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Basics of Packaging Design

Learn how to create packaging designs.

In our last lesson we covered the Creation – Prototypes – Correction cycle. Now we are going to dive deep in the creation stage. You should have 3 things ready:

  • The Product Reference Guide: the document with all the information about the packaging
  • Product visualizations
  • Basic packaging structures

Explore different shapes

When we were working with the basic structure our focus was how the product would fit in the packaging. Now we can explore different shapes to make it happen.

Let’s take a rectangular packaging as an example. As simple as it is, there are infinite ways of making it. You can play with different lockings, foldings and shapes. The same basic structure can be used to create completely different designs.


Know your materials

Every material has its benefits and limitations. Get to know everything about the material you are going to use. Some useful techniques that might help you are:

  • Study how the material is produced
  • Research products made with that material
  • Research new technologies and trends


Think outside the box

The knowledge you acquired until now will serve as inspiration for the next stages. Any references you gathered will also come in handy. Now it’s time to create authentic packaging designs.

Some designers like to sketch, others go straight to 3D models. I like sketching before I move to the computer. Whatever your style is, don’t be shy on ideas.

Throw as many concepts as you can on paper, no matter how exotic they may look. Play with different formats, curves and inventive designs.


Keep your feet on the ground

After you explore all your creativity it’s time to evaluate the best options. When you are creating you shouldn’t limit your ideas, but now it is important to have a critic approach. Is it possible to produce this design? Is it following the priorities? Is it easy to open?

A lot of people get lost in the creation process and forget to analyse their own designs. Design is not just aesthetics. Be rigorous and imparcial and evaluate your designs with the priorities in mind.

The best way to test your creations is to make some prototypes. We are going to cover this topic in our next lesson.


Mário is our creative director.

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