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December 12, 2017

The Importance of the Dieline in Packaging Design

Your dieline is the heart of your packaging design. Learning the basics of dieline creation will guarantee that your project isn’t sunk before it begins.

Dielines are a fundamental part of packaging design. Most designers won’t even start a project until they have one in hand, so it’s in your own best interest to understand what goes into each dieline and how to make the dieline creation process as straightforward as possible.

What’s a Dieline?

In the simplest terms, dielines are digital files of packaging templates that give designers all the information they need to create a finished product. Think of dielines as the blueprints that ensure proper layout for a printed product:

– Package dimensions, sizing, and scale

– Location of visual elements, such as images, logos, and text

– Placement of folds, creases, glue tabs, cutlines, eyemarks, and other connection points

– Bleed requirements and any other unique manufacturing notes

Dielines lay out these elements to give designers a comprehensive view of how packaging will look after printing. For an easy visualization of this process, go into your kitchen and grab a box of crackers or cereal. Unfold the tabs and lay the box out completely flat on the table. You can easily see the folds and creases as well as how the visual elements work in coordination with one another on the box’s front, back, and sides.

Prepare for Dieline Creation

Given that fluctuations as small as a sixteenth of an inch in your package design can require a complete reworking of your project, accurate dielines are necessary from the very beginning of the project. And while package design teams generally handle the fine details of package deconstruction, measurement, and production, product sellers need to prepare for these meetings ahead of time:

1. Understand the goals of your package: What should your package accomplish? Which visual elements are most important? Is your product better served by striking visual imagery or with descriptive lists of your value propositions? Your designer won’t be able to answer these questions for you, so make sure you understand these concepts before the drafting process begins.

2. Know which elements are required: Depending on your product, your package will need to include specific elements as mandated by law. For example, all food products require FDA-approved nutrition panels, while cleaning products and other chemicals will require safety warnings within the labels.

3. Solicit input from multiple teams: Dieline creation is just one step of your overall packaging production. Depending on whether you’re starting from scratch or working from a template, you may need the input of additional experts, such as structural designers who can provide guidance on how stable and functional different packaging options may be.

That last point is critical. Your dieline will be a collaborative effort among you, your design team, and any other outside experts that may be required for your particular project. As such, you should make sure to involve your creative teams early in the packaging creation process. Nothing is worse than spending weeks working on a design only to be told that the material you chose is inadequate, requiring you to start from scratch.

Remember, the dieline is the foundation for your design—take your time with the process.

author

by Kevin Smith
Managing partner at SmashBrand. We're a group of experienced brand owners, thinkers and world-class designers united by an obsession for creating category disrupting brand experiences.

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