The Duplication.ca Guide to Pad Print Design

When you put in a cassette order you want the finished product to look its absolute best. Following these steps not only makes our job easier, but it will ensure that your pad print will look just as gorgeous as intended. First you’ll need to place your order on our cassette duplication calculator, then we can get started!

TV Blonde - Talmbour cassette tape from Duplication.ca

DESIGNING YOUR ARTWORK

1) Download our latest template

There are a few things to consider when designing pad print artwork for your order. First, what kind of shell have you chosen? Our templates have layers for opaque tapes, clear/windowless, and shells with square hub windows.

https://www.duplication.ca/printspecs/cassette-cover-templates.htm#padprint

Each template has useful information about designing artwork that is unique to each type of cassette shell chosen, so be sure to check if we have updated templates available with every order and follow the directions contained in the file!

2) Applications

First and foremost, we highly recommend you send us vector artwork, so you should be using applications such as Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw to design vector logos and line text. Graphic design applications such as Adobe Photoshop or GiMP can be used, but bitmapped images will be subject to additional fees. 

MEET THE MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS

1) Vector Artwork

We now require vector artwork for pad print. It helps us achieve finer lines with a fraction of the platemaking time. It’s best to create artwork as a vector image, but we recognize that sometimes images are sourced from bitmap files or hand drawings. Outside of CorelDraw and Illustrator, there are freeware websites that allow you to upload your image and they will trace the outlines to convert to a vector file. The results will vary and often depend on the complexity and quality of your source material. Some websites have more options than others, so be prepared for trial and error tweaking until you’re satisfied. Further tweaking can be done in programs like Illustrator, PhotoPea, or even Photoshop.

Here are a few websites worth checking out:

Rapid Resizer
Vectorization.org
Autotrace (Online Converting)
PhotoPea (click on Image -> Vectorize Bitmap)

Difference in quality between bitmap (left) and vector (right)

If you cannot retrace your images or convert to vector, we will be able to do it for a small fee. Bitmap images are also subject to a fee as they can take up to 20x as long to print the plate.

2) Grayscale

Regardless of your chosen ink colour, make sure your artwork is done in black. If you requested 2-colour pad print you’ll need to have each colour artwork in its own layer. The layers should be properly titled with their colour name (ex. one layer would be titled ‘Red’ and the other ‘Blue’). Again, regardless of the desired ink colour, each layer artwork must appear black.

3) Resolution

A low resolution can cause the finished product to look pixelated and of poor quality. If you are using Photoshop or your own template, ensure the dimensions and resolution are 4331 x 4331 pixels wide at 1000 ppi. Please note that resolution isn’t applicable when working with vector art.

4) Creating Outlines for Text

Often times we will receive a file with missing fonts, which means your meticulously curated typeface design will revert to a basic font style when we open the artwork file. But there’s an easy solution to this– simply Create Outlines for your text!

All you need to do is select your text, then navigate to the Type menu and select Create Outlines. The same can be done in Photoshop by selecting your text with the Direct Selection Tool and clicking on Convert to Shape in the Type menu. Avoid using faux font styling as it may not convert properly.

5) Line Thickness

When you’re designing your artwork, you’ll want to keep an eye on line thickness. In order to ensure that your art will be visible when printed you’ll want your artwork lines to be at least 0.15 points thick. This is about the equivalent thickness of very fine hair. Anything less than 0.15 points risks not being visible on the final printed cassette. This applies to text as well.

Moreover, the knockout, gaps, or empty space between artwork also has to be a minimum of 0.5 points thick to properly print, otherwise there is the risk of ink running and filling up the empty space. Please make sure all empty space is at least 0.5 points thick to avoid spreading ink.

Zooming in shows that the select horizontal area is 0.1 points thick.
An illustrated breakdown of line thickness.

6) Mind the Gap

Depending on the type of shell you have chosen, there are areas you cannot print on. For example, there are two holes in every cassette shell which obviously cannot be printed on! Solid coloured shells, certain select clear shells, and square window shells have a recessed window in the center which can distort artwork, especially text. If you are uncertain about the type of shell you have chosen for your artwork, contact your sales representative!

Pad print artwork over hub area
An example of areas where the artwork will not print.

