Package Design


You are a graphic designer working for a graphic design company that specializes in package design. A national corporation needs a package design developed. The client is looking for a creative solution which communicates the mood, spirit and personality of the product / company. The copy specifications and logo will be supplied by the client. The client would like to see 3 completely different creative approaches.

You will work with your art director on research, idea exploration, and concept development. You will submit thumbnails to the art director, who will then choose 3 concepts to develop into 3 tight roughs. Once the roughs have been approved by the art director, the client will select one for the final comp.

The client would also like to present the prototype design to the board of directors and has asked that a photograph be taken to distribute at the meeting. You will be working with your production manager to shoot the package design prototype in an on-site studio. You will need to:

1. Meet with your production manager, discuss job parameters, and set up studio time.

2. Provide industry examples to your production manager of potential lighting situations.

3. After a rough has been chosen, provide sketches to indicate the following to both your Art Director and Production Manager...

- depth of field

- photographic crop

- props used

- camera angle

- lighting

4. Be prepared for the studio by having... a) sketches, b) well crafted prototype, and c) props at the agreed upon studio time in order to shoot and art direct the photography.

In order to make sure that the job is scheduled appropriately, prints correctly and all electronic files are configured correctly you will be in close contact with the Production Manager. The final comprehensive design of the package will need to simulate the final printed package as closely as possible. You will also package and deliver all necessary files to the Production Manager for archival purposes.

Student Examples: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12

Industry Examples: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

NOTE: Be productive and use studio (class) time effectively by...

  • attending all class sessions
  • showing up with research materials
  • participating in concept development
  • using class time as an opportunity to get the job done




Develop the marketing strategy and design brief.
Think critically and problem solve.

  1. Read chapter 15 "Package Design" in Graphic Design Solutions by Robin Landa.
  2. Define the project's objectives.
  3. Define the target audience.
  4. Identify the competition and its selling points.
  5. Define the client's unique selling proposition.
  6. Research and collect examples of well designed package designs using Communication Arts, Type Directors Annual, Design Inspiration or Print's Regional Design Annual that...

    • show creative usage of materials
    • indicate harmony when displayed in multiples
    • utilize unique typography
    • have tangible / textural qualities
    • use interactivity and creates an experience | 1 | 2 |
    • has a perceived value
  7. Create folders on the server for the following examples:
    Materials, Typography, Interactivity, and Visual Analogy
  8. Clarify conclusions in design thinking by choosing examples that clearly show concept driven
    and interactive designs.

Obtain Step 1: Research sign-off from your process instructor.


Design (Thumbnails / Concepts)


  1. Create a mind map to relate words and images to the product.
  2. Brainstorm concepts and solutions.
  3. Develop quick concepts, in thumbnail form.
  4. Incorporate the four components of an ad..
    • strategy
    • concept
    • design
    • copy
  5. Incorporate the five elements of an ad...
    • visual
    • headline
    • body copy
    • tagline / claim
    • sign-off (logo, web address, photograph or illustration of the product or package)
  6. Verify that your work meets thumbnail criteria:
    • Generate as many thumbnail sketches necessary to...
      communicate a minimum of 10 different concepts / main ideas
    • shows composition variations for each concept
    • are fast and un-detailed
    • are drawn in proportion to the dimensions of the finished piece
    • clearly conveys photographic or illustrative imagery: 1 | 2 | 3
    • conveys composition, sizing and position
    • includes typographic, photographic or illustrative imagery
    • shows general shapes of graphic elements (images, text, etc.)
    • displays readable headline type
    • are concept driven
    • indicates that you can come up with more then one good idea
  7. Submit your 10 most promising concepts to the art director for review.
  8. Determine the 3 best concepts to develop.

Obtain Step 2: Design (Thumbnails / Concepts) sign-off from your process instructor.




  1. Assemble a mood board to:
    - communicate potential visual styles to an art director or client

    Include the following...
    • images / artistic techniques
    • color palette
    • typography choices
    • award winning industry examples
  2. Generate a mood board using gomoodboard.
  3. Using a text document provide links to your mood board. Place file on the server for review.
  4. Obtain feedback from your art director.

Obtain Step 3: Mood Boards sign-off from your process instructor.




  1. Develop three roughs from the thumbnails selected by your art director that meet the following criteria:
    • work off of one of the previous thumbnail sketches
    • are drawn in proportion or actual size
    • convey type choice
    • convey type size, spacing and leading
    • indicate usage of color
    • convey photographic or illustrative imagery
    • are each an entirely different creative concept
    • are computer generated
    • indicates usage of a visual analogy
    • indicates interactivity of packaged design by user
    • is harmonious when displayed in multiples
    • indicates 3D dimensional shape of package
  2. After the art director approves your roughs, make any changes indicated.
  3. Present your designs in PDF format.
  4. The art director will then sign off and approve one design concept to be taken to final stage.

