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Tutorial: How To Resize Packaging

30 MAR 2012 | POSTED BY ELLE PHILLIPS | 18 COMMENTS.

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As a professional graphic designer I can honestly say one of the most fun parts of my job is creating packaging. Its truly a fascinating process, creating a two-dimensional design that will ultimately become a three-dimensional object. But while I find it to be a fun and exciting challenge, it can also be a very intimidating and almost daunting task if you dont know the basics of whats needed in order to create and properly set up a piece of packaging for print. If not set up properly, not only will your printer hate your guts and form all sorts of creative and explicit oaths about graphic designers in general, but your client (or boss) wont be thrilled with your talents (or lack of) either. So to help you along, Im setting up this basic demonstration on how to resize an existing piece of packaging. Im showing you how to resize instead of create from scratch because I think youll get the point in this example on how to do both plus, if youre just starting out in design, its much more likely that youll be working with a previously designed file. If the former designer set it up properly, it should be pretty easy for you to follow along. If the previous designer did not set up the file properly (which could explain why youre working on the packaging instead of them), then take notes. It make take you a bit more time to set the file up in a manner thats easy to make changes and updates later as well as have the cleanest possible file, but itll be worth it in the end (both for you, your client/boss, and your foul-mouthed printer). First off, lets go over some basics. Any (and every) type of packaging must start with a dieline. Whats a dieline, you ask? You should have learned this in at least one of your graphic design classes at school, but if youre self-taught or need a refresher, then Ill give you a brief explanation: A dieline is basically a outline of the flat shape of your package. Sounds simple enough, but youll need to set up the dieline in a specific manner so it doesnt print on the actual package and the printer has the ability to strip it and separate it from the file itself without hurting the integrity of the design. To strip in printing terms means

separating a part of the file (in this case, a spot color) so the printer can process and create the die cut for the box. You see, all forms of printing, even in packaging, are printed on a square or rectangular piece of paper or cardboard, then later cut into the proper shape. Thats the die cut. So now that you know some of the terminology, its time to get to work. For my example Ill be using an actual file from an actual client. Meet RT Foods, Inc., makers and developers of TigerThai frozen foods. My assignment today is to take an existing box and resize it to new dimensions. Theyve decided to go with a smaller version of an existing product, so smaller packaging is required for a tighter fit and so more of that product can fit on the shelf (or in this case, the freezer). After they determined how much product they want to fit in the box, they supplied me with new dimensions: The box should be 185mm wide x 250mm high x 80mm deep. Its VERY important to have accurate dimensions up front. Just guessing the proper size will only lead to wasted time and workflow in the future. I wont even begin a package design until I know the proper dimensions, which should be supplied to you by the client or printer. These new dimensions are not proportional from the original, so there will be no shortcuts with a massive select all and scale down. When it comes to packaging, you really should try to avoid that anyway. Doing such could mean fonts become too small to read, logos arent prominen t enough and an overall unbalanced look for the size of the packaging. Its always best to start with the dieline first, then reorganize content as needed to keep the quality and integrity of the product, while maintaining proper hierarchy. Hng dn: Lm th no Thay i kch thc bao b Nh mt nh thit k ha chuyn nghip ti c th thnh tht ni rng mt trong nhng phn th v nht ca cng vic ca ti l to ra bao b. N thc s l mt qu trnh hp dn , to ra mt thit k hai chiu m cui cng s tr thnh mt i tng ba chiu . Nhng trong khi ti tm thy n l mt thch thc th v vui v v , n cng c th l mt nhim v rt ng s v gn nh kh khn nu bn khng bit nhng iu c bn ca nhng g cn thit to ra v thit lp ng mt mnh bao b cho in n. Nu khng c thit lp ng cch, khng ch s my in ca bn ght rut ca bn v to tt c cc loi tuyn th sng to v r rng v thit k ha ni chung, nhng khch hng ca bn ( hoc ng ch ) s khng c vui mng vi ti nng ca mnh ( hoc thiu ) hoc . V vy, gip bn trn , ti ang thit lp trnh din c bn v cch thay i kch thc mt phn hin c ca bao b. Ti ang hin th cho bn lm th no thay i kch thc , thay v to ra t u bi v ti ngh rng bn s c c im trong v d ny lm th no lm c hai ... cng thm, nu bn ch l bt u trong thit k, n nhiu hn na kh nng l bn ' s lm vic vi mt tp tin thit k trc y . Nu cc nh thit k trc y thit lp n ng cch, n nn c kh d dng cho bn lm theo cng . Nu ngi thit k trc khng c thit lp cc tp tin ng (m c th gii thch l do ti sao bn ang lm vic trn bao b thay v trong s h) , sau ghi chp. N lm cho a bn mt cht thi gian thit lp cc tp tin trong mt cch d dng thc hin thay i v cp nht sau cng nh c cc tp tin sch nht c th , nhng n s c gi tr n cui cng (c cho bn, khch hng ca bn / ng ch, my in v h i ming ca bn). Trc ht, chng ta hy i qua mt s vn c bn . Bt k ( v mi ) loi bao b phi bt u vi mt dieline . Mt dieline l nhng g , bn yu cu? Bn nn hc c iu ny trong t nht mt trong cc lp hc thit k ha ti trng , nhng nu bn t hc hoc cn xem li, sau ti s cung cp cho bn mt li gii thch ngn gn: Mt dieline v c bn l mt phc tho ca hnh phng ca gi ca bn. m thanh n gin, nhng bn s cn phi thit lp cc dieline mt cch c th v vy n khng in trn bao b thc t v my in c kh nng tch n v tch bit t cc tp tin ring ca mnh m khng lm tn thng s ton vn ca thit k. " di" v in n c ngha l tch mt phn ca tp tin ( trong trng hp ny , mt mu sc ti ch ) my in c th x l v to ra vic ct gim cht cho hp . Bn

