Hello all,

I produced the artwork for a music CD using Gimp and I promised to give
you an update on what I learned from it.  So here it is.

First, when making the artwork, be sure you know the exact dimensions
you need as specified from the company.  Many CD duplication companies
provide the dimensions on their websites.  Also be sure to add a little
extra bleed to the dimensions ... a little extra on the sides of your
images that will be cut off.  It wouldn't look pretty to have a white
line along the side of your printed CD cover because the paper cutting
is never quite exact.  I used a 3mm bleed.

Next, I created the images in 300 ppi.  (Use your calculator for this.
A note that may seem obvious: 300 pixels per inch is in linear inches,
so one square inch would contain 90000 pixels.)  According to some
tables in the Gimp manual, 300 ppi is approximately 150 lpi which is
about 2400 dpi.  I didn't need that high of a resolution, but it worked
fine for me.  From other readings on the web I have since learned that,
when using scanned images the best quality result does not come from
scanning the image in at the highest possible resolution.  Rather one
should scan it only to the resolution that you really need.  Maybe next

About colors, since gimp basically only works with RGB internally and
not CMYK, the colors won't be quite the same for printing.  The Gimp
manual describes the difference.  I have recently noticed a Gimp option
labeled "Decompose" under the menu "Image">>"Channel Ops".  It can
decompose the image into its CMYK components, but I don't really know
how much it could have helped me.  I worked in RGB and compensated for
the possibility of problems by not using any particularly subtle blends
in the image.  Maybe some day I will deal with this in a sophisticated
way.  For me, being the first time ever doing anything like this, the
safest action seemed to be to rely more on bolder value and color
contrasts than on subtle gradients.

The gimp manual also mentions a poor man's way to calibrate your
monitor.  It sounds like a good idea but I still don't understand where
one can download famous logo colors from the web.  (Surely not from gif
files.)  Maybe if someone out there has done this they can describe it
more or provide some links.  Knowing that my monitor is not calibrated,
I had to give instructions to the CD duplication company about this and
have them adjust the colors to the best of their judgement.  When going
to print, the screen and the page are never be quite the same, but it
would be nice at least to start out right.  (And it isn't a very good
feeling to trust my work to someone else I don't even know like this.)

I had a lot of text to work with too.  In order to work with large
portions of text I wrote text blocks in WordPerfect and exported them in
Postscript format.  When importing Postscript into Gimp, you will have
to fiddle with the settings a lot to be sure that the text is in the
image and that it has the resolution you want.  This was the settings
that worked for me (but they are rather overkill):
   Resolution: 500
   Width: 6000
   Height: 8000
   Try Bounding Box: No
   Antialiasing: Strong on both
   Colouring: gray
Then I did major cropping and resizing to the proportions that I really
needed.  An important note: Be sure to keep good notes on everything
that you do to imported texts.  Note the import settings you used, any
filters and such you applied to it, etc.  This is very important because
if you ever need to make a spelling correction or anything you don't
want this to be any more painful than necessary.

Finally, I sent the artwork to the company.  I chose a company that
would do the film output themselves and who would work with me given the
file format that I intended to send them.  I sent the work on a CD-R.
Many accept zip discs too ... you have to check.  I sent everything as
tiff files and it worked just great, but the graphic artist who worked
on getting it ready for film output had never received a work in this
format.  The funny thing is that when importing a tiff file into a
program like Photoshop, the program assumes that the image is at 72
ppi.  So, for my image at 72 ppi it calculated the image size to be 25
inches wide even though it only should really have been less than 5
inches wide.  Thus, in Photoshop at least, one has to specifically
un-check a box which is labeled "Resample Image" in order to make sure
that the smaller and correctly sized image will also show the resolution
you calculated it should be.  If the person working with your images
does not realize this he may resize the image without paying attention
to the resolution and then claim that your images do not have a high
enough resolution for the film output.

When you output to tiff, there are a couple of saving options that Gimp
asks for.  I chose to save it MSB to LSB with no compression.  I thought
that this would be the safest format if the company was working on
Macintosh machines, but maybe it wouldn't have made any difference
either.  It worked.  Another note about saving to tiff format,
MERGE VISIBLE LAYERS BEFORE SAVING!  This is important.  If you don't
merge the layers first, you may find that you are sending them only one
layer of your image and not the whole image.  (I didn't make this
mistake, but I almost did and so thought that I had better point it

I must say that it really paid off for me to send them extremely
specific instructions.  I told them the exact dimensions of every image
that I sent in both pixels and millimeters.  (Remember, they don't know
how much bleed you allowed for so you can't assume that they should know
the dimensions of your images.)  Tell them the resolution you calculated
too.  The more specific you are, the better chance there is that issues
can be worked out quickly and the more likely they will notice if there
is any discrepancy between what you say you sent and what they see you

That is all I have for now.  Maybe I will have more when the CD's arrive
in the mail.  I hope it helps somebody.

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