Tips for providing the best vinyl and cd packaging designs

Follow these tips when creating your artwork

Keep it simple: While we can print full-color (CMYK) images on the disc, silkscreen printing works best with solid spot colors (no halftones/tints, no CMYK process inks). This is true of all silkscreen printing, whether on discs, t-shirts, posters, or any other surface material. While more simplistic in appearance than full-color, this provides the best print quality on the packaging design-- in this case less is more, without a doubt.

Tonal range for halftones: The tonal range that we can hold while silkscreening the discs is 15-85%. Tones lighter than 15% may blow out to zero, and those darker than 85% may fill in completely.(This does not affect 0% or 100%, of course.) As a result, we do not recommend using images with very dark or very light details.

Image content: High-contrast images work best. We do not recommend using images with subtle details or changes in tone, as they will not be visible when silkscreened.

Skin tones: We recommend against using photographs of people for your on-disc printing. Unfortunately skin tones (both light and dark) fall within a range of tone that is difficult to print consistently with silkscreening, and can often take on unwanted color casts or become significantly lighter or darker than expected.

Gradients / blends: We strongly recommend against printing any gradients or blends on the disc, as they do not print well and often result in a blotchy or banded appearance.

Gradient Design Example for vinyl and cd packaging
Gradients that look smooth on CD packaging don’t translate well to the silkscreen printing process on the disc. 
Highlights and shadows don’t offer smooth transitions, instead dropping off dramatically and resulting in an uneven, rough-looking line.
Example of how black and white cd designs are effected once screen printed
Here is a comparison of a photo printing on a booklet and printing on a disc. The image on the disc loses details in the piano player’s coat, and the highlight on his head. The subtle variations in the background images are also lost. Expect to lose detail and overall image quality if you print an photo on the disc.

Neutral tones: CMYK colors that are grey or near-grey (tan, creme, etc.) will often take on a color cast when silkscreened. For important neutral colors we recommend using a spot ink.

Spot & Process Colors

Process color uses translucent CMYK inks laid on top of one another to fool your eye into seeing other colors. A spot color ink is a specially-mixed hue that is not made by combining two or more inks, but rather is a single ink of a specific color. Spot colors can be brighter or more saturated than process colors, or have special properties, such as metallic gold or fluorescent green.

We have one price for any type of color printing on your discs; all you need to do is supply the art as you'd like it to look and our prepress specialists will determine which printing method will work best with your art and adjust it if necessary.

Typically we will convert large areas of solid color to spot inks, as well as monochromatic, sepia and other images using a small range of hues. Artwork that utilizes the full spectrum of color, such as photographic images, will typically be printed as CMYK.

Of course, if you know you want spot color printing go ahead and set your file up to use spot colors (up to six) and we'll print it that way. If you're not sure how, just ask us to take care of it!

You can also get your vinyl or CD packaging design done by our art team!

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