15 Best Tools for Packaging Designers

Mrignayni Pandey

Content strategist, and copywriter.
September 6, 2022

Discover some of the most effective tools for product packaging design projects and kickstart your marketing campaigns on the right note. Read on to know more!

Package design not only enhances the aesthetics and appearance of your product but also helps influence the purchase decision of your customers. 

So, you must develop innovative product package designs that stand out from your competitors and entice customers to pick up your product at Walmart.

But to do that, you'll need to use the right tools and nail your basics. This article will discuss the best graphic design tools and tips to get your product packaging right. 

Here's what's covered in the article:

Pro tips to get your product packaging right

The best way to develop product packaging designs that resonate with your client or company's target audience efficiently is to follow these five tips below. 

1. Create a dieline 

The dieline indicates where your project will be cut or perforated for folding. It's essential for designing packaging, so you set up your project correctly from the start and don't waste time rewriting and retrofitting a design later.

It may take some time at first to create dielines, but you can save them to reuse as a template for future projects.

Image source: Packmojo

2. Use pre-approved templates 

If your customer or printer provides you with templates, use them instead of making your own. Also, get the design within the template pre-approved with the printer as soon as possible. 

This is less about the artwork and more about ensuring that the dieline is correct to save plenty of time. 

3. Try pre-made templates

If you aren't given a template, search for one to serve as a guide to save time. You can also experiment with custom shapes if you have more creative freedom with the project. 

Most graphic design software we mention below also have this option, so make sure you check all of them out. 

4. Follow the cutter guides

Cutter guides are lines that appear on top of the artwork to indicate where the cutting and creasing lines will appear on it. 

Image source: Freelancer

Designers frequently make mistakes with package design projects by failing to follow where the cutter guides are. 

So, change the color of the cutter guide to something that will stand out even more, such as bright red or blue, to ensure that you can see them in your template.

5. Present your product well 

First impressions are the best impressions. To create spectacular designs that awe your clients, you need to remember a few points that'll help you present your product well. 

Now that we've looked at what you should do to nail your product presentation, let's take a look at the best graphic design software. 

Best tools for graphic designers 

Here’s a list of the best tools graphic designers can use to create their packaging design and manage files easily. 

1. Artwork Flow

Artwork Flow is an artwork management and creative collaboration tool that helps you collaborate better with your clients, especially if you're designing creatives for industries that are bound by compliance and regulatory issues. 

The tool's custom workflow and checklist features allow you to assign tasks to team members and view progress without manually following up on them. 

Once the creatives are sent for review, the app ensures that feedback doesn't slip through the cracks by collating feedback from multiple stakeholders in the same place.

When it comes to storing your creatives and tracking changes, the platform’s centralized digital asset library allows you to see who made changes and what changes they made to the file. 

But the icing on top is the compliance and proofreading feature which allows you to check if the content you’ve added is error-free and compliant with regulations set by authorities like the FDA. 

In short, Artwork Flow gives you an end-to-end solution to create, approve, and manage creatives with ease. 

2. Adobe Illustrator 

Adobe Illustrator is the most essential and staple tool in every graphic designer’s toolbox when it comes to creating package designs.

It allows you to convert text into vector graphics, enabling you to create lettering easily and create text designs for your product packaging. 

You can also create vector illustrations for your packaging and create 3D mockups for your packages easily. 

Also, Adobe Illustrator has a lot of plugins like Astute Phantasm, which allow you to add taper and gradient to your halftones, which is incredibly useful if you’re creating three-dimensional effects and changing color adjustments every now and then on your 3D package. 

3. Adobe Photoshop

If your product packaging requires photorealistic image manipulation, Adobe Photoshop is your best choice as it has specific tools and blend modes for this purpose. 

Plus, its broad suite of tools enables you to do everything from creating logos to rendering realistic 3D mockups.  

Image source: Brandon Shepherd

In short, if you’re looking for a tool that allows you to design all the elements of a package from scratch without switching between platforms, Adobe Photoshop is your answer. 

4. Adobe Dimension 

While Adobe Illustrator is good for creating simple 3D Mockups, Adobe Dimension helps you render 3D Mockups of product packages and compose them, saving you the cost of expensive photoshoots. 

It provides you access to default Adobe stock templates to create mockups in just a few steps. Plus, you can add 2D decals and overlay on them easily. 

This helps in conveying your ideas to clients and coworkers easily, making this tool one of the best product packaging tools out there.

Image source: Adobe

5. Procreate 

Many designers scoff at the thought of Procreate being a part of the designer’s arsenal as it doesn’t support vectors. 

But if you want hand-drawn illustrations and logos to give your brand an artisanal feel, Procreate is your go-to tool. It offers a wide variety of brushes that help you create diverse textures and designs that attract your audience. 

Once you’re done, you can import the drawing file into Illustrator to complete your mockups.  If you want to scale your design, you can transform it into a vector in Photoshop or Illustrator and use it on your packaging. 

For instance, check out this mockup below where the designer rendered the illustration and logo on Procreate and created a mockup on Illustrator. 

Image Source: Nice Triangles on Reddit

6. Canva

Canva is a designer-friendly web-based tool that is great for beginners who want to create packaging designs for simple shapes.

