Printing CDs?

I have an Epson Photo Stylus 900 printer that can print directly on CDs. I have printed a few with basic text lables, but the software is kinda lame. It lets me import images or type text. I cannot create the images from the software, though. When I import the images, the quality goes way down. I spend most of my time trying to find a way to do it without having to import anything, or find the right size the image needs to be in order for it to show up with little distortion (the CD printing software has some kind of auto-resize thing going on).

Is there any software that would work with the Epson to print CDs, but give me more control on how I actually make them? I like Illustrator for printing. It's vector and the image quality is actually good. However, I am having a hard time getting the image to land on the CD when I print. Plus, I have to make the image into a circle, or else it prints on the caddy, too. What options do I have?
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BillDLConnect With a Mentor Commented:
A couple of things come to mind about the software that came bundled with the Epson Printer.

It could be that it is a "Light" version that is limited in functionality where the full version might allow you to create your own templates from scratch with imported images and/or text.  The software most likely has to convert it into its own format which causes distortion during the conversion stage.

It could be that imported images should already be resized before importing, or should preferably be in a known format like BMP or TIF rather than something like JPG which is already compressed.  You get this effect if you import a JPG or GIF into an application like Word, and it has to resize an image to fit the page width, whereas the WMF format (which is how Windows and Office clipart is stored) is more immune to distortion when resized.

There are several different types of image resizing that can be done with images in standard image editing software.  Some keep the quality, while others lose it.  Reducing the size can cause as much loss of quality as increasing the image size - which does seem odd.  The following is from Paint Shop Pro's Help file on the subject of resizing:

1. Smart size, where Paint Shop Pro chooses the best algorithm based on the current image characteristics.

2. Bicubic resample, which uses a process called interpolation to minimize the raggedness normally associated with expanding an image. As applied here, interpolation smoothes out rough spots by estimating how the "missing" pixels should appear, and then filling them with the appropriate color. It produces better results than the Pixel resize method with photo-realistic images and with images that are irregular or complex. Use Bicubic resample when enlarging an image.

3. Bilinear resample, which reduces the size of an image by applying a similar method as Bicubic resample. Use it when reducing photo-realistic images and images that are irregular or complex.

4. Pixel Resize, where pixels are duplicated or removed as necessary to achieve the selected width and height of an image. It produces better results than the resampling methods when used with hard-edged images.

A few links that may or may not be helpful.

General observations:

Bespoke CD Title printers:

Unfortunately I've never had the need to print on CD's or DVD's, so I can't recommend any particular software.  Hopefully other experts with direct experience of alternative software will be able to recommend some titles.

mrwasantConnect With a Mentor Commented:
If you can use Illustrator to print, try to make the artwork with masking area. What I mean by masking is you are to make a masking first. To do that;
1. create a solid white square (size of 150mmx150mm or larger) then you create 120mm solid circle on top of  the square.
2. Try to play around with pathfinder. Idea is to cut the sqaure with the circle shape
3. You can test what you succeed by placing any object behind it. If the object can been see only where the circle is, you just did it.
4. Now with the middle mask. You have to make another solid circle shape (37mm - more or less) and place in the centre.
This task will take time as you have to do some trial and error...I use to do this when I had to print on CD sticker labels...But now I'm using canon i965 which comes with a reasonble software so it makes my life easier.  
Thank you, mrichmon and CetusMOD
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