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Packaging

Role of Desktop Publishing in Creating Boxes, Labels, Tags, and Bags

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The original box design.

Boxes are one kind of packaging design.

© Jacci Howad Bear; licensed to About.com
If a company produces a product it generally needs packaging of some type. Boxes for software, food and wine labels, product tags, and shopping bags are just some examples of packaging that can be created by a freelance designer using desktop publishing software.

Packaging is an area than covers everything from labels to bags to boxes of all shapes and sizes. While you might produce labels from your desktop printer, most large-scale packaging production is done by specialty printers. However, you can design the artwork with page layout and graphics software.

Designing Packaging

Packaging can come in many different shapes and sizes and within certain industries there are standards, legal requirements, best practices. For example, food packaging may require a list of ingredients and some safety messages must be in a specific font size or placed in a particular location. Before you start choosing fonts, colors, and artwork be sure to ascertain any required elements for the type of packaging you've been tasked with creating.
"Theme, colors, font and font size, word choice, pictures - everything about your packaging should be geared directly towards your target market.  -- Karen Waksman for About.com Wholesalers; 7 Tips for Wholesale Product Packaging Design

You don't have to be a professional graphic designer to design packaging and labels for personal use and gift-giving. Try some of these ideas:

Printing Packaging

You could be tasked with designing paper labels or printing labels right on a CD. Packaging for food, electronics, paper goods, industrial products, housewares, and everything else gets printed on cardboard, plastic, and other materials. As the designer you may only be responsible for the design, not the printing, but knowing the limitations and quirks when printing on different surfaces can help you design more effective packaging and labels. Flexography is often used for printing on foil, brown paper, and the materials used for plastic bags, milk cartons, and candy bar wrappers. Gravure is another high-volume printing method for packaging.

Software for Packaging Design

Both page layout software and graphics software may come into play when designing labels, boxes, and bags. When creating 3D packaging, such as boxes, a 3D graphics and 3D modeling software can help you visualize and design packaging beyond simple flat labels. It may also be useful for virtually applying a flat label to a round jar or some other three-dimensional shape to determine how the item might look on the shelf.

16 Categories of Design Specialization

Although packaging design often involves specialized printing, the design work is similar to most any other graphic design project. Packaging, including labels, may also require integration of a company's corporate identity (including colors or logo) and may tie in to specific marketing campaigns.
  1. Annual Reports & Proposals
  2. Business Forms
  3. Catalogs, Menus, & Product Lists
  4. Collaterals (brochures, etc.)
  5. Crafts & Creative Printing
  6. Identity Systems (logo, letterhead)
  7. Marketing Materials (ads, direct mail)
  8. Packaging
  9. Periodicals (newsletters, magazines)
  10. Presentation Graphics
  11. Publication Art
  12. Publications (books, manuals, booklets, etc.)
  13. Self-publishing
  14. Signage
  15. Web, Mobile, and Multimedia Publishing
  16. Word Processing

Pick Your Path to Desktop Publishing
Get Started:Basic Guidelines and Requirements for Desktop Publishing
Choose Software:Desktop Publishing and Design Software
Tips & Tutorials:How to Do Desktop Publishing
Training, Education, Jobs:Careers in Desktop Publishing
In the Classroom: Back to School With Desktop Publishing
Make Something: Things to Make Using Desktop Publishing
Use Templates: Templates for Print and Web Publishing

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