Silkscreen Print Design - Creating Colour Separations

This is a brief tutorial to help you get started with your design for Silkscreen Printing your CD or DVD discs. The information provided here is based an assumption that you have a reasonable working knowledge of Adobe Illustrator or similar professional graphic design programs - the principles are generally the same.

The most important thing about designing for Silkscreen Printing is creating colour separations. In other words, you must be able to separate and isolate each individual colour from every other colour in the design. The easiest way to do this is to design each colour on its own design layer.

Looking at the ‘layer menu’ in the sample design shown below (you can click on the image to view it full-size), you will see that the design is based on three colours (109C Yellow, 072C Blue, and White) with each individual colour being isolated on its own design layer.

Even though there are seven horizontal yellow stripes in the sample design, if they are all the same colour (in this case they are all Pantone 109C) they all must go on the same design layer. If one of the yellow stripes was a different shade than the rest (for example, if one of the stripes was Pantone 102C) it would have to go on a design layer of its own, and the design would then be comprised of four separate colours (109C, 102C, 072C, and White) instead of three.You will also note that the design layers are positioned below the template layer - which is exactly how it should be done.



  1. There are a maximum of six colours that can be Silkscreen Printed on your disc (including white). At Precision Disc our quotations normally include up to five colours in the price (including white).

  2. Your design colours must always be specified as Pantone “Solid Coated” colours. The correct designation for Solid Coated colours is “C” - for example “Pantone 109C”.

  3. Unless you are experienced with Silkscreen Printing design you should not design using transparencies or other effects that use less than 100% solid colour; such as drop shadows, gradients, and half-tones. Even though these effects look smooth and solid when viewed on your computer monitor, they actually print as a dot pattern and are very difficult to work with.