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Packaging is where engineering meets design. Learn about the basics of designing packages for everything from foodstuffs to fragrance, in ways that are practical for manufacturing and shipping, and make the products visually appealing. Author Claudia McCue reviews the types of containers real packaging engineers consider, and then concentrates on folding cartons, which can be created with the tools available to most designers: Adobe InDesign and Illustrator. Learn how to create dielines (the flattened view of your product) and add artwork and text. Then find out how to print and cut out a mockup version of your packaging, and prepare the job for professional printing. Claudia also takes you for a quick view of the factory floor, where products are packed into their final containers.
You know that any time you're creating a print project where you have image or color that goes to the edge, or to a fold, you have to accommodate that. This becomes a little bit more complicated when you're dealing with a three dimensional project, like a package. So the first thing I want to do is make sure that I know where my bleeds and trims and folds go. I can see them, certainly. But it'll be really helpful to have some guidelines. So, to position them first, I'm going to go to View, and Display Performance in High Quality Display.
And then I can tell what's going on. Now, I'm not going to completely build this box, but I want to show you a couple of tricks that I think you'll find really useful. So, for example, here, I'm going to have color that goes to this little fold mark, but then I want it to go beyond, I'm going to need bleed at that little fold mark, so I'm going to zoom way in, I'm going to reach up into my horizontal ruler, drag down a guide that's going to be a trim guide there. But I need something that's 1 8th of an inch outside that. Now its true that you could actually be a little sloppy with this, that makes me sort of cringe.
This line is in 1 8th of an inch or more you are fine but if you want to make it exactly an 1 8th of an inch here is a little trick, I'm going to select this and you can actually treat guides in much the same way as you can treat objects in InDesign I can just go to Edit > Copy > Edit > Paste. And it looks like nothings happened but I now have a new guideline that's directly on top of my old guideline. And if you'll notice up here in my Y field it gives me the position of this. Well I need for it to be an 1 8th of an inch north of where my original guideline was.
So I could do math or I could let InDesign to do the math for me and I vote for letting InDesign do the math. So I just click after the current value type minus 0.125 for minus an 1 8th of an inch and then hit return and there we go so that's an 1 8th of an inch there is my little fold mark there and there is my little guy that tells me an 1 8th of an inch beyond that fold mark. Well that's good. And now I'm going to show you something that's maybe a little bit more fun. You can actually do this a little faster. So I'm going to zoom in and make a trim guide over here.
Drag in my little guide. Position that. And instead of copying, pasting, and moving, here's what I'm going to do. I'm just going to say minus 0.125 because right now it's at trim, I need a bleed guide to the left of it and instead of hitting return, I'm going to hit Option or Alt return, and here's why. If you've ever duplicated an object in InDesign, you know that you can Alt or Option drag it. While Alt or Option+Return says well, I want something at this position, it's a duplicate of what I currently have selected.
So all I have to do is hit Option or Alt+Return and look, I still have my original one, and then I have my little duplicate. It's just one of those little things that saves you a lot of time. So I'm going to need the same thing here, so I'm going to zoom way in. I'm drag in a little guide line. I'm going to use my handy dandy Option or Alt+Return. Now this one needs to be north, so it's going to be minus 0.125, and then my Option+Return. And then I need something down here, same thing.
Only this one needs to be south of it. So I need to, remember that your 0,0 point is at the upper left hand corner. So here I would say plus 0.125 and hit Option+Return. See how easy that is. So I have something here, and here, and here. I'm going to need, little guy down here. So again, drag in where it falls on the fold. This one's going to go south, so its going to be plus 0.125 and my Option or Alt+ Return. And one last one over here, where this little glue flap attaches.
So I'm just going to drag this little guy in. And because I want it to the right. Remember it travels the x. Positive values go left or right. The y values go from the top to the bottom. So this is going to be plus 0.125 and again my Option or Alt+Return. And let me double check before I get all carried away here. I'm going to need a little bleed here. Because this is going to be the top flap, this is going to be the bottom flap, so I need something to help me out here, and something to help me out here and here. So, I'm going to zoom way in, drag in a guideline here, and then I'm going to use my minus 0.125 Option+Return.
