CD Cover Digital Layout

On Thursday night, April 6, 2006, I met with James Lee, the graphic designer who helped me with the digital layout of my second CD, Living in Hawaii Style, in the spring of 2001. James works expertly with Quark Express, Photoshop and Illustrator, plus he knows how to repair computers. He’s been working the graveyard shift at Wilcopy on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles for many years, but that will end soon. By the end of this year he’ll have graduated a college course in video game design, and I will have to find a new digital layout expert for my next printed project.

I had already painted the cover art and had it scanned, created the lettering on Duralar (translucent graphic overlay film) with a fine point Sharpie marker, gotten the back cover black and white head shot of me scanned into a tif file, composed, and editted the liner notes, obtained a bar code from the staff at CD Baby, and decided that the back cover of the booklet would be a close-up of the center of the cover painting. I had researched at length online the various companies doing CD duplication and had chosen one that offered me a good price and was highly recommended on the CD Baby artists’ website. I had downloaded the templates for the booklet, traycard and disc from the website of the manufacturer, A to Z Media.

James scanned the lettering overlays, converted them from black to white, and placed them as a layer over the scan of my cover painting, and added bleed borders (extensions of the existing colors at the edges, so that when the cover is trimmed, there will be no white edges if the trim is off by a fraction of an inch.)

For the back cover, we began with a background of a scan of a color wash I’d painted with acrylics. Over that James placed the scan of my head shot, which he changed from black and white to indigo and white. He added the lettering overlay of the song titles, also changed to white, and, below that, the bar code and UPC number. He also selected a star from the front cover and I chose where to clone it five times on the back tray card. Then we created the lettering for the two spines in Comic Sans font (which has a handlettered look) in white.

Inside the booklet are ten black and white pages in (very small) 7 point Times New Roman lettering; we had to go small to squeeze in all of the lyrics, acknowledgements and stories that I wrote for the liner notes. We worked for quite a while moving words around so that none of the lyrics require turning a page. It’s a very simple layout, but very legible.

Last, we made the layout for the disk. It, too, is indigo (scanned from a painted acrylic wash) with silver stars and white lettering. For the disk, the ink colors are chosen specifically from the Pantone ink chip book.

James then created a high quality print of the cover art, to size, and cut them out for me, so that I could put them in a CD jewel case and see how the finished product will look. A complete mock up goes with the digital layout on CD to the manufacturer.

I left Wilcopy with three CDs and three mock ups: one set to send to A to Z Media in New York, one set to send to EM Records in Osaka, Japan, and one set to keep as a safety backup.