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.

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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!