Some things to watch for when preparing files for printing. Many of the most common mistakes occur during these simple steps. Ask yourself these questions before submitting your files.

1. Have I included sufficient bleed or gutter in the artwork? Have I used the proper template? See below for details re: bleed and gutter.

2. Have I used the proper colours for my paper/cardboard print? (CMYK or grayscale, no RGB). See below for details re: colours.

3. Is my imagery the proper resolution? See below for details re: resolution.

4. Is my CD face design in the proper colour and template for the type of project I am ordering?

5. Have I included all fonts necessary? If I am not submitting fonts, have I designed my files correctly?

6. Have I proof-read my project? Is it the complete, final, ready-to-print version? Have I deleted unused layers or images, and organized my files?

7. The proofs I’ve received – Is this exactly what my final project will look like? See below for details re: proofs.

8. Will the colours for the artwork on my CDFace match the colours on the artwork for my paper/cardboard packaging?  See below for details re: CDFace artwork and colours.

Spending a few minutes now, making sure that the files you’re submitting are the final, complete, correct ones will save you hours and even days on your project schedule. As well as possibly saving you money.


Your print job will be printed on larger sheets of paper, and then cut down to final size. There can be slight variations in the cut, so we have to build in some safety areas. There are actually two things we watch for, “bleed” and “gutter”. Bleed is the artwork that goes past the final cut line, which will be cut off (usually any background image or image that goes all the way to the edge). This is a safety measure so that there won’t be a white line along the edge if the cutter is off slightly. Gutter is the safe area on the inside of the cut line, where any important text and images shouldn’t go, in case the cut is too far inside. It’s also a good idea to avoid having any border or line that runs right along the cut line, it can be lost.

Normally we ask for 0.125″ bleed and gutter, which gives us a nice big safety margin. Most of the templates already include the bleed area, so just take any artwork all the way to edge of the templates. Keep text inside the gutter areas. If the template does not have a bleed line, assume that 0.125″ of bleed outside the final cut line is expected.


Production run paper or cardboard items (jewel box inserts and trays, cardboard sleeves, digipaks, etc) are printed using either one of two methods: Full color process or one color grayscale. Very rarely, a job will be done using Pantone colors (also called Spot inks). Do not include any spot inks in full color designs, unless prior arrangements have been made.

The Full 4 Color CMYK Process – The print job is printed using four (4) special inks (Cyan, Magenta,Yellow, BlacK), also known as CMYK process. By combining these four colors, nearly every visible color can be achieved (though not all – see Color Gamut below)

Black & White (Grayscale) – If the print job only uses black ink, then it is considered a “grayscale” order, and is often the least expensive printing option. This makes it ideal for the interiors of booklets or inserts, where full color offers no sales benefit.

Often, these options are referred to by printers and other graphic design professionals using the terms 4/4 (“four over four”), 4/1, or 1/1.
4/4 – full color both sides
4/1 – full color over grayscale
1/1 – grayscale over grayscale
4/0 – full color, single side
1/0 – grayscale, single side


The CMYK color gamut is the range of all possible colors that can be printed using the 4 color CMYK process. There are some colors that simply cannot be printed (very vivid blues, greens, reds), and this sometimes becomes an issue when the design is submitted in RGB mode.

Unexpected color shifts can occur when conversion of RGB to CMYK is done prior to printing, (which is why it is best to design in CMYK from the start, so there are no surprises).


While the paper printing is done in CMYK/Grayscale, the CD/DVD face is often done using a different process. The disc is silk-screened, using 1-3 Pantone colors (though as many Pantone colors as you’d like can be used, at extra cost per colour). The Pantone Color system (also referred to as a spot color), is a catalog of pre-mixed ink colors (similar to mixed paint) that allows the designer to specify a color by number. Please specify colors from the Solid Coated Library.


To assure the best possible quality when printing, it is important that all images have sufficient resolution. For our purposes, all artwork for paper print should have 300-350 dpi (final print resolution).

Resolution is a measurement of the amount of detail in an image, usually referred to as “dots per inch” (dpi) or “pixels per inch” (ppi). The two terms are often used for the same thing. But, just to confuse things, an image’s “resolution” may also refer to the total number of pixels in the image (phrases such as “high resolution image” indicate that the image has a large number of pixels – usually over 2000 x 2000).

An image size is a result of both its physical “print” dimensions and its resolution. (IMAGE PRINT DIMENSIONS) X (IMAGE RESOLUTION) = (IMAGE SIZE IN PIXELS). For example, a picture that is 5″ x 5″ at 100 dpi has 500 x 500 pixels (5 x 100 = 500). The exact same image at 2″ x 2″ would have a resolution of 250 dpi. To calculate final resolution, you have to know how big the final image will be printed, and how many pixels it has. When resizing an image to prepare it for printing, remember that you can always go down in resolution, but never up – you can always lose detail from an image, but you can’t add detail that isn’t in the image to begin with. This is why it is important to always work with the best quality, highest resolution images available.


There are 3 type of proofs that you may receive for your project :

1st is a screen/monitor PDF proof, for viewing on your computer – these proofs are designed for viewing on-screen. The colours you see are generated via the light of your screen. The colours and resolution are different than what will be printed – The colours in your print file are designed to be printed and are of high, print-ready resolution. The screen/monitor PDF proofs are: for making sure the correct files have been submitted; and as a final, last-chance review for any errors. The colours you see on-screen will be relatively representative of what your final product will look like – however, if you are a stickler for colour detail and precision, brightness, and contrast, you may be interested in a printed proof from the manufacturing plant (see below).

2nd is a printed proof from the manufacturing plant. These cost money (contact us for pricing if it’s something you are interested in). The plant must, essentially, setup their equipment like they are preparing to print your large order, but then only print 1 copy for proofing. If you are very concerned about the colour detail and precision, brightness, and contrast of your final product, this may be for you. We can advise you as to whether your files will print well or not, and we are relatively accurate with suggestions – we know our stuff, but! our opinions and suggestions are just that: subjective and potentially somewhat in-exact – so, if there is any type of ┬áspecificity or precision your are demanding with your colour selections for your project, we advise that you purchase a printed proof from the manufacturing plant.

3rd is a laser print from our studio. These are exact representation of what your will get for any small-run, in-house order. These are free of charge, simply let us know that this is something you’d like and we will create them for you. We can offer you these for large, plant manufactured runs, however – they are not to be taken as true, final representations of what upper product will look like. The colours, resolution will be about 85-95% accurate.


Often, colours on a CD Face will NOT exactly match the colours on a project’s paper/cardboard artwork. Why? A couple of ┬áreasons:

1. The surface is different – If you were painting a wooden fence and painting a car door with the same paint, the colour would most likely appear different on the different textures/surfaces. The same kind of thing can happen here.

2. The process is different – Most plant run CD Faces are printed using the silkscreening process (and some times via offset printing). This differs greatly from the process used during paper/cardboard print manufacturing. This a universal issue – even Beyonce or Foo Fighters multi-million sellers will experience small colour shade differences between printed packaging and CD Face print.

Also, the process when printing CD Faces for smaller, in-house runs differs greatly from the print of paper/cardboard products we make on the premises. For in-house runs, The CDs are printed using a ink-jet printing robot so the cartridges and processes are quite different than what is involved with the laser print for the in-house paper/cardboard packaging. The same reasoning applies here. The only way to ensure the CDFace is exactly as you’d like, colour-wise, may be to request a proof. Contact us about that if you feel this would be necessary.