How to Create DVD Cases in Photoshop
We have DVD case templates available for download in our forums.
Although I find Photoshop to be fairly self-explanatory, it does have a learning curve. While the abilities and the options of the program are almost limitless, I’ll guide you through making a quick case.
Hint: This method is also great for making DVD menu graphics.
Please note: all images on this guide a shrunk to conserve bandwidth. Actual images being used are much larger.
This guide will NOT teach Photoshop basics, merely “making a DVD case” basics. To learn the basics of Photoshop, I suggest purchasing a copy of Photoshop For Dummies or check it out from your local library. Photoshop cannot be taught in a single guide.
Why Make a Case Instead of Just Scanning It ?
Scenario 1: I just bought a used DVD from Blockbuster. It has no case, so I’m going to make one from scratch. Nothing to scan. Scenario 2: I just made a DVD from source that never existed on DVD (or even VHS) before today. Again, must make one from scratch. Nothing to scan, this time because one never existed.
Other than the Internet and my imagination, there is nothing to use as source. Scanning a case and reprinting it is easy. What I’m about to show is a bit more difficult: making one from scratch.
For this exercise, I’ll be making a DVD case for my THE TICK cartoon collection using Adobe Photoshop 6.0.1. Newer versions should work fine, and should have tools located in the same spots.
Step 1: Acquire Source Graphics
Alright, unless you’re an amazing artist, acquiring pre-made graphics is a must. Any images you acquire MUST be scanned or downloaded at a minimum resolution of 500 pixels or so, preferably 200 dpi. Images can always be re-sized, but enlarging too much will create a pixel-ized, blocky, noisy image.
1. Online CD-DVD Cover Sites. First thing to do is check a site that archives custom-made and professionally-made covers, try www.cdcovers.cc or www.spleenworld.com. Try a www.google.com search to find more. For THE TICK, I found nothing.
2. Magazines, books and comic books. These are great sources for images. Old printed media of this type can normally be bought for as little as $1 and is worth the minor investment. It is also likely that such materials are already laying around your home. For THE TICK, I found an old TICK mini-action figure that I bought for 50 cents on clearance. It’s still in it’s blister pack after all these years. Tossed it on the scanner. In Photoshop, go to FILE->IMPORT-> YOUR SCANNER. All scanning software is different, but look for a PRESCAN button, select your image, then scan it with the SCAN button.
Looks ugly now, but I’m only just beginning. Still need more, so I’m going online, having exhausted my offline source.
3. Online Movies Stores. If this is an item that exists commercially, it is easy to go to places like Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk and download the covers they display for movies. The small ones are no good. Most DVD covers say “click here for larger view”. Download the large ones. Since THE TICK was never released, nothing available for me. I shall move on.
4. Online Fan Sites. Sometime fans provide great artwork on sites. I’m fond of fan art and using Windows desktop images. They are often large and great to work with. Many fan sites also have great information on the show, providing you with nifty little summaries and episode lists to put on the cover. I always use www.google.com or www.msn.com to find some good sites.
I grab images with one of two methods:
- I right-click and save from the Web page
- I use PRINTSCREEN button on the keyboard and paste into a new image in Photoshop by using FILE -> NEW.
I immediately find a few fan sites for THE TICK, and grab a few images:
5. eBay auctions. Go to www.ebay.com and look around. Most sellers have pictures of items, and many times they are excellent images for using. Some are outright horrible. You’ll just have to scan a handful of auction and see what you like. For THE TICK, I found some images from a few auctions:
** While at eBay, I also learned there were comic books, so I won’t be using this case that is being made for this guide. I’d rather scan the front cover of the comic for the cover of the DVD case, although I’ll still use the back image that is made here. I found one for $1 at a comic store that is near me.
6. Online Poster Stores. Movie posters are easy to find. Many stores like www.allposters.com have huge selections of movie posters for sale, and decent-sized samples are easy to printscreen or download. For THE TICK, I found nothing.
Step 2: Setup the DVD Cover
It’s now time to use the source images you’ve acquired and setup the Photoshop image. Grab your DVD case and a ruler. It’s time to get the measurements. I’m using a standard single-sized case (it’s actually a double-disc case, but the size is the same as a single). Be sure to measure the entire spread of the case window. If possible, remove the insert from another similar-sized DVD case and use it for more precise measurements.
