Packaging design is a discipline within graphic design that deals with the creation and selection of the packaging materials, art, color, and silhouette that encompasses a specific product. That jar that contains your favorite coconut butter or that box that covers your shampoo bar both underwent an extensive packaging design process.
A product’s packaging is more than the aesthetics; it also communicates the brand message, ingredients, instructions, manufacture, and more. Packaging is intended to attract and educate the consumer.
The packaging design gives the customer a first impression of the product while differentiating it from the brand’s competitors. If the competitors display their goods in bright, eye-catching colors, going a more neutral route will separate your product from others. In addition to standing out amongst competitors, the packaging design also needs to encapsulate the brand’s identity and make sense for the product. Successful packaging is both practical and functional in terms of product transportation, storage, display, and end use.
When designing for a product, it’s crucial to show the client how the packaging may appear in reality. Programs such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop are great for visualizing a product’s packaging in a two-dimensional space, but Adobe Dimension goes above and beyond by displaying objects and materials in a three-dimensional environment.
What Is Adobe Dimension?
Adobe Dimension is 3D software designers use to create photorealistic product mockups, brand realizations, and unique compositions. This software takes the hassle out of preparing for product shoots; instead, you can bring in 3D objects to a given document and manipulate the materials, color, lighting, horizon, and more with just a few clicks.
Three-dimensional design has become an unstoppable force in the design world. Rather than limiting compositions to two dimensions, designers are stepping out of their comfort zones and bringing life to flat designs. Producing designs in 3D also helps clients to visualize how a product may look in reality.
How to Create a Simple Product Mockup in Dimension
An integral part of branding is designing a realistic product mockup to present to clients. While many designers create two-dimensional mockups for most applications, presenting a specific product in a three-dimensional space sets your mockup design apart from others.
In this tutorial, we will go over the basic components of Adobe Dimension, from the capabilities of each tool to how to set up lighting effects — in addition to how to create your own product mockup in just six steps.
Step 1: Adjust Document Size
Once you’ve opened up the Adobe Dimension program, set the height and width of the document. Activate the Select and Move Tool (V), and click and drag along the perimeter of the document. A double-sided arrow will pop up, enabling you to scale the dimensions of your canvas.
If you prefer a more precise method of setting height and width values, head over to the Properties panel to adjust the canvas size, units, and resolution. Denote your preferred units, then type in the height and width values under Canvas Size. Activate the lock icon to constrain values; leave the icon unlocked to enter in custom dimensions. Set the resolution to 72 or 150 PPI for web use.
Step 2: Set Horizon and Camera Angle
In three-dimensional space, you need a horizon line to determine how objects recede in space. Dimension features a few tools that help you pinpoint the angles in your environment. Denoted by a rotation symbol, the Orbit Tool (1) allows you to move the camera angle around three-dimensionally.
Located beneath the Orbit Tool, the Pan Tool (2) moves the camera view horizontally and vertically, while the Dolly Tool (3) allows the camera to zoom in and out. The Horizon Tool (N) enables you to adjust the location of the horizon line by dragging down a middle bar or a white circle to alter the angle of the horizon line.
Experiment with various camera angles to find one that fits the needs of your product placement. I find it easier to determine at which angle you’d like to view the 3D objects before placing the products onto the canvas.
Step 3: Select and Position 3D Assets
Adobe Dimension features multiple free 3D models that are ready to use in the program. These models range from cans to boxes to 3D shapes, providing a good foundation of objects to choose from. You’re not limited to the size and materials shown in the model preview; Dimension’s tools allow you to alter the scale, materials, and color of each 3D object.
Browse through the library of models, then click and drag a specific model onto the canvas. I am starting off with the Tall Box, then customizing the dimensions and position. The Select and Rotate Tool (R) rotates the object on the X, Y, and Z axes. The red arrow rotates along the X axis, the blue arrow along the Y axis, and the green arrow along the Z axis.
When pivoting your object, don’t over-rotate so the object ends up beneath the horizon. Hit Command + Z as needed to undo all rotations and other manipulations.
Next up, the Select and Scale Tool (S), manipulates the object’s scale along the X, Y, and Z axes. This changes the product’s height, width, and depth in 3D space. Drag the green rectangle to scale upwards along the Y axis, the red rectangle to alter the width along the X axis, and the blue rectangle to manipulate the depth along the Z axis.
The yellow, cyan, and magenta combine the two neighboring axes to scale more proportionately. You can also refer to the Properties menu on the right side to enter in specific Scale values.
Lastly, the Select and Move Tool (V) moves the 3D object along all axes. If you’re moving a rotated object, the arrows will change according to the object’s position.
As always, play around with the three tools above to get a good grasp of how each behaves on the canvas.
Step 4: Apply Materials and Color
Here comes the fun part; this is where you can get creative with materials, colors, logo options, and packaging designs. Under Materials in the Starter Assets, you’ll find various textures, product materials, and liquids to choose from.
Simply activate the shape you’re applying the material to, then click on a material. Some may preview differently on the canvas, but if you toggle over to the Render Preview (\), you’ll see the material displayed accurately.
Once you’ve found a material or texture for your product, customize it further in the Properties panel on the right-hand side of the program. This is where you can apply colors, packaging, logos, and more.
Hit the Base Color box, and import a design or choose from a spectrum of colors. Use the white boxes to resize your design on the 3D object and hold down the Shift key to constrain proportions. Rinse and repeat the steps above if you’re going to bring in more 3D objects, or hold down the Option key and drag across to duplicate the object.
Step 5: Add Background Element
What’s a product mockup design without a background? Scroll down to the Images within the Starter Assets and choose from a selection of free images, or head on over to the Properties panel and import an image or select a color of your choosing.
Be selective when finding an image for your background; you don’t want the background to overpower the product design mockup. Head over to the Render Preview to see your background in action.
Step 6: Adjust Lighting
Last but certainly not least, let’s add some lighting to the 3D objects. Scroll down to the Lights within the Starter Assets, and click on various lighting effects. Play around with different studio lights and customize each effect further by going over to the Environment Light under the Properties panel.
Once you’ve determined your light settings, it’s now time to render the 3D objects. Click over to Render at the top left of the program, and select Current View in the Render Settings. Set the Quality to Low or Medium, depending on where the render will be displayed.
Under Export Format, check off PSD or PNG, then hit Render. Depending on the machine you’re using, the render may take some time.