Illustrator Tutorials - Packaging Design

This is not intended to be a definitive guide to using Illustrator for packaging design - there are plenty of books and tutorials out there as well as professional Illustrator plug-ins designed for this purpose. Remember, you will need Illustrator CS2 or later as these versions have the 3D Tools.

When producing packaging design, how can you tell how your design will look on a product unless you test it?

One way of seeing whether packaging design is effective or not is to create a prototype. This would normally consist of printing the design out and mocking it up – this is costly and expensive to do, and normally only one prototype would be produced. What if prototypes could be mocked up in a fraction of time, be less expensive and messy, and be more environmentally friendly? What if multiple prototypes could be produced to show a client what their products would eventually look like when actually on a shelf?

Peanut Butter jar tutorial

Creating the 'Marlboro' packet (above).

Of course, you can scan or draw in Illustrator any kind of 'box' packaging you like.  Here, we've recreated the classic Marlboro cigarette packet.

To get you started, we have created a file to download.

In this file, you fill find all the components to complete this project:

Click image for larger version

The components are the 'front', 'side', 'top' and a grey shape that we'll use to create the 3D shape.

These components have been arranged on individual layers.

In addition, we have used the three principal components to create Symbols:
The components, layers and symbols are all included in the downloadable file.

Begin by selecting the grey rectangle (it's on the 'side' layer).  Then go to EFFECT...3D...Extrude & Bevel.

As ever, make sure the 'Preview' box is ticked, drag this dialogue box away from the artwork so you can see what you're doing and enter the figures as shown on the left: 35°, 28° and -24° with an Extrude Depth of 80 pt.

Note: I would not normally ask you to enter the figures I suggest - it is often better  for you to experiment yourself but, in even a simple 6-sided 'box' it is easy to rotate the object so that strange results appear when we come to Map Art!

This image on the left shows what we have so far.  Now it's time to apply Map Art.  Click the Map Art button in the dialogue box as shown above.


The Map Art dialogue box above shows many features.  Firstly, we have moved the 3D & Extrude dialogue box over so that we can fully see the grey object.  Next, make sure the 'Preview' box is ticked.
In the 'Surface' section, we can see that we have six surfaces (which, obviously, is correct for our object - a box.)  Scroll through these surfaces until the thin, red frame appears on the relevant part of our grey image.
Above, we have got the 'front' of the grey object selected so, under the 'Symbol' pane, scroll down and select the correct pre-made symbol - 'front'.

As we can see above, we've selected the correct Surface and the correct Symbol but, if we look at our 3D object to the left of the dialogue box, the symbol is upside-down to the way we want it.
Don't worry!  This can sometimes happen with Map Art.  Hover your cursor above one of the corners of the preview in the window of the Map Art box (shown circled in orange, above) until your cursor changes to a curve with an arrow on both ends.  Drag either clockwise or anti-clockwise until the art is the opposite way up.

Repeat this - i.e. scroll through the surfaces until the correct one is showing a red frame on the correct 'face' of the grey 3D object - and select the correct symbol, rotatiting it if necessary.

When the 3D object is showing the correct configuration of surfaces and symbols, click the OK button.  Done!
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