Design Tips & FAQs

Top 10 Designer Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them).

NOTE: This information applies to CD & DVD replication, vinyl pressing, and postcards. It does NOT apply to Fast Tracks short run duplication or posters.

  1. Files not in saved in GrooveHouse templates.
  2. RGB image files.
  3. Wrong color profile.
  4. Image resolution too low.
  5. Disc face not designed with Pantone (PMS) colors.
  6. CMYK blacks are too rich.
  7. Missing image files or fonts.
  8. Design not extended to bleed.
  9. Text created using Photoshop.
  10. Submitted files different than original quote.
  1. Files not in saved in GrooveHouse templates

    Every manufacturer has its own presses and settings. We simply cannot use files created in templates for other companies or designed without templates at all. There is an automatic charge of $85 if files are not in GrooveHouse templates, as we will need to move them for you. Click here to download templates.

  2. RGB image files

    RGB stands for Red-Green-Blue and is the color mode used for color monitors. If you are a web designer, you are familiar with this mode. RGB is "subtractive" color that comes directly from light: when you add them all together, you get white. We cannot use any files saved as RGB. The spectrum for RGB is much purer and broader than for CMYK which is why we can’t get that cool neon RGB blue using CMYK inks.

    CMYK stands for Cyan Magenta Yellow BlacK and is the standard color mode for 4-color ink printing presses. This is "additive" color that is reflected: when you add the colors together, you get black. Color images for your packaging must be saved in CMYK or gray scale mode. The only exception is when you wish to use Pantone (PMS) inks for printing, which carries an additional charge.

    If we receive files in RGB mode, we will automatically convert them for you. Note that there is a strong possibility that your color values will shift and the end result may be very different than expected.

    The following example illustrates the separation differences between RGB and CMYK:


    Here's a tutorial on how to convert images from RGB to CMYK.

  3. Wrong color profile

    For optimal color matching to our printing and proofing system, we strongly recommend that you use the U.S. Sheetfed Coated (v2) color profile for all of your Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator files. This will also give you better viewing consistency between programs. If you use this color profile, you will have the best chance of knowing how your final print will look. Also, if you are concerned about color, we recommend you request print proofs. Our color print proofs are at least 90% accurate to the final product appearance.

    Here's a tutorial on how to apply color profiles.

  4. Image resolution too low

    Beware of screen resolution, which is usually around 72 dpi, used in web design. Print resolution is much higher. Your submitted images must be at least 300 dpi in order to print properly.

    Take a look at the following examples:

    Flower 300

    This image will print
    great at 300 dpi...

    Flower 72

    ...but will print poorly
    at a lower resolution

    Q: OK, I understand that low resolution is bad. Can I just change my 72 dpi image in Photoshop to 300 dpi by changing the number?

    A: Not exactly. When you “change the number” from a low resolution to 300 dpi, you are not really addressing the underlying problem. This is known as interpolation, which means that you are asking the computer to calculate pixels that are not there. Computers cannot add new data to sharpen the image - they can only add pixels that “fill the gaps.” What you end up with is a 300 dpi image that is very, very blurry.

    Flower 300

    72 dpi

    Flower 72 adjusted

    Interpolated at 300 dpi

    Q: So how do I fix low resolution?

    A: You need to re-scan your photograph at 300 dpi at the final size you want it printed. Photos should be taken using a 2.0 megapixel camera or better, with the settings at the highest resolution possible.

    Note: When placing images into layout programs like Quark, Illustrator, or InDesign, be sure not to scale the image up or down much. A 300 dpi image, for example, scaled up 200% will have a final resolution of 150 dpi! Low resolution!

    On the other hand, do not overcompensate by making your image resolution too high. It is overkill to have images at 600 dpi, for instance. It not only makes file sizes significantly larger, it also may create problems with final printing. Again, 300 dpi is the optimal resolution for images.

  5. Disc face not designed with Pantone (PMS) colors

    The best way to print solid colors on a disc is by silkscreening with Pantone Solid Coated inks. You should view the actual colors in a Pantone Formula Guide book, which can be found (purchased or just viewed) at an art supply store. You will need to apply the spot swatches to your artwork before submitting files, in a program and format that will retain the swatch information. The best programs to do this are Illustrator, InDesign and Quark. Note that even though Photoshop has a Pantone library, the file is still saved as RGB or CMYK.

    Photo Pantone

    If you have mutilple colors in varying percentages, you should create your design using CMYK. We will then print your discs using an offset process. We recommend that you do not attempt to match the disc face to your cover art. They are printed using different processes on different surfaces. You will be taking a risk that the colors will not match.

    Here's a tutorial on how to apply spot colors to your disc face design.

  6. CMYK blacks are too rich.

    In order for color side black borders, headlines, and text to appear dark and saturated (“rich”), you will need to set your CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black) values accordingly:

    C = 60%
    M = 50%
    Y = 50%
    K = 100%

    Do not use values any higher than those listed above, as the inks become too saturated on the printing press and can obliterate thin lines and text. If you want any small white text or other fine details to print cleanly, you must keep your total CMYK ink values under 300%.

    Note: Black values that appear on your screen may actually be vastly different when printed:


    Here's a tutorial on how to set CMYK black values.

    Here's a tutorial on how to determine total CMYK ink values using Photoshop.

  7. Missing image files or fonts

    We need all of the elements used in your design, not just the layout files. Images in Illustrator and InDesign should always be linked, not embedded and those linked images supplied along with your layout files. We also need every font used in your design, including screen and printer fonts. If any elements are missing, your job will be placed on hold until we receive them.

  8. Design not extended to bleed

    When you look at our templates, you’ll see three different colored lines. The outermost (red) line corresponds to the bleed. You will want to take your design all the way out to the bleed line. If you only design to the cut (blue) line, you run the risk of the blade falling outside that area with a resulting white paper edge.

  9. Text created using Photoshop

    If you are going to create your text in Photoshop, please be aware that Photoshop is a raster-based program and will print text less crisp than using vector-based programs like Illustrator, InDesign or Quark. At high resolution, it should not cause legibility problems, though the smaller the letter the more likely you are to have visibility problems.

    See example text below for comparison:


    Raster (top) vs. Vector (bottom)

  10. Submitted files different than original quote

    If we receive files that do not match up with your quote, your job will be placed on hold so a new quote can be generated. The most common situation is when a job is quoted for a 3 spot color disc, and we receive disc face files in CMYK, which makes the job a 5 color disc (4 colors + white base). There is an extra charge for CMYK discs. See #5 above for information on applying spot colors to your disc face.

    If you have any questions, give us a call and we’ll be happy to assist you.

  11. For additional information on designing your artwork, see our Artwork Preparation FAQs.