thy y, tt c cc hnh thc in n, ngay c trong bao b, c in trn mt hnh vung hoc hnh ch nht mnh giy hoc cc tng , sau ct thnh hnh dng thch hp. l ct cht . V vy, by gi m bn bit mt s thut ng , l thi gian c c lm vic. V d ca ti, ti s s dng mt tp tin thc t t mt khch hng thc t . Gp g RT Foods , Inc , nh sn xut v pht trin ca TigerThai thc phm ng lnh . Phn cng ca ti hm nay l c mt hp hin ti v thay i kch thc kch thc mi. H quyt nh i vi mt phin bn nh hn ca mt sn phm hin c , do ng gi nh hn l cn thit cho mt s ph hp cht ch hn v do nhiu sn phm c th ph hp trn k (hoc trong trng hp ny , cc t ng) . Sau khi xc nh c bao nhiu sn phm m h mun ph hp trong hp , h cung cp cho ti vi kch thc mi : Hp nn 185mm x 250mm rng x 80mm cao su . l rt quan trng c kch thc chnh xc ln pha trc. Ch on kch thc thch hp s ch dn n lng ph thi gian v cng vic trong tng lai. Ti thm ch s khng bt u mt thit k bao b cho n khi ti bit kch thc thch hp, m phi c cung cp cho bn bi khch hng hoc my in. Cc kch thc mi khng t l thun t ban u , v vy s khng c phm tt vi mt ln " chn tt c " v thu hp quy m . Khi ni n ng gi, bn thc s nn c gng trnh iu anyway. Lm nh vy c th c ngha l phng ch tr nn qu nh c , biu tng khng ni bt v mt ci nhn tng th khng cn bng vi kch thc ca bao b . N lun lun tt nht bt u vi dieline u tin , sau t chc li ni dung khi cn thit gi cht lng v tnh ton vn ca sn phm, trong khi duy tr h thng phn cp hp l.

