Template Help

Artwork Template Assistance and FAQs

Why should I use the Bison Disc’s templates?
Our templates have been carefully designed to ensure that your job will move quickly and seamlessly through our print and packaging departments. The slightest variations may result in issues during the printing and packaging process. We highly recommend that all of our customers upload hi-res PDFs
Can I use the measurements from a CD or DVD that I own?
No. Not all CD and DVD cases are created with the same dimensions. Even a slight deviation from Bison Disc’s specifications may lead to problems during the printing and packaging process.
What programs should I use?
Preferred file formats listed below. Layered Files:
  • Printed Document Format-. PDF (exported from Illustrator, Photoshop or InDesign)
  • Adobe Photoshop-.PSD
  • Adobe Illustrator-.AI
  • Adobe InDesign-.INDD
  • Encapsulated Post Script-.EPS (exported from Illustrator, Photoshop or Quark)
  • Quark-.QXP (version 6.0 or earlier)

Flattened Files:

(These formats MUST be high resolution and are not the preferred format; also if the artwork is for a disc face then the center hole must not be removed).

  • Image Format-.JPG
  • Image Format-.TIFF
Font Information

We can accept PostScript (our preferred format), OpenType or TrueType fonts.

For Mac Users: PostScript fonts will be a suitcase/screen file with separate printer files for each weight (e.g., bold, italic, plain), while TrueType will be a single suitcase.

For PC Users: PostScript fonts consist of two files, a .pfm and .pfb , while each TrueType font will be a single .ttf file.

Is it OK to send a high-res PDF of my layout?

Yes! Once your design is approved and has been laid out using our design template, please send us your high-resolution PDF. Be sure that your PDF has been exported using the PDF/X-4 preset available in every current, professional layout application.

Do you have templates for Photoshop?

Photoshop is great for manipulating photos and creating special effects, but it is not a page-layout program. This means that Photoshop files do not provide us with some of the tools necessary in our production environment. If you must supply your entire design in Photoshop, please open our PDF template into Photoshop. It is VERY IMPORTANT when you open the PDF that your color mode is set to CMYK and the resolution is set at 300dpi. The template and guides will come in as a layer. When you add your art, be sure to add it on a new layer – DO NOT add it on the layer with the template information. Layered Photoshop documents are preferred to flattened files, with editable text layers and all necessary fonts. If you do flatten the document, you must be aware of the guides from the template. If you the guides are flattened into your artwork we cannot remove them. Text set in Photoshop will not print with the same clarity as text set in any of our supported layout or illustration programs. For this reason, it is recommended that you use a layout program such as InDesign or Illustrator for text.

Do you have templates for Publisher or Word?

Microsoft Publisher is suitable for printing flyers to your home inkjet printer, but it is not powerful enough to work in a professional production environment. We are able to accept text in Microsoft Word, but we cannot accept any layouts or images created in Word or any other word-processing program.

Do you have templates for a sticker?

Use any of our supported programs to make your own sticker template by simply drawing a rectangle or ellipse of the appropriate size. Be sure to leave an empty border along the edge of the sticker – 1/8” is best.

What do I do after I download the templates?

Our templates are saved as Adobe PDFs. Simply click on them from the Templates and Layouts page.

After you’ve opened the template, please do not alter it in any way (e.g., copy and paste into a new page, change or delete crop marks, change page size, etc.). Our templates have been created to maximize our in-house productivity. If you alter the template pages, we will need to reformat your job to fit into the original templates – you will be billed for this work.

Which template(s) should I use?

Each of our templates has been assigned a code number and has been organized according to format. They include illustrations to help you determine which templates you need.

Which template(s) should I use?

Do I need to supply layout files for every part of my package?

Yes. If you don’t provide all of the necessary layout files, you may have to pay design fees for us to create the missing files. The most commonly omitted files are for the on-disc printing and posters.

What are there so many lines in the templates?

The text boxes, crop marks and other items in the templates are designed to aid in the printing process. These elements should not be moved or deleted. These marks will not be printed, and the layer(s) can be moved to the back if you find that they interfere with your design work. If the templates are altered, we will have to reformat your job back to the original templates – you will be billed for this work.

What about barcodes?

If you will need to incorporate a barcode, it is typically best to place a white rectangle on the back cover of your packaging, approximately 1.25”w x .5”h.

What are bleeds and safety margins?

A bleed is any image or color that extends past the cut line. By providing this extra bit of art, you can cut down the possibility of having a white edge once the piece is trimmed to size. Adding 1/8” of bleed on all sides is standard. The templates have guidelines set up so you can see exactly how much bleed you need to add to your layouts. These are generally the outermost guides.

A safety margin is the opposite of a bleed, it is also called the live area. Keeping the important content at least 1/8″ inside the crop marks helps to ensure that nothing is cut off when the piece is trimmed. The templates have guidelines set up so you can see exactly how much bleed you need to add to your layouts. These are generally the innermost guides.

What is the smallest font size I can use?

The answer to this question would vary based on the typeface that is being used. In general, you can go as small 5 points for black type on a light or white background, or 6 points for reverse type, or white type on a dark, black, or complex background. When printing on the face of the disc, it’s best to go no smaller than 6 points, or 8 points for reverse type. Remember that simpler fonts (such as Arial, Helvetica, Times New Roman) are easier to read at smaller sizes.

Will the printing on my CD or DVD match the packaging

It helps to understand that paper and board packaging are offset printed, while CDs and DVDs are typically printed utilizing a UV Curable Inkjet method. Due to the differences in printing methods, inks and surface materials, the end result can be significantly different even under the best of circumstances.

