Create a 4-Page Cd Package From Scratch (Part 1)

Written on Tuesday, May 24th, 2011 in Tutorials

In this series we’re going to create a print-ready 4-page cd package using InDesign. If we take a look at a standard jewel case cd we’ll see it’s made up out of 3 things. A booklet, tray card and cd. In part one we’re going to start with the 4 page booklet.



Go to File > New > Document… or even better, use the shortcut Cmd/Ctrl + N, and click on the More Options button. Take a look at Creating A New InDesign Document, if you’re not really sure what all the settings are for.

Our cd booklet will be 242 mm wide by 120 mm tall when it’s open, 121 mm wide by 120 mm tall when it’s closed. And we’re going to add a bleed of 3 mm. Take a look at Bleed Won’t Kill You, if you don’t know what a bleed is.

Below is an overview of all our settings.

These dimensions may vary from country to country, so be sure to double check this with your printer.

If you’ve got everything filled out, hit the OK button. We now have an empty InDesign document with 4 pages, and even though it’s empty, I suggest you start by saving your file and giving it a proper name. Mine’s called Cd-Package-Tutorial-Booklet.indd.

Let’s look at our first page. The black line with the drop shadow is our final size, the purple line is our 10 mm margin, and the red line is our 3 mm bleed.


We’re going to start by adding a Gradient Swatch which we’ll use for our background. Go to Window > Color > Swatches, or press F5 to open the Swatches panel. Click on the little icon in the top right corner and select New Gradient Swatch…

This will add a new gradient swatch and open the Gradient Options window. Fill in a name and select Radial as type. Select the first color in the Gradient Ramp (Location 0%), select CMYK as Stop Color and enter the following color values C: 30% M: 20% Y: 20% K: 75%. Do the same with the second color in the Gradient Ramp (Location 100%) and use these values C: 30% M: 20% Y: 20% K: 100%. If that’s all done we can click OK.

With our new background gradient selected as fill color and [None] as stroke color, we’re going to draw our background. Select the Rectangle Tool in our toolbox or use the shortcut M. Click in the top left corner and drag to the bottom right corner.

NOTE: When selecting your colors, you can easily switch between fill and stroke color by using the shortcut X.

We should get a rectangle of 127 mm wide by 126 mm high, and it should be perfectly centered on our page. You can double check this in your Control Panel, normally located at the top. If you don’t see it you can open it by going to Window > Control.


We’ve got our background, so let’s make it a little more interesting and add some text. Select the Type Tool in our toolbox or use the shortcut T. Select the [Paper] swatch as text fill in our Swatches panel. Then click and drag to create a Text Frame. Now we’re ready to begin typing.

I’ve named my cd “Create a 4-Page Cd Package From Scratch”, but feel free to name it whatever you like or experiment with it a little bit. I’ve also used 3 different fonts. Lot, Taller & Code Bold, you can download them here:

Lot by Fontfabric, Taller by Zetafonts and Code Bold by Fontfacbric.

A big thank you to Fontfabric and Zetafonts is in order here!

First we’re going open our Character panel. Go to Window > Type & Tables > Character or use the shortcut Cmd/Ctrl + T. With our Type Tool still selected we’re going to highlight all our text and change the Font Size to 35 pt, so we can get a better view of what we’re doing. Now highlight the first line CREATE, and select the Lot font from the font list in the Character panel. Do the same for A 4-PAGE CD PACKAGE using the Taller font and FROM SCRATCH using the Code Bold font.

I’ve also increased the Tracking (the space between each character) of A 4-PAGE CD PACKAGE to 50 because I felt the letters were too close together. Again, feel free to experiment with this.

Now we’re going to convert all our text to vectors so we can control their size more accurately.

Select the Selection Tool, aka the black arrow, in our toolbox or use the shortcut V. We’re going to select our text frame and go to Type > Create Outlines, or use the shortcut Shift + Cmd/Ctrl + O.

This will outline our text, but it will also group our 3 lines, so before we can adjust their individual sizes we need to ungroup them. With our outlined text selected go to Object > Ungroup, or, yet again, use the shortcut Shift + Cmd/Ctrl + G.

Now we’re going to select each individual line and change it’s width to 50 mm in the control panel.

At the moment our text is all over the place, so let’s add some guides to align them properly.