FILE SETUP: UTILIZE THE PROPER PROGRAMS FOR THEIR PROPER FUNCTIONS
Now that we know our dimensions its time to edit our dieline, and Im going to explain a few things here in regards to programs you should be using. So, because of their versatility and standard use in the industry of graphic design, I use the Adobe Suite, version CS5. You get a lot of programs with this suite, so utilize them! Vector objects should be made in Illustrator, raster object and photos should be edited in Photoshop and ALL layout should be done in InDesign. Theres nothing I hate more than getting a file from a designer who simply did everything in Illustrator or (someone please kill me now) Photoshop. If you have these three programs, you should be using all three, and for the reasons they were created. Take the time to use all of these programs for what they were intended, and youll find life is a lot easier. On that note, your dieline could be created in InDesign, but you should use Illustrator for this piece. Why? First off, you have a wider array of tools that will make the development of the dieline much easier in the long run, plus you can save the file and simply import it into your InDesign document as a single graphic image, assuring that no lines are mistakingly moved or edited. You can lock it down on its own layer and never worry about it again. As with all Adobe programs, there are twenty different ways to do anything, but this is a widely accepted and used method, so thats where Im going first. Off to Illustrator to adjust my existing dieline to the new dimensions. Upon opening my existing dieline its important to note that I already have it set up for overprinting stroke and spot color. These things are less for you and more for your ever pissed-off printer to keep him or her

happy and prevent them from calling you later to bitch about the problems with your file. So before you even begin to resize your dieline, check these two things: By gi chng ta bit kch thc ca chng ti l thi gian chnh sa dieline ca chng ti , v ti s gii thch mt vi iu y lin quan n cc chng trnh bn nn s dng . V vy, v tnh linh hot ca h v s dng tiu chun trong ngnh cng nghip thit k ha , ti s dng Adobe Suite, phin bn CS5 . Bn nhn c rt nhiu chng trnh vi b phn mm ny, v vy s dng chng ! Cc i tng vector nn c thc hin trong Illustrator , i tng raster v hnh nh nn c chnh sa trong Photoshop v tt c b tr phi c thc hin trong InDesign. Khng c g ti ght hn nhn c mt tp tin t mt nh thit k ngi ch n gin lm tt c mi th trong Illustrator hoc ( ai hy git ti by gi) l Photoshop . Nu bn c ba chng trnh ny , bn nn s dng c ba , v v nhng l do chng c to ra . Dnh thi gian s dng tt c cc chng trnh dnh cho nhng g h d nh, v bn s thy cuc sng d dng hn rt nhiu.

Ngy lu rng , dieline ca bn c th c to ra trong InDesign , nhng bn nn s dng Illustrator cho tc phm ny . Ti sao? Trc ht, bn c mt mng rng ln hn ca cng c s lm cho s pht trin ca dieline d dng hn nhiu trong thi gian di , cng vi bn c th lu cc tp tin v ch n gin l nhp n vo ti liu InDesign ca bn nh l mt hnh nh ha duy nht, m bo rng khng c dng l mistakingly di chuyn hoc chnh sa. Bn c th kha n xung trn lp ring ca n v khng bao gi lo lng v n mt ln na. Nh vi tt c cc chng trnh Adobe , c hai mi cch khc nhau lm bt c iu g , nhng y l mt phng php c chp nhn rng ri v c s dng, v vy l ni ti s u tin . Tt Illustrator iu chnh dieline hin ti ca ti vi kch thc mi .

Khi m dieline hin ti ca ti , iu quan trng cn lu rng ti c n thit lp cho overprinting t qu v mu sc ti ch . Nhng iu ny l t hn cho bn v nhiu hn na cho my in bao gi tc gin -off ca bn gi anh ta hoc c y hnh phc v ngn cn h gi bn sau ch ci v cc vn vi tp tin ca bn . V vy, trc khi bn bt u thay i kch thc dieline ca bn , hy kim tra hai iu ny :

1.

Select your entire dieline and set the stroke color to 100% cyan. In your swatch library create a new swatch, and by double-clicking that swatch, change the color from process to spot, then rename the swatch Die Line. This little step will convert your dieline so it has its own printing plate and allows the printer to pull it out of the file and use it for processing the eventual die cut. Im using 100% cyan as an example, and you could actually use any color in the spectrum so long as its set as a spot color, but the general acceptance is

to use either 100% cyan or 100% magenta.Those two colors stand out from just about any design and will give you a good view of where those lines are on any file. Theyre industry standard, and printers keep an eye out for them.

