CD Packaging  – The Printing Guide to Your Perfect Music Release

monotypepressing cd packaging printing

The overall visual appeal and quality of your final CD music release are influenced by factors such as paper, printing, and colours. Both the cover and the booklet play an important role in shaping the overall aesthetics and tactile experience of your packaged CD. A good understanding of various paper types and their interactions with diverse printing techniques and colours is important for designers, printers, and artists. In this CD packaging printing guide, we’ll provide an overview of the various cover and booklet options offered by MonotypePressing. We’ll also explore how different paper types, including GC1 cardboard, chalk paper, offset paper, and kraft cardboard, interact with different printing techniques and colours. Let’s explore how you can create your perfect CD release, captivating your audience from the very first glance!

CD Cover: The CD itself is only half the battle

Depending on the number of CDs or if you are opting for a DVD format, MonotypePressing offers a diverse range of covers to suit your needs. Explore our CD Template Library for a broad view of all our 45 covers in one place. In addition to the classic jewel case, we also offer a wide selection of cardboard covers, ranging from simple wallets to 4-, 6-, or 8-panel digipacks and digisleeves. These covers feature strategic cuts or pockets for CDs, booklets; or plastic trays for CDs.

GC1 Paper (Coated Cardboard) as the Cover Canvas

Cardboard CD covers are printed on GC1 cardboard paper. The GC1 paper has a coated surface on one side, which has a smooth and refined texture, and an uncoated surface on the other side, which has a more natural, matte texture. 

Print Outcomes on the Coated and Uncoated Sides

If you are using the smooth, coated side of the GC1 cardboard paper, your artwork will result in vibrant colours and a detailed reproduction. It is an optimal choice for CD cover projects that demand a polished and refined aesthetic, such as vibrant designs or high-resolution photos. However, you have to be careful when using the uncoated side. The uncoated side has an absorbent nature as well as matte texture and can lead to ink being absorbed into the paper. This can result in ink spread and loss in detail; potentially creating a matte appearance and dull colours.

Uncoated Reverse Board Cover – matt, organic texture
Coated Cardboard Cover with Gloss Foil Lamination – glossy, smooth texture

In theory, the coated side of a GC1 cardboard can be printed with both offset and digital printing methods. However, printing on the uncoated side of the cover is reserved exclusively for offset printing due to its ability to maintain the unpolished texture of the cardboard. Additionally, it’s important to note that Pantone colours cannot be utilised in digital printing; they are only available for offset printing.

Offset vs. Digital Printing for GC1 Cardboard Covers

Elevate Your CD Covers with the Perfect Packaging Finish

Cardboard covers can be finished with a matte or gloss foil lamination. It’s important to note that the chosen finish can impact the overall cover aesthetics. A matte foil slightly lowers the contrast, a gloss foil deepens dark colours. The reverse board packaging finish means that the uncoated, non laminated, side of the cardboard will be printed. Keep in mind that the uncoated, matte texture can lead to ink spread and loss in detail.

The CD Cover Inside Spine

By default, the spines on the inside of the CD cover remain unprinted. However, you have the option to print the inside spine as well. You can choose between a single-colour (black) inside spine, for a classic touch, or a CMYK/Pantone print, to align it with your overall cover design.

Unprinted (white) Inside Spine
Black (1 Colour) Inside Spine
CMYK Colour Inside Spine

At MonotypePressing, we print digipack and digisleeve covers on 300 gsm GC1 cardboard. If you want a sturdier cardboard cover, we also offer the option to upgrade to 350g cardboard. Our printing process varies based on the order quantity – for orders up to 299 copies, we use digital printing, while for orders of 300 copies and more we use offset printing. On request, we also offer offset printing as an option for less than 300 copies, but it will be priced separately. Reverse board covers, who are printed on the uncoated side of the cardboard, are reserved for offset printing only.
Our cardboard wallets are printed on 270 gsm (outer sleeve) and 230 gsm (inner sleeve) GC1 cardboard with a matt or gloss foil lamination (digital print up to 1999 copies).

Soft Print Media: Choose Booklets, Inlays

If you would like to share your story, showcase lyrics, or include additional information for your audience, you can choose to add a custom booklet to your CD music release. MonotypePressing provides diverse booklet choices, including normal spread booklets with 4-28 pages, DVD format booklets with 4-16 pages, or Leporello format booklets with 6-10 pages. If you are opting for a Jewel Case for your CD release, booklets and inlays come as standard elements of the release. In this case, we offer inlays and 4-28 page booklets.