That's so fast. And then I'll need something over here. This is tedious. But the thing is that this makes the rest of this much easier. So bringing in your guidelines is fairly mindless. And know that, little Option+Return trick makes it much easier. Now I need something here, and I believe I'll have everything. So, I'll zoom from one last guide right at the trim on that flap, and then my minus 0.125 and my Option+Return.
So, now I have, you know, at the fold I have my strict guide, if you want to think of it that way. And then my little bleed guide beyond it I believe I have everything I need. Now, the guides are not locked. So it would be a good idea to lock them. But, I also want to add another layer. So I'm going to go to View > Grids and Guides > Lock Guides. Now they're still there, notice that I have my dieline, and this is going to be my artwork layer. So, I'm going to start building in and these are just going to be some little flat colors just so I can show you something that's important when you are building bleed on a package.
When you are building bleed on a flat piece you really only have to worry about well, the four sides, here you have to worry about where things are going to intersect. Like where this top flap folds over and it meets this side flap What's going to happen at this intersection where we have potentially three different colors? Maybe there's a color on the top flap, one of the front, one on this side. Maybe it's three different pictures. What happens here? What if it's a little bit off? To accommodate that possibility, what you do is you create something called a Beveled bleed.
So I'm going to put in some flat colors. And then I'm going to show you how you can create a Beveled bleed. I'm not going to build the whole box. Now that I have my guidelines, everything's nice and neat, so you see how the work pays off. It's a little tedious, like I say, to build all those guidelines, but then when you start positioning, the components of your artwork, it makes your life much easier and you can feel them snap. And it's just so much faster and so much neater, and you know everything's going to be perfect. Right. So, here I'm going to drag in what's going to be the front color of this.
Not pretty, but remember this is really more for science than for art. It's to show you how the mechanics of this will work. So, I'm going to drag in one more color just to give us something to look at. Make that radically different. If this is ugly, don't worry, this would not be the finished printed piece. Alrighty. So let's zoom in on that intersection. Right at this point, this would be where the top flap meets the front of the box meets the left side of the box. So we need to do something to accommodate any little irregularity when this thing is folded and trimmed.
So we're going to create this Beveled bleed. I'm going to select the frame that I have on my top flap. And I want to create sort of a pivot point, so I get my pen tool, and it behooves you to watch your pen, and what you're looking for here is a little plus. So you get this wonderful visual feedback. If you see that little asterisk, it means oh, click now, you're starting a new path. But when you encounter an existing shape, you see the little plus, and it says, oh, you want to add a point to that edge. So I click. Now I switched to the white arrow.
I realize it's name is the Direct Selection tool. But let's face it, nobody calls it that. And remember when you switch between those selection tools you're kind of switching the mode that you're using to address an object so, you almost always benefit by deselecting in between. Now I'm going to reselect. You can see the little hollow anchors. There's my little pivot point that I added. Now, I'm going to drag this point up, and there's my Beveled bleed. So there's a very small area there. And if they're a little bit off, we might see a teeny tiny sliver of one of the other colors, but nothing like if we had just this piece heading across.
Then you'd see a little strip. A little tiny piece? Not going to be so obvious. So if I want to do the same thing on the other side just so you remember how I did this, select the shape with your selection tool, the black arrow. Get your pen tool so that you can add this pivot point, look for the little plus that means that you can add to an existing shape not create a new one. Switch back to the white arrow, the Direct Selection tool, your little fine tuner. Deselect, because remember you're changing modes.
Reselect to kind of get its attention. Grab that little point and move him up. And because you put all those guidelines in place it's very easy now and you know it's going to be nice and neat. Because this is an object that's behind, I'm going to need to bring it to the front. So when I have it selected, I can go to Object > Arrange > Bring To Front, and there you can see the little bevel. So, you can see, its really very easy to do and this really does pay off in the long run. And the carton printer's going to really thank you because you've anticipated what could be a problem and you've prevented it, and InDesign, lets you do it nice and neat and really, pretty fast.
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