The platform has a free version and many elements that you can use, but the caveat is that these options are limited, and you can't simply open up a dieline template like in Illustrator and start designing. 

You'll have to manually create Canva designs for every face of the box using Canva's custom dimensions which can be time-consuming and lengthy. 

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Image source: Fixthephoto

7. CorelDRAW

CorelDRAW isn't the first tool designers consider when designing product packages. But it supports many formats and helps you create basic packaging design that only involves adding a few high-resolution images and vectors to simple box shapes. 

Unlike Illustrator, which has a dieline template, you've got to create individual shapes that make up the box and use the Perspective tool to put the packaging together. 

But the same process is much easier on Photoshop and Illustrator as they have the Perspective Warp tool, which automatically warps the design to fit the dimensions of the box.

Image source: CorelDRAW

8. Impact 

Impact is a powerful tool that helps in designing various forms of packaging. Its extensive library of packaging designs helps you get started quickly and create printable layouts and 3D models you can use to make a packaging prototype. 

You can also create 3D visualizations that show what your packaging looks like in various eCommerce stores and compare them with packaging that your competitors use. 

Since Impact is a Computer Aided Design (CAD) tool, it also allows you to get feedback on weight and waste calculations, a feature that most package design tools lack. 

Image source: Impact

9. Myfonts.com 

Myfonts solves a crucial problem for graphic designers — it helps them identify fonts through pictures and track the origin of a particular font so they can use it in their projects. 

All they've got to do is take a picture of the font they want to identify and upload it to the platform's "What The Font" Section to find the closest match to the sample you've supplied. 

Once you've found the relevant font, you can download it for free or pay a fee for exclusive subscription fonts.

Image source: What The Font 

Check out our free font finder tool here.

10. Boxshot 

Boxshot is your 3D model virtual photo studio. It allows you to visualize your boxes and packing and render them so realistically that viewers confuse them for a snapshot of the product.

The software accomplishes this through a vast assortment of adjustable packaging forms that you can adjust to fit your design. 

The software automatically resizes shapes according to your graphics without any manual intervention. 

And If you need more shapes, you can just load them as Boxshot supports FBX, 3DS, STL, PLY, DXF, OBJ, and Collada (DAE) file formats. 

Alternatively, you can also make the shape you need. Boxshot includes CAD-like shapes that can accomplish practically everything symmetrical: bottles, cans, boxes, containers, and so on.

Image source: Boxshot 

11. ArtiosCAD

ArtiosCAD is a popular structural design program for packaging. It intends to increase efficiency for packaging specialists that handle structural design, product development, virtual prototyping, and production operations.

It enables graphic designers to focus solely on their creativity and creates a custom package based on any imported 3D CAD product model. So, you don't have to perform complex calculations to render difficult package shapes. 

Most importantly, it reduces costly workflow errors and allows you to fold your design in 3D to check for discrepancies.

Image source: ArtiosCAD

12. 4PACK

4PACK brings together packaging and artwork management and allows you to get your artwork created and approved faster. 

It streamlines workflows and supplies accurate data on the product and project, which help you go to market faster, even if you're heavily reliant on external suppliers for even minor changes. 

Additionally, the software also saves you from the hassle of dealing with reworks and amendments that arise from not following regulatory compliance. 

13. Strata 

Strata is ideal for visualizing and presenting folded package designs because it's deeply integrated with Photoshop and Illustrator. 

You can create almost any form factor, from drink pouches to chip bags, or purchase pre-made bags and pouches from the Strata Asset Store and simply paste your client's graphics onto the model.

Image source: Strata

For next-generation presentations, you can even set your model in virtual reality to check how your package looks in stores.

If you can't find a container for your specific use case, you can also import any 3D file on Strata. So, if your company or client already has the container modeled, you're set. 

Alternatively, you can also search the Strata Asset Store to see if what you're looking for has already been made by one of their contributors.

14. PrintQ

PrintQ is jam-packed with features for the novice and the professional. While experts can use the software to render 3D views of the package and download 2D dieline, beginners can easily add images and logos because of the drag-and-drop functionality. 

They can easily place images on flaps, panels, and overlapping corners. When you add an image to an overlapping corner, the software automatically sets the image in the correct position. 

Plus, there's no need to work upside down as the rotating will allow you to change the package orientation quickly. 

In short, PrintQ is a well-rounded packaging software that serves experts and beginners equally well. 

Image source: PrintQ

15. Box It Now

Box It Now allows you to work from your desktop or tablet PC and allows you to choose from over 150 industry-standard box styles. The software includes everything from a regular slotted container to a 6-pack bottle carrier. 

Image source: BoxItNow

You can also choose from folding cartons to corrugated packaging styles, render your package in 3D without printing out a prototype, and share it with anyone in 1 step. 

Wrapping up

Choosing the right software is instrumental in amplifying your graphic design efforts and creating spectacular designs that meet your client's requirements. 

While tools like Illustrator, Photoshop, and Dimensions aid in creating illustrations, logos, text, and mockups, Artwork Flow streamlines the artwork creation and management process. 

Its robust suite of tools helps you with everything from assigning tasks to team members to reviewing the finished tasks. 

This saves a lot of time and resources, drastically reducing your go-to-market time and increasing employee productivity. 

So, book a free demo right away to see how Artwork Flow can transform the design process at your organization

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