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Render a Realistic CD in Photoshop


Before beginning, download the layer styles we will be using throughout the tutorial:

Step 1: Create a Circle Shape

Start with a large document, roughly 1000x1000px. Choose a dull, dark background fill (I’m using #3f454c).

Draw an EllipseUsing the Ellipse Shape Tool (Learn about the Drawing and Type Tools in Photoshop), draw a circle in the center of your document. While creating the circle hold Shift to constrain proportions. Make the color of your shape black.

Step 2: Cut out a hole in the shape

Make a Smaller Circle Path within the large one.Using the Path Selection Tool Path Selection Tool select all the anchor points from the ellipse shape. Copy and Paste the anchor points.

Transform the freshly pasted points (Ctrl + T): Holding Shift + Alt , scale down the anchor points to form a small circle at the center of the larger circle.

Click Enter to apply the transformation.

Subtract from Shape AreaWhile the anchor points are still selected, click Subtract From Shape Area in the options bar. This will subtract this smaller ellipse path from the larger shape creating an empty circle within the larger shape.

Step 3: Apply Plastic Style

Apply the premade Plastic Layer Style included at the beginning of this tutorial to the Ellipse shape layer (Learn more about Layer Styles).

Plastic CD

Step 4: Adding the Shiny Reflective Data Layer

On a new shape layer, repeat the process in steps 1 & 2 to create another Ellipse with a hollow center. Leave some padding along the outer edge, and inner circle of your original circle.

Create a shape for the Data Layer of the Disc

Keep the Layers Aligned

It’s important to keep all of the shape layers perfectly aligned along so that there is always equal padding around the shape edges. This can be done easily. When creating the new shape layer, simply duplicate the original shape, use the path selection tool to select the anchor points, and scale the anchor points while holding shift and alt. This will ensure the anchor points are always scaled around the exact same central point.

Apply the Data Layer Style included at the beginning of the tutorial to this shape layer.

Data Layer of the CD Design

Step 5: Add the Print Layer

We need to add just one more shape layer using the steps shown above. Repeat the process shown to create the first two shapes to create a base for our CD Label.

Apply the Print Layer style included at the beginning of this tutorial.

Add a base for the Label of the Disc

Step 6: Prepare the Label

At this point, we could easily just draw on our label, but editing it would be a real pain.

Let’s say we have a premade graphic we want to use on the label. At this point, we’d have to paste the graphic onto the CD, cut out the parts of the graphic that are outside of the label area, and then be sure not to go outside that design area for future edits. But what happens if we need to reposition that graphic or make more advanced changes to it?

We would have to go copy paste that graphic again and hope we place it better the next time.

Luckily, there is a really easy way around this problem. We can use Masks that allow us to work with sets of layers while only parts of the layers are shown. The rest of the layer data is there, it’s just hidden and can easily be manipulated.

Layer Masks in Photoshop

Let’s do it already.

Create a new Layer Set. I’ll call mine “CD Label”.

Click on the path thumbnail in your Layers Palette to select the path for your Label Shape. Once Selected, Copy the path (Ctrl + C).

Select and Copy the Path

Select the Layer set you just created (“CD Label“) and paste (Ctrl + V) the layer path. Go to Layer > Vector Mask > Current Path. This will create a mask that will only be applied to this layer set, and will hide anything outside of the path.

Step 7: Add Graphic

This is the part of the tutorial where you go and do your own thing. Either find a graphic you’ve got lying around, or create some new artwork for your CD Label.

Add Graphic to the CD Label

Whatever you do, make sure that your graphics stay inside of the masked “CD Label” layer set. This will ensure that your design doesn’t go outside of the assumed printing area.

Download the PSD

Show Us Your CD’s!

Let’s see your own unique CD Designs! We may even feature some of the communities Designs if there are nice ones to pick from!


  1. Add point Subtract point
    Roy Bell (1 Point) August 20, 2010 at 2:09 am

    I love this tutorial I design album and cd covers for rappers and singers. Is it okay for me to use you design as a template when im doing cd covers because it’s actually great to show them how there actual cd covers look

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    ฟังเพลงใหม่ (1 Point) February 3, 2010 at 12:05 am

    Great reading! Thanks for sharing135

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    ฟังเพลงใหม่ (1 Point) February 2, 2010 at 1:41 am

    Great reading! Thanks for sharing128

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  4. Add point Subtract point

    Great reading! Thanks for sharing123

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    โหลดเพลงmp3ฟรี (1 Point) January 30, 2010 at 11:44 am

    Thanks for your post , Great post.

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  6. Add point Subtract point

    it is too reality,
    now, try it ,

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    Alexis Brille (1 Point) July 30, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Oh, wow, just saw this tut, very nice, Dave.

    I always wondered how you can make the reflections.

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    heath (1 Point) July 24, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    One big thing that is realy missing is explanation how to create those cool layer styles that are used in this tut. I think it should be even a part of this tutorial. but it isn’t so it would be greate if u make a tut for making those layer styles and dont forget to post a link as a comment to this tut or add link to the tut text so it’ll be easy to fallow.