Obtain Step 4: Roughs sign-off from your process instructor.

Technology Strategy


  1. Determine the skills and steps needed to produce your design (digital strategy).
  2. Discuss your digital strategy with the production manager.
  3. Discuss how the project will get printed.
  4. Discuss how to set up the artwork for dielines.
  5. Choose the appropriate software to create graphic artwork by understanding the difference between vector and raster images.
  6. Ask the production manager about any issues you are unsure of.
  7. Create job folder(s) as instructed by your production manager.
  8. When it is clear that you understand how to produce your design correctly and efficiently, the production manager will sign off/approve your strategy.

Obtain Step 5: Technology Strategy sign-off from your technology instructor.

Final Design


  1. Create all native files (raster and vector images).
  2. Assemble text and images using the appropriate software.
  3. Use layers to isolate graphic elements in order to manipulate / change individual parts of the design.
  4. Indicate usage of manual tracking, kerning and leading.
  5. Use the document grid and ruler guides to align text and graphics.
  6. Show visual hierarchy within the overall design.
    (usage of book, italics, bold, line / implied line, or shape for type reversal)
  7. Print a color laser proof and check for correctness and accuracy.
    (Spell check and Proof Read!)
  8. Create PDFs for design approval.
  9. Deliver a digital comprehensive design that...
    • is printed out in color (flat) to be marked up.
      Note: For production purposes... The design must fit a 13"x19" sheet of paper.
    • is well crafted and presentable (glued, taped or spray mounted)
    • is in prototype form (can be sized down)
    • indicates usage of the design elements: line, shape, texture, value, spatial depth
    • indicates usage of manual tracking, kerning and leading
    • has a clear visual heirarchy
    • includes a logo
    • has been spell checked
    • is as close to the finished printed piece as possible
    • includes the actual physical container, package or components (Note: digital comp may or may not be included on container. Final mock-up will be shot in studio.)
  10. Make backup copies of all files after each work session.
  11. Present your final design to your art director for sign-off/approval.

Instructor / Class critique...

  1. Print out the full color designs for review (actual size or sized to fit 13"x19").
  2. Have a "Color Digital Comp/ Peer Review" of your design.
  3. Review suggestions for improvement.

Obtain Step 6: Final Design sign-off from your process instructor.

Design Revisions


  1. Using the suggestions for improvement... make necessary copy and design revisions.
  2. Create sketches of the package design / still life that communicates...
    • various lighting situations
    • various / different photographic crops of product
    • various perspective angles (birds eye view, worms eye view, etc)
    • product with various props
    • supplying your production manager with 3 tight sketches prior to studio time
  3. Submit final full color design on or before the deadline date that indicates entry level graphic design by completing the list of items above.

Obtain Step 7: Design revisions sign off from your process instructor.

Final Deliverable


  1. Create job folder(s) as instructed by your production manager.
  2. Create typographic, Illustrative and/or photographic imagery on the package design that is...
    • visually kerned and leaded
    • Bezier curves are smooth and precise
    • photographic imagery is cropped, in proper resolution and non-distorted
    • set in the correct resolution to print (300ppi)
  3. Produce key lines and digital artwork for pre-press operations that are correct in order for the package design to reproduce well by...
    • indicating die cuts on artwork to create irregular shapes in paper or paperboard for production of a die
    • create die cut shapes on separate top layer, set to overprint
    • create die cut layer in a contrasting spot color and name the layer "die-line"
    • create a die cut shape that fits a 13"x19" sheet of paper
  4. Determine technical issues for mock-up and final printed product by thinking ahead in terms of materials, printing and physically creating the final comprehensive package design.
  5. Create and package final files correctly using a print preparation checklist.
  6. Save files for a printer by...
    • packaging all page layout files, graphics, and fonts
    • using logical naming conventions
    • putting files on the server in the appropriate location as specified by your instructor
    • Prepare PDF versions for archiving (smallest file size).
  7. Photoshoot requirements...
    • single
    • multiple
    • multiple with box
    • single with box
  8. Work directly with a professional photo lab service (R&R Printing) and order two 8"x10" luster prints (one for mounting & one for your portfolio).
  9. Mount your work to a black presentation board centered to fit 12"x14" and hand into your instructor.
  10. Submit final photo as .jpg file for archive (300ppi).
  11. Complete service provider package.
  12. Copy all final documents to the server folder(s) specified by the Production Manager.
  13. Use a back up filing system.

Obtain Step 8: Final Deliverable sign-off from your technology instructor.

Assess your work for both Process and Technology and hand in the sign-off booklet.