’ll take the opportunity to print heavy duty 12″ jackets for their next single drop? Or perhaps it’s their chance to splurge on professional quality CD replication? If they’re the DIY-type they can stock up on our brand new cassette shells!

Your gift certificate can be used at checkout in the online store. If you’d like to use it with our duplication services you will need to contact us before payment so we can manually deduct the gift certificate amount.

Guide to Designing 2-Color Pad Print

GUIDE TO DESIGNING 2-COLOR PAD PRINT

2-color pad print is the perfect solution if you want your cassette face design to pop right off the shell. This service is available by special request, you can mention it in the ‘Notes’ section of your cassette duplication order and we’ll send you an updated quote. But before you jump into designing your 2-color pad print artwork, there’s some restrictions to keep in mind. Here’s the breakdown:

Templates

We will require that you provide your artwork in our templates, without exception. Since your two-color artwork may need increased accuracy in its placement we cannot manually move your artwork into our templates and risk losing its proper alignment. Our pad print templates can be found here.

We now ask that our clients send us vector artwork as opposed to bitmap. This allows us to print higher quality images with finer lines and sharper text. Adobe Illustrator is your best bet for vector image design.

Files

Each color and side should be its own individual file. So if you are designing a two-sided cassette with green and black on each side, your files names should be similar to the following:

Side A – Green.PDF
Side A – Black.PDF
Side B – Green.PDF
Side B – Black.PDF

Color Order

When choosing your two pad print colors, you need to be clear as to which color is the foreground (top layer) and which is the background (bottom layer). For the best results, the lighter color should be the background. Light ink will not print well on top of dark ink, such as yellow on top of black. However, black on top of yellow will be easily visible.

Trapping

We strongly discourage very accurate layer placement, such as a second color being used as an outline or drop shadow for text and images. Tight registration or perfect placement for two color pad print takes considerably longer to set up, and the printing pad tends to shift over time, meaning that we will eventually reach a point where the two ink placements are slightly offset.

As such, we require a trapping of 2 points between color layers. Trapping is a printing term for overlap, so if you wish the two colors to touch the foreground ink must overlap the background ink by 2 points. If you don’t add an appropriate amount of trapping you will risk there being empty space between the two colors.

Points is a unit of measurement that you can find in your design application. To change the unit of measurement in Adobe Illustrator, simply right click on the ruler and switch to Points.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to email us or send us a message on our live chat service.

Don’t forget that cassette duplication orders come with free standard shipping to the United States and Canada!

A Step-By-Step Guide to Cassette Duplication

The cassette duplication calculator is an incredibly handy order form that allows you to customize your cassette packages while updating you on the price in real-time. However, as our option list grows, we understand newcomers may feel the calculator is a bit overwhelming. We’re always here to help, but this step-by-step guide should answer any questions you may have!

A Step-By-Step Guide to the Cassette Duplication Order Form

Duplication Speed

The duplication speed determines the recording quality of your cassette. Real-time is recorded at, well, real-time speed with your master. This is the higher quality option, with a frequency range of 20Hz to 20kHz. Even so, high-speed duplication sounds wonderful, capable of audio from 20Hz to 17kHz.

Length Per Side

Length per side is for you to let us know the length of the longest side of your master. So that is to say that if your sequence of tracks has a total length of 14:28 for side A, and 15:30 for side B, you’d round up to 16 minutes for the length per side.

But don’t fret, we won’t be adding 30 seconds of silence to Side B, we’ll actually be loading the cassette exactly to the length of your master (with a few additional seconds of lead-in time to avoid cutoffs.)

Copy

Let us know if there’s different audio on each side of the tape, audio on side A only, or if both sides have identical audio.

Tape Type

Like ‘Duplication Speed’, the tape type determines the quality of your audio. Our standard is super-ferro normal bias, which has excellent volume and fidelity. However, if you want even crisper bass and louder volume, our high-bias Maxell XLII-S is the choice for audiophiles. BASF 120 is needed for cassettes that are 120 minutes or longer in total length. Maxell XLII-S and BASF 120 are only available with real-time duplication.

