If you think packages are just made by the fly, you are very wrong. There is an entire art industry around the design of containers and labels. Designers have to pay attention to materials and their characteristics as well as apply solutions for package preservation.
However, this comprehensive science around good packaging design has never stopped anyone from producing their own packages and boxes at the comfort of their homes. There is a lot of benefit in designing your own packages, it is a fun experience, you can explore and extend your creativity to the limit, and it allows you to make personalized packets for your product, not to mention that there is a whole career opportunity around it.
First, we have to understand that the proper package design means three different steps:
- Developing a general idea of your package in a 2D space;
- Logo, Design, and Brand
- Printing and finishing your product.
Designing with Illustrator
Many professional designers have to choose between 2D programs like Adobe’s Illustrator for the production of their art. Both programs allow you to produce art in the vector format, which is the industry standard. Others prefer Adobe’s Photoshop because of its wide variety of functionalities, options, customization and the option for a photorealistic design.
Illustrator is terrific for someone just starting off, as it allows you to have a general idea of how your package looks like when opened, something called a “Dieline.”
Dieline is the lines that define the layout of the physical package; it is a diagram that marks the folds and cut lines of your design. Have you ever taken a cardboard box, opened it completely and flattened it into the floor? This flat design is the dieline, and it is crucial for your final product.
If you are not familiar with Illustrator, there is some self-adjusting to do, but the program is simple once you get the hang of it. Start your dieline and don’t forget to indicate where the cut lines and the folds are, using different colors or dashed lines to differ them from each other.
You can find inspirations on the internet if it helps. There are countless designs that you can look at, and, beyond that, there are many types of boxes that you can choose with different materials. Also, you are not limited to boxes at all. Tubes, bottles, bags, and pouches, for example, aren’t beyond your design possibilities.
Giving Purpose and Personality to your Package
Beyond the dieline and the general format of the package, there are still many adjustments and applications to do.
If the package is for a brand, a product, it probably contains a logo, and you should think about where you want to include it. If there is any product description, quote, association logo, symbols or additional imagery that you want to add in your package, take the time to think about where to put them. There is a consensus about prioritizing the logo on the center of the front of the package, but many artists do not limit themselves to this framework.
Ready for Printing
Now that you have finished your 2D design, you are ready to contact a professional printer to print your product and provide packaging supplies. Discuss with them your general guidelines and necessities. You can also make a 3D mockup of your product, something many package designers do to be more accurate with the measurements, and it can be done on Illustrator as well, or Photoshop.