It’s a great feeling for me, as a designer, to watch the designs take shape on paper. When it stands at the base of a brand and is displayed on the shelves, it’s fantastic!
In the meantime, let me share a short story (or maybe a longer one) about how it all started!
When I left my job and started working as an independent entrepreneur, I first created products, printed them, and sold them to make an assortment. However, as with all business, it failed! Because I was new to everything! I wasn’t old enough to understand how the design world works and too new to understand business, everything.
But wait for a second, and there are no tears! It all came back to me after a cycle full of learning and experiences and ageing and maturing. Now I am moving in the same direction, specializing in packaging, merchandise, and printing, however, with much more progress.
Knowledge About the Quality of the Prints
Yes, we returned to Los Angeles. I lived my life on my own, only with my hopes. My goal was to show my printed paper products using my drawings. Then I walked around town to create my own creations. It started by visiting the printing houses, gaining knowledge about the quality of the prints, knowing what I would like in bulk orders, and so on. The real adventure began when I realized I was visiting the printing centre in Los Angeles. My exploration trip took me to the city! Ohhh! It was a little weird but also charming. There were massive factories that produced printed packaging and some mighty printing machines.
My ambitions kept me going. I stayed in these areas all day, talked to the printers and the workers, and watched how things were created. I knew about paper and started learning about different printing methods. I also understood the technical issues, such as what I need to be aware of as a designer to print efficiently.
All the effort, work, and experience are helpful now because I sit in my cozy corner and prepare it for packaging design and other printing patterns.
I’m here! I’m back from my little journey!
The information I provide here is just a collection of my experiences in the field, and I look forward to helping you create excellent print materials! Yes, it’s not that simple! But did I look for easy things? We are all about quality, no!
Get ready as you go through the basics to be aware of when sending your patterns to print, whether to design packaging, products or anything else in the wild.
Prints are expensive items and do not come with Cancel buttons. We don’t want them to ruin our creative fantasies.
This is the list!
Proof-Read Your Design
Imagine that you have done a fantastic and elegant job with your packaging design, which is a problem! Grammatical mistakes spoil the appeal! Huh! Who is that fan of theirs? I will add this to the list because I made this mistake! The prints were released, and when I saw them, they had an extra “t” added to the word! I was devastated that my ears were covered with shame! Should I pay for extra prints? Pf! It wasn’t the best day. However, they printed a small amount, and we could use it as tiny samples.
It’s not the most enjoyable way to be an artist! Therefore, reviewing printed items before they reach the final printing location is always great! Mainly if you work with a client who may not be able to take more than a few sample prints or if no staff or person is assigned to correct the prints! I’d say it’s our job as designers to take care of that. We must not release our hands from responsibility!
CMYK Color Mode
Seriously!!! Do we need to know the basics of this? Packaging templates and any print file must be created in CMYK mode.
I understand! It’s so obvious. Ignore the power of mistakes. Finally, we are all here!
I’m a little annoyed when I start designing models to realize that. It’s a nightmare! Ugh! It is, without a doubt, an unpleasant feeling! Although it may seem obvious, don’t be shy about checking that everything is in order. It is best to check before you press the submit button to receive the print files to the printer.
Bleed, Perforation and Cut-Outs
I was utterly ignorant of these words when I started printing. But in the past, installing these systems was almost routine!
An additional/extended design on all sides is required to cut the print. This is called bleeding. This is necessary because although the cut is taking place precisely where it was intended, there may be a small change.
It is widespread. Even with the most advanced equipment, this happens. It’s like cutting something with cutters; the blade size takes up only a tiny area of the paper. We could see the blank paper along these edges if there was no bleeding.
In the end, we don’t want our models to look unprofessional with a black border, do we? And in general, the printing industry suggests a minimum of 3 mm border on all sides for packaging and all other models.
A lowercase solid line is drawn to indicate the cutting area to the printer, while a dashed line means that the paper must be folded from here. Interpretations may vary from printer to printer, and it is best to confirm. However, all the printers I’ve come across recognize these markings.
It is also our responsibility as designers to decide on any prints that need to be perforated or otherwise, depending on the design of the packaging style.
It won’t be as overwhelming once you get into it and will become a daily routine.