2.

With your entire dieline still selected, open up your Attributes panel. I have it as a part of my standard toolset in Illustrator, but you can access it through the Window file menu by selecting Attributes. When thats open, activate the checkmark next to Overprint Stroke. What this does is it tells the selected strokes to print over any other color it may sit on top of, instead of knocking out the colors beneath it (creating a white line), and then printing on top of the white for a true color. Let me see if I can explain a bit better. When you have a bunch of colors, objects, etc. on a page and overlapping each other (for example, lets say blue type on top of a dark red background), your printable file will automatically adjust at press to separate the red from the blue and print them separately, so all of the red prints on white paper and all of the blue prints straight on white paper. It may look like the blue sits on top of the red, but truly it doesnt. That part of the red background has been knocked out so the ink colors dont blend they print true color. By setting your dieline stroke to overprint, youre essentially telling the file you create NOT to knock out anything underneath that stroke. This is very important, because when you set up your file and have your dieline sitting on top of your package design, your printer will be separating that dieline from the rest of the file later on. So what would happen if you didnt overprint the stroke and the printer removes the dieline? Youd have a white line knocking out of your design. You dont wa nt that. So overprint your stroke, and youre safe for yet another day. Now that we know our lines are the right color and set to overprint, its finally time to resize. This is the easiest part of the entire process. Starting from the middle and moving outward, just place guides and resize each panel to the new dimensions. If you cant visually understand which panel goes with which dimension, simply print out a small version, cut it out and put it together. That should give you a better idea of what belongs where. In my first few years doing package design, I had mini-models spread out everywhere, so dont be ashamed if you cant visualize it right away.

Once youve resized all of your panels (dont forget those pesky tabs), your dieline is finished and you can save it (give it a new name outlining the new dimensions for future reference and easy selection among your million other dielines).

Now its time to go back to our InDesign file where all of the elements of our package are put together, and get everything to fit within the new box areas. When I set up any file in InDesign that requires a dieline, I prefer to keep the dieline on its own layer, set the preview settings to the highest quality so I can see the fine line of the die and not a thick, low-res rendering (allows for better precision on panel edges) and then lock the layer. All of my text and graphics go on a layer underneath the dieline, so I can see exactly where my elements need to go at all times, and its just a matter of turning off the visibility of the dieline layer to check and make sure there are no gaps or hairlines at the edges of my design elements underneath it. On the image below, youll see my new dieline has been imported and centered on top of my old box. Youll notice the new dieline areas are quite a bit smaller than the old box, but its all workable. We just need to resize most of the elements (making sure the most important elements are still readable and the less important elements are reduced further in size) and rearrange them to fit within the new areas.

In the case of my client and having worked with them for some time, I know the TigerThai logo must remain prominent on all panels and the name of the product is imperative to remain large and readable at a distance. The image of the product on the front is very important, but can be reduced drastically in size on the side panels since its notably less-important to see them on the sides and we need to make room for the more important product name, Udon Noodle Soup with Tempura Shrimp & Vegetables.

On the back, we need to make sure our cooking instructions are clearly readable, as they are the most important information on the back. That will require some resize of the product name and some major readjustments on the way the elements on the back panel are displayed. This portion will be the most challenging, but not impossible. The client expressed that they wanted the packaged soup image with callouts to remain somewhat prominent on the back, so after playing with it for a bit I was able to make enough room on the top edge to place the TigerThai logo and product name (keeping in mind they should be at least of equal proportion or making the product name a bit larger than the logo), and I was able to easily fit the product image and callouts on top of the red strip. Some adjustments to the cooking instructions allowed me to fit them nicely below the product image, and voila! we have achieved a nice balance of elements. Had we just done a mass-resize and kept these elements in the same place as before, we would have had some serious readability problems. This is much better and the client will be happy that all of the most important items in this section are properly displayed. Youll see here as well that I laid ou t the side panel at the bottom of the folding box and will use this as my template for the rest of the side panels that display the same elements. As I go through and finish adjusting the rest of my panels, youll notice that Ive left room outside of the dieline for some bleed. Dont forget to do this the last thing you want is the cutter at the printer to be off slightly and give you a stark white line at the edge of the box where there should have been color. As with