The image only needs to be 200 resolution. Feel free to make it larger, but I only use 200 resolution because that is what I use for news photography. Most images you find in newspapers are just 200 resolution and printed 2400 dpi. I will be printing my 200 resolution case on a 600 dpi color inkjet or color laser.
- Resolution and DPI are different concepts, do not confuse the two!
1. Go to FILE -> NEW in Photoshop.
Change PIXELS to INCHES and enter the size. I use 200 as the RESOLUTION of the image. Mode is left RGB, as most home printers can interpret the RGB for accurate CMYK printing (sometimes even more accurate than using CMYK source). Make your background (contents) white, just to keep things simple.
2. You’ve now got your DVD case image. But wait! It’s one enormous page. It will be difficult to work with the image if you do not know the boundaries of the spine and the front and back panels. Go to VIEW -> SHOW RULERS. If it only shows HIDE RULERS, then you are already showing the rulers on the sides of the image.
Now that the rulers are showing, click inside the ruler, and hold. While holding, drag the mouse to the image. A blue line should appear. This is NOT part of the image, but rather a guide. Drag it to where it should go. Again, use your ruler. You can always hide guides by going to VIEW -> SHOW -> GUIDES.
3. DVD case template downloads. We have DVD case templates available for download in our forums. Sizes include standard-size cases, slim cases, 1-inch spine cases and AlphaPak cases.
Step 3: Edit the Images and Create the Cover
This part of the guide is a bit vague, and I do apologize to those that are new to Photoshop, but this guide would be countless pages in length if I attempted to teach Photoshop basics in addition to the case-making aspect.
1. Use the MAGNIFYING GLASS on the toolbar in Photoshop. Clicking enlarges the image, while holding ALT on the keyboard and clicking shrinks the image. Shrink it so that you can see the entire image. Preferable at a 25% or 50% size (odd sizes make the image look bad). Try to learn what all of the tools on the toolbar do.
2. Copy, paste, create. Cut the source up, resize as needed, and copy and paste the used portions of the source images into the DVD case image. Again, this is where you should learn the toolbar. The Lasso, Crop and Selection tools will allow you to select what you want, and the EDIT -> CUT/COPY/PASTE functions let you cut/copy/paste, as the name suggests.
3. Resize images for use. Under IMAGE -> IMAGE SIZE is the location where you can check the current size of the image and resize as needed:
Leave the resample method as bicubic. The CONSTRAIN PROPORTIONS option makes sure your vertical and horizontal maintain the same aspect when resized. Use as needed. The other options should be self-explanatory.
4. Adjusting the image. This can require any number of tools. The Pen (drawing) tool and Magic Wand are good. The IMAGE -> ADJUST -> Brightness/Contrast, Levels, and Hue/Saturation filters are good too. These are tools you’ll need to play with to understand. Just play for a few minutes to figure out what these tools do, maybe even read the HELP files if needed. Photoshop for Dummies is also a good book.
5. Photoshop created effects. Two nifty effects you should learn is the GRADIENT tool (which shares real estate with PAINT BUCKET on the toolbar, and can switch between the two by holding the mouse click on them) and the FILTERS. Also learn the LAYERS MENU and the OPACITY and BLEND (Multiply is most useful) options that are on it.
6. Final product. I have played with my source and created an interesting case for THE TICK:
The front cover is made from a blue gradient, a TICK logo from a fan site, and the scan of my toy (front side). The spine is made from two fan art pieces, a volume number, and the DVD logo. The back is made from a fan art image, a eBay auction image, and information gathered from episode guide sites. I now have a top-quality DVD cover. This took about 15 minutes to make (excluding time to make this guide). When printed, it looks great.
Step 4: Printing and Cutting the Cover
Printing. It is best to print at 600 dpi or higher. I avoid the fancy “DVD covers” that you can buy. The ink doesn’t take well to them. I use 28-lb glossy stock inkjet paper. Excellent results. If using laser, again, go for heavier pound (lb) paper made for lasers. The Hammermill Color Copy Paper (28lb) gets our top rating for inkjet and/or color laser printing.
Cutting. And instead of using scissors, look for a metal ruler, an Exacto knife and a cutboard. This gives the cleanest and most accurate cuts.
Need some empty cases? Be aware that not all cases are created equally. Some are quite excellent, while others are so inferior as to be damaging to discs! Visit our DVD case reviews page to see which cases are the best, and where the best DVD cases can be purchased.