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I am a graphic designer and I have never done packaging design before.

What is the process when it comes to branding packaging? Do you use templates depending on what you are branding. e.g. Beer bottle, box of chocolates? Is there a program that makes it easier to display your graphics on the specific object?

I want to create some examples for my portfolio.

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4 Answers

As with any graphic design project I really think it all starts with an idea or a problem that you want to solve. When I was going through school I remember making packing designs out of thin air to meet requirements, but the result was always incomplete-- no matter how visually striking you can make something, if it doesn't serve a purpose or solve a goal it's the equivalent of window dressing.

So first and foremost I think you should have an idea for packaging or possibly even reach out to someone who could use a packaging design (restaurants, small businesses, etc). Its only through having a concept can you narrow down your focus.

Only then can you really dig into the details.

There are a lot of free resources out there as well as some not free, but very verbose and detailed books about packaging design. One site I really enjoy visiting is Smashing Magazine's packaging design articles -- they often showcase some great packaging that you could use to get your metaphorical engines revving.

As for templates, in most cases I think it would be difficult to go without them, it really depends on what it is you are designing for though.

As a final personal aside, when I was in school I reached out to a local high scale restaurant to see if I could assist them as a graphic designer in anyway and I explained to them that I was trying to improve my portfolio. It just so happened that they were bottling their own wine and wanted to figure out what type of packaging their target demographic would respond to. After doing my due diligence and research I designed something that became one of the highlight pieces in my portfolio at the time, but it starts with reaching out! enter image description here

Good luck!

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I'd add that if you're interested in packaging, consider a complete example with designing an 'unfolded' package. As if, if you get an idea for a something a little 'boxy', consider what the design will look like when you take the box and unfold it into a flat sheet. Consider how will your design affect the production system and costs? What are going to be the critical points during printing stage and beyond? That's as critical as the design stage. Once the design leaves your hands the 'fun' really starts.

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I would start by getting some inspiration and seeing what good package design looks like, I love package design and created a few projects in school one of my favorite websites to look at for inspiration was www.thedieline.com, also just play with paper and spend an hour or two making mock ups of interesting things. After playing for awhile you might develop something cool and even creating your own random projects is a good way to get started :)

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If you're interested in trying out package design, or adding some to your folder, try applying a branding you've already done to some sort of small box and display an accurate rendering of your die cut next to a rendering of the printed and completed design.

I beleive a huge portion of actual package design, beyond designing labels for a certain medium, falls under, or overlaps with, industrial and 3d design. If that's what you want to do, you should look into software such as AutoCAD or Maya.

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