Booklets or inlays can be either printed on coated chalk paper or uncoated offset paper. The coated chalk paper has a smooth surface and enhances colours and details. With this paper, you will receive a vivid and detailed outcome. Uncoated offset paper, on the other hand, with its natural and matte surface, produces a rather dull and subdued outcome. Depending on the quantity or number of pages in the booklets, they are either printed digitally or via offset printing.

At MonotypePressing booklets are printed on either gloss or matt 130 to 170 gsm coated chalk paper (depending on the number of pages).

Beyond Ordinary: Elevate Your CD Cover Design with Customization

I. Kraft Paper and Mass-Coloured Paper

Kraft Paper and Mass-Colored Paper have both unique qualities that make them interesting choices for your CD release.

Kraft Paper, has a natural brown colour and a matte texture  and results in an earthy and rustic charm. This paper type is not only well-suited for projects seeking an environmentally conscious aesthetic, but also for projects which seek an organic touch.

monotype monotypepressing cd audio digisleeve kraftpapera
E1Cut CD Cover – Kraft Paper
cd kraft paper cover ecopack embossing monotype monotypepressing
Embossed Kraft Paper
cd golden pantone cover monotype monotypepressing
Golden Pantone Colour on Black Mass-Coloured Paper

Mass-Coloured Paper, on the other hand, is a paper that has been dyed or pigmented throughout its entire substance, rather than just on the surface. It is a versatile canvas for projects that demand a splash of colour.

When it comes to printing on these papers, you have to be aware of the inherent transparency of CMYK inks. On the porous surfaces of Kraft Paper and Mass-Coloured Paper, it might impact the vibrancy and saturation of colours.

II. Hot Stamping, Embossing &  Debossing, UV Spot, Special Pantone Colours

Add a touch of uniqueness to your CD covers with additional customization options such as Hot Stamping, Embossing, Debossing, UV Spot, or special Pantone colours. These techniques offer creative possibilities, allowing you to elevate your CD covers with visually captivating elements.

Hot stamping involves the application of a coloured foil to the cover’s surface using heat, creating a shiny and eye-catching effect.

Embossing raises specific areas of the cover, providing a tactile and three-dimensional quality that enhances the overall design. On the other hand, debossing presses certain areas down, creating an indented effect. 

UV spot is a printing technique where a clear, glossy UV coating is applied to specific areas of the cover design, creating a shiny, raised effect.

Incorporating special Pantone colours on your cover, for example metallic or fluorescent ones, to create captivating designs that stand out from the crowd.


As you can see, there are a lot of different options on how you can achieve your perfect CD music release. In this printing guide we explored not only the different covers and booklets which we at MonotypePressing are offering, but more importantly, we explored the effects which different paper types, printing techniques and use of colours have on the final cover result. This knowledge should empower you to navigate the choices and bring your creative vision for your CD release to life.

To summarise, we at MonotypePressing print cardboard covers on a GC1 cardboard paper. You can opt to print on the coated, smooth side of the GC1 paper and choose between a gloss or matte finish on top. Printing your artwork on the coated side will result in vibrant colours and a detailed reproduction and a gloss foil lamination will further deepen darker colours; and a matt foil lamination will slightly lower the contrast. If you opt to print on the uncoated side, the reverse board, your artwork will result in a matte appearance with slightly duller colours. Please note that printing on the uncoated side can lead to ink spread and loss in detail. We use digital printing for orders up to 299 copies, and offset printing for orders of 300 copies and more. Reverse board covers, on the other hand, are reserved for offset printing only.

Booklet and inlays are printed on a coated chalk paper where you have the option to choose between a matte or gloss finish. The grammage of the booklet paper may vary depending on the number of pages. 

If you want your CD cover to stand out, consider additional options such as hot stamping, embossing, debossing, UV spot, or special Pantone colours to give your CD release a unique and eye-catching effect.

Feeling overwhelmed by the many options for creating your own CD release? Explore our CD Gallery for inspiration or contact us directly for support! Already have a vision in mind? Start configuring your release now!