Tips for DVD Artwork Design and Setup

By November 27, 2012

Tips for designing your own DVD artwork for duplication and replication.

Designing your own labels, inserts and trapsheets is a great way to keep your costs down and speed up production, but improperly set up artwork files are the number one cause for project delays.

There are a number of things that must be kept in mind though in order to achieve satisfactory results.

Using a Graphic Design Program

It is important to work with a proper graphic design program able to work with .eps files – Microsoft Word is not sufficient, nor are the built in templates that ship with Microsoft Word.

Suitable graphic design programs allow you to work with layers, which is very important, as the template must be on a different layer than your artwork, so that we are able to remove the template layer before printing. When the artwork is delivered to us, this layer structure must be in tact and not ‘flattened’ into the artwork. We recommend Adobe Illustrator, InDesign or Photoshop.

Each of our design templates comes with a set of guidelines which are a great place to start. Please make sure to read and understand these guidelines to avoid potential delays or rejected artwork.

Top 5 Design Mistakes

1. Not using our Design Templates

Problems often stem when trying to work with built-in templates that may have come with your design software. Because the equipment we use to do the printing is of an industrial grade, the templates that ship with your home printer or within software packages like Microsoft Word are not sufficient. Most of those templates are geared towards printing labels onto stickers which are then affixed to the face of the disc. We don’t recommend putting any sort of stickers onto your discs, as this is one of the primary causes of playback errors.

2. Not adhering to the design guidelines on the templates

Each of our design templates includes a list of guidelines to help avoid potential mistakes. If you don’t understand these guidelines, please give us a call to clarify (that’s what we’re here for!). A basic knowledge of graphic design terminology is required to work with these templates effectively.

3. Using low resolution images

Creating artwork for printing is different than creating artwork for the web. Graphics files destined for the internet are usually 72dpi, which is fine for your computer screen, however not for printing. Video is also 72dpi, so pulling a still frame out of your film for use on the DVD cover does not generally yield good results.

All images, graphics and text should be created and submitted to us at a minimum resolution of 300dpi.

4. Not minding your Bleed and Gutter

When the printed artwork is cut to size, there needs to be a small margin to allow for errors in the cutting process. This is called ‘bleed’. Any artwork elements that touch the edges of your design must ‘bleed’ out past the artwork edge at least 1/4 inch.

The ‘gutter’ is like the inverse of bleed, and refers to the amount of padding within your design in which no critical text or other graphic elements exist. Good graphic design practices dictate that you don’t have text elements too close to the edges of the page or the folds/staples (think of the way a book is laid out). Generally leaving at least 1/4 inch of gutter is the minimum that would be accepted. Consider doing a double sided print, or adding an extra page to your booklet if things are starting to get cramped for space.

5. Not converting fonts

Every computer ships with different fonts, so it is possible that your design will be created using a font that we don’t have on our systems.

The best way to ensure consistency is to convert all your fonts to artwork files. This is most commonly referred to as “converting fonts to outlines or curves.” Essentially, this means that your text elements are no longer editable as text, but will reproduce exactly the way you designed them, on every computer.

Following these guidelines will help to ensure that your job happens on-time and on-budget, and will result in a product with which you are completely happy. Of course, if you get stuck, our on-staff graphic designers will be happy to lend a hand.