I do quite a bit of package design for surface graphics. I have always found finding inspiration for package design online and in books quite difficult, it just seems to be an area which is not as popular as other areas of graphic design. The type of package design work often featured in books is for areas such as cosmetics and food rather than looking at all areas.
On a recent project to design some packaging for some surge protector trailing sockets I was searching for some inspiration one of the best sites I found is a blog called the dieline which is a feast for the eyes in package design. Broken down into different categories the dieline features all different types of package design not just the more popular areas.
I have searched for package design on Flickr before with little success, but what I discovered when I looked again is that I had done the wrong search. A search for “packaging design” rather than “package design” was much more promising yielding nearly 9000 results (not bad!).
When I was first looking for a 3D design program several years ago, most of them were very expensive and complicated (far too complicated when I just wanted to use them for print work and packaging visuals).There are now several free 3D options available a couple of which I downloaded to try out.
Google Sketch Up
I had heard of google sketch up but to be honest didn’t really know what it was – the name makes it sound more of a drawing /design program rather than 3D software. What I like about Google Sketch up is that it is fairly intuitive. You click on a tool and a box with al the information about what that tool does and how to use it appears, which is pretty useful when you are trying to learn. You can easily make 3 dimensional squared objects by drawing lines in 3 dimensional space and extruding. You can also create lathe objects – although this is a bit less obvious using a a feature called follow me. Drawing curved lines is not as simple as straight, there is an arc feature but it is not easy to control, a bezier drawing tool would make a great addition. Available for Mac and PC.
Below is a very simple tutorial from Youtube showing how you can build simple objects in Google Sketch up very easily. There are several more video you can find with more complex examples on Youtube too
Art of Illusion Art of Illusion is an opensource 3D modelling and rendering program. I only quickly took a look at this program but I liked how simple the interface is unlike a lot of commercial applications. It looks like this program would be much better for organic forms than Google SketchUp with the use of Triangular meshes. There is also a online/download manual and tutorials available. This is definitely one worth taking a look at if you want a free 3D program. Available for Mac, PC and Linux
A while ago I stumbled across the website of James Bowskill’s Japanese package design scrapbook. It amazed me how much more interesting it was than most of the packaging I see in the UK, where everyone tries to look like the market leader. Maybe that’s because I haven’t seen much Japanese packaging?
What I really like about a lot of this packaging it all looks “fun” and has a really retro feel to it (in European terms anyway). Take a look and see what you think yourself. You can see more images at http://www.jamesbowskill.com/offtheshelf/