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Laying the groundwork: Start with the dieline

From: Print Production Essentials: Packaging

Video: Laying the groundwork: Start with the dieline

You know that you can create a guideline by reaching into a ruler and dragging a guide down. But did you know that you can turn any object in an Illustrator file into a guide? And this can be particularly helpful when you're building packaging. So I want to keep my fold and cut components of my dye line, but I also want duplicates of them that I can use as guides. So first I'm going to make a layer for my guides. And then I want to duplicate my cut dye line component. And I could do Copy Paste, or Paste in front, and all that.

Laying the groundwork: Start with the dieline

You know that you can create a guideline by reaching into a ruler and dragging a guide down. But did you know that you can turn any object in an Illustrator file into a guide? And this can be particularly helpful when you're building packaging. So I want to keep my fold and cut components of my dye line, but I also want duplicates of them that I can use as guides. So first I'm going to make a layer for my guides. And then I want to duplicate my cut dye line component. And I could do Copy Paste, or Paste in front, and all that.

But here's a much easier way. I'm going to target it by clicking on this little target circle. And then to duplicate it, on Windows, I'd hold down Alt. On the Mac, I hold down Option. And drag that little square up in the Layers panel into the Guides layer. And of course, any time you have a modifier key, you let go of your mouse first and then your modifier. So now I've duplicated the cut line. Now I'm going to duplicate fold line. So again, I'm going to use the little target circle to select. I'm going to use Option or Alt as I drag to duplicate.

And now just to prove we're going to turn off my cut and fold. You can see that I have duplicates of those pieces in my Guides layer. Now again using the little target circle I'm going to select them and here's how you turn them into guides. Under View > Guides > Make Guides. You see now if they're that tell tale blue guide color and of course if I wanted to be sure that I didn't mess them up I could go to View. And Guides and Choose > Lock Guides. But keep in this in mind too. You can reverse engineer this if you need to. So you can use an object for a guide for a while and then turn it back to it's original nature as an object.

All you have to do is Select again. So, remember first they'd have to be unlocked. Select them and go to View. Guides and Release Guides and look, now they're just normal objects and they didn't forget what color they were. Now, I'm going to undo that because I do want to keep these as guides and I'm going to be sure that I don't mess them up later by locking them. So, View and Guides and Lock Guides. Now when you're building something complex in Illustrator and especially when you're working with packages, it can be helpful to sort of quarantine your art work in layers.

So in preparation for adding all the artwork to this file I'm going to build some layers. Now when you're in layer in Illustrator and you click the New Layer button, it always make that layer up above your currently selected layer. But I'll show you a little trick. I want to keep my guides and my fold and cut above everything that I'm going to make. That way I can check it as I'm going along. So, I'm going to turn these back on and I'm going to lock them so that I can't mess them up. I'm going to choose the cut layer, and in order to create a layer below the cut layer, it just saves you a little time instead of having to move them in the layers panel.

If you hold down Command and Option or Control and Alt on Windows and click the New Layer button, watch it makes a layer below your selected layer. It's just one of those little things that can save you some time and then I can name it. This is going to be my text layer and again I am going to hold down Command Option or Control Alt. This next one down, I have some banners that I am going to place in here. And I'm just going to keep on going, and making my little layers, I'm kind of working upside down. But this can really save you some time. I have some floral art that I'm going to bring in.

Now there's nothing to say that you couldn't reorganize these after you've added the artwork. But I know where I'm headed with this. So it just kind of helps me organize my thinking as I'm creating this. And finally, the bottom of the pile, these are going to be the little flat tints that are going to be the background art for this. Now, keep in mind that Illustrator assigns these key colors. You know, the colors that your selection handles are going to be, it has its own idea of what it should give you. I always find that the yellow is almost impossible to see. So, I recommend that any time it gives you a key color of yellow you come up here and you choose something that's a little bit more visible. I think I'll go for dark blue.

And then click OK. So I don't have anything in those layers now. And one way you can tell that. I don't have any little triangles by them. But now I've sort of laid the groundwork. This is sort of the blueprint for what I'm going to do next to start creating my package design.

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Print Production Essentials: Packaging

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Claudia McCue
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