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Designing packaging for print - Photoshop or Illustrator?

Discussion in 'Printing & Print Design Forum:' started by Jason.w, Aug 18, 2010.

  1. Jason.w

    Jason.w New Member

    Hi there,

    I've been asked by a friend to design packaging for a laptop bag that he has designed, he wants a standard piece of card that wraps around the middle of the laptop bag and contains all the necessary info etc.

    I've read around the web that Illustrator is what's commonly used for packaging design, however, I've also seen people using Photoshop and now I'm not sure what will serve me best?

    I've never really done any packaging design, but what I've gathered is that the final file will have to be sent to the printers who will need to cut the card to shape & size. Will I need to provide on the file any guides for the cutting or can I just specify the canvas/file size as the precise packaging size?

    Thanking you in advance!
  2. pcbranding

    pcbranding Member

    As a packaging graphic designer of many years, here's my input:

    Illustrator is your best bet.
    • You can create your type and graphics in it and import images from Photoshop.
    • The cutter guide (which shows the finished area of the wrap band plus details of any folds/creases or apertures that are required) can be put onto it's own layer for the purposes of design and then removed by the printer when it comes to production.
    Though having said that I have done artwork in Quark(!) and the printer simply deleted the cutter guide!
    • Then for production, make sure you've got 3mm bleed on all full bleed elements, outline all text, check images are 300dpi at actual size and CMYK and either save as a hi-res PDF or collect all elements for output (buy a plugin or just collect the links manually) and issue to your printer. Your cutter guide should be set as a spot colour so that it can be removed within Adobe Acrobat from the Ink manager menu if you decide to go the PDF route.

  3. SparkCreative

    SparkCreative Member

    Illustrator. Or bring it all together in Indesign. But never ever ever ever Photoshop. (Sorry, I've seen this question posted a dozen times on here. No idea what colleges are teaching nowadays but Photoshop is NOT an artwork application.)
  4. Jason.w

    Jason.w New Member

    Thanks Paul, that's really helpful. I'd never used Illustrator before but have done a couple of tutorials online to understand the basics.

    On another note, I noticed that you run a branding company. Since studying Interior Deisgn at uni I discovered that what I really enjoyed doing was brand design. I just wanted to ask what background in design you had before opening your own business? And would you have any advice for me trying to get into brand design. Sorry for turning this into an interview but thanks in advance dor any tips.

  5. pcbranding

    pcbranding Member

    I don't mind replying as long as others don't mind the digression!
    I've been designing for 18 years, the last 5 in my own company. I studied Product Design at Ravensbourne and then got into retail design, which ultimately meant that I was working on 2D and 3D projects ranging from signage, fixturing, point of sale, window display systems, graphics, packaging etc. for the majority of the high street fashion retailers.
    I spent 5 years at Debenhams plc working on packaging and branding projects and became Design Manager of a team of designers and artworkers looking after 120+ own brands and their packaging.
    Got the opportunity to set up my own company and now work for high street and premium/niche retailers.

    Advice? Do everything. Don't limit yourself. Embrace three dimensions as well as 'flat stuff'!


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