Adding guides to an InDesign document is really simple. We just click in either our horizontal of vertical rulers and drag them onto the page, if you don’t see any rulers go to View > Show Rulers or use the shortcut Cmd/Ctrl + R. Once we’ve dragged a guide on our page we can enter a specific X or Y position in our control panel.

So let’s add 2 horizontal guides, one at 44 mm and the other at 76 mm. And 2 vertical guides, one at 35.5 mm and the other at 85.5 mm. Once that’s done we can drag our text into the little rectangle we’ve created with our guides and it will automatically snap to it. You should get something like this.

Now it’s starting to look like something!

If, at any time, you want to get a better look of what you’ve created you can always click the Preview view button located at the bottom right corner in the toolbox, or use the shortcut W. This will cover all guides, grids and bleed. If you’re ready to start editing again you can click the Normal view button located at the bottom left corner, or use the same shortcut W.


Let’s add a little color to our design and create a blue rectangle to go behind our text. Select the Rectangle Tool in the toolbox or use the shortcut M, select the 100% Cyan (C=100 M=0 Y=0 K=0) color in our Swatches panel, and click once anywhere on our page. This will bring up the Rectangle window, here we can manually enter a size for our rectangle.

If we select all our text, we’ll see that it’s 50 mm wide by 32 mm tall, and we want our rectangle to extend a little beyond our text, so let’s make a rectangle with a width of 70 mm and a height of 52 mm, 20mm taller and wider than our text.

Hit the OK button if you’ve got everything filled out.

We want the rectangle in the center of our page, so select the Selection Tool in the toolbox, or use the shortcut V, and drag the rectangle to the center. Purple guides should appear when you’ve got it positioned just right. You could also center it manually using the Control window, giving it an X-value of 60.5 mm and a Y-value of 60 mm, or use the Align panel, but we won’t get into that right now.

So we’ve got a pretty, shiny, new, bright, blue rectangle, but it’s covering our text! No need to worry, there’s an easy fix. Select both the rectangle and the background with the Selection Tool, we can do this by holding the shift key down while clicking on both elements. Then go to Object > Arrange > Send to Back, and we have our text back! Yeey!

Let’s add an extra border around our text to make it a little more funky.

Select the Rectangle Tool again, and select [Paper] as stroke color and [None] as fill color in the Swatches panel. Now open the Stroke panel by going to Window > Stroke or use the shortcut Cmd/Ctrl + F10, and from the drop-down menu select Dotted as stroke Type, we can leave the Weight (thickness of the stroke) to the standard 1 pt.

Do the same as we did before, click once anywhere on our page and fill in the dimensions in the Rectangle window.

Our text is still 50 mm wide by 32 mm tall and our rectangle 70 mm wide by 52 mm tall, so we’re going to make a border with a width of 60 mm and a height of 42 mm, 10 mm taller and wider than our text. Drag the dotted border to the center, click the Preview view button, and we should get something that looks like this.

Our basic cover design is finished! Time for some coffee before continuing to the next pages…


To go to our next two pages we can either scroll down or we can use out Pages panel. If we double-click on any page in our Pages panel, InDesign will automatically go to that page. This is really useful when working with documents that have a lot of pages. To open up the Pages panel, go to Window > Pages or use the shortcut Cmd/Ctrl + F12.

To add a background we could do as we did before, use our Rectangle Tool to draw one, or we can copy/paste the background we already created on page 1. So let’s go back to page 1 and select the dark background with the Selection Tool. Go to Edit > Copy or use the shortcut Cmd/Ctrl + C, and go back to our center pages.

In InDesign there are two ways to paste. We can go to Edit > Paste or use the shortcut Cmd/Ctrl + V, and the item will appear in the center of our window. And we can go to Edit > Paste in Place or use the shortcut Alt + Shift + Cmd/Ctrl + V. This will paste the item using the exact X and Y coordinates as the original item.

So let’s paste our background using the Paste in Place command.

With out Selection Tool still selected, roll over the left center square of our rectangle, two opposing arrows should appear, then click and drag it to the left so it covers our 2 pages.

Open up the Effects Panel, go to Window > Effects, and lower the Opacity from 100% to 10%. Now we have a nice contrast between the dark outside and the light inside without losing the gradient.

