The sector of hard packaging and consumer goods has for some time used digital tools, in design visualisation as well as at the manufacturing stage. But as the software used to design the packaging evolves, 3D tools are making an appearance in the overall design process at earlier and earlier stages.
3D tools can provide a great bump in efficiency at the design iteration stage. When an entire packaging design can be tweaked simply by adjusting a slider, for instance and when that design can be accurately visualised in 3D, designers can communicate proposals clearly and effectively, in real time. As a result, iteration loops speed up immensely.
Iterating in 3D is also a more sustainable solution than conventional ways of working. Designers can iterate without resorting to costly, lengthy prototyping processes. There is no wasted time waiting for prototypes to be created and delivered — just as there is no wasted paper. Packaging designers can visualise dieline cuts and print effects like embossed images or logos entirely in 3D. The need for real-life samples is vastly reduced.
Moreover, as online retail and ecommerce become more and more prominent, a 3D-centred packaging design workflow goes hand in hand with an increasing need for visuals.
Designing colour and finishes for product packaging in 3D is remarkably simple, as every validated variation can be shared between departments as needed — the design and visualisation images can be shared between design, engineering and marketing departments, for instance, from the moment a final design has been validated. There is no need to re-create something several times in several formats; information is transmitted unimpeded and can be used for purposes such as virtual photography, print advertising, online display and animated commercials.
The Adobe Substance 3D toolset provides packaging and graphic designers with the complete creative freedom needed to work on packaging designs. Enterprise customers will be able to convert CAD data to create packaging designs or use any common format into the Substance 3D toolset — including FBX, GBL, USDZ and more. Similarly, you can create 2D designs in Adobe Illustrator, import and apply them as decals or patterns to your 3D model and get outstanding results in real time thanks to interactive path tracing.
If you prefer to draw on existing resources, the Substance 3D asset library provides thousands of ready-to-use materials that you can directly import in any of the Substance 3D apps, allowing for quick iteration and visualisation on your packaging design. Use Substance 3D Stager to apply materials based on substrates (such as paper, plastic or rubber) for realistic visualisations and hit the render button to get that perfect shot.