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Is there a simple way to create a 3D looking cardboard box to show off what some packaging might look like. Photoshop solutions would be helpful. I would like to be able to change the images on the sides.

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Can you please explain a little better what you want? Can you show a picture? That would be very helpful ... – Kurt Feb 5 '13 at 15:42

There are couple of options in Photoshop:

  1. Fake 3D - you can use the perspective grid to distort the faces of the box to look 3D
  2. Real 3D - Photoshop supports 3D formats such as .obj/.3ds/.dae/etc. You can use a free 3D package tool like Blender to create a box (with the dimensions you need), unwrap/map a texture, then export and render/setup in Photoshop. If 3D texturing is a challenge, you should be able to easily design your box and texture in SketchUp which is easier to pickup and then export to Collada/dae to Photoshop.

Although you mentioned Photoshop, Illustrator has can extrude shapes and also apply symbols as textures, so you could easily draw an extruded box and use the faces of the box as symbols. Here's a quick video tutorial I recorded on this technique. This works assuming you have a basic box design. For more complex designs have a look at the FoldUp plugin.

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+1 for SketchUp, I have done exactly this with SketchUp many times. It is much less intimidating than Blender, especially if only a simple shape such as a box is needed – JohnB Feb 5 '13 at 15:58

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