When I Do Your Graphics … What I need from you

Please allow enough time – 3-14 days is typical.

Compile all material that you want to include in your design: photos, text, original artwork to be scanned, logos, etc.

Text for lyrics, credits, song titles, liner notes, etc. in an electronic format.

  • Submit all text in a single file if possible. Please don’t send pieces, changes, etc. in many different emails – this can lead to our my missing something. It also makes it difficult for me to see an overview.
  • Don’t worry about formatting (making it look pretty) your text – that’s my job.
  • DO insert comments such as “back page” or “put band photo near this” to guide me.
  • DO mention items not included that you plan submit later so that I know to leave space (ex. “Thank you’s – 2 to 3 short paragraphs – to come by Friday”).
  • Don’t use spaces in place of tabs. Just use the Enter key twice to start a new paragraph.
  • Don’t use double spaces between sentences.
  • Don’t lay things in columns, especially by tabbing. Run your text straight down the page. If you want things in columns, let me know and I’ll format that on my end. If you tab over for a new column, I literally have to cut and paste the text out of that because it doesn’t flow the same in my program. Very time consuming and leads to things ending up in the wrong place.
  • I prefer Microsoft Word, RTF, or TXT, or you can email your text.
  • Non-digital (hand-written or paper printouts) text may incur additional input charges.
  • Spell Check and Proofread BEFORE submitting file to us. See “Proofing Checklist”

Photos, Artwork, Logos

COPYRIGHT: When providing artwork or files to Crescent Music Services, you represent you have the right to use and reproduce this image. You may not reproduce copyrighted materials from artists, photographers, or other authors of original works without express written permission from the author. Crescent Music Services is not liable or responsible for any inappropriate uses.

When shooting your photos or drawing your art, please consider the following:

  • The shape of a CD insert is SQUARE, not a rectangle
  • You will need room for your title and band name and other important cover text
  • Allow for about a 1/4 inch to be CUT OFF around the outside of the image (it’s called Bleed) if you want your photo to go to the edge of the paper
  • High contrast, colorful images work best for covers.
  • Consider the impact and message of the image. Does it communicate the message of your music or other content of your disc?

Digital Images:

  • If you provide your photos digitally, TIF is the best.
  • If you provide an EPS, do NOT check the box “include half-tone screen” in the save dialog.
  • Images should be either CMYK or greyscale at 300dpi or more at 100% of the size it will be used.
  • If you must provide JPG, save as largest file size possible to avoid degradation, and avoid opening and resaving the file too many times because that decreases quality each time.
  • SCANNING: Clean your scanner glass with a soft cloth before placing each item.
  • Digital cameras should be set to the highest uncompressed format your camera has. Avoid cameras under 2.5 megapixles.
  • Don’t send images in a Word file. I can not easily extract the images.
  • Pulling images from a website: DON’T.
  • Pulling images from a video: DON’T

Hard Copies: If you provide your artwork non-digitally:

  • Don’t supply inkjet-printed art unless that’s all you have.
  • I prefer prints of photos rather than slides or negatives. Slides or negatives will incur additional charges. Or you can take your slide to a local photo house (or even the local drug store) for digital conversion.
  • You can provide a photo in color even if it will be reproduced in greyscale (black and white). I can convert it.
  • I can accept artwork up to 11×17. Oversized art will incur additional charges for scanning.
  • The bigger (up to 11×17) and cleaner the artwork (such as a logo), the better it will scan.

Don’t have artwork?

  • I can search for photos and artwork if you don’t have anything. I have access to royalty free photos and artwork that might suit your purpose. I will spend a limited amount of time in this search for no additional charge. I can also point you to these sites to search yourself at no charge.
  • I can create custom digital art in photoshop (up to 1/2 hour for no additional charge). Check out my digital artwork in the portfolio.

Sketch and/or mock up of the layout to the best of your ability. This will give me a clearer idea as to how you would like your insert, traycard, and disc to look. These can be simple drawings on folded paper (or even a napkin).

Commercial Examples: If there are any other CDs or DVDs you like the look of, show me. You can just give me the name and I’ll look it up on Amazon. Or you can send/give me the real thing to examine (I’ll give it back!). I can emulate any style. Or if there is a certain color or font you want, show me to match as closely as I can.

