FAQs - Artwork Preparation

Question? We've Got Answers

  • What do I need to know when designing my project?

    First and foremost, you should read and be familiar with our design specs. We estimate that 90% of project delays are a result of designers not following directions.  If you have never designed a CD or DVD project before, we strongly recommend that you hire an experienced designer or have the GrooveHouse design team create your graphics.

  • What type of software can I use to create art work?

    For CD/DVD replication and vinyl projects, we accept files created in InDesign CS6 (or earlier), Illustrator CS6 (or earlier), or QuarkXPress 8.0 (or earlier).  Be sure to use our templates.

    For Fast Tracks short run duplication, we accept PDF, JPEG and bitmap files.  Click here for templates and instructions.

  • Can you accept PDFs of my art files?

    Our system requires native files only.  We are not set up to receive PDF files.

  • Why shouldn’t I use Photoshop for my text?

    Photoshop is a bitmap-based program which is perfect for creating and editing images.  However, text created in Photoshop can come out rasterized or jagged.  Your artwork will print much cleaner and more professionally if you create your text in a vector-based program such as InDesign, Illustrator or Quark.

  • Why do I have to use your templates?

    Every manufacturer has different 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.

  • What is silk screening?

    Silk screening is a printing process in which the desired image is exposed onto a fine screen mesh. The ink is forced through this screen and onto the disc surface as it passes under the screen station.  We use silk screen printing for spot PMS colors. This is the best way to print solid colors on a disc.

  • What is a PMS (Pantone) color?

    The Pantone Matching System (PMS) is a proprietary color system for used choosing and matching specific spot colors.  The best way to view these colors is 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 QuarkXpress. Note that even though Photoshop has a Pantone library, the file is still saved as RGB or CMYK.  Here are the instructions on how to apply Pantone colors in your layout program.

  • What is offset disc printing?

    Offset disc printing is a process in which a desired image is exposed onto a printing plate that in turn is loaded into an offset printer. A print roller picks up ink and rolls across the plate picking up the desired image and deposits the image onto the disc surface. This process is for four color process (CMYK) only and results in a high resolution image of picture quality at 175 lines per inch (lpi).

  • What is CMYK?

    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 print (folder, tray card, Digipak, sleeve) must be saved in CMYK or grayscale (black only) mode. The only exception is when you wish to use Pantone (PMS) inks for paper printing, which carries an additional charge.

  • What is RGB?  Can you accept RGB files?

    RGB stands for Red Green Blue and is the color mode used by computer monitors. This is subtractive color that comes directly from light: when you add them all together, you get white. We cannot use any files saved in RGB (unless you are placing a Fast Tracks or DIY short run duplication order). 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, no matter how much we want to.

  • What do 4/1 and 4/4 mean?

    This refers to the number of colors that print on two sides of a page:
    4/1 = full CMYK color outside / black & white inside
    4/4 = full CMYK color both sides

  • What is a bleed and when should it be used?

    The bleed is the extra area outside of your document that is trimmed off to insure proper cuts. In simple terms – you should extend your design to 1/8” beyond your actual print size. Although our cutting blade is extremely precise, there is an industry-standard allowance of 1/16” on either side of the cut line. We also recommend that you keep your text at least 1/4” away from the edge of the piece. This way your text is in a “safe” area.

    All of our templates are marked with boundary lines: The Red (outermost) line represents bleed, the blue (center) line represents the cut, and the green (inside) line represents the text safety margin. 

    There is no bleed for the CD/DVD face templates.  You need to design all the way to the edge.

  • Can I change my 72 dpi image in Photoshop to 300 dpi?

    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.  See our design tutorial for more information.

  • How do I upload my art files for my project?

    You can upload your art files using our convenient File Upload service.

  • Why does it cost so much to make a small change to my art files?

    Before submitting your artwork, you should proofread it really well (and have others check it too!).  If you have to make any sort of change after we print proofs, our art department has to re-rip and re-create new proofs which costs time and labor. 

  • Why does your audio CD template have a stacking ring?

    In order to replicate the best sounding CDs, we use vintage replication equipment with an injection mold that requires a clear stacking ring located 35 – 38 mm from the center.  (If you have CDs in your collection that were pressed in the late 80’s or early 90’s, you’ll see that they all have stacking rings.) Our machines also have a longer injection molding time, which decreases the number of errors in disc playback.

    Newer equipment has since been developed which allows discs to be “printed to center”.  However, these machines are built for increased production speed (mostly from pressure from CD-ROM companies who wanted cheaper & faster discs).  Other replicators use these newer machines to press their discs.

    We still use vintage replication equipment since the audio quality is superior. This is one reason why so many top engineers send their clients to GrooveHouse.

  • Do DVD disc designs require a stacking ring?

    No, our DVDs are printed to center, without the clear stacking ring.

  • What is a white flood?

    White flood refers to a solid white ink layer printed over the entire top surface of the disc. It provides opacity to all other colors printed onto the disc and allows you the ability to match Pantone colors correctly.  We also recommend a white flood under CMYK designs to prevent any of the metallic disc from showing through.

  • What if I want silver to appear on my disc?

    Depending on the opacity you are trying to achieve, the disc label can be printed directly on the disc without a white flood coat or the white flood coat can be knocked out to allow the silver disc to be visible.  Simply note on your template file which color your want to knock out to silver.

  • Can you do matte printing on my discs?

    Yes.  We can apply a matte varnish over your CMYK or Pantone inks.  This layer counts as an additional ink, so extra charges may apply.

  • Do I get a proof before my project prints?

    For CD/DVD replication and vinyl, we offer PDF proofs for no additional charge. Keep in mind that all monitors are calibrated differently, so the colors you see on your screen may not be an exact match to your final print. If you are concerned about color matching, you may wish to order printed color proofs, which are calibrated to our printing presses to within 90%. Printed color proofs carry an additional charge.

    Note that only PDF proofs are available for disc faces and vinyl labels. For Pantone (PMS) colors, use a Pantone swatch book for reference.

  • Are your print proofs printed on the same stock as my product?

    No. Print proofs are created using a high-end printer on photo paper. It would not be economically feasible to set up your order on our offset printing presses only to print a few samples. Our proofer is color calibrated to our presses. If you wish to see samples of the different stocks that we offer, we would be happy to send them to you.

  • Can I get a sample of my print and/or disc before I approve it?

    In replication, it takes an appreciable amount of time and labor to set up printing presses and replication equipment. It’s just not feasible to do so for a single disc or print item (or even a quantity less than 500).  If you are concerned about color, we recommend that you order print proofs.  We are also happy to send you samples of other jobs so you can see our different packaging styles, board stocks, inks, etc.

    For Fast Tracks short run duplication orders, you do have the option of ordering a single item to see how it looks before ordering more.

  • I see faint horizontal lines running through my proofs.  Will these show up on my final product?

    No.  Our proofs are printed on an ink jet style printer which occasionally causes banding to appear.  If you do not see those bands in your original files, you will not see them on your product.