7) Tell Your Sales Representative

Make sure that your sales representative knows exactly what your order needs, as there may be a price difference. If you want the A and B sides printed, it is “pad print two sides” on the cassette duplication calculator. If you just want the A side printed, it is “pad print one side.” If you’d like the exact same art on both sides, it is “pad print same art both sides.

Once your artwork is complete and uploaded, let your sales representative know! They will double check your artwork to make sure it is compatible before sending it through to our pad print department. If you have any questions, be sure to reach out to them! They are happy to help!

Thank you for reading, and happy designing!

The Guide to Pad Print Colours

Vampire Step-Dad pad print

We’ve been pad printing cassette shells since the 1990s, so we know the ins and outs of providing a quality print job just like you intended in your design. We use opaque ink for pad print, unlike offset pad printers which use a type of paste that is thinner and appears more transparent. Our pad print jobs are done individually by hand, allowing us to see the result of every print. This gives us a huge advantage in maintaining great quality assurance. Check out our pad print machine in action on YouTube.

Pad print colors

Our selection of pad print colours

That said, certain ink colours look better on certain shells. Black or dark ink will appear striking and vibrant on white or lighter colour shells, while the inverse not so much. The ink is opaque, but the plastic shell will still absorb some of the colouring. Take a look at this colour mixing diagram:

Pad print ink color mixing

Notice the color changes on the overlapped sections. Blue ink on a red shell may appear more purple, and will thus be a bit more difficult to read. Similarly, yellow is a lighter colour than red, so it may be absorbed by the red shell and appear more orange. It’ll look cool, but not exactly what you had in mind when designing.

If you insist on continuing with unconventional colour schemes like blue on red, there are a few solutions—

  1. Request double-hit with your pad print. This will give your colour a little extra oomph and emphasis against a darker shell colour. It may not solve the problem of a particularly light ink colour against a dark shell, but it will certainly look better than single-hit pad print.
  2. Upgrade to 2-colour pad print and use the bottom layer as a white base. Locking the shell into place for two separate ink stamps is extremely difficult and won’t always work, so you will want to make the white base larger than your design (like a stroke or outline filter), or slightly smaller than your design, that way it’s not off-register.
  3. Request a custom colour ink. We can add white ink to an ink colour for an extra fee to make it a bit more vibrant when placed against a darker colour shell.

If you’re not sure if a colour combination will be as vibrant as your design, ask your sales rep for their thoughts, we’ve seen it all over the years! You can add pad print to your cassette package through our cassette duplication calculator and receive free shipping to the United States and Canada.

Get Higher-Resolution Pad Print Using Vector Artwork!

In the past couple of months we began experimenting with creating pad print plates using vector artwork. The results were astounding! Sharper text and images with an even quicker workflow. It’s time we got the word out— send us vector artwork for pad print!

How can you do that? When you’re designing pad print artwork in Photoshop or Illustrator and you’re entering a line of text, don’t rasterize said text, and don’t flatten the file. Turn the text and objects into work paths when using Photoshop, or turn them into outlines in Adobe Illustrator. This way when we print we won’t be using a bitmapped layer with resolution loss. Instead we’ll have sharp lines without the fuzziness you’d find in bitmap text. It will also help us print thinner lines that wouldn’t be possible otherwise, as our new laser engraver has 10x finer resolution, equal in quality to lithograph film.

If you don’t have the graphic design savvy to turn into work paths or outlines, another thing you could do is to keep the text layer as a text layer. That is to say do not rasterize the text, and do not flatten the file. We’ll do our best to turn the text into outlines on our end. Once you see the final results, you’ll be happy we did!

Black Dresses cassette

You can still submit the pad print files the old fashioned way, with rasterized text or bitmapped images. We have always prided ourselves in our excellent pad print quality, but that doesn’t mean we can’t strive for even greater resolution. Just make sure to supply using the proper template based on your cassette shell. Vector artwork should be submitted using PDF, whereas bitmapped resolution can be supplied in PSD, PDF, TIFF, or PNG.

Pad print is available using our cassette duplication quote calculator. This is where you get your fully packaged album on cassette in one simple order. You’ll receive an instant quote on the page, so you can play around with the print and packaging options until you find the perfect package at a great price.