Prototypes & Comps

Virtual and physical prototypes refine a package’s looks and ensure its manufacturability

Posted: April 17, 2014 by
Linda Casey

Hand-crafting physical mock-ups isn’t the only way package designers and brand owners can test their package designs and structures. Today, they have traditional comps, digitally printed package samples and virtual prototypes in their design toolboxes.
Each of these methods has its own strengths. To understand how each technique helps the design process, Package Design takes a look at three prototypes—each using a different primary manufacturing technology and for a different
target market.

Crafting a Beauty of a Brand
When beauty brand GeoGirl (Irvine, CA) wanted to create a tween cosmetics line to be sold in Walmart, it sought the services of Susan Hunter from Brash (New York, NY) to refine the branding and package design and Lisa McGowan from Color by Number (New York, NY) to create 3-D comps. The line debuted on Walmart shelves in early 2011 with a look that was fun, yet not childish, and emphasized the line’s natural ingredients and recyclable packaging in a colorful way.

1 The clear packaging for the GeoGirl F2F MoistureTint was filled with product so the brand could see how the product color works with the other colors in the design.
2 Instead of approximating the look of kraft paper using graphics, Color by Number hand-crafted kraft-paper components. This allowed GeoGirl to test both the look and feel of the package design.
3 Color by Number airbrushed the colorful graphics onto the GR8 Hair shampoo bottles.
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Color by Number,

Digitally Driven Design
Before Kid Galaxy (Manchester, NH) launched a new remote-controlled toy truck, it wanted to find out what real buyers and consumers thought of the product and its packaging. The toy brand commissioned package printer CL&D Digital (Hartland, WI) to make prototypes for an upcoming trade show. The prototypes, which were printed in full color using a digital press on vinyl, helped Kid Galaxy gather feedback that not only made the design more dynamic, but also more clearly conveyed the toy’s top feature: its remote control.

1 Printed vinyl was mounted to e-flute corrugated paperboard and then hand-glued and cut.
2 The package designers used Adobe Photoshop to add a headlight effect to the final package. The result is a package with a more cohesive look throughout and a sense of movement throughout.
3 Another lighting effect adds pop to the left side of the package and the dark background under the trailer’s cab.
4 To emphasize the toy’s remote-control feature, Kid Galaxy changed the toy’s name from Tractor Trailer to Tractor Trailer R/C.

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CL&D Digital,

Virtual Design Takes the Fast Lane
Ehrmann (Oberschönegg im Allgäu, Germany) is well-known in Europe for its dairy products, but the brand isn’t exactly a household name in the U.S. That’s why the dairy partnered with worldwide branding agency Interbrand (New York, NY) to create club-store packaging fine-tuned for the American market.
The brand also brought its European sensibilities to the design and prototyping process. Carolin Widmann, product manager for Ehrmann, says the brand had positive experiences with virtual prototyping from its European design projects and knew that 3-D prototypes would work well for its products and markets.
The prototypes not only helped the brand easily evaluate designs, but they also helped speed the design process for Interbrand.
“If we make an adjustment to the graphics using 3-D imaging, Esko (Miamisburg, OH) Studio software allows us to evaluate and recommend those graphics almost in real-time,” says Jack Hinkel, executive director of implementation at Interbrand. “The process also enables our client to view the design in 3-D rather than flat artwork, and saves the time it takes to build and ship a traditional 3-D comp.”

1 The prototypes helped the brand owner and design agency visualize how the different graphic elements played off each other. The prototyping process enabled Ehrmann and Interbrand to refine the font, spoon placement and background on the upper half of the carton to ensure that the Ehrmann logo had prominence in the space.
2 The virtual prototype emulates the texture and thickness of corrugated board, enabling the brand owner and agency to see how the design would reproduce on this specific substrate.
3 Cut-outs on the virtual prototype enabled Interbrand to make sure that the graphics were placed far enough from the windows to avoid being cut off.

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