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How to prepare your graphics for DVD and CD printing

This guide has been written using Adobe Photoshop as the graphic design program. The same principles can be applied to all other graphics programs for preparing your artwork for submission.

The guide that follows explains how to prepare your graphics so they are ready for going into print. The example uses the 4 page booklet, but the same concepts can be used for any of the templates.

1. Download the correct template

From the list of templates found on the design templates page, identify and download the correct template to your computer. You can download the template by right clicking on the appropriate template and selecting “save target as…”, or “save link as…”. For this example, we’ll be using the CD booklet template, however, the concepts below can be applied to all templates.

Choose the correct template to save from the design templates page

2. Open the template in Photoshop

When you open the template in photoshop, you will be presented with a dialog window to set how the PDF template opens. Use the following settings when opening any of the templates. Main thing is to make sure the resolution is at 300dpi, and that the colour scheme is CMYK.

Opening the PDF with the correct settings and options

3. Layout your graphics

Once the template is open you can begin to lay out the graphics of your design. It’s a good idea to keep the template as the top most layer in photoshop, this way you can see the outlines of the template.

Layers window showing the template as the topmost layer

When you layout your graphics, you should make sure the background extends all the way to the outside bleed line. In the below example, the booklet needs a green background, and this has been filled in all the way to the out side bleed.

All the foreground parts, this includes, all text, logos, forground images etc, should be contained within the inner most safety margin. This ensures the final print will look neat and well presented. In the below example you can see that the text does not go out side of the inner safety margin.

Layout in Photoshop showing correct placement for background and foreground elements

The template needs to be mostly removed once you have completed the layout, and are happy with the way the design looks. The only elements that should be left showing in the actual design area are the cross-hairs which extrude beyond the design. To do this, drag the topmost template layer to the bottom, so that all the layers you have added, are now above the original template layer. This will ensure that only the cross-hairs of the template show.

The image below shows the layers window with the template layer now at the bottom.

Layers window with the template layer moved to the bottom

Your design should now look something like this, with only the cross hairs showing. Notice that there are no guides in the printable booklet area. The only parts left in the booklet design area are the elements we need printed in the final booklet. The cross-hairs extruding from the sides are required for the printers to be able to cut the booklets accurately.

The design is now ready to be saved in the correct format

4. Saving your design file

It is recommended that you save the file as a PDF. This will ensure that the fonts will remain vector and embedded in the final PDF file. To do this go to File, then Save As, and select, Photoshop PDF from the drop down list of filetypes. The press-ready default should be selected to ensure the file is created in the right way.

If you can’t save it as a PDF, then you can also submit the file as a hi-res JPEG. For this ensure that the jpeg setting are at the highest level.

Selecting PDF as the file format to save in

PDF files are preferred as it embeds the text as vector format. The difference between vector and jpeg can be seem in the below images. When the file is zoomed in on, the PDF text remains absolutely sharp, whereas in the jpeg, the text pixelates, this will result in slightly less sharp text in the final print.

The zoomed JPEG image

The zoomed PDF image

You can download the actual files created in this tutorial from the links below, this will let you compare the outputs from the 2 files:

PDF 4 Page booklet download

JPEG 4 Page booklet download

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