Graphic Design / Interactive Design / Fine & Applied Arts / Parkland College

Graphic Design Exercises
Packaging: Simplicity


To learn Illustrator and Photoshop production techniques by recreating the package "comp" below.


Package designers often make use of pre-designed templates from manufacturers in order to save money. In this exercise, we will use an existing "die" template as a starting point for our design. Then we will take components from the template to create a 3D mockup for client presentation.

Tip: Illustrator's 3D functions require the use of "symbols." In order to make symbols out of pixel elements, one needs to embed the image first
(window > links: flyout menu).


Creating the art in Illustrator

  1. download starter files
  2. open "" in Illustrator, save as ""
  3. practice Adobe navigation shortcuts (space=hand, space+cmd=zoom in, space+cmd+opt= zoom out; cmd zero=fit in window)
  4. new layer "art"
  5. file > place "sun.psd"; embed (window > links: flyout menu)
  6. copy and paste UPC code from "", position on bottom panel
  7. copy and paste text from "simplicity.rtf" into Illustrator
  8. make all text Adobe Garamond 10/16
  9. make back panel 7/11
  10. style other text (make select text bold, make heads Futura Heavy, scale/track, center or justify as needed)
  11. make circle and side text PMS 877 silver (window > swatch libraries > color books > Pantone metalic coated)
  12. print 11x17 laser with your name & exercise number on it
  13. save, save as ""

Preparing symbol art for 3D rendering in Illustrator

  1. new layer "white", restack below "art" layer
  2. draw white rectangles: 2x2in, 2x6in (rectangle tool: opt-click)
  3. position/duplicate rectangles below top, front, side panels
  4. window > symbols: drag each panel into "symbols" panel, rename
  5. delete "layer 1", delete unneeded art

Rendering a 3D object in Illustrator

  1. draw rectangle 2x6in: fill=white, stroke=none
  2. effects > 3D > extrude & bevel:
    • depth=2in
    • perspective=??
    • adjust axis/rotation
    (tip: use wireframe shading to preview, use diffuse shading for final)
  3. map art: apply symbol to appropriate surface, rotate/scale art as needed
  4. click OK to render 3D object (tip: edit live effects in window > appearance)
  5. save
  6. copy extruded box to clipboard

Preparing the art for Photoshop

  1. file > new (letter, portrait)
  2. save as ""
  3. paste
  4. object > expand appearance
  5. expand layer to view components: ungroup (2x)
  6. new layers: "front", "side", "top"
  7. move art into each layer
  8. new layer "bg": draw 8.5x11in white box, re-stack to bottom
  9. file > export "simplicity 3d.psd" (CMYK, 300PPI, layers=yes)

Adjusting the lighting in Photoshop

  1. open "simplicity 3d.psd" in Photoshop
  2. merge each layer group (flyout menu)
  3. select "front" layer: add adjustment layer (levels)
  4. make "front" art darker
  5. clip adjustment layer to just one layer below (see tutorial)
  6. repeat: use a different gray for each panel
  7. new layer "shadow", restack above "bg" layer
  8. pen tool: draw box for shadow
  9. window > paths: fill path with black (flyout menu)
  10. filter > blur > gaussian blur
  11. window > layers: opacity=???
  12. add layer mask to "shadow" layer
  13. draw gradient mask perpendicular to bottom of front panel
  14. save


  1. add your name and the exercise number on the PSD file
  2. layer > flatten image
  3. file > save as (format=JPEG; quality=10)
  4. open the JPEG in Photoshop and print a proof
  5. submit both proofs for grading
  6. file your graded proofs in your Process Book for individual review

Last updated: 3/2/17 ■ Webmaster: Paul Young