any printable layout, Ive also left room inside the edges of my dieline so none of my elements risk getting cut off. Text should always remain at least 1/8 or more inside the edges of any layout. And as I mentioned before, I like to view my layout without the dieline once I get close to being finished. This allows me to zoom in and make sure I dont have any mysterious gaps underneath that line which might show up as glaringly obvious on a folded edge of my finished box. Ive got a nice textured image (created in Photoshop) that I use as a background on all of my panels, and Im careful to make sure theres some overlap on all of them. They dont have to come edge-to-edge and fit perfectly together, youre allowed to overlap elements. That gives you the best chances of a nice, tight fit. And as youll see below, I have a clean, finished product.

Youll see here that while I didnt place a higher importance on the imagery on the panels, I was still able to keep them fairly large and consistent across the board. My nutrition panel is nicely c entered, and dont ever feel like you have to move an element or lose the integrity of your layout simply because of a barcode. Youll see the barcode on this piece sits right on top of the noodle soup image. Thats okay, because first of all, it has to be there, and second, even though its there your imagination fills in the gaps. So will the consumers. Theyve seen enough packaging at the store that the image will still gain attention even though their mind his busy looking over the bar code. The rest of the box images will fill it in for them.

FINAL OUTPUT
I sent a PDF of this layout to the client (low-resolution of course) and they approved it, so now its time to set it up for press. The good news is that weve done most of the hard stuff already, by setting up our dieline correctly from the beginning. Now its just a matter of outputting the file as a press -ready PDF. In most cases youll want to talk to your printer about how they like their files, but Adobe Acrobat is a very widely accepted format and in most cases thatll work with maybe some adjustment to settings, though sometimes your printer will ask for an outlined Illustrator file which is just as easy to export from InDesign. In our case, the printer is actually located in Thailand and although they can use Adobe Acrobat files, they have had problems in the past with outputting the type, so before I print as a PDF Ill need to select all of my text in my InDesign document (command-A, making sure no layers are locked) and outline all the text in the file (command-shift-o). This assures that all of my text is treated as a vector graphic instead of embedded text. Not necessary for all printers, but a safe bet when youre in doubt. This will increase your file size substantially, but were FTPing the file anyway, so not a big deal. Its much more important to have an accurately printed file. So after thats done we output our PDF file from InDesign (File > Adobe PDF Presets > Press Quality) and once the dialog box pops up we need to check some important settings. The Press Quality general setting usually has everything set up that we need, but under Output well need to select the Ink Manager and make sure we have any random spot colors printing as CMYK except for our dieline. Since this is a 4-color job with die cut, the die cut should be on its own plate and separated out so the printer can pull it later. Once thats fixed we can go ahead and output the file, and we can go into Acrobat and check the dieline. This is a good place to show you what overprinting does.

While your final file is open in Acrobat, click on your Output Preview (or sometimes called Separation Preview) tool. This tool is typically located under the Advanced menu, or you can make it a part of your standard Acrobat tool bar. Clicking this will open a dialog box where you can see your 4 separation colors (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black) as well as any spot colors you have in your document. As you can see on the image here, Ive clicked the checkmark next to my Die Line spot plate to turn it off, and you can see exactly how the file will be printed without the dieline. Had we not turned overprinting on in our dieline earlier, we would see a white line on our flat file where the blue dieline used to be. Easy as that, weve che cked our file and we know its going to print successfully, our printer wont hate our guts, the client wont be paying any extra fees for changes later on (at least not due to us) and we get repeat work from all sides. I hope this tutorial was helpful and please feel free to ask any questions that I may not have answered here!