Jacob Haller (jwgh) wrote,
Jacob Haller
jwgh

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On making a CD

One of the things I discovered while designing the Interrobang Cartel CD is that I really don't know what I'm doing. Here's some notes about making the CD while I remember them.

One problem I had had to do with the design of the booklet. I had decided to get fancy and have an actual booklet with information and graphics on both the interior and exterior:

booklet exterior

booklet interior

This meant that I had to print or copy the graphics onto two sides of the same piece of paper, and they had to line up. The folks at Kinkos assured me that I was insane to think that this could possibly work with the graphics that I had, because the mechanics of printers and copy machines are such that there's bound to be some slippage. This problems was exacerbated by the fact that I had put borders around the graphics on each side.

I did actually end up managing to make it work by aligning the pieces of paper containing the two sides by eye (holding them up to the light to make sure that the borders lined up) and making judicious use of the paper cutter, but it was a pain and I did end up ruining a couple of them (for instance by cutting off the top of 'Interrobang' on the interior of the booklet).

What I should have done was left off the border on the exterior of the border and expanded the orange section on the 'track listings' section. Then even if things didn't line up exactly I could cut according to the lines on the interior of the booklet and not have to worry about ending up with a band of white above or below the orange part of the exterior.

Another thing I learned is that printing out color stuff at Kinko's is not very convenient. I went in with my disk containing three PDF files (booklet interior, booklet exterior, and jewel case back), and my basic plan was to get a computer, print the things out, then go to a color copier and copy everything onto some nice glossy paper.

However, they told me that they would have to print the files out for me, that it would take five hours, and that I would not be able to use special paper in the color copier.

Further, it turned out that the print-outs had some glitches, most noticably on the back of the booklet, where there were a couple of thin white lines where there should have been unbroken orange. When I pointed this out to the Kinko's folks, they speculated on various possible causes of this (printer screwup? problem with the original file?) but didn't seem particularly concerned and had no immediate desire to fix anything. Finally they said that I could try printing out another copy, and if I went this route I could pick up the next copy the next morning, but of course if whatever caused the problem in the first place was still in effect, which it probably would be, that wouldn't help.

Ultimately I decided that I could live with the glitches and the default paper in the color copier and went to use the copier. The thing I learned about the color copier is that you can really tell when something has been copied, at least when it has a large block of color; the booklet back and jewel case liner weren't nearly as evenly colored as they appeared on the printed original.

What I should have done ... I think I should have just had Kinko's print out all the copies for me (at least for the jewel case liners; the booklets had other problems, as described above, which would have made doing this tougher). Another alternative would have been to get some nice paper and print them out on my inkjet printer at home, but it's on old, not terribly good printer and I'm not convinced this would have worked that well either.

After I put the CDs together at Kinko's I was initially very disappointed in how they looked; I was hoping for something more professional-looking and the faults that had cropped up at each step were all too obvious at that point in time. Looking at the CDs now I feel a lot better about them; they actually look pretty good and the flaws aren't nearly as noticable as I at first thought they would be. Still, if I ever do this sort of thing again, hopefully I'll apply some of the lessons learned above and end up with something a little nicer.

Tags: cd design, interrobang cartel
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