File Submission:

I accept files in the following ways:

  • CDR
  • DVDR
  • FTP (File Upload)
  • Email (files should be zipped or stuffed) up to 5 MB
  • USB Thumb Drive

I will be doing your layouts in Adobe InDesign (for paper elements) and Adobe Illustrator (for disc art). I use Photoshop for photographic elements and special effects. I work on the PC, but can read most Mac files.

FONTS: TTF or OTF (I have about 12,000).

  • You can provide your files partially created in these applications, if you wish for me to finish and do the prepress. If you plan to go this route, please refer to my  designer guide in order to avoid file issues once I take over.
  • I cannot accept file formats such created in programs like Quark, E-Z CD and Neato labeller. I can, however, accept a PDF or EPS exported from many of these programs. Please speak with me before doing anything with these programs.

Proofs: I will provide you with PDFs of your layouts for proofing online. Modifications can be made until final approval with no extra charge (up to 3  drafts).

Typical Design Process:

First Meeting: Discuss concept, schedule, review your materials, look at colors and fonts.

  • I REQUEST THAT YOU PROVIDE ME WITH ALL OR AT LEAST MOST OF THE MATERIALS AT THE BEGINNING OF THE PROCESS. If you are still gathering a lot of stuff, it is usually better to wait until you have most of it.
  • You are welcome to schedule a preliminary design consultation before your official “first meeting” to review your project and determine what pieces you need to gather.

Drafts/Proofing: I layout, search photos, format your text, etc.

  • The first draft can take up to 1-10 days depending on complexity and whether I have everything..
  • This first draft might be very very rough if I am still working out the design or waiting on some elements, or it might be 95% there. Every project will proceed differently.
  • Your PDF Draft will be uploaded or emailed.
  • You review carefully and then give feedback, changes and corrections
  • Each additional draft incorporating new changes can take 1-3 days
  • I will provide up to 4 drafts with no additional charge.
  • Please read “Proofing Checklist” to help you avoid embarrassing and costly oversights. Also, please don’t assume I am perfect either – proof everything I do with a critical eye. You won’t hurt my feelings.

Approval: Final artwork must be approved IN WRITING by providing a written OK in an email.

  • Once you approve the final artwork I will submit the files to the printer for production. IF YOU GET BACK TO ME BEFORE NOON, YOUR PROJECT CAN GO TO PRESS THAT DAY. ANY APPROVALS AFTER 2 WILL START THE NEXT BUSINESS DAY.
  • Once the press is rolling you WILL incur additional charges if you need changes. How much more depends on where production must be stopped and how much work was done by the printer up to that point.
  • At this point I can tell you when to expect your discs.

Other Packaging Options

Top spine labels

Those annoying sticky strips on the top edge of some cases. You have probably struggled removing them. They’re hard to remove for a reason – they’re a combination of an anti-theft device and an identification label for CDs stocked in a bin. It displays the artist, album title, release number and barcode number. Not required, but it does give a “big label” feel to your product and it can help your CD stand out in a retail bin.


Use stickers for awards, quotes, or description. Usually placed on the outside of the shrinkwrap and discarded. Useful for last minute additional emphasis.


There are actually two types of outerwrap, but they both tend to be called “shrinkwrap”  – “shrink”wrap is the softer, shrinkable plastic, and Cello wrap (also called polywrap or cigarette wrap) is the more crisp plastic. Shrinkwrap is used on sleeves and digipaks. Cello wrap is used on DVDs and Jewelcases and has folded sealed edges instead of the fused seam.

Used mainly for retail product – it ensures the customer is getting an untampered with product, and also protects the case during shipment.

DO NOT WRAP PROMOS. Even if you receive all your CDs with outer wrap, remove it before sending to reviewers and DJs.


My philosophy about promos and EPs:
Since it costs almost the same amount of money to design and press a CD with 4 songs as it does one with 12 songs, I recommend using your full album as a promo.

You can request some of your CDs be marked for promotion only. This usually entails having the barcode punched or marked out and PROMOTIONAL USE ONLY stamped on the CD face in white over your artwork. You will also want to request no shrinkwrap and top spine labels on these units.

