Label Package Design Creation Process from Start to Finish by Expert Graphic Designer – Lauren Peone of laurendesigns
This article was written by Lauren Peone, Creative Director of laurendesigns. Lauren is an expert freelance graphic designer who has been in the design and fine art business for over 10 years. She has documented the design of a package label from start to finish (along with other helpful tips) in order to help other graphic designers.
My career in package design began with working for a local grocer, Wegmans, in their Advertising department. I knew a little bit about dielines and designing for dimensional packages before I started at Wegmans, but I also obtained a wealth of new knowledge while working directly for the store. In food there is so much to be considered before even thinking of a design. There are all sorts of government regulations that dictate sizing and what nutritional information goes where and of what prominence. Fitting all the nitty gritty facts, logos and required text were the hardest part by far since oftentimes there was little room left for the actual design! Then each supplier had their own printer specifications which posed different challenges. Working at Wegmans taught me so much about packaging and I feel grateful to have had this experience. Having so much technical expertise in package design has been essential to many of the layouts that I have designed over the years.
So, without further ado, here is my process for designing a set of lovely labels for My Dog Joe, a small café and coffeehouse located in Ontario, Canada. (Note: logo was also designed by laurendesigns)
Step 1: Research the product along with the client. Ask questions that lead to fruitful discussion. Look for reference.
Before I begin any project I require the client to provide some basic art direction (its right in the contract). Who is their target market? Who is their competition (who will they be on shelf next to)? Do they have a specific look/feel/theme in mind? Colors? Typeface styles? Description of café…tell me a little more about you? In the case of large corporations, do they have a style guide I need to follow?
From here I also have the customer send me designs that they like AND dislike along with a detailed description of why. The more details that you obtain from the customer, the easier it will be for you to create a smashing design. Sure, I’ve received push back and comments such as, “you’re the designer so you should have all the creative ideas”, but I’ve found that 9 out of 10 clients are more then willing to provide some basic direction to get the project started on the right foot.
Step 2: Gather all of the information from step 1 and begin the initial mock ups.
I usually start with my sketch pad if I’m not pressed for time.
Here I develop very, VERY rough sketches that simply jot down the general idea of what I want the layout to look like. On the side of the sketches I generally have all kinds of notes for myself. I use this space for random inspiration that might come to me as I’m developing the design. I generally bring my sketchbook everywhere I go…you never know when something might strike your fancy or give you the idea you had wanted to complete the design! I also do quite a bit of research before I begin…I look at books, peruse the internet, take a trip to the store…anything that may help me design with current trends in mind. This along with reference I’ve received from my client gets me rolling without any hesitation.
NOTE: I don’t show my clients sketches only because it causes more confusion, and utilizes a lot of time, to fully explain. If you’ve got grade A sketches, go ahead! But mine tend to be a little more crude and elementary so it’s best to keep them to myself.
Step 3: Sketch to computer
From my oh-so-lovely sketch pad scribbles I then pick my favorites and start executing my designs on to the computer. For a project like this there was a lot of experimenting done in Photoshop. Not only with the layered imagery but with the information that need to be presented to differentiate each coffee. I had a lot of elements that I had to juggle so the task at hand was far from small. Most of these labels had at least 30 layers (some 60+!) so gathering and managing all of this was a job in itself. Be sure to keep organized & labeled folders, along with clearly named and cleaned up .psd and .ai files. This is a must for a professional designer!
Step 4: Fine tuning the facts
First step is laying out each label’s basic components: logo, tagline, name of coffee, required labels and nutrition facts. For any type of food packaging it’s prudent that you plan for where all of the required facts and regulations will need to go on the packaging label. I’ve had designs that were 80% facts and 20% design due to the space allotted. It can be frustrating working around this annoyance, but its all government regulated, down to the point size of the type! It’s a learning process but the more packaging layouts that you design, the better you’ll become with working your “design magic” around these barriers.
After the regulated nitty gritty (which wasn’t a lot thankfully) I went to work layering all kinds if images for the collaged coffees. My work tends to be heavily composed, this is the look I love and that clients hire me for! I have a collection of 1000’s of backgrounds and objects I’ve scanned into my computer. I love textures and mixing both fine art and digital…I tend to work back and forth between my art bin and computer. This gives most of my work the unique dimension and warm and fuzzy feel it has! The My Dog Joe labels utilize a whole hodge podge of items, from hand drawn coffee beans to scanned in vintage stamps and postcards. Do yourself a favor and start organizing a library of images. From stock to random objects I’ve scanned…I have a huge gallery to pull from!
Step 5: Presentation
This job was different in that I presented all of the labels in only one variation. I tend to present 2-3 of my best concepts together but this was different in that the amount of work involved was intense. The budget wasn’t that large either so I went with an idea and bam, presented what I thought was right on! The labels were well received; my only mistake was designing the “Monarch Decaf” as a political collage rather then a butterfly one! Oops! J Other than that there were minor revisions but keeping everything in layers helps alleviate any major moves in the layout. I keep a very “healthy” set of layers so that just about every element you see is editable!
Step 6: Wrapping it up
Once all layouts have been approved and signed off on I send the final invoice and collect payment before any final files are released. In this day and age of everything being done over the internet, unless I know a client well, I use this policy of collecting payment. I ask for 50% before the job is started and the remaining 50% when It’s complete. This way you’re also not chasing your clients down for 30-60 days…this makes life much easier! Everyone is happy in the end!
I provide all of the files in multiple formats for print and web usage. If the printer has a specific format needed that is supplied. I provide a lo-res PDF for proofing with all jobs. This ensures that everyone can see the layout as it is intended to look when printed.
Step 7: Client comes back for more and refers you to other clients!!
What more can I say here?! In the case of MDJ I am now working on his new restaurant logo and menu! Wa-la!
I hope you enjoyed my abbreviated process of designing for food packaging! If you’d like to see more work like this please visit my websites! Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments ~Lauren
[tags]label design, package design, label package design, design creation, label creation, package label creation, package design process, label design process, design process, graphic design process[/tags]
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