Cassette Colour

Now we’re getting to the fun parts. We have dozens of shell colours for you to choose from, so you’re faced with the decision on which colour suits your music and artwork best. This list is divided into five sections: opaque, metallic foil, tinted and transparent, glitter shells, and chrome cassettes to pair with Maxell XLII-S tape.

If you want to quickly run through all our cassette shell options, pull up the cassette selection guide to see what we currently have in stock!

Packaging

Here you can choose the type and colour of your cassette case. We have tons of Norelco cassette case colours in stock, so you can match them with your cassette shell colour if you so desire. We can also add special packaging to your Norelco cases, such as laser engraving designs to the case, or an outer O-Card which wraps around the cassette case, giving you an extra layer of artwork.

If you’re searching for deluxe packages, check out our cassette vinyl albums. They open like an audio book with enough additional space for a booklet, pins, or patches.

Cover Type

Here is where you’ll choose the format for your printed artwork. JP0 J-cards are standard three panels (front, spine, back), and you can add additional panels for liner notes, lyrics, or artwork. You may also choose between single or double-sided printing.

You can also choose your printed trapsheet artwork for cassette vinyl albums. 4/0 refers to single-sided printing, and 4/4 would be double-sided printing, though you’d want to combine the 4/4 trapsheets with our transparent cassette vinyl albums for the sake of visibility. You can add panel foldovers as inserts for your trapsheets as well.

Label Type

Now we’re at the customization stage! The label type is how you’d like to decorate the cassette itself. Paper labels are printed stickers that we place on the cassette, whereas pad print is an ink design that we stamp directly to the cassette and cannot be peeled off. Finally, laser etching is a laser-created engraving to the face of the cassette, permanently carving in your design. You can choose to have these label types on either one side or both sides of the cassette.

When you choose your label type you will receive a new set of options. Printed labels will ask you which label shape you’d like. We wrote a blog post that will give you visual examples of each label, so take a look before deciding!

Pad print will ask you which colour you’d like. Pad print is one colour only, though by special request we can print up to two colours on the cassette. ‘Pad print type’ depends on the size of your artwork. For simple text and a small logo choose ‘standard design’, but for halftone artwork, large solid areas, or extended print areas, choose ‘floods or halftones’. Finally, ‘single or double hit’ depends on how vibrant you’d like your pad print. If you’re printing a black image on a white shell, single hit will do. However, if you’re printing a light colour on a dark shell (such as yellow ink on a black cassette), we highly recommend double hit.

Download Codes

Download codes are absolutely essential for when you want the benefits and tangibility of physical media and not lose the convenience of digital files. We can host the album for you (max 250MB) and print digital download codes. Alternatively, you can supply us with codes to print if you have your own hosting, or even a list of Bandcamp download codes!

Obi-Strips

Obi-strips follow the Japanese aesthetic of album packaging, adding a printed strip of artwork and text to your case. Traditionally these included album descriptions and prices, but it’s your design, you do whatever you want with it! Choose between vertical or horizontal obi-strip orientations.

Test Tape

We sent you a newsletter about test tapes just last week, but to summarize, if you want to approve the audio quality of your cassette before mass production then you can add a test tape to your order. Keep in mind that it does not include printing and packaging, and it adds another 1 to 2 weeks to your order turntime.

Overwrap

If you want your cassette to arrive in mint condition, or if you’re planning on selling them in-store, we suggest adding overwrap to your order. An alternative option is our resealable clear bags which have an adhesive strip for multi-use and keeping your cassette immaculate.

Rush

We recently reinstated rush options! Our turntime is currently 5 to 8 weeks, but if you need your album with the quickness you can turn your quote into a rush order. Please note rush orders are measured in business days.

Quantity

This one’s easy. How many copies do you want?

UPS Shipping Option

UPS Standard Shipping is FREE for orders shipping to the United States and Canada! If you need your album immediately, we’d recommend the 2-day or overnight shipping options.

UPS Signature Delivery

We highly recommend choosing this option. This will ensure that your package arrives not just to your door, but to your hands. That way no mail carrier will leave it on your front porch for it to be stolen, or hand it over to negligent neighbours who immediately leave for vacation.

And that’s it!