Handling a CD or DVD

We take CDs and DVDs for granted these days, throwing them on the desk, stuffing them 3 at a time into paper envelopes. But if we truly want these repositories of precious music and data to last, we need to handle them carefully. Here are a few points you may or may not know.

  • The data side (bottom) of the disc must remain free from scratches, fingerprints, dust, etc.
  • Cleaning the disc can actually damage it.
  • NEVER touch either surface.
  • Handle by the edges (or center hole).
  • NEVER set a disc down on a hard surface.
  • Return disc to its jewelcase to when done.
  • NEVER write on the data side of the disc. If you must write on a disc, write ONLY on the label side (top) and ONLY with an approved marking device such as felt-tip, non-toxic permanent ink — NEVER USE A BALLPOINT PEN!
  • Don’t let the bottom of the disc touch anything other than the player or the case it came in. I’m amazed at the scratched-up, greasy-fingerprinted premasters that I’ve seen.
  • Use quality media. Taiyo Yuden are considered the best in the industry.
  • NEVER leave an unprotected disc in direct sunlight – it will deteriorate the data. DO NOT expose to excessively hot and/or humid environments
  • Never clean in a rotary fashion. If it becomes necessary to clean the disc, use a soft, dry cloth, rubbing gently, always from the middle towards the outside. This will minimize errors if you accidentally scratch the surface (the data starts from the center in). We recommend a micro-fine cloth available from most optometrists for eye glasses.
  • Even slight bending of a disc can cause stress fractures. The aluminum then becomes deformed, causing some ridges to be blocked. As a consequence, error correction always has to be applied in that area, affecting the final sound.

Manufacturing Project Overview and Production Schedule

1. Graphics

Time Frame: 1-3 weeks.

Tip: If you are pressed for time, start your graphics before you finish in the studio.

You provide: Liner notes, photos or other images, a rough layout.

Troubleshooting: review all proofs very carefully.


2. Production Master

You provide: The master and PQ code sheet (your mastering engineeer provides this). Be sure to ask your mastering engineer to include the TEXT ENCODING and ISRC coding on the master.

IPR form is also required for all new manufacturing orders.

Troubleshooting: Do not give me your only copy. Label your master inside the clear ring. Don’t write on the face of the disc. Listen/View to your “reference copy” (a copy made directly from the master by the engineer). Do not open your production master. If there is no problems with the reference copy then the you know the productio master is OK. If there is a problem with the reference copy, check the master at that spot to see if it is due to an issue during copying, or a problem with the master. Make a new reference copy if it’s not a problem with the master.


3. Printing and Manufacturing

Time frame: usually 8 business days

TURN TIMES: Day 0 = Once your artwork and master are finalized, approved and submitted. Production takes about 8 workdays. Digis and jackets take 13-17 workdays. Reorders will ship in 7 workdays. Bulk discs ship in 6 working days (rush turns for extra charge are available, with turns as fast as 1 day).

Quicker turns may be possible at no additional charge. Or you may want to consider having us do some shortruns to tide you over. Call to discuss your schedule and we’ll tell you how we can accommodate you.

TO MAINTAIN SCHEDULE: Graphic files must be finalized and approved or submitted by client by 10 a.m. at least 8 workdays before shipment. Master and IPR form must be received by factory at least 7 workdays before shipment. All manufacturing instructions, deposits, and ship-to addresses must be received at least 5 workdays before shipment. Printed materials be in factory at least 2 workdays before shipment.

Troubleshooting: changes after this point will be very costly and will definitely delay things.


4. Shipping

Time frame: usually 2-4 workdays (via Fedx or UPS Ground)
Typical order of 1000 CDs comes in boxes of 120 each with four 30-unit boxes inside each weighing about 26 pounds, with the total order weighing 247 pounds.

Time Saver: Request overnight shipping (for extra charge) of smaller quantities to tide you over, with the remainder shipped ground to save you money. Can also request direct shipping to your distributor or tour gig (up to 3 addresses with no extra charge).

Troubleshooting: When you receive your discs, please check them over carefully. Make sure all the features you ordered are present. Play the disc. Spot check discs from different boxes.