How to use IrfanView to print CD labels
Background and justification
Why use IrfanView to print CD labels?
- You have to use something, and IrfanView, the best picture viewer software existing for Windows, is capable enough to do the task readily and quickly.
- IrfanView is free.
Why not use the software that is freely downloadable when you buy CD labels?
- You have to figure it out, and some of it is good, and some of it is not so good.
- Every brand of CD label seems to make available a different software package, none of which are compatible with each other.
- The free software is generally tied to exactly one layout of CD label: not surprisingly that is the brand you just bought and found the download URL in. With some software, you can the pay $ to get templates for other brands of CD labels, but since I've never done that, I don't know how easily label layouts made for one brand convert for use with a different brand, even in the same software.
Why not buy a commercial program that is designed for CD label creation?
- Make a recommendation for such, I don't know of any.
- If your wallet is too heavy, why not?
- It might work well for you, but if you want to share your labels, it might not work so well for your friends, if they can't afford it.
Create or convert the label artwork for use on CD labels. Choose a resolution (dots per inch) as your standard CD label artwork resolution. The size of the artwork should be a bit larger than the CD label, so that you can draw past the edge of the label, and not have issues if the label alignment isn't perfect when feeding through the printer, but obviously anything past or near the edge shouldn't be critical to the content of the label. The same holds true near the hub ring, and some labels have different size hub rings: it is good to design the artwork to go clear through the hub area, but again, nothing important should lie inside the largest hub area.
The rest of this description will assume 150 DPI resolution, and a basic file size for each piece of artwork of 750 × 750 pixels (5") square, and a symmetrical layout of CD labels on the page (use of other labels that may be squeezed into the remaining space is left as an exercise for the reader). The actual size of a CD label is round, with various diameters from 4.59" to 4.625" being commonly found. Designing for the critical parts of the artwork to fall within 4.5" is probably a good idea, and allowing it to fill the full 5" is probably the maximum to assure that the artwork doesn't overlap the next label on a letter size sheet containing two labels.
Full color artwork can be used if printing on a color printer, and even if a grayscale printer is to be used, color is not necessarily a problem (the printer drivers will dither the colors), but the effects of color artwork for a particular grayscale printer should be reviewed before being used in quantity to be sure that significant details are readable.
Save the result numbers for this brand and model of label sheet, to avoid recalculation later. An example of Merax labels will be used.
- Determine the location of the centers of the CD labels on the label sheet. (Since labels can have varying diameters, determining the center is more useful than finding the edges.) Generally the second label center, can be calculated. Following are calculations in 150 DPI for a letter size label sheet (1275 × 1650 pixels): if the center of one label one is at (X,Y), then label two will be at (1275 - X, 1650 - Y). For the example, we measure (417, 440).
- Determine the distance between CD label centers: (1275 - 2X, 1650 - 2Y). For the example, we calculate (441, 770).
- Determine the minimum image size required to whole 2 CD labels: (2025 - 2X, 2400 + 2Y). These numbers will be referred to as (MISX, MISY). For the example, we calculate (1191, 1520)
- IrfanView operations
- Create blank image.
- Start an instance of IrfanView
- menu Image/ Create new (empty) image or keyboard shift-n
- Fill in the top left box with MISX (example 1191), the next box down with MISY (example 1520).
- Fill in the X-DPI and Y-DPI with your chosen artwork resolution (750).
- Choose an apporpriate background color; probably white is best to avoid wasting ink or toner in unused areas.
- Click the OK button.
- Paste in artwork.
- Start a second instance of IrfanView.
- Open a file containing the artwork of interest (if IrfanView is your default image viewer, this and the prior step can be combined, by clicking on the artwork of interest in Windows Explorer).
- Select the whole image: keyboard Control-a
- Copy the selection: menu Edit/ Copy or keyboard Control-c
- Exit this copy instance of IrfanView: menu File/ Exit or keyboard Escape
- In the original instance of IrfanView, create a selection box: menu Edit/ Create custom crop selection or keyboard shift-c
- Choose None or 1:1 for ratio
- Enter 0 for both X-Offset and Y-Offset
- Enter 750 for both Width and Height
- Enter 150 for Image DPI
- Click Save and apply to image
- Paste the image: menu Edit/ Paste or keyboard Control-V
- If you wish to combine two labels, rotate the image twice: menu Image/ rotate right or keyboard shift-r. Then repeat the above steps for the second piece of artwork.
If this is a new brand of label paper, you might want to print the first trial run on a blank paper, to avoid wasting labels until you verify that the artwork is properly positioned for this brand of label paper.
- Be sure there is no selection box: Click outside the selection area of one exists.
- menu File/ Print or keyboard Control-p.
- Choose the printer of interest and any appropriate properties from the Printer setup button which opens the standard printer dialog.
- Choose Original size (from image DPI).
- Choose the Centered checkbox in the Position section of the dialog.
- Choose the appropriate number of copies.
- Click the Print button.
Nota Bene: This was written with IrfanView 4.32 as reference; some minor variations may be required with other versions of IrfanView