Oh my God, did you read all of that? Well if you did, by now you surely know your way around our cassette duplication order form. All you have to do is ready your audio and artwork for upload (artwork templates here!), and visualize which packaging combination will look best on your merch table and checkout page.

Order cassette duplication today and receive FREE SHIPPING to the United States and Canada!

Get Higher-Resolution Pad Print Using Vector Artwork!

 

In the past couple of months we began experimenting with creating pad print plates using vector artwork. The results were astounding! Sharper text and images with an even quicker workflow. It’s time we got the word out— send us vector artwork for pad print!

How can you do that? When you’re designing pad print artwork in Photoshop or Illustrator and you’re entering a line of text, don’t rasterize said text, and don’t flatten the file. Turn the text and objects into work paths when using Photoshop, or turn them into outlines in Adobe Illustrator. This way when we print we won’t be using a bitmapped layer with resolution loss. Instead we’ll have sharp lines without the fuzziness you’d find in bitmap text. It will also help us print thinner lines that wouldn’t be possible otherwise, as our new laser engraver has 10x finer resolution, equal in quality to lithograph film.

If you don’t have the graphic design savvy to turn into work paths or outlines, another thing you could do is to keep the text layer as a text layer. That is to say do not rasterize the text, and do not flatten the file. We’ll do our best to turn the text into outlines on our end. Once you see the final results, you’ll be happy we did!

Black Dresses cassette

You can still submit the pad print files the old fashioned way, with rasterized text or bitmapped images. We have always prided ourselves in our excellent pad print quality, but that doesn’t mean we can’t strive for even greater resolution. Just make sure to supply using the proper template based on your cassette shell. Vector artwork should be submitted using PDF, whereas bitmapped resolution can be supplied in PSD, PDF, TIFF, or PNG.

Pad print is available using our cassette duplication quote calculator. This is where you get your fully packaged album on cassette in one simple order. You’ll receive an instant quote on the page, so you can play around with the print and packaging options until you find the perfect package at a great price. FREE SHIPPING is included on orders to the United States and Canada!

What Are Multisession CDs?

If you’ve ever wanted to expand medium of compact discs to video, photo, or executable programs, then multisession CDs are the way to go. It’s an excellent way of releasing two formats simultaneously on one disc, and we can take care of the authoring!

Ohbliv - Spirit Medicine

What are Multisession CDs?

Multisession CDs, also known as Enhanced CD, contain two different sections. The first is CD-audio, which is the music that plays when you pop the CD into a CD player. This contains the same Red Book audio standards as your typical CD— stereo 16-bit / 44.1kHz audio files.

The second section is a digital folder which can be accessed by reading the CD on a computer. You will see a disc folder that has digital files, such as video, images, or PDFs.

Enhanced CD multisession

Above is an image of how a multisession CD appears in File Explorer. Enhanced CDs will have a + symbol in the icon. Media players such as VLC or iTunes may open automatically when the disc is inserted based on your computer autoplay settings. To view the data in the folder, right click the icon and click Open.

What can you add to a Multisession CD?

That’s up to you! You can add music videos to your enhanced disc, or an all-access backstage pass video showing the band on the road. Many bands choose to add images or PDFs depicting high-resolution artwork and liner notes. The more computer-savvy artist may even consider programming an interactive executable file.

Are there limitations to Multisession CDs?

A CD holds 700MB of data, and there’s a good chance that a chunk of the disc will be taken up by the audio. If there’s not enough space for every file you’d like to include, you may want to consider compressing larger files like videos or image-heavy PDFs.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you want the experience to be friendly to both Windows and Mac users. For example, Windows users won’t be able to open a DMG, and Mac users won’t be able to open an EXE.

Where can I go to get a Multisession master created for me?

That’s where Duplication.ca comes in! For a small authoring fee we can provide multisession mastering with no additional cost per disc. Not only will we create your master disc, but we also do CD pressing, printing, and packaging. You can get your enhanced CD album pressed and shipped to your door in one simple order.

Our CD pressing page gives you an instant quote so you can mix and match options until you’ve built the perfect album package at the right price. Multisession discs are a custom order, so be sure to mention it in the ‘notes’ section so we can send you an updated quote.