I think the quality of the prints depends on the high quality of the paper. I always prefer printing on white paper, not light gray or yellow. I think it gives better color results. It is also essential to know GSM, which is the thickness of the paper. This knowledge can be beneficial, and sharing your ideas with printers and customers is always good.
For example, can you imagine the designs you want to create on glossy paper or a matte sheet? Does coverage ensure print integrity? I would not leave these decisions to the printer. I would also have an open discussion about this because it will affect the quality of the packaging, and therefore I would care about it.
Also, as designers at the design school or self-taught, we know the rules! However, here’s what I learned at work. Customers generally seek to ensure that the most critical aspects of their brand and business are apparent.
We all have luxury font libraries and access to Adobe fonts, luxury licenses, luxury fonts, and more. So cool! But the printers around us may not have them all! We certainly would not like to think that we will have a shock. I created the models with unique fonts. And when the prints appear, the default font is Arial or Comic Sans, just because the printer system detected the error that there are no fonts and then decided to update automatically based on its design skills.
Suppose the packaging includes a warning about the product, for example, the importance of a patch test. It may be considered useless, and place the notice in a small font in a particular place. Maybe this is crucial for the customer according to the branding rules or the needs of the business. Therefore, you must plan your product so that the required information is embedded and easy to read as needed.
After burning my fingers lately, I make sure that customers are asked before the event to provide me with all the details that might be needed, and then I make sure that I set it to the correct size to ensure the quality of the text. Don’t get lost in the mix. It’s also important to remember the item’s name needs to be printed in a neat font to be clear to customers because they are on display in stores.
Finally, balancing the practical and artistic visual aesthetics is necessary, and it can help you make the most of the packaging design!
Make Sure Everything is Perfect
If your files are set to be created in Adobe Illustrator and have multiple images, you must include them before printing. If not done, it will display an image unrelated to printing. Plus, speaking of experience, I didn’t mistake printing a paper early in my career, and the fantastic texture I added to my design is gone. All the roughness I was hoping for is gone, and the prints have turned out clean.
It’s always a good idea to ensure nothing is missing from your gorgeous packaging and other design elements!
Use Ai Instead of PS
It was an accident for me! I was a design partner at a few events, and as it turned out, the print size was necessary for specific occasions. These included billboards and stage backgrounds, and much more. After a while, it became a real challenge to take care of Photoshop files! Large files would be slow and crash, and transfer processes weren’t the easiest.
Anyway. A lot was happening. When a day came, I had an urgent need, and I realized how much time was being spent simply because handling files is so tricky. Then I tested everything by transferring the file to Illustrator, and the size decreased for me. However, specific effects need to be adjusted if you can use Illustrator to create large files. It makes my job much simpler and more enjoyable.
Be Aware of File Uploading and Relaxation
Suppose your documents have been uploaded to Google Drive, and you work for a client in a different time zone. Your designs have been accepted. You conveniently shared the whole file and ended the day relaxing in your comfortable clothes and falling asleep as a child.
I guess you know what! Your day is over, and your new client’s day has begun! He tries to print the documents but is presented with an error message Files cannot be opened because access is restricted, and there you sleep, you think about how great you did, and, on the other hand, your client screams to get in touch with you quickly and ends up with a mess.
Oh! You got the idea, didn’t you? Make sure you do your homework until the last minute! Don’t hide it. Couldn’t you put it aside? Allow the right people to access your packaging templates, luxury documents, and other printable files.
While almost every customer does this, some choose to overlook this. The above issues are covered when a mistake has been made, as long as we have a printing example.
However, this is not the same as a solution to all problems.
I would still make sure that all of the above is taken. Because even if the tests are printed, what happens if you are inaccessible to them. As a designer, you may be the only one who can tell if it’s right or wrong; however, what if it’s out of your reach for a reason. You may not be located.
I would certainly not take this at random and ensure all of the above are addressed to ensure that your packaging design is designed with a smile when printed and in daylight.
There are complaints to be made about oh! It is not enough to make it look beautiful, but to ensure that it fulfills its essential purpose, beautiful!
How Should I Design Product Packaging?
My answer is specific; you do your job as a designer. Know the importance of the brand, make every effort, and use all your design skills. However, it does not overlook the significance of all practical aspects! It sounds so dull! I’m a technical mess!