Summit Cover Art Requirements
& Technical Specifications


Designers Top 10 Check-List
1. Begin by using one of our Summit Layout Templates to ensure proper cover layout sizing.
2. All files and images must be in the CMYK (process color) format. RGB images are unacceptable.
3. All photo Images must be cropped to finished size at 300dpi.
4. Keep all text a minimum of 1/8" (inside) from any finished edge, crop-mark or fold.
5. Add 1/8" bleed (to later be trimmed off edges) to all outside edges of your design.
6. Mac designers if supplying working files, be sure to include all images & fonts used in your QuarkXpress layout, then export final layouts to 300 dpi printable PDF.
7. PC designers must embed all text & flatten layers in Adobe Photoshop or In-Design and/or convert all text to curves in Adobe Illustrator, (vector format) then convert final layouts to 300 dpi printable PDF.
8. See Preferred, Alternate & Unacceptable Formats below.
9. Courier your completed digital design files to Summit Sound, 184 McAndrews Rd. Westport, ON K0G 1X0, on CDR or DVDR along with a printed color proof. You may also upload design and audio files to the Summit ftp site.
10. Be sure to include your CATALOGUE NUMBER and MADE IN CANADA on all cover & CD or DVD imprint graphics. UPC BAR CODES are available from Summit Sound at our cost of $50. each.
Call Summit Sound at: 1-800-403-9755 if you have any questions before proceeding with your design

Design Basics
A clear understanding of graphic color systems (CMYK, PMS, RGB etc.) file formats (EPS,TIF, JPG, PSD etc) image resolution (72, 300, 600dpi) line screens (ie. 85, 133, 150 line) as well as how computer programs deal with drawings/illustration and text (vector) and photo images (raster) is critical to obtain optimum results on your cover design.

While it is possible to do a complete cover design in a program such as Photoshop, you need to understand that because Photoshop rasterizes (which is ideal for photo images) it is not the best choice for text as it makes it less sharp. On the other hand, a program such as Adobe Illustrator which creates vector images (and is thus ideal for text) does not process photo images as well as raster based programs like Photoshop. This is why professional designers use page layout programs such as QuarkXPress for layout, as it allows them (for example) to combine both raster (photo) images from Photoshop and vector images (illustration/text) from Illustrator ensuring the best possible end result.

We do have clients who provide complete designs in Photoshop, or Illustrator with "reasonable" results, but you need to understand that this is not going to yield the best result. Doing your design entirely in Photoshop will optimize photos but compromise (especially smaller) text. Conversely, doing a complete design in Illustrator (or exporting to Illustrator) will optimize your text/illustrations but compromise photos... This is why we recommend you use our Summit design services or employ the services of another professional designer who can create your design using the correct software tools, with a full understanding of the complexities involved, when files will be printed by a commercial offset printer on a 4 color (CMYK) press. Doing your cover layout in QuarkXPress so that you can combine any vector (Photoshop) and raster (Illustrator) images is the proper way to create a design for professional output.

Preferred Formats
The professional graphic design and print world uses Apple (Mac) computers with page layout in *QuarkXPress, photos or image manipulation in Adobe Photoshop and all drawings or illustration in Adobe Illustrator. When design is complete, these files are then converted to hi res printable PDF's. (*If using In-Design for page layout, be sure to note this in writing, so we can check files for errors before going to press)

This is the preferred format for all files supplied to Summit Sound, and the way we and the majority of other professional designers create their cover designs.

To ensure optimum results and to avoid cost over-runs, we highly recommend that you create your design using these industry standards. Finally, convert files to Adobe Acrobat (PDF format) with colors converted to CMYK, fonts embedded, resolution set to 300 dpi and files printer (not screen) optimized.

Alternate Formats
In the event you intend to attempt your own design using a Windows based PC, it is critical that you provide your digital files in one of the 3 EXACT formats listed below:

1.  Adobe Acrobat files with colors converted to CMYK, fonts and images embedded, resolution set to 300 dpi and files printer (not screen) optimized.

2.  Adobe Photoshop or In-Design files with color converted to CMYK, images cropped to size at 300dpi and text embedded by flattening layers (rasterized) before saving in EPS or TIF format. Avoid text under 8 point for maximum legibility. When design is complete, these files are then converted to 300dpi printable PDF's. (If using In-Design for page layout, be sure to note this in writing, so we can check files for errors before going to press)

3.  Adobe Illustrator files with color converted to CMYK and text embedded by converting all text to curves and flattening layers (vector format) before saving as EPS or TIF. Avoid very small or condensed fonts when converting text to curves for maximum legibility. When design is complete, these files are then converted to 300dpi printable PDF's.

Layout Programs to Avoid
We do not recommend the use of programs such Corel Draw or Corel Photo Paint as this software is not supported by most professional printers and results can be unreliable.

