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How to create the perfect packaging design

Sunday, June 3rd, 2018

If you want to design your own packaging, it can be an exciting, yet daunting process. There are lots of things to consider; some of them, you may already have identified and solved, but others, you may be unaware of. Here we’re going to help you identify how to make the perfect packaging design.

Cutting profiles

Let’s start things off at the very beginning – your cutting profile. Some of you may know what this is, some of you may not be aware, and that’s ok. A cutting profile is simply the shape of your packaging laid out flat. It has marks and indicators that illustrate where crease and cutting lines are (along with details on finishing/gluing etc.) This information is used to make a cutting form for packaging, which is then used throughout the process to produce the final packaging product.

Packaging design cutter profile

Packaging printing materials

The paper stock your print on (also known as board depending upon the thickness/weight) also has a role to play in both the structural integrity of your packaging, and also how it is perceived. A heavy product that may sit on a retail shelf for a period of time will need to be housed in packaging that is made to withstand such a scenario. In addition, environmental packaging merchandise should not be printed on a glossy substrate that has UV spot finishing as it may portray the wrong message to your target market. These sorts of decisions need to be made before you venture too far down the packaging prototyping process.

Barrier packaging

One thing to note here, if your product is meant to contain food, there are important considerations that you need to be aware of. We won’t go in to too much detail here, however you can read more on the importance of food barrier packaging on our Puracoat page.

Packaging design service

You can produce your own cutting forms (if you are confident and have experience), but it takes a lot of experience to understand the tolerances and different behaviours of printing substrates to ensure that your product packaging is fit for purpose when it’s on a retail shelf. The Smartcentre team have a wealth of experience in this area, and we can provide either a complete packaging design service, or provide help to your design team to ensure that the structural design of your packaging is appropriate.

The design of your packaging should be informed by the cutting profile. It will indicate to you where the different folds are, where certain areas tuck into the box (if appropriate), and enable you to visualise the product in its finished state.

Norman Collett fruit packaging design

An example of a more intricate cutting profile, with artwork overlaid. This product, developed for Norman Collet and ASDA by The Sherwood Group, was produced entirely in-house, with the structural design and graphic design created via the Smartcentre team. The Group won an award for concept and execution of the pack.

Colour space

It’s important when designing for print that you work in the correct colour space. Again, this is a topic that has a lot to it, but 99 times out of 100, when designing for print, you will be working in the CMYK colour gamut, and as such all your items (be they pdfs or images) need to finalised as such.

You can find out more about the CMYK color process here.

Special colours

There are a number of special colours and finishes that you can use to give your packaging the wow factor. Whether it be bright, vivid colours, metallic colours, glitter or foil. If you’d like to find out more about how special finishes can add to your product packaging, visit our special finishes page.

A Pantone colour booklet with an eye glass

Packaging Design

There’s a lot more to the packaging design process than this, but it gives you an idea of the considerations required when designing for packaging. These elements of the packaging design process apply whether your are designing packaging or any designed product, but they do offer some guidance of how to ensure that your final product is perfect. If you’d like to know more about the process, or would like some advice on how to produce your printed packaging products, get in touch with the Smartcentre team today.

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