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 PackagingPackaging 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
- About.com Coupons/Bargains Guide Donna L. Montaldo reminds of the importance of color in Package Design - How it Affects What You Buy
- The book Designing Sustainable Packaging is reviewed by About.com Arts/Crafts Business Guide Maire Loughran.
- The Dieline is a 4-star recommended site on packaging design, reviewed at About.com Graphic Design.
- FDA Regulations on Food Health Claims from About.com Food & Beverage discusses how to design food labeling to comply with FDA rules. (US Food & Drug Administration) and there is a section devoted to Food & Beverage Packaging.
- What works in the US might not work elsewhere so About.com Import & Export offers tips on How to Determine Whether to Redesign Your Product Package for an Overseas Market.
- If you're including a recycling symbol on a label or package learn what all the different symbols mean with Recycling Symbols Made Easy from About.com Green Living.
- The All-Powerful Label looks at the items that must go on a wine label in the United States.
- Practice some packaging design by doing a soap package makeover or by redesigning a CD case sleeve using the parameters described in our About.com Desktop Publishing Makeover Projects.
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:
- Packaging Desserts and Other Baked Goods for Gift Giving from About.com Baking focuses on fun and easy to obtain containers to which you can attach a printed or hand-written tag.
- 10 Food Gift Packaging Tips at About.com Home Cooking is also primarily about containers but also suggests making your own labels.
- Make Your Own Gift Wrap, Gift Boxes, and Other Gift Packaging at About.com Rubber Stamping shows how to use stamped images for gift bags and boxes.
Printing PackagingYou 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 DesignBoth 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 SpecializationAlthough 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.
- Annual Reports & Proposals
- Business Forms
- Catalogs, Menus, & Product Lists
- Collaterals (brochures, etc.)
- Crafts & Creative Printing
- Identity Systems (logo, letterhead)
- Marketing Materials (ads, direct mail)
- Periodicals (newsletters, magazines)
- Presentation Graphics
- Publication Art
- Publications (books, manuals, booklets, etc.)
- Web, Mobile, and Multimedia Publishing
- Word Processing
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