Guide to understanding our blank cassette SKUs

With over 50 different cassette shell colours and variants, you’ll probably be spending a little bit of time trying to find the cassette colour that perfectly matches your album. Our cassette duplication page has succinct descriptions of each tape, so you can easily find your fav design. Our blank tapes page is admittedly a bit trickier, as we use the product SKUs (stock keeping unit) to itemize each shell. Each SKU is paired with an up-to-date picture of the cassette, but if you want to quickly find the shell you’re looking for it’ll help to better understand our SKU system

The Blank Cassette SKU Glossary

So at a glance this may look like some garbled nonsense, but I promise there’s important signifiers that’ll help you understand which cassette this is. Obviously the word ‘white’ jumps out at you indicating it’s a white coloured shell, but what’s this TI / TO business?

TI means tab-in, and TO means tab-out. These are the tabs found at the very top of your cassette. Tabs out means that you can’t record over the cassette unless you cover the tab holes, as a way of preventing accidental erasure. Tabs can be covered with tab plugs or by simply placing scotch tape over the holes.

Tabs-in means your cassette is ready to record with no extra steps needed. If you order cassette duplication with tabs-in tapes we’ll pop the tabs off for you so you don’t need to worry about your fans accidentally recording over your music.

Most of the cassettes you’ll see on our shop will be marked as NR, which means normal bias. These will have excellent playback across the board using our music grade tape.

For the audiophiles you may want to take a look at our CR tapes, which is the signifier for high-biasWe currently have stock of Maxell XLII-S High Bias Cobalt tape for louder and clearer playback.

TINT and TRANS (sometimes written as TRANSPARENT) are similar but with one major difference. Both have shell colours that are see-through but TINT will have a grey or black foil in the center of the cassette that will give a partially opaque effect. In contrast, TRANS is a completely transparent tape shell with a colour hue.

c0-tonrredTINTsonic

c0-tonrredTRANS

FLO is the shorthand for our Fluorescent colour shells. These radioactive beauties glow under blacklight, and are simply stunning under regular daylight.

Finally, SONIC and SW are two suffixes that mean the same thing: sonic welded shells. Sonic welded shells are glued shut, so they cannot be dismantled. If you don’t see SONIC or SW in the SKU that doesn’t necessarily mean that the shells have screws. Please inspect the photo carefully, or send us an email if you want to be extra sure.

Now that you’re an expert, all’s that’s left is to find the right cassette for your album! With over 50 colours we’re sure you won’t leave Duplication.ca empty handed.

Upgrade your J-cards to linen cardstock!

 

Looking to add some texture and style to your full-colour printed J-cards? We’ve added a new option to your cassette duplication orders that are sure to dazzle your fans: 100lb linen cover J-cards!

The difference in texture between these linen J-cards and our regular J-cards is immediately recognizable. Linen J-cards look and feel like an aged piece of art, appearing like dried paint on a canvas, while their uncoated finishing leaves them textured to the touch. Our linen J-cards are printed on “Solar White” cardstock. These have a brightness of 97% (read: blindingly bright) which makes all CMYK colours pop right off the page. They’re thicker than regular J-card stock, a whopping 11pt thickness as opposed to 7.5pt. We can print JP0s and JP1s using the linen stock.


“Humanity is a Sinking Ship” by Bricks (Flag Day Recordings)

You can add linen J-cards to your order by special request, just mention it in the ‘notes’ section of your cassette duplication order and we’ll hit you back with a modified quote.

We have other specialty J-card stock available by request. Mention them in the ‘notes’ section and we’ll revise your quote. If you’d like to order only printed J-cards using special paper, send us an email.

• 100lb smooth uncoated text
• 80lb White Enviro uncoated cover
• 12pt white C2S (coated both sides)
• 14pt white C2S (coated both sides )
• 100lb cover stock, smooth finish
• 20lb pink (photocopy paper)
• 20lb blue (photocopy paper)

We’re always looking to help and innovate, so if you have a particular paper stock in mind, or a wild packaging idea, just give us a shout and we’ll figure out the logistics with you!

Order cassette duplication and receive FREE SHIPPING to the United States and Canada