If you must provide Corel files, convert all colors to CMYK and always use "artistic text" so you can embed fonts and export in a vector format such as Adobe Illustrator. You must provide finished layouts as complete EPS, TIF or PDF (picture) images that combine both text and any photos.
 
Please note that choosing to use Corel software may result in extra set-up costs unless you can output as a fully completed 300dpi printable PDF with all bleed, crop and registration marks.

Layout Programs That Absolutely Cannot Be Used
Any layout created in programs such as Microsoft Publisher, Microsoft Word or CD Creator etc. does not have CMYK output capability and as such is not acceptable except as a "rough mock-up of your intended design (unless it allows you to convert to CMYK and output as a hi-res PDF).

Designs supplied in any "non-standard” format may need to be totally re-created by our staff designers at additional cost.

Direct To Plate CD Cover Print
Most CD cover designs printed today, bypass the traditional CMYK film/color key stage, by going "direct-to-plate" using a new pre-press format that allows CMYK plates to be formatted directly from the designers printable PDF files. (This is instead of requiring the traditional film separations and metal plates that were "burned" from CMYK negatives for this process.)

The PDF - direct-to-plate process has reduced production costs (due to the elimination of expensive CMYK films and metal plates) and replaces CMYK color key or color laminate proofs with electronic PDF proofs that can be emailed or printed for client approval. (Always open your final PDF file in "Adobe Acrobat Reader" to check it's integrity before submitting it.) 

Disc Imprint Films
As CD or DVD surface imprints are usually done using Pantone or PMS colors applied in a high quality silkscreen process, films are still required for each color (plus any white backgrounds if needed). Our standard pricing includes up to 4 color CD imprinting although 5 & 6 color printing is available at additional cost. Films are generated as right reading positives, emulsion side up, 2550 dpi using a 100 line screen with elliptical dots for any halftones. See Summit CD Layout templates for complete specifications and dimensions. NOTE: Summit Sound also provides complete disc imprint design services, but these may be at additional cost on some packages.

Tips on Background or Text Color Creation & Image Scanning
To ensure optimum  color matching (and avoid being fooled by your computer screen) ALWAYS generate any colors using a CMYK color chart that shows a printed color swatch with values you can manually enter in your design program for each of the CMYK color values. Here is an example: If you wish to create bright red in your design and find a suitable red on your CMYK color chart (such as Pantone's process color S 73-1) in your design software, create a new color and enter the individual color values as listed on the process color guide such as:  C=0, M=100, Y=100, K=0 Once you have done this, when you look at this new color on your screen, if it looks different than the printed sample on your color guide (ignore your screen and believe the color guide) you may also wish to recalibrate your monitor to avoid confusion. Never create important colors at random on screen, as you will have no way to accurately estimate what they will look like when printed.

For front covers or any important photos, to ensure the highest photo image quality and color balance, hi res digital camera images or use of a service bureau who will provide you quality hi resolution scans of your prints or transparencies using a "Drum Scanner" are recommended. This is in contrast to the lower quality and less reliable scans you will get from a "Flat-bed" desk-top scanner or a lower -res digital camera. Drum scanners can cost several hundred thousand dollars so they differ from the $150. flatbed scanners most of us are familiar with. If you plan to use images from a digital camera use the highest possible resolution (minimum 300dpi to size) and consider having Summit Sound (or the service bureau of your choice) "tweak" the color on these images, as digital images tend to be be very "flat".” .

The importance of the items above can't be over-stated, to ensure that your cover turns out as you expect it to, and in the colors you had originally envisioned.... Never trust your monitor or even your printer for critical color decisions, as most printers use color management software to match your print-outs to your screen - a process that will not be implemented when you go to press.

Other Cool Stuff to Include on Your Cover
UPC Bar Codes: Most packaging today currently includes UPC or bar codes for scanning at point of sale. Summit Sound can create your bar code to meet all regulations for a fee of $50. Keep in mind that a separate bar code is required for CD, DVD, VHS or Cassette of the same project so the point of sale register can differentiate between each. Call us for more information.

Listing the Country of Manufacture On Packaging: It is required by law that your product be clearly marked with the country where it is manufactured or printed. If you are supplying your own design files, it is your responsibility to include this information. Products to be produced by Summit Sound must include PRINTED / MADE IN CANADA on the packaging (usually at the bottom of the CD tray card on back of CD package and also on the disc imprint) The type font used for MADE IN CANADA must be equal in size and weight to any contact or distribution information, address and other information listed along with it. Products without this information will be refused by import/export authorities.

Other: You may want to include your website, a telephone number, address, or other contact information on your cover. Other items that are often included are  MAPL logos to indicate Canadian content, performance rights affiliation for songs you've written, as well as serving notice of copyright for any original material and/or the entire project.(ie. © 2003 John Doe/SOCAN)


If designing your own CD cover be sure to visit this link: Design 101