The Song Path: Preparing your artwork for your CD

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Our partner for Artwork and Design (and SMCC bass maestro) Rob Skipper, has put together these bits of info which may help you as you prepare your files for production. Of course if you want a professional to do it, then we can recommed Rob at Camden Electric Art.

First up – get the relevant artwork templates from your chosen CD production company. They are all slightly different between companies, so make sure you get the right ones. These can usually be downloaded from their website.

If you are going to use Quark XPress, InDesign or Illustrator to prepare your artwork then you probably know what to do and this article is not for you.

If you are using Photoshop or another image editor then here are a few tips that will hopefully help things go more smoothly:

For printing, the accepted standard for images is 300 DPI (dots per inch). Your Photoshop template should already be set up this way so don’t change it. Make sure the images that you place in the template have enough resolution.

It’s OK to work in RGB whilst you’re building your designs but the final artwork must be in CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key(Black) as those are the four ink colours used on the printing press. When you turn your design to CMYK some of the colours might look a little less vibrant. It’s a long story about transmitted light (colour subtraction) versus reflected light (colour addition).

On the paper parts, if any of your artwork touches the edge of the paper you will need to extend it over the edge by 3mm (3mm of bleed) to allow for the accepted tolerance of guillotining the booklet or inlay after printing. This is not needed on the CD face as the printing always stops a few mm from the edge.

If you are working in Photoshop with fonts on layers then Saving the final artwork as a Photoshop PDF and choosing ‘Press Quality’ setting should ensure that the fonts are embedded in the PDF. This will make the fonts much sharper and more legible – particularly at smaller point sizes.

It would probably be good practice to keep your working files as .PSD and then when you’re ready to go to press, save them as Photoshop PDFs.

Finally, if you have any questions, get in touch with your CD production company who should be happy to help, and importantly get the right files to the right places at the right time – ensuring that you get your order on time, and looking like you expected it to look!

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