In a typical cd booklet you’ll find the credits and legal information, in other words, a lot of text. For the sake of this tutorial we’re going to use some filler text, also known as lorem ipsum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Maecenas aliquam mauris ut lectus laoreet non molestie arcu venenatis. Donec volutpat, sem vitae imperdiet bibendum, magna magna tristique arcu, quis iaculis dui sem porta mauris. Vestibulum a dolor in felis pharetra scelerisque at sed tellus. Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos himenaeos. Aliquam erat volutpat. Nam varius, tortor non condimentum gravida, urna arcu pellentesque lectus, sed rutrum nisl dolor rutrum eros. In hac habitasse platea dictumst. Integer non neque id dolor venenatis laoreet. Donec diam neque, dapibus et pellentesque quis, semper in elit. Aliquam elementum lacus in arcu molestie molestie. Integer sagittis ultrices sem, eget volutpat turpis aliquet imperdiet. Mauris id placerat risus. Curabitur commodo sem ut ipsum lobortis non pharetra enim lobortis. Sed mattis, massa quis posuere fermentum, velit odio egestas ipsum, at auctor erat nisl vitae mauris. In aliquet cursus consectetur. Cras nunc purus, sagittis sit amet dapibus nec, semper quis massa. Mauris vestibulum tortor mauris, vitae condimentum ipsum. Pellentesque felis odio, fermentum sed feugiat vel, pretium vitae urna. Donec pharetra elit ac arcu sollicitudin fringilla. Proin tempus bibendum metus at aliquet.

Ut nec urna quis nisl fringilla luctus. Nullam a nisi mauris, et viverra odio. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae; Fusce nec venenatis enim. In hac habitasse platea dictumst. Phasellus velit velit, posuere et rhoncus ac, elementum scelerisque metus. Pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus et netus et malesuada fames ac turpis egestas. Suspendisse ultricies pulvinar fringilla. Cras et mollis lacus. Donec elementum mi sed arcu mattis cursus. Praesent volutpat tortor porttitor est varius malesuada. In id sapien quam, eget iaculis odio. Integer convallis viverra leo nec volutpat. Phasellus pulvinar euismod metus, a consequat metus mattis ut. Proin eget augue felis. Vivamus eleifend convallis semper.

Select and copy the above text, go back to InDesign, and paste the text by going to Edit > Paste or use the shortcut Cmd/Ctrl + V. InDesign will automatically create a text frame and fill it with our copied text.

If we take a look at our text frame, you’ll notice the little red icon in the bottom right corner. This indicates that the text frame is too small to display all the text, also called Overset Text. We’re going to do 2 things to solve this, we’ll make our text frame larger, and our text smaller.

With the Selection Tool, roll over the top left square of the text frame and drag it to top left corner of our margins, do the same with the bottom right.

Open the Character panel. Go to Window > Type & Tables > Character or use the shortcut Cmd/Ctrl + T. With the text frame still selected, choose a font from the font list. I’ve used an Helvetica Light with a font size of 8 pt.

As you can see the red icon is gone, now that all our text fits.

We’re going to change the Vertical Justification (the vertical alignment of the text within the text frame). Go to Object > Text Frame Options, or use the shortcut Cmd/Ctrl + B with the text frame still selected. In the drop down window you can choose between Top, Center, Bottom or Justify. We’re going to choose Justify, this evenly distributes the lines of text between the top and the bottom of the text frame.

Alternatively, you can also select the Vertical Justification in your control panel.


Our left side is still a little empty. So let’s copy the title text from our first page together with the dotted border and paste it on the center pages. Drag it to the center of the left page, or fill in the coordinates manually (X: 60.5 mm Y: 60 mm), and change the fill color of our text and the stroke color of the dotted border to [Black].

Click the Preview button and we should have something that looks like this.

On to the last and final page of our booklet.


Let’s copy the background from page 1 again, and paste it on page 4. Select the Type Tool in our toolbox or use the shortcut T, select the Code Bold font with a Font Size of 15 pt in our Character panel and select the [Paper] swatch as Fill Color in our Swatches panel. Then click near the top left corner of our margins and drag to the bottom right corner, the text frame should automatically snap to the margins. Now for some some shameless self promotion, I’ve typed the url of Guides&Grids.

We want our text to be centered on the page, so let’s open up the Paragraph panel by going to Window > Type & Table > Paragraph or use the shortcut Alt + Cmd/Ctrl + T, and click on the Align Center button. In our control panel we’re going to select Center for Vertical Justification.


Our booklet is finished! If you’ve followed all the steps you should get something like this.

Look out for Part 2 & 3 of this series where we’ll explain how to make the tray card and cd label!


This entry was posted in Tutorials and tagged , , , , .

Comments are closed.