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>>>Printing decisions:

You have three choices as you budget printing for media like Compact Discs and cassettes. The section below explains them. Click on the CD cover images to see full-size .pdf examples of the printing technology being explained.

>>>Text preparation:

You should provide us with all of the text for your project, fully proofread, on computer disc. We charge substantially for entering copy from typed or handwritten manuscripts. 3.5" discs from any widely-used Macintosh or IBM wordprocessing program are fine. ASCII text files present no problems.

You can e-mail copy as well. Do not "attach" files, simply paste the copy into an e-mail message.

If you already have a layout in mind, give us a simple pencil sketch showing where you'd like the various elements to appear.

In all respects, both in file format and in how you type your copy, it's important to try to give us the simplest, most straightforward text possible. Remember that the design process has yet to take place. The more work you do in "laying out" your copy into columns, creating tables, applying fonts and styles, the more we have to remove! Simple copy is best at this point.

Keep these important pointers in mind-

  • Avoid applying styles like "Bold" or "Underline". The designer will need to apply these styles here.
  • Remember that computer word processors "word wrap" all by themselves. You should not enter a carriage return after every line of text on your screen.
  • Double-spacing after sentences is an old convention from the days of the typewriter, and is incompatible with computer-based typesetting.
  • Take advantage of the "soft return" (SHIFT-RETURN on the Mac keyboard) when transcribing lyrics: use the "soft return" between the lines of a verse or chorus and use a normal, "hard return" to separate the verses and choruses of a song.
  • Do not use the spacebar to create tables or otherwise arrange blocks of text. Tabs are the preferred way to create simple tables.
  • Multiple hits of the "return" (paragraph break) key are usually not helpful. You should never need more than two successive "return" key hits in your document.
  • © and similar symbols are available in most computer environments and will usually translate sucessfully when we import your file. The -P in a circle- mark is not, however. If you'd like, pick an unusual character to substitute for this mark in your document: we can replace it with the correct marks here.
  • Condensing song lyrics by stripping unneccesary or repeated lines is often a good idea, because of space limitations.
  • Finish your copy before you turn it over to us. Print it out. Check teh speling. Proofread to make sure you haven't omitted any. Excessive time spent revising copy (adding and removing people's names, inserting publishing and copyright information, revising lyrics, and the like) will be charged for.

>>>Photographs, video and artwork:

Original transparencies are considered to be the best format for reproduction. We can scan 35MM transparencies and negatives in-house: scans of larger formats are outsourced. Prints scan less successfuly. Please contact us before assuming a photo is in the best format for reproduction.

Studio Dual can also "frame grab" video images directly to our computer, for color or black and white reproduction.
In most cases, the cost of a fixed number of scans or frame grabs is incorporated into our quotation for your job- outsourced or additional scans are charged separately.

The higher the quality of your photos the better. Large (8 X 10) photos are generally not desirable for CD and cassette packaging, because they're so much larger than they will be when printed.

Images such as charcoal sketches and paintings can be incorporated into your design, usually with little effort. Larger artwork and paintings must be photographed professionally and then scanned for use in your design.


If you have an existing logo that you want us to use, provide a large, clean, camera-ready stat or tearsheet if possible. Your firm's logotype may be readily translatable into computer form or it may take some extra work. We'll tell you what needs to be done to get your logo into computer format. Macintosh EPS is the preferred format for logotypes provided on disk.

If you need a new logo designed specifically for your project, just let us know! We'd be happy to work with you.

>>>Legal matters:

We cannot provide legal advice as to the best way to incorporate copyright and publishing information on your project. We can not scan or use artwork that is the intellectual property of others without express written permission.

>>>Outside services:

We obtain some specialized services from outside suppliers. These include color scanning and separations, intermediate color proofs, and the "finished film" (negatives), with the proofs that accompany them to the printers'. Studio Dual does not mark up these services. (and we cannot be responsible for errors or problems caused by outside suppliers.) Some of this work can take time: it can take three or four days to complete color scans, for example.

Incidentally, intermediate proofs are an important part of the design process for many projects. Nothing matches looking at a full-color proof, cut and folded to fit your CD or cassette packaging. Design issues that never appear on the computer screen become immediately obvious.

>>>Lighten up!

The majority of Studio Dual's graphics work is provided for music-industry projects: Compact Disc and cassette covers, posters, brochures and the like. A quick check of similar product from major players in the industry will show a great deal of inventiveness and spontenaity in design. We've been creating newspapers, music-industry packaging, corporate identity materials and other graphic elements since the 1970's. The most important advice we give our clients may be this: trust your designer, and try to live with unusual design elements for a while before opting for the safe way out. In today's market there is a lot of room (and demand) for quality, improvisation and the visually distinctive.

On a related topic, nothing kills a worthwhile design faster than death by committee. Try not to review preliminary copies of your CD cover with all your friends. Everyone will feel compelled to find an area they can improve. Soon you'll be left with a very safe and very lifeless design.

>>>Bar codes:
Barcode imageDid you know that Studio Dual can generate barcodes directly from your UPC numbers? Ask us about this low-cost service.


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Black Dot

Single-color printing (usually using black ink) is the most economical choice, but obviously limits the excitement your package can generate. Single-color printing also restricts the quality of photographic reproduction.

B/W Cover

2-color Dot

Two-color printing usually employs black ink in combination with a second, custom-mixed ink color. It's an attractive alternative to single-color printing, but no longer enjoys much of a price advantage over four-color work (below) for CD's and cassettes. This is because duplicators print their jobs in bulk, and setting up the custom ink colors creates costs approaching those of four-color printing. Two-color does have strong design potential, however. The inks deliver strong, dense hues. Black and white photographs come to life in two-color work because the additional ink enhances the "dynamic range" of photo reproduction.

2 Color Sample

4-color Dot

Four-color printing (seen most commonly) uses four standardized inks to reproduce full-color photography and other images. While four-color work will cost more, it is usually the format of choice for artists who want their releases to have "major-label" appearance.

4-Color Sample