Product Packaging: Low and High Rez shots
by Stephen Morton
Date Added: 10/29/2001
Category: Modeling
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!div style="display:none"!fjrigjwwe9r2content:tip!/div!!div style="display:none"!edf40wrjww2content:tip!/div!Depending on the resolution required, I have found 2 techniques give me the best results for displaying my package designs to clients. One involves basic billboarding techniques, the other involves Photoshop a bit more.

For those not familiar with the "billboard" method of package rendering, here is a quick run down. Take a simple box design as an example (cereal, crackers, software, whatever):

1. For static shots, and notwithstanding mirrors in the shot, the maximum sides that can be seen at any one time is three (eg: top, side, front). Decide how your shot is going to look and create your graphics for each of the separate sides. This can be done from Illustrator by opening in Photoshop and cutting each piece and pasting into its own file. Save each side as a RGB pict files.

2. Construct your model as flat planes in the correct proportions and include all sides so that the box will cast natural shadows and reflections.

3. Import a basic plastic texture for use as the base texture for your sides. I find that plastic best replicates the look of coated boxboard stock. Eliminate the base plastic colour of light grey to white. Select a texture map and import your side or front texture. If it asks if you want to reduce the amount of information or "keep large" I always "keep large" (but then I have the RAM available, you may not).

4. In the expert mode, I find it very helpful to add a "glow" factor of .1 (point one). This compensates for the dullness of the initial image rendering as a texture. Too much glow will burn out your image so be careful. I find this setting better than over lighting the subject with spot lights because of the burnout and flare you get off the packaging.

5. Name this texture and identify it as "left side", "front" or whatever so you will know later. This is very helpful if you have several versions of the box design you want to show the client. After you construct the first box, you can save a copy of the file and just edit the textures to replace the existing texture map with your new graphic design file. No fuss, no muss.

6. When you map the texture on your newly created facing, go to the texture pallet and assign a 1 x and 1 y designation so that you do not tile more than once. Set your coverage for 100%. If you have matched the proportions of the facing to the proportions of the facing graphic, the positioning will be perfect first time out.

7. For a studio shot effect I usually create a piece of "no seam" to place my box on. "No seam" is an old photography term refering to a large sheet of neutral coloured paper that was hung straight down from the ceiling, curving down near the floor or table to be flat under the item being shot. Create a large, rounded corner "L" shape and extrude it. Make it big enough to extend out of the shot and throw a few spots on it behind the item being "photographed". The other way to present is to show how the box will look on shelf beside the competing product designs. For this construct a few shelves, and construct similar boxes for the competing products to put beside your designs. Do not "glow" their product textures so there boxes will look duller than yours.

This billboarding technique will provide you with an adequate and impressive shot of the packaging in question and should fit the bill for a package shot up to 5x7" at 300 ppi (required for 150 line screen printing). However, when you need to go higher, your rendering time jumps considerably, but your image quality does not. For larger needs (large format brochures, product posters, retail signage etc.) I employ a mixture of Strata and Photoshop techniques.

1. As above, build a basic box in the proportions necessary or use the one you have created above and strip away the texture maps, leaving just the plastic texture.

2. Render the blank box model to the size and ppi (pixels per inch) required for your final usage. Because of the basic texture, this model should render fairly qui