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    The Greek (1 Point) July 5, 2009 at 8:23 am

    Hi David
    The tutorial is great but from step 6 its a little bit confusing. How do I create a new layer set?

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  10. Add point Subtract point

    hi David,
    i try to open the CD layer file i downloaded, but i can’t. It says “Could not place the document because no parser or file format can open this file”. Could you help me with that?
    thanx~and great tutorial~

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  11. Add point Subtract point
    jeansienkin (1 Point) May 21, 2009 at 5:49 am

    Thanx David, pretty useful, awesome!

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  12. Add point Subtract point
    huwaw69 (1 Point) May 2, 2009 at 9:04 am

    another great technique on tutorial9!

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  13. Add point Subtract point

    I was trying to download the Layer Style and its just a bunch of code. I’m on a mac but I didn’t think that mattered. Any help? Yes I have tried to right click and download but it will not. It will only save as a link.

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  14. Add point Subtract point
    Naveed Ahmad (1 Point) March 30, 2009 at 3:34 am

    very nice and has good output result to it too :)

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  15. Add point Subtract point
    Lorenzo (1 Point) March 21, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    awesome tut david! as always, all hail. :D

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  16. Add point Subtract point

    awesome tut man! really awesome!!

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  17. Add point Subtract point
    Benjamin Bankson (1 Point) February 17, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    Great tut! Exactly what I needed. Thanks a million!

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  18. Add point Subtract point
    Sean|Orbell (1 Point) February 6, 2009 at 10:35 am

    Loved it! Thanks again for great lesson in photoshop :)

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    Logo Design Guru (1 Point) February 3, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    great tut. I will try it out. thank you.

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  20. Add point Subtract point
    Allison (1 Point) February 3, 2009 at 3:09 am

    Aw, this is all kinds of cool. Thanks David!

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  21. Add point Subtract point
    Chad Engle (1 Point) January 27, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    Nice tutorial could save tons of time for a mock-up or a comp. Shared the love via twitter:

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  22. Add point Subtract point
    Dainis Graveris (1 Point) January 24, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    I really enjoy Your posts, showing that You just need very strong will to get to the point!

    Btw, I already knew and tried hard at academy to create realistic cd case, but I just like the way You are presenting all Your tutorials! Love the detail!

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  23. Add point Subtract point

    Nice. Thanks for the tutorial yo

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  24. Add point Subtract point
    manhunter__ (1 Point) January 22, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    wow, thanks. really simple tutorial but great result

    Follow me on twitter

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  25. Add point Subtract point

    thanx for the tutorial
    and also for the open file

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  26. Add point Subtract point
    Tanaka13 – Créations du Net (1 Point) January 22, 2009 at 5:36 am

    Really nice tutorial! great job!

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    Kirishine (1 Point) January 21, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    Hi David, This is an amazing tut! Good job!!

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    @Dan: Seems to be working fine Dan – have you tried right clicking and saving? Otherwise perhaps I’ll add in a step detailing that (it’s pretty easy, just requires some clever gradient work.)

    @caleb: Thanks caleb! As far as I know, WordPress integrates those automatically.

    Thanks everyone!

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  29. Add point Subtract point

    David this is really cool. I’ve enjoyed your work very much. How do you get you pictures embeded into your email subscriptions? Could you let me know? I am really struggling with this and can’t find the information.

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  30. Add point Subtract point

    im having trouble downloading the CD layer styles? any kind of tutorial on how to create the data layer on your own?

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  31. Add point Subtract point
    Kenny Della Valle (1 Point) January 19, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    I never knew you could put layer masks on groups! Thanks for the tips as always!

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  32. Add point Subtract point

    Excellent tutorial. I usually stray from tuts b/c they’re either hard to follow (poorly written) or they’re cheesey but this one owns. Great work!

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  33. Add point Subtract point
    NetOperator Wibby (1 Point) January 19, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    This is awesome, I already have a few ideas with this. Thanks for the tutorial!

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  34. Add point Subtract point
    LBrother (1 Point) January 19, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Wahoosa! Another tutorial9 tut. I can say, that your tutorials on this page definately are the highest-quality-tutorials on the web. Well, you compete with Colis from PSDTUTS.
    Really: Easy to understand, great use of techniques and great outcome.
    I’d love to see a bit more of them – right now they’re not really coming regularly.

    Love it,

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  35. Add point Subtract point
    Tom Ross (1 Point) January 19, 2009 at 10:49 am

    Nice tut David. I really liked the image demonstrating layer masks.

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    Thanks folks, very glad to see the positive response to this tutorial so far :) Can’t wait to see some of you try it!

    @Fire G: I’ll have an article up soon enough for doing that as well mate ;)

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  37. Add point Subtract point

    Really like the data layer style, very realistic.

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  38. Add point Subtract point

    Pretty sexy David (the tut that is xD). You forgot to mention for the less Ps knowledged how to get the text to circle around like that.

    I’ll make up a CD later today and comment it in.

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  39. Add point Subtract point

    Awesome tut, nice work David!

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