To ensure your packaging is right, you need to properly prepare product packaging artwork ready for print. Whether you’re printing designs onto corrugated boxes, chipboard packaging or stand up pouches, failure to adequately prepare your product packaging artwork could spell disaster. This handy guide will help you make sure that your product packaging design is print-ready.

Define Key Elements

Before you design your product packaging, you need to define several key elements: the packaging type, materials and size. The most suitable type, size and materials of the packaging will depend on what is going inside. For example, if you’re distributing a ready-to-drink 1-litre cocktail, a large stand up pouch with a spout is ideal.

Prioritize Good Design

You should only send your artwork for print when you’re happy that the product packaging design is complete. Not only does high-quality packaging protect your product from damage and ensure that it arrives in good shape, but it also provides your customers with a positive experience. Consumers will judge products using all their senses; that’s why well-designed packaging is an absolute must. However, to ensure your packaging looks the part, there are several design best practices you should follow.

Keep it simple

It may be tempting to make a design as eye-catching as possible by adding bright colors, plenty of fonts, and lots of text, images and graphics. However, while people will certainly look at your design, they may be put off by it as it may be too busy and, frankly, a little overwhelming. Generally, simplicity is the key. Sometimes simple designs are just as eye-catching and bright, garish ones, but they leave a better lasting impression. Use no more than couple of fonts, a cohesive palette, high-quality imagery and complementary graphics to create a simple but compelling product packaging design.

Make it practical

While an aesthetically pleasing design is important, practicality is vital. As a result, you should ensure that your packaging is highly durable and easy to use. The key is to find a middle ground between creativity and practicality —that way, consumers like the look of the product, but it is also easy for them to use. No matter how lovely your design is, impractical packaging will do you no favors.

Be honest and authentic

Make sure that the messages on your packaging are accurate and honest. Authenticity goes a long way with consumers, and failure to be honest about your product could result in some negative PR. A good example of misleading packaging is if the product is much smaller than it appears to be when contained inside the package. You’ve probably experienced this before with bags of crisps that appear massive until you open the bag to find that the bag is only half full at most!

Ensure The Design is Print Ready

Now, it’s time to make sure that your product packaging design is print-ready.

Use high-quality images

If your packaging design contains imagery, make sure that it is of the highest possible quality. Poor quality imagery will look even worse once printed! It’s best to use no photos at all rather than settle for low quality.

Use a reliable design software application

The best platforms for designing product packaging are Adobe Illustrator and Adobe InDesign. If you’re familiar with the application, you may also choose to use Adobe Dimension, which allows you to design product packaging in 3D to give you a better idea of what your packaging will look like after printing. For example, many prefer to design packaging on Adobe Illustrator because you can display, process and create vector graphics which are easily scalable.

Use the CMYK color model

Color created using an RGB color model will not always create an identical color when printed onto a material. For this reason, you should make sure your design uses the CMYK color model as it is faithful to its on-screen appearance.

Extend the design to the bleed lines

Bleed lines make sure that important aspects of your product packaging design don’t get lopped off during the printing process, as the blades are not always 100 per cent accurate. However, don’t make the mistake of putting your design in the center; make sure it extends right up to the bleed lines.

Leave gluing areas white

Don’t add any color to the gluing areas—keep them white, so it’s clear where the glue will be applied during assembly.

Save your file as a high-resolution PDF

Once your design is complete, make sure to save it as a high-resolution PDF. Standard PDFs are not print-ready. While they appear relatively high-quality on a screen, they won’t look that way on the packaging. Please note that the process of creating your high-resolution PDF will differ depending on the application you choose to use.