If an exact match is critical to your design, it might be helpful to consider using contrasting or complimentary colors on your disc and packaging, rather than identical colors. This way, the exact color matching won’t be an issue.

Are there other differences between printing on the disc face and printing the rest of the packaging that I need to be aware of?

A good rule of thumb is to keep it simple. On the face of the disc, silkscreening works best with solid spot colors (no halftones/tints, no CMYK process inks). While the appearance is a bit more simplistic than CMYK full color, it will produce the best quality printing on a disc.

High-contrast images work better than images with subtle details or changes in tone, as they will not be visible when silkscreened.

Disc Face Template FAQs

SKIN TONES: Unfortunately all skin tones fall within a range of tone that is difficult to print consistently with silk-screening Often the skin tones will take on unwanted color casts or become significantly lighter or darker than expected. For this reason, we recommend staying away from printing portraits on the disc face.

GRADIENTS & BLENDS: Although gradients will reproduce fine on the offset packaging, you should avoid printing any gradients or blends on discs, as they do not print well and often result in a blotchy or banded appearance.

NEUTRAL TONES: These do not produce well as silkscreens, for neutral tones it is best to select a spot color ink.

Can you match the color to something I’ve printed from my home computer?

We will do our best, but cannot guarantee an exact match. In general, consumer-level inkjet printers are not capable of simulating the results of offset printing.

How do I scan my photos and images?

All color and grayscale images should be scanned at 300 dpi (dots per inch) at actual print size. Do not scan at a resolution higher than 300 dpi.

1-bit black & white or monochrome scans should have a resolution of 2400 dpi at size (1200 dpi minimum). 1-bit black & white scans are different than black & white photos since they contain only black or white pixels, with no shades of gray.

No images should be saved at lower resolutions, then increased in Photoshop. This will result in blurry images.

How do I supply images from my digital camera?

Photos should be taken on your camera’s highest quality setting, at least 2 megapixels. Use the lowest image compression setting, or uncompressed if possible. Transfer photos from your camera to a CD-R or Zip disk. We cannot accept compact flash or smart media cards. Consult your camera’s manual for instructions on how to set the resolution, quality and compression settings.

Can you download photo from my website?

This is not a good idea, as images on websites are usually low resolution and are compressed to be as small as possible, so they load quickly in a web browser. In commercial printing, web images are not high enough resolution and they will appear blurry, pixilated and of poor-quality.

How do I make my image round for printing on the disc? Do I need to cut out the hole in the middle?

Please refer to our disc templates and design the artwork beneath the guidelines without the cut out hole. We will take care of removing the hole and send you a proof.

My files seem really large, is that normal?

Yes, this is normal. Image files can take up to 8-10 MB or more. Layout files from Illustrator, or other layout programs will be much smaller than your image files. There are compression tools such as StuffIt or WinZip that can be used to compress, or archive, all your files into one. These programs can compress layout files down to as little as 10% of their original size, but they are not as successful with compressing image files.

How do I send my files to Bison Disc?

Files 1MB or less can be sent via email to your Product Specialist. If your files are over 1MB but less than 500 MB, use our FTP site: http://bisondisc.com/Upload-Files.htm. Click on the “Upload Your Artwork Files” tab and follow the instructions. If your files are over 500 MB, please send them to us on a disk. Before you upload any files, be sure to compress all of your documents into one stuffed or zipped archive. This keeps things organized in transit and decreases upload time. Whenever possible, we prefer to receive hi-res PDFs.


The primary font format for Macintosh is PostScript. The fonts come in two main parts: a screen font and a printer font. If the font has multiple weights (such as plain, bold, italic, and bold italic), each weight will have a separate printer font. Be sure to send us all parts of a font. We suggest using PostScript Type 1 fonts on the Mac, but we also accept OpenType, TrueType, and dfont. These will only consist of a single file. Some TrueType fonts can be troublesome to print, so use the other formats when possible.

The primary font format for Window-based computers is TrueType, a .ttf file. We can also accept Postscript Type 1 fonts for Windows, and they consist of two files: a .pfm file and a .pfb file. You must send in both files in order for us to be able to use the font. We can also accept OpenType for PC files.

We do not accept Multiple Master fonts. If you are using Illustrator, InDesign or CorelDRAW you must convert your Multiple Master text to paths/outlines before submitting your files. If you are using QuarkXPress you must not use any Multiple Master fonts in your layouts. If you are supplying your layout in Photoshop we can still accept .psd files with live text layers using Multiple Master fonts, but we will be unable to edit or modify these text layers.

The 5 most common problems with client-supplied design jobs
  1. Image resolution is too low or supplied in RGB instead of CMYK.
  2. Insufficient bleed or safety margins.
  3. Failure to include fonts: If you choose to send in your complete layout files instead of exporting to PDF, you will need to collect all of your files which includes the layout file itself, as well as all of the images and fonts used in the layout file.
  4. Failure to include all linked images: As mentioned above, if you are sending in your complete layout files instead of exporting to PDF, you will need to collect all files associated with your layout. This includes all linked image files.
  5. Failure to supply all parts of the job in Bison Disc templates.
Final Checklist

A final checklist

When you’re ready to send your job to Bison Disc, be sure that you’ve included all of the following items:

  • Layout files for each part of the job (insert, tray card, disc face, etc.)
  • ALL fonts used in the layouts
  • ALL scans placed in the layouts
  • Accurate printouts of every layout file. Black & white prints are fine, even if your files are in color, but faxes are not acceptable due to lack of detail.
  • Listing of the files on your disk (please also note the OS, programs and versions you used to create your artwork)
  • Folded